The Atlas is the enormous collection of maps that constitutes Path of Exile’s endgame content. There are 157 maps in total, and each of these have 16 tiers to complete. There is a ton of detail and nuance involved with understanding and completing the Atlas that you will need to learn before you even begin to think about the art that is sextanting the Atlas. For the purposes of this guide, we will be assuming that you have a decent bit of familiarity with the Atlas already, and are here looking for tips on how to use sextants to raise PoE currency and further maximize your profit from running maps.
What is a Sextant?
If you were simply googling for the navigational instrument and wound up here by mistake, please follow this link to safety. If, on the other hand, you are battle-hardened PoE player ready squeeze the most money possible out of the game’s endgame content, then you’re exactly where you need to be.
In PoE, a sextant is an item that can be used on the Atlas to apply certain multipliers to your maps which can greatly improve your profit per run. You don’t have to use sextants as part of the endgame experience and, in fact, it is not really recommended to do so until you understand them. It is far too easy to use them incorrectly, causing you to lose far more money than you make. If you follow along closely to the advice in this guide, though, running maps with sextants is going to be by far the most lucrative activity that PoE has to offer you.
The sextants themselves are items that you can obtain while running maps. Sextants come in white, yellow, and red. As you may have noticed, the color-coding system for sextants corresponds to that of the maps themselves. This is because a sextant cannot be applied to a map that is a higher color tier than itself, but it can be applied to any lower tier. To put that more plainly: a white sextant can only be used on white maps, while a yellow sextant can be used white and yellow maps, and a red sextant can be used on any map.
How do I “Sextant” My Atlas?
When you decide to use a sextant on a map, it will apply modifiers to that map and any map that is within sextant range of the primary map. This system allows you to stack many modifiers on a single map by sextanting the maps around it. This is really what is meant when people say they are sextanting their Atlas: they’re positioning a handful of sextants around a small number of maps in order to maximize beneficial modifiers on those maps so they can farm them for max profit.
The catch to this, is that sextants are extremely expensive, and using them incorrectly results in tremendous waste. The first thing you need to take into consideration before you start sextanting is the profitability of maps. It makes no sense to use red sextants to modify and run minimally profitable white maps. The second thing you need to be aware of is that sextants do not provide only positive modifiers – there are plenty of bad modifiers, as well. Therefore, in order to make the most of your sextanting experience, you need to understand the concept of sextant blocking.
Sextant blocking is made possible thanks to a very simple gameplay mechanic: maps cannot be affected by more than one iteration of the same sextant mod simultaneously. In other words, if map A is already affected by mod 1, then when you put a sextant on another map that is in sextant range of map A, that other map will not have mod 1. Although this concept is straightforward enough on its own, it becomes astronomically more complicated when applied to the practice of sextanting the Atlas.
When sextanting, you want to ensure that a small number of highly profitable maps have the greatest possible number of helpful sextant mods. Therefore, you want to have the primary maps themselves, and any secondary maps in sextant range of them, outfitted with as many different, good mods as possible. On the flip side, you don’t want any of your primary maps to have negative mods. How do you accomplish this? You block the negative mods using tertiary maps, or maps that are in range of the secondary maps, but not in range of the primary maps. In order to help make sense of this, refer to the graphic below:
Imagine that Map 1 is the map you want to run. In order to avoid getting bad mods on Map 1, you find Map 3, a map you have no interest in running, and apply sextants to it until you get an undesired mod. As shown in the graphic, the sextant on Map 3 doesn’t reach Map 1, so Map 1 is unaffected by the undesired mod, but Map 3’s sextant does reach Map 2. Consequently, any sextant you place on Map 2 cannot roll the undesired mod, since that mod is already active on Map 2 thanks to Map 3’s sextant. On top of that, since Map 2 is now unable to roll that particular undesired mod, and Map 1 is in Map 2’s range, Map 1 is now immune from getting that undesired mod, too! The next step is to multiply this effect by finding more maps with similar relationships. For Example:
In this graphic, we added Map 5, another map we don’t want to run, to which we would apply sextants until we get a second undesired mod. Map 5’s sextant would reach Map 4, making it impossible for Map 4 to get the second undesired mod and, by extension, Map 1 is now immune to rolling that second undesired mod in addition to the first undesired mod that is being blocked thanks to Map 3!
A great, interactive tool for practicing your sextanting, without having to risk any of your actual resources, can be found on Path of exile official website.
Sextanting your Atlas can be the single most lucrative thing you can do in PoE; however, it can also be the biggest money sink if you do it wrong. It is my sincere hope that this guide has helped you to wrap your head around the basic concepts of sextanting and sextant blocking, or at least hasn’t made you more confused than you already were! I recommend playing around with the interactive Atlas I linked above before you actually use any real sextants, in order to avoid costly mistakes when you’re starting out.
That does it for today’s lesson is sextanting. Thanks for reading, and good luck!