Path of Exile – Ultimatum Guide

Introduction to Ultimatum

Ultimatum was first introduced to the game in version 3.14, Ultimatum League. After this league it was removed from the game, and rapidly became one of the most requested pieces of content to return to the game.

With patch 3.23, Affliction league, it was returned to the game with the only major changes being its status as the sole source of catalysts, and always being ten waves.

Basics and Types of Ultimatum

Ultimatum is a double-or-nothing style of mechanic, where after each of the ten waves, you have the option of leaving and taking what you have, or adding additional challenge for a greater reward.

To complete a wave, you must complete one of four objectives without dying:

  • Defeat Waves of Enemies: Kill enemies to fill a bar
  • Survive: Survive until a timer runs out
  • Stand in the Stone Circles: Several stone circles appear, you must stand in each for a certain amount of time until all are energized. The circles are also indicated on the minimap.
  • Protect the Altar: Waves of enemies appear that attack the Ultimatum Altar, kill them to add to a progress bar.

Once you reach ten waves, the encounter ends, and you receive all rewards. (13 with keystone).


These are the modifiers that can be present in Ultimatums and Inscribed Ultimatums. The Counters section is an example of builds for which this modifier is impossible or very difficult & the Free section lists stats that enable a player to entirely ignore the effects of this modifier or have an easy time completing that modifier.

  • Ailment and Curse Reflection
    • Curses and Non-damaging Ailments you apply are Reflected; Monsters are unaffected by Curses
    • Counters: – N/A
    • Free: Curse Immunity
  • Blistering Cold I-IV
    • Frozen pustules will periodically appear and explode when you approach; Tier III causes the pustules to chill on hit, Tier IV causes the pustules to freeze on hit
  • Blood Altar I-II
    • A ring of Blood surrounds the Altar, dealing heavy Physical Damage over time
  • Buffs Expire Faster
    • Buffs expire five times faster on players
  • Choking Miasma I-IV
    • A cloud that deals Chaos Damage over Time will follow you, Tier IV causes the cloud to slow you
    • Free: Tainted Pact, Chaos Inoculation
  • Deadly Monsters
    • Monster Hits are always Critical Strikes
    • Free: Critical Strike Immunity (Brass Dome)
  • Dexterous Monsters
    • Monsters Suppress Spell Damage and gain 500% increased Evasion Rating
    • Free: Hits Can’t Be Evaded (Resolute Technique) and Attack
  • Drought
    • Cannot gain Flask Charges
    • Counters: Ward Loop, Coruscating Elixir (Energy Blade Inquisitor)
  • Escalating Damage Taken
    • For the remainder of the encounter, damage taken will slowly increase by 2% per second, up to 50%
  • Escalating Monster Speed
    • All Monsters gain 5% increased attack, cast, and movement speed per second they are alive, up to 50%
  • Hindering Flasks
    • Using a Flask Hinders you by 50% for 4 seconds
  • Free: Mageblood Builds
  • Less Cooldown Recovery
    • Cooldowns take five times longer to recharge
    • Counters: Wardloop
  • Lessened Reach
    • Players have 60% less Area of Effect and Projectile Speed
  • Lightning Damage from Mana Costs
    • Take 1000% of Mana costs as Lightning Damage
    • Counters: Archmage
    • Free: Blood Magic
  • Lethal Rare Monsters
    • Rare Monsters have 2 additional Modifiers
  • Limited Arena
    • The encounter area will be much smaller
  • Occasional Impotence
    • You and your Minions deal no damage for 2 seconds every 8 seconds
  • Overwhelming Monsters
    • Monster Hits Overwhelm all Physical Damage Reduction

Counters: – Armour Stackers

  • Precise Monsters
    • Monster Hits cannot be Evaded
    • Free: Iron Reflexes
  • Prismatic Monsters
    • Monsters gain 50% of Physical Damage as Extra Damage of each Element
  • Profane Monsters
    • Monsters deal 80% of Physical Damage Added as Chaos Damage
    • Free: Chaos Inoculation
  • Raging Dead I-IV
    • Skulls will appear that spit Fire if you remain near them; Tier III causes skulls to pursue you
  • Razor Dance I-IV
    • Blades will periodically appear and fly at you, applying Corrupted Blood on Hit
    • Free: Corrupted Blood Immunity
  • Reduced Recovery I-II
    • 60% Reduced Life, Mana, and Energy Shield Recovery Rate; Tier II is 90% reduced
    • Counters: Righteous Fire, Wardloop
  • Resistant Monsters
    • Monsters have +50% to all Resistances
    • Free: Physical Damage
  • Ruin I-IV
    • A Monster type will apply Ruin with its special ability. Fail on reaching 7 Ruin; Tier II adds double ruin, Tier III adds a monster type, Tier IV adds quadruple ruin
  • Shielding Monsters
    • Monsters have 50% chance to Block Attack and Spell Damage
  • Siphoned Charges
    • Lose a Power, Frenzy, and Endurance Charge every second, Monsters gain Power, Frenzy, and Endurance Charges on hit
  • Siphoning Monsters
    • Monster Hits remove 10% of current Energy Shield and Mana
    • Free: Life-only builds
  • Stalking Ruin I-IV
    • An invulnerable shade stalks you, inflicting Ruin with its Melee Attacks. Fail on reaching 7 Ruin; Tier II adds spells, Tier IV adds random teleports
  • Stormcaller Runes I-IV
    • Runes will appear that will call deadly Lightning storms if you remain in them


Most Ultimatum rounds will give a reward from a diverse set of options throughout the game, though the most common rewards include corrupted rare items and maps, corrupted unique items, divination cards, currency, and catalysts.

