Cipher: A beginner's guide to GUNMAGE
This guide merely exists as an example on how to build a ranged Cipher, and isn't strictly the only way to build one. As such it may a bit wordy here. This guide is intended for Path of the Damned, but there's no reason why it couldn't work on lower difficulties.
Personally the race choice doesn't really matter too much, though some races are a lot more useful than others. Wood Elf is the race chosen for this build, it doesn't hurt to explore the other races as some can possibly offer more.
A ranged Cipher typically want to avoid damage whenever possible, so the Human's racial ability isn't particularly something you want to rely on, and the ability itself is pretty weak compared to what the Godlikes have to offer. On the other hand, unlike Godlikes, you can still wear a hat which may be significant.
Typically the race of choice for a ranged Cipher, since just by being 4m away from an enemy you'll gain damage and accuracy bonuses. This does however restrict your power selection a tad bit, as you'll most likely want to avoid powers that move you close to an enemy, such as Ringleader.
Resistances to burn and cold damage is never a bad thing. Cold damage resistance in particular is very helpful when dealing with Shades early in the game. Both types are also very useful to have in Cragholdt as the numerous casters in the area favor those two elements. Overall, I'd say its a pretty strong pick.
Poison and Disease resistances are alright I guess. Most of these types of attacks usually come from melee attacks, however enemy Druids are very trigger happy with spells of these types. Its not a bad choice for a melee Cipher, but for a ranged I'd probably look at other options.
Accuracy bonuses to Wilders and Primordials is actually better than you think, since a lot of the most dangerous enemies in the game are of these types! Adragans and Ogre Druids are among these, and we all know how much of a pain those two are.
Not too many enemies will be using Prone attacks on a Cipher, assuming you're able to keep them away from melee attackers. Ranged Stuns though can come from Cean Gŵla, Greater Wind Blights and a majority of enemy Druids. Stun however is mostly deadly for frontliners due to their greatly reduced Deflection, though it is an annoying status effect as a whole.
An extra weapon set can provide some utility. One strategy is to equip two guns and fire one shot from each to generate a large amount of Focus and then switch to 3rd faster attacking weapon like a War Bow. Obviously if you plan on taking advantage of their weapon sets, you'll want the Quick Switch talent to minimize the amount of time you take swapping weapons around. Overall, this race's usefulness ultimately hinges on your play style; personally I think an extra weapon slot is quite useful.
An excellent race, Ciphers love crits and this race helps increase your chances of getting them. Not much else to add really, enjoy getting those crits!
Getting a bonus to all defenses upon being hit by a Will attack is pretty good, as enemy casters (In particular other Ciphers) will likely aim their spells at you. This will also work on fear auras which can be very useful when fighting dragons or drakes.
Functionally, their ability is similar to a Human's, though it packs much more of a punch. You do lose the ability to use a helmet though.
Death's Usher is a pretty good damage dealing talent when paired up with damage over time effects or AoE. The Cipher however does have a fairly limited number of them available. Its still a pretty good race overall though.
Blah blah Silver Tide. This ability is great on any class and Cipher is no exception.
These make very potent melee Ciphers... but since we're talking about ranged... they're not really an option.
The attribute spread I would recommend is:
With Deadfire Archipelago - Drifer chosen as the back ground. This is min/maxed of course and isn't always the optimal spread, as such you may choose to add extra CON or RES to help with your squishiness. Just a few guidelines though:
A primary stat for the Cipher and one of the most important. Might affects all damage you deal, and as Ciphers are designed to primarily deal damage, this is obviously important. Perhaps more important however is that the amount of Focus you gain is directly based on the amount of damage you deal. As such, the higher your Might, the more Focus you'll generate with each attack, making this stat perhaps even more important to the Cipher than it is to any other class.
Dexterity affects your attack speed and casting speed. With the 3.0 changes, Ciphers don't have as many powerful slow casting powers as they used to, so this stat is slightly less important. Its still however very useful for Focus generation as this will affect your attack speed with your weapons, and faster attacks means quicker Focus generation.
Extra endurance never hurts as damage is ultimately unavoidable. A ranged Cipher though will most likely opt to dump this, as if they're getting swarmed they're gonna die regardless of how much Endurance they have.
Accuracy is paramount for a Cipher, as missing or grazing with your weapon is extremely costly as it'll have a powerful effect on your Focus gain. Also a lot of the Cipher's powers have much shorter duration than the spells coming from a Wizard or Druid, as such Ciphers value crits a lot for their duration bonus. With high perception it becomes significantly easier to score crits with your various powers.
As mentioned above, the duration of powers is a little on the short side compared to spells. Having a high Int though, will make your powers have much longer durations. Int also affects the AoE size, however Ciphers do not have too many AoE powers, and some of them like Mind Lance or Mind Blades, are unaffected by Int.
