Home Games A Guide to Path of Exile’s Defense Mechanics

A Guide to Path of Exile’s Defense Mechanics

by William Linden

Path of Exile is a primarily offense-oriented game. However, if you’ve built your character up as a glass cannon (high offense, but can’t take a hit), you’ll most likely be frustrated by the frequency of your deaths. We’ll take a closer look at the various defense stats your character can have and their effects. You should have at least some knowledge of this to become more efficient in questing, hunting, or farming PoE currency.

The Stats

Two things affect defense: the three main attributes (strength, dexterity, intelligence) and gear. That also means that there are three main types of defensive stats, Armor, Evasion, and Energy Shield. Each stat corresponds to an attribute, which is detailed next.


Armor is the strength-based defense stat. It lowers physical damage from any source. As it has diminishing returns, the higher the damage, the less damage it reduces. It’s better for low to medium strength hits from mooks, rather than tanking hits from bosses.

Still, you can’t rely on armor only, as there are also magical attacks to deal with.

Energy Shield

As an intelligence-based defense stat, it acts as an extra, rechargeable health pool. Every hit will deplete it, how much depends on the strength of the attack. Once it’s empty, the next attacks will deplete your health pool. It will start to recover after two seconds of not getting hit. As long as it’s up, you won’t take damage from any source, though you can still be harmed by chaos element attacks. However, with some unique item effects or passives, your energy shield can also block chaos damage.

As it is separate from the health pool, anything related to regaining health (leech, regen, etc.) will not affect it. Some keystones can make them affect your shield if you have them though.


The dexterity-based defense stat, you evade attacks, completely avoiding damage. As long as the action is an attack, you will avoid damage as well as status ailments. Spells will still hit, though. Chances of this succeeding are affected by your evasion stat and the enemy’s accuracy.

The lowest evasion you can have is a measly 5% chance. With enough passives and item effects, this can get up to 95%. With programmed entropy, you can’t have a lucky streak of avoiding everything. There is a hidden counter that will keep track of it. Once it gets high enough, the next attack will hit, no matter what. It will reset every time you’re hit. Basically, it’s impossible to keep evading everything.


Resistances are more affected by gear and flasks than attributes. It is required for endgame content, as enemies will spam elemental attacks as well as status ailments at you. Many enemies will also cast the Elemental Weakness curse, lowering this. Some map mods will also do the same.


It’s a separate mechanic from Evasion. Dodge is almost random and can cap for up to 75% chance to dodge. It comes in two varieties, Dodge Attack and Dodge Spell. You can get them through notable passives Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics, as well as certain Ascendancies. Flasks and unique items may also increase your chances to dodge.


Similar to dodge and evasion, blocking will avoid damage completely. It also has an upper cap of 75%, though unique items may let you increase it past that. Shields, staves, and dual-wielding weapons have a hidden 15% chance to block. That may be increased through passive skills and other unique item effects. Blocking spells is a separate mechanic acquired through passives and ascendancies as well as equipment effects.

Endurance Charges

Charges are more specific to certain builds. They’re stackable buffs that are active for a duration. A single Endurance charge will provide a flat 4% physical damage reduction and elemental resistances. By default, your character can only maintain three charges, though that can change through passive skills or items.


It is a buff that will provide 20% mitigation for all types of damage. Get it through skill gems or ascendancies. If you link it to a movement skill, you can keep up the buff as you move along packs of enemies.


These let you make the most of your options, as they can fill holes in your build with their varied effects. Different flasks have different effects, so here are the notable defensive ones.

Granite – provides 3,000 base armor

Jade – gives +3,000 evasion

Basalt – adds a 20% flat physical reduction

Quartz – its effects include a 10% attack and spell dodge, as well as allowing you to phase through enemies

Stibnite – lets you enjoy 100% evasion, with the added bonus of a smoke cloud that reduces the enemy’s accuracy

Quicksilver – gives you 40% increased movement speed


Even if you prefer an offensive build, you should still consider making space for defensive options. The greatest sword is useless if it breaks after one hit. You need to have some durability to survive everything that Wraeclast throws at you. Heavy focus on DPS isn’t too efficient, and neither is focusing too much on defense. Finding the perfect balance is always the best option, and we hope this article helped you understand that. Be the best quester, adventurer, explorer, or PoE orbs farmer you are!

Continue enjoying Path of Exile!

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