Waves 4 and 8 will always be catalysts, and waves after wave 8 can include Inscribed Ultimatums and valuable currency. Rewards are not scaled by map item quantity with the exception of catalysts.

The following unique items are exclusive to Ultimatum as Round Rewards: Temptation Step, Gamblesprint, and Relic of the Pact.

Inscribed Ultimatums

Inscribed Ultimatums are itemized Ultimatum encounters with preset modifiers and rewards. They can be run via the map device, and take place in a dedicated arena. They consist of a single wave that is significantly longer than normal.

All Inscribed Ultimatums require the wager of a player-provided item, for a chance at a reward usually worth double that of the wagered item. Should the encounter be failed, the wagered item will be lost. The following rewards are possible rewards of an Inscribed Ultimatum:

  • Sacrifice a unique item for a unique item of a higher tier
  • Double a currency stack
  • Double a half stack of divination cards
  • Mirror a rare item

The Trialmaster

Each Ultimatum of level 81 or higher has a 3% chance of replacing its tenth wave with a fight with the Trialmaster. The Trialmaster fight is also affected by previously selected Ultimatum modifiers.

The Trialmaster himself is not a notably difficult boss fight, though the fight does have some interesting attacks including one which summons interactable Chaos and Vaal orbs which drop their items when clicked, and several that stop time before attacking.

When killed, the Trialmaster will also drop one of his five unique rewards (Ixchel’s Temptation, Glimpse of Chaos, Yaomac’s Accord, Mahuxotl’s Machination, and Hateforge), in addition to a large stack of Tainted Catalysts.

Atlas Passives

  • Keystones
  • Gruelling Gauntlet
    • Ultimatum Encounters in your Maps last 3 additional Rounds; Players cannot choose which Ultimatum Modifier is applied each Round; Cannot have a Boss in the final Round
    • This keystone can be used if your build is capable of most/all of Ultimatum’s modifiers and you want more consistent rewards without the rare chance at encountering the Trialmaster.
  • Ruinous Wager
    • Ultimatum Monsters in your Maps apply Ruin with their special abilities; Fail on reaching 7 Ruin; Ultimatum Monsters and Modifiers in your Maps deal 50% less Damage
    • This keystone can be used if your build is not very tanky but is able to rapidly clear the monsters or good at evading Ruin-causing attacks.
  • Notables
  • Inscribed Ultimatums/Ultimatum Rewards have 50% increased chance to be Currency Items/Divination Cards/Unique Items
    • Helpful if you’re target farming a specific item, I personally do not use these.
  • Ultimatum Encounters in your Maps have 30% increased chance for

the final Round to include a Boss; Ultimatum Boss drops a full stack of a random Catalyst

  • Good notable for when Gruelling Gauntlet is not in use, increases chance of Trialmaster and profit from Trialmaster
  • Ultimatum Encounters in your Maps have 100% increased chance to require you to Stand in the Stone Circles/Survive/Defeat Waves of Enemies/Protect the Altar; [Ultimatum Type Buff]
    • Useful if there’s one type of Ultimatum you particularly enjoy or there are types which are not possible for your build
  • Ultimatum Modifiers in your Maps start a Tier higher if possible; Ultimatum Rewards in your Maps have a 25% chance to be duplicated
    • Small bump in difficulty for a 25% profit increase, very good notable
  • Ultimatum Encounters in your Maps get 3% reduced Radius each Round; Ultimatum Encounters in your Maps grant rewards as though you completed an additional Round
    • Bump in rewards that can be very solid if the radius reduction doesn’t affect you significantly


Ultimatum, while less rewarding than its original implementation, is still a strong, engaging, and rewarding mechanic.

The biggest moneymakers in Ultimatum at the time of this writing are Tainted Catalysts and raw currency from the encounters, or running Inscribed Ultimatums.

Overall, Ultimatum is a very positive mechanic that we are happy to have gone core in 3.23.

Catalysts are extremely expensive this league because a lot of builds cannot run ultimatum so you can profit greatly off the amount of catalysts.

Helena Stamatina
About Helena Stamatina 3021 Articles
I love two things in life, games and sports. Although sports were my earliest interest, it was video games that got me completely addicted (in a good way). My first game was Crash Bandicoot (PS1) from the legendary studio Naughty Dog back in 1996. I turned my passion for gaming into a job back in 2019 when I transformed my geek blog (Re-actor) into the gaming website it is today.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.