A lot of what I mentioned in Con also applies to Resolve. It should be noted though that Resolve will have an effect on concentration. If you plan on running low Resolve, consider making Potions of Spirit Shield when fighting enemies that utilize a lot of interrupting effects (Such as the Ogre Druid's Insect Plague).
I recommend the following:
2 - Biting Whip
4 - Draining Whip
6 - Penetrating Shot
8 - Weapon Focus: Ruffian
10 - Apprentice's Sneak Attack
12 - Gunner
14 - Marksman
You can of course take them in any other order you choose. Or even take other talents, just a "quick" rundown on them:
Psychic Backlash and Brutal Backlash
Enemy Ciphers commonly pack these two, which is part of the reason they're annoying. These two talents though are highly situational, so its hard to recommend giving up a talent slot for these. I am almost certain these do however work on fear auras, which would make them very useful when dealing with dragons and drakes.
Probably a given, but being able to hit harder equates to more Focus generated, so you will always want to grab this.
Another obvious one to take, as this will increase the amount of Focus you generate with your attacks.
The main reason to grab this is the fact that it can increase your starting Focus, which means its possible to use your higher level powers at the start of combat. This is especially useful during early game as your starting Focus pool is very small. Late game however, you'll have much more sizable Focus pool, as such this power may be slightly less useful depending on your playstyle.
Accuracy boosts are always welcome. Once you've decided on the weapon you want for your build, you'll want to grab the appropriate talent.
For ranged Ciphers you get another accuracy boost to play with.
Not a bad talent actually, the raw damage is quite good. However, its hard to justify picking this over other talents. If you have a free talent slot though, by all means go ahead and grab this.
If you plan on using a firearm this talent is a must-have. Reloading is the bane of any gun user, and being able to quicken it is always a welcomed ability.
Implements aren't very good at generating Focus, however you may want to use them when dealing with pierce immunes. One weapon however worth considering is the Golden Gaze, which hits multiple times and generates a solid amount of Focus. If you want to use that, then you'll want this of course.
Beast Slayer/Primal Bane/Ghost Hunter/Sanctifier/Wilder Hunter
They're not bad talents but they're very situational. You could grab one of these and pair them up with a camping bonus to get a huge bonus against one type of enemy, but still you usually have better choices to pick. If you had to grab one of these though, I would say Ghost Hunter is the best choice, as Spirits are incredibly common and are very dangerous.
Compared to other classes, Ciphers are actually terrible at generating Interrupts, so I wouldn't recommend this.
The ability to ignore DR means you'll be able to deal a lot more damage. This is especially important in PotD, as a majority of enemies have good DR values.
Not a bad talent actually, typically you use this to power up DoT or AoE effects. You could however fire an attack at a enemy low on endurance and generate a slightly larger amount of Focus. This ability also works with Death's Usher, so a Death Godlike with this ability can be quite fearsome on low Endurance enemies.
Snake's Reflexes/Bear's Fortitude/Bull's Will/Superior Deflection
A bonus to defenses is always welcomed. Grabbing these if you have talent slots to spare if often a very good idea.
Swapping around weapon sets brings a lot of utility to your Cipher. If you plan on swapping around weapons a lot, this talent is a must-have. Otherwise you can probably ignore this. Its worth noting there's also a belt in the game that has this talent on it, which can allow you avoid using this on a talent slot.
Apprentice's Sneak Attack
An easy way to boost damage. You should ideally be setting up the conditions for this to kick in, especially since a lot of the Ciphers powers are good at doing this.
This is a very potent talent, giving you a damage boost and attack speed boost, which can do wonders with your Focus generation. Keep in mind though that the attack speed boost does not stack with Time Parasite, and if you're using a Gun, this will do nothing to your reloading animation.
Finally we hit the section we've been waiting for, the Powers. There's gonna be a lot to cover here, of course first up we have the one my build uses:
1st - Antipathetic Field, Mind Wave, Soul Shock, Whisper of Treason
2nd - Mental Binding, Phantom Foes, Psychovampiric Shield, Recall Agony
3rd - Ectopsychic Echo, Pain Link, Secret Horrors, Soul Ignition
4th - Body Attunement, Pain Block, Silent Scream, Wild Leech
5th - Borrowed Instinct, Tactical Meld
6th - Amplified Wave, Disintegrate
7th - Time Parasite
And of course I'm gonna sum them all up, hoo boy. Lets get started.
This is a very powerful tether based power, dealing more damage than the Wizard's Ray of Fire! Its does have the limitation of being forced to move around to position it, plus you must avoid getting your allies caught in it as this will destroy them in no time flat.
Blind is a very powerful status effect and being able to freely use it in each encounter makes this extremely useful during the early parts of the game. This also affects Will as well, which a lot of enemies during Act 1 have a low value in that area. If you have a Wizard or Druid though, this power does become less useful during a skirmish they may decide to toss out a spell or once Spell Mastery is available, as their sources of blind are much more effective overall.
