How much defense should I be going for? What are the recommendations for choosing between Armor, Evasion, and Energy Shield? How much life do I need while leveling up? In Path of Exile, many players may have these problem. Therefore, while ensuring that you have enough poe orbs, you should read the guide below carefully.
There’s no golden rule for Armor and Evasion, as it very much also depends on other defensive stats (resistances, block, Iron Reflexes, blind, Ondar’s Guile, Acrobatics, and of course health). If you have Iron Reflexes, 40% physical damage reduction is I’d say a minimum you should have and it’s very easy to accomplish anyway (use Grace for leveling, not offensive auras), but try to aim for over 50%. Without Iron Reflexes, 40% chance to evade is good, but try to have at least some armor as well: even a small amount of armor can easily give you 15-20% physical reduction which is important to have even if you’re evasion-based. Use Granite Flasks as well — things like Rhoa’s charge can be dangerous, but the damage can easily be further mitigated since it’s fairly predictable.
In Cruel, but especially in Merciless, side quests can be death traps so try to avoid them until you’re at the very least equal in levels. Overall you should try to be at least 2 levels ahead of the area, so if you’re going into The Fetid Pool, Tidal Island or Flooded Depths in Act 1 Merciless try to be level 60 or higher. If you feel unsafe, group up!
Overall, your build should focus mostly on defense while leveling. Get resistances and tons of health nodes. Most of your damage will come from having decent weapons and more importantly support gems, not from your skill tree. You can always respec a few points later on if your defenses are good and you want to pick up more damage.
For Dominus, group up or find a high level player to help you. In a recent 1 week Nemesis (hardcore) race, a vast majority of players (including myself) died on Dominus in Cruel. He can be tricky, so even if you can breeze easily through other content don’t underestimate him.