Cold is the best Imbuement

Part of me wants to keep quiet about this, but I’ve seen so many comments about how Cold is the worst I need to set the record straight for the potential Cold Rogues out there on the fence. No one will believe me anyway until maybe a year from now when the min/maxers or streamer bros figure it out.

So how is it possible that Cold Imbuement’s the best? Because Frozen is the best status effect in the game. Not only can they not attack you, it also has the most damage. In order to explain why, we need to understand how damage works first. I’d suggest looking this up currently because there’s been a lot of discussion and debunked theories (You can also read this great reddit post about it: This is Why Your Damage Sucks—PSA on Damage Modifiers ), but here are the main takeaways relevant to this topic:

  1. multiplicative damage increases are a separate damage “bucket” that applies to your total damage.
  2. they’re just as important as crit and vulnerable are as a separate bucket

So if you want to maximize your damage, you need to take advantage of these separate damage buckets as much as possible. So you want as much multiplicative damage, crit, and vulnerable as you can get (along with our main stat Dex, attack speed, and high base dmg weapons). Makes sense right? Well Frozen takes advantage of the most multiplicative damage bonuses: x increased damage to Frozen enemies, x increased damage to Chilled enemies, x increased damage to Crowd Controlled enemies. All 3 of these are applied to Frozen targets. And we have a few multiplicative bonuses for Frozen right in our skill tree:

Mixed Cold Imbuement: Cold Imbued Skills deal x20% damage to Crowd Controlled enemies. Double this bonus against Frozen enemies.

Frigid Finesse: You deal x15% increased damage to Chilled enemies. This bonus increases to x30% against Frozen enemies.

Close Quarters Combat: While both Attack Speed bonuses are active, you deal x̶2̶0̶%̶ x30% increased damage against Crowd Controlled targets.

An important note here is that your Amulet can drop with a +3 increase to passives. If you get one with +3 to Frigid Finesse, we’re talking about x30% to Chilled Enemies and x60% to Frozen enemies. Find me a multiplicative bonus that high anywhere else for Rogues and I’ll buy you a beer. Another important note is that Penitent Greaves is considered BiS now because of that x10 increased damage to Chilled enemies bonus. Again, it’s because it’s multiplying your total damage. And surprise, surprise - Frozen takes advantage of that too. The problem is you’re not going to be freezing enemies with Greaves; you’ll be running around forever waiting for that to happen. But take a multiple hits Core Skill like Flurry or Rapid Fire with Cold Imbuement and they’ll be Frozen instantly, ready for you to deal so much damage and shatter so many enemies Lilith will have to change her name to Elsa because Hell will be frozen over.

Now, I know what you all are thinking. There’s an elephant in the room here that we need to address - “Chill and Frozen don’t work on Bosses!!” you must be screaming at this point. Yes, the only way to take advantage of all the juicy damage bonuses is to Stagger the boss. You don’t think Crit Damage is bad because you don’t crit all the time do you? Instead you invest more in Crit Chance. Here, you invest in Crowd Control skills and aspects so can fill the meter up fairly quickly to get as much uptime on the Stagger meter as you can. So Frozen and Cold Imbuement has a downside - but this is a good thing. You need to figure out how to mitigate the downside and build around it. How is this any different than Poison Imbuement which can not Crit? Poison is considered meta yet literally can’t take advantage of one of the strongest damage buckets in the game. But you take certain skills, glyphs, and legendaries to mitigate that downside right? Shadow Imbuement does tons of damage in AoE situations, but is weak against singe-targets and doesn’t have any additional sources of multiplicative damage like Poison and Cold do late game. Similarly, you take certain skills, glyphs, and legendaries to increase the uptime on its application. You mitigate the downside with your build. I’d just argue that out of the three, Cold Imbuement’s downside isn’t as bad as the others because 98% of the time you’re not fighting bosses anyway in Helltides or Nightmare Dungeons - and then the other 2% of the time you can use the Stagger window.

This is why Cold Imbuement is low-key the best Imbuement, and I apologize to all my fellow Cold Steel Rogues and Ice Archers out there who knew this all along - I know I’m revealing our secret. Most Shadow and Poison Rogues will ignore this thread just for the title alone anyway though. And the masses are getting closer when they found out about Penitent Greaves, but they didn’t put all the pieces of the puzzle together yet so we still have some time.


Sounds interesting, possible to share a build?


This is extremely interesting. I am a poison rogue and I’m honestly happy with how it performs but you make some salient points here. next time I get bored and change builds I’m going to play with this. Thanks for the tip

This is indeed interesting, but it seems to play off multi hit builds the best. For a single hit build like penetrating shot, poison is better due to your slow firing speed and thus inability to truly capitalize on the frozen effect
I still run frigid finnesse however, so this has potential. If I can find a helmet with +4 cold imbue I’ll try out cold instead of poison for a while and see how it goes.

yeah I’ve got a neck with +2 to the passive. there’s also a legendary effect that makes poison imbue hit even harder on frozen targets. with all my paragon going into imbues they hit really, really hard.