Knocking a group of enemies Prone has a lot of applications, especially if you run a lot of other casters. It can help with being swarmed and it can allow Reflex and Deflection based attacks land much easier.
A potent and extremely spammable AoE power. It deals decent damage and has no affect on your own allies. This power alone will decimate a majority of early game encounters. I find myself using it less later in the game, but its still a pretty good AoE attack, especially if you have someone running the Stormcaller.
Its very hard to recommend this over Whisper of Treason now, due to its average cast speed and less powerful overall effect.The Frightened effect though has a very long duration, which can really help out with landing a majority of your powers.
Whisper of Treason
The signature move of a Cipher and with good reason too, as this power is just incredible now. It has a fast cast speed and it also inflicts Charmed which has numerous applications. A Charmed target will distract enemies, and also attack them too. Charm also lowers all defenses by 25 points, which makes them very easy to kill.
Not a fan of this personally but its a very good power. It deals an excellent amount of damage and also knocks back an enemy, so its a decent move to use should a Wizard or Priest have an enemy wailing on them. Sadly however you cannot target yourself with this. This is also one of the few powers capable of Focus generation, with the amount of damage it deals, this will generate a lot more than most weapons you'll have during the early parts of the game!
A decent AoE power, this move does less damage than Soul Shock however, but it does affect a much broader area.
The old classic. Paralysis is an excellent effect and is a good way to stop a dangerous enemy in its tracks. Paralyzed enemies also make the best Focus generation targets, as such an ideal use of this power would be to open with it and then fire a shot at them and generate a huge chunk of Focus in return.
Another thing that makes this power really stand out is that any enemies near the paralyzed target get inflicted with Stuck, making this useful even for controlling groups. Its duration though is very short, but its still there.
This power has a very long duration and a very large radius. Its very useful for triggering Sneak Attacks, especially in areas where setting up flanks is difficult due to the narrow space, like a lot of indoor battles. However, this does get suppressed by other afflictions that lower Deflection, including Blind.
Oh hey I wrote about this recently. Copy/Paste
+25 Deflection is pretty nice, but I've always preferred this Power for its -10 Resolve.
-10 Resolve from Psychovampiric Shield is a great way to lower an enemy's deflection and will defense. It also lowers their Concentration as well which great for Interrupting. This also doesn't get suppressed from Miasma of Dull Mindness which means you can get a -16 Resolve on one enemy target. It also doesn't get suppressed by Wild Leech either which could potentially lead to a very tasty -20 Resolve, however Wild Leech does pick a random attribute so it isn't exactly reliable
Wild Leech doesn't get suppressed by Miasma either, so in theory you could stack all three and potentially get an incredible -26 Resolve! But I haven't actually tested it, and it would be difficult to test since Wild Leech is so random.
The Cipher's answer to Combusting Wounds, though it unfortunately only affects a single target. Functionally though, you would use this in the same manner as you would use Combusting Wounds by pairing it with a lot quick rapid hitting attacks and DoT effects. This power also stacks with Combusting Wounds, though ticks from Combusting Wounds won't trigger any damage from this and vice versa.
The most famous (infamous?) power in the Cipher's arsenal. Much like Antipathetic Field, this power deals enormous amount of damage, rivaling the likes of the Wizard's Bitter Mooring! However what makes this power even better is that you can tether to an ally with it, and this power has no friendly fire attached, making it much more user friendly. Attaching this to a melee character at the start of a combat and having him move around behind the enemy lines is an effective use of the power, and can potentially make this the Cipher's best source of AoE damage even.
This power is a massive debuff to enemy defenses, making it a pretty ideal power to make use of against major targets. If you have other sources of Hobbled and Weakened though, you may want to pass on this.
A decent "AoE" attack. Cast this on one of your tanks, and watch enemies get their damage reflected back at them each time they score a hit. One of the main reasons to take this power though is the fact that this can be cast outside of battle. It has a pretty good duration to boot as well.
Whisper of Treason will usually be a better use of Focus since Charmed does nearly the same thing as Dominate, costs significantly less Focus and has a much longer range. Puppet Master does have a few things going for it though; for one it has longer duration than Whisper of Treason. Dominate also doesn't incur a massive penalty to accuracy and defenses like Charmed does, making a Dominated target much more of a potent threat to their own allies.
Oh man, I love this. This power inflicts Sickened and Frightened in a wide area, which excellent for lowering enemy defenses. This power is really good if your packing a lot of casters as this will make Fort-based spells much easier to use. Frightened is also good since it lowers Will, so this power can also work as an accuracy boost for your Cipher.
This is a pretty powerful DoT effect, but it only applies to a single target. Still the damage is good and its useful for generating hits out of Combusting Wounds or Recall Agony.
