Both (melee or ranged) works well with a cipher. When ranged there are three approaches which grant good focus:
1. Quick Switch + multiple guns or arbalests or crossbows: you want to get as many weapon sets as possible (Island Aumaua + Arms Bearer talent = 4 weapon sets) and fill them with your weapom s of choice, e.g. arquebuses. Once you want to focus you switch to an unfired weapon set and shoot. This can give you immense focus bursts when you need them, but only 4 times until you have to reload. Another variant is to use a bow or implement for the 4th weapon set and use that after all guns got fired.
Pro: very fast focus gain at the beginning of the combat
Con: slower focus gain once you used all guns, intensive micromanagement because of manual switching
Special feature: there's a crossbow in the game that works with every weapon focus and shoots two times before you have to reload and it also gives +3 extra focus per shot for ciphers.
I would recommend 4 arquebuses.
Yeah and that's basically it. Bows have higher sustained DPS when the fights are longer. Hunting Bows are faster and do better against foes with low DR, war bows also work ok against armored foes but are slower.
Pro: higher DPS
Con: sometimes takes a few more shots to get enough focus against high DR foes.
Special feature: there's a Hunting Bow in the game that works with every weapon focus causes -6 shock DR on the target and does shock damage (works with Heart of the Storm talent).
I would use war bows.
Same as bows basically, implements have a bit less base damage but two damage types which can be a big advantage against foes who are resistant or immune to pierce damage as well as meeting foes who are vulnerable to crush or slash. There's also an implement with the speed enchantment fairly early in the game (Engwythan Scepter) which will be the best ranged DPS (or better: focus per second) option overall for a cipher - at that point in the game.
Pro: very flexible, better DPS when meeting pierce resistant foes or foes who have a certain weakness.
Con: a bit less DPS against foes with no special resistance to pierce damage
Special feature: there's a rod in the game that shoots two projectiles instead of one and it can proc a spell on hit that lowers enemies' DR by 5 points and debuffs their defenses.
I would aim for the Golden Gaze (rod, ruffian) or stick to the Engwythan Sceptre (scepter, noble). The good thing with
wands rods and scepters is that they are both in the same weapon group and thus you can cover all physical damage types (crush/slash/pierce) with a wand rod and a scepter in your weapon slots.
All those approaches work well. At the moment I like the implements best.
Edited by Boeroer, 19 April 2017 - 04:16 PM.