Frostburn worth using on a build like this?

Actually I’m going to revise this. I think poison is still better damage wise because of how damage buckets work. If you take blended poison imbuement and have a lot of crit, you’re getting the 75% multiplier along with the much higher base multiplier of the poison (in my case 7/5 so 192%). In the case of poison this comes out multiplicatively to a 1.75 * 2.92 = 5.11 multiplier on damage, whereas for cold imbue (assuming they are already frozen, 6/3 frigid finesse, and 7/5 imbue) it comes out to a 1.3 * 1.6 * 1.4 = 2.912 multiplier, less than just the regular poison imbue’s damage multiplier.
I believe this is how the damage multipliers add up, if anyone else knows more feel free to correct me. Though to be honest, with the streamers nolifing the game I don’t think they would have just “overlooked” cold imbue, there’s a reason poison is so popular.
If blizzard bumped the cold imbue damage up so that the percent it deals at 7/5 was 145% then these multipliers (versus frozen) would be on par with the damage of poison imbue.


True, the only caveat is the skill with Cold Imbuement can actually crit though :slight_smile:

So can poison, the blended poison imbuement skill even buffs your crit damage with poison imbued skills

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What I’m saying is you have to take your 1.3 * 1.6 * 1.4 = 2.912 multiplier calculation and then multiply that by a crit calculation.

You can do the same thing for poison, except poison starts out higher at 2.92 and then on top of that also gets a 1.75 multiplier to the crit.
If you’re not dealing crits, posion and cold do roughly the same (though poison does slightly more and also is easier to apply, and we’re assuming damage to frozen), but if you are dealing crits then poison wins by a mile


I agree that cold imbuement is underrated and people have been overlooking the multiplicative damage factor and is fantastic vs elites, but I think you’re also understating the downside of cold imbuement.

The thing is, you can’t effectively stagger with cold imbuement alone and need to throw in poison trap into your build to do this. I wish Blizzard made blended cold imbuement a much better node as it’s next to useless right now, but even then I think there’s some problem or oversight with the stagger mechanic with how it interacts with cold based CC specifically.

Though yes, we’re talking about an issue with boss type enemies only, but even though they may be “2%” of the content, they take up more like 10-25% of your dungeon content clear through, then there’s the butcher, and those juicy helltide bosses and so on to consider.

But yes, cold imbuement is otherwise very good.

Poison imbuement only takes your base damage when calculating the damage over time or “poisoning” damage that gets added on top of your core skill damage hit. The tooltip says:

Imbue your weapons with lethal poison. Your next 2 imbueable skills deal poison damage and apply [100]% of their base damage as additional poisoning damage over 5 seconds.

So while you can get high % damage on poison imbuement and then 1.75 on top of that with crits, that multiplier combo is based on your non-crit damage. Then there’s the fact that you need to wait for the DoT to take effect.

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The poison damage’s crit multiplier is capped at 1.75 with Blended Poison Imbuement because the DoT portion can’t actually crit. So assuming 200% crit damage bonus:
Your core skill damage would be 1 * [1+2] (crit damage) = 3
The poison damage added on top of it would be 1.92 * [1+ 0.75] (crit damage) = 3.36
So the total would be 6.36

For a Cold Imbuement crit:
1.4 * 1.6 * 1.2 (frozen damage multipliers) * [1+2] (crit damage) = 8.06


Do Poison Trap users lose any synergy if they switch from Poison to Cold?

That’s what I mean about building to mitigate the downside. Add in Caltrops, Grenades/Dazes from Skills or Aspects, etc. to help build the Stagger meter. There’s multiple options.

Kixxarth is barely worth the time to kill him in Helltides, and half the Nightmare Dungeons don’t even make you kill a boss. But am I really understating the downside? Don’t you find it interesting that the downside of Cold Imbuement is always discussed, yet we never hear about the downsides of the other Imbuements?

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It’s quite a stretch to do all that just for trying to stagger a dungeon boss in my opinion, and I think you need to do all of the above to reliably achieve stagger before killing the boss. Chances are you will gimp your build for other forms of content in the process.

If you can kill him quickly, he’s worth the kill, you get a handful of cinders, fiend roses, item drops and some forgotten souls. That’s obviously a problem with cold imbuement based builds sadly though.

I find it surprising that cold imbuement in general has got the least attention, both upsides and downsides.

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Listen if you feel that strongly about clearing bosses quickly, and building Stagger to you is gimping your build then clearly this isn’t the playstyle for you. I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way, which is why it’s the least popular despite the damage scaling.

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Poison trap “countering” node resets all imbuement cooldowns and not just poison imbuement, so no not really. Poison trap can also benefit from frigid finesse for that extra damage boost as long as enemies are chilled/frozen, and cold imbuement is a reliable way for applying chill on enemies.

I’ve been wanting to tinker with cold imbuement but simply haven’t found the right gear for it but i’m always on the lookout.

Freeze is good. That’s true. Cold imbuement definitely is not good compared to poison and shadow. I guess maybe if there weren’t others ways to freeze enemies then it would be good, but there are.