Lowering enemy DR is always a good to have. This is also gives you sizable boost to your own DR which can be handy in some situations.
This is a very damaging AoE attack, it is however a line based AoE so you'll most likely have to adjust your positioning in order to avoid damaging your own allies with this. As a line AoE, this also puts it at slight odds with Ectopsychic Echo and Antipathetic Field.
This is the Cipher's one and only healing power, its a pretty good one though. It heals for a decent amount and also gives a delicious +10 DR to the affected ally.
This power may seem less impressive than Mind Lance until you realize that this baby deals Raw damage. Which means it flat out ignores DR, making this an incredibly deadly AoE attack. It also inflicts Stunned on the primary target as well, which you can also use to gain back the Focus you spent on this power too.
This power can seem unreliable since it affects a random attribute so you don't have too much control over it. It is however a -10 to a random attribute so the effects will still be felt regardless of what it affects. This also in turn gives you a +10 bonus to random attribute which can be very powerful since it has a fairly good chance of affecting one of your primary attributes.
What an incredible power. -8 to Intelligence and Perception is pretty dang good, but to add to it you also get all kinds of accuracy and defensive bonuses as well!
AoE Charmed and Dominate is as good as it sounds. I'm not a huge fan of this though, as its range is painfully short, and will likely have the Cipher standing next to their intended target.
Yep, that's a lot of raw damage. It also deals a sizable amount of Crush damage should you kill a target with this, which will probably deal more damage to your own allies than the enemies, so use this with caution.
This may seem underwhelming since you can get the same thing from Borrowed Instinct, however this power can be used outside of combat (You need Greater Focus however). Also Borrowed Instinct needs to actually land on the target in order for you to gain its bonuses. Against, say, a dragon, you can't always afford the luxury.
This deals a decent amount of Crush damage and affects a wide area. The real reason you want to use this though is the fact this also inflicts Prone. Coupled with its massive AoE, this is an excellent CC tool. It does cost an enormous amount of Focus however.
Quite possibly the most powerful DoT effect in the game, this power deals colossal amounts of raw damage. Be very careful though, as enemies that die while under its effects will leave behind no loot.
AoE confuse is pretty good and this power disperses in a wide area too. However 60 Focus is hard to justify for it, especially when you can just use Scrolls of Confusion for similar effects.
This power can be used to lock out an enemy from combat, they won't be able to take any damage however. This makes it highly situational, and with a 70 Focus cost, its almost not worth even using.
A combination of Deleterious Alacrity of Motion and Arduous Delay of Motion. Not a bad combo by any means but it does cost an enormous 70 Focus. Its a pretty good power but the high Focus cost limits its use greatly.
This I confess is an area I'm not very good at. What I typically run though is:
Weapon 1: Scon Mica's Roar
Weapon 2: Golden Gaze
Head: Helm of Darksee
Body: Vengiatta Rugia
Neck: Talisman of the Unconquerable
Hands: Pilferer's Grip
Feet: Glanfathan Stalking Boots
Waist: Girdle of Maegfolc Might
Ring 1: Ring of Protection
Ring 2: Ring of Thorns
Which decent but I'm sure many of you can think of better builds then that. I won't really delve into this though, as there's a ton of items and I'll be here forever trying to cover them all. So here's a brief list on some other good choices.
Weapon 1: Scon Mica's Roar, Lead Splitter, Dulcanale, Fellstroke, Persistence, Stormcaller, The Rain of Godagh Field, Borresaine, Lenas Êr, Stormcaller
Weapon 2: Golden Gaze, Pretty Pretty's Rib
Head: Helm of Darksee, Hermit's Hat, Stag Helm, Azalin's Helmet, Tempered Helm
Body: Vengiatta Rugia, Starlit Garb, Raiment of Wael's Eyes, Angio's Gambeson, just plain boring enchanted Clothing
Neck: Talisman of the Unconquerable
Hands: Pilferer's Grip, Bracers of All-Consuming Rage, Gauntlets of Swift Action, Gauntlets of Accuracy, Ryona's Vambraces, Gloves of Manipulation, Rabbit Fur Gloves
Feet: Glanfathan Stalking Boots, Boots of Speed, Boot of Stealth, Malina's Boots
Waist: Girdle of Maegfolc Might, Broad Belt of Power, Sentinel's Girdle, Belt of Stelgaer, Coil of Resourcefulness
Rings: Ring of Protection, Ring of Thorns, Ring of Searing Flames, Ring of Unshackling, Pensiavi mes Rèi, Sigil of the Arcane, Frigid Claim, Bartender's Ring
I have probably missed a TON of things. So go yell at me for anything I missed or anything I may be unaware of.
Edited by Wolken3156, 09 February 2016 - 09:48 PM.