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My last (and best) playthrough in PoE I was with a (most of the time) ranged Cipher (bows) who occasionally went into melee. 

 

The consensus at launch was that Cipher plays very underwhelming in comparison to PoE I. 

Has that changed? What is the state of the class now? Does it work well when playing Path of the damned (especially single-class)?

 

Also, my stat allocation in PoE I looked roughly like this (i don't have the game installed at the moment, so i'm not completely sure): 

M 16 C 7 D 15 P 11 I 17 R 9

Does this work well? I read that perception is especially important in PoE II.

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Ciphers aren't as OP for a few reasons, but one of them is that now all class have per encounter abilities, making cipher's regenerating (unlimited) casting resource not as powerful in relation to that. Having said that, my first playthrough was a cipher/rogue on the second hardest difficulty and it was great. People will point out that you can't dish out the massive damage other classes can on a PotD playthrough, but having a cipher is still good. They're good to bridge the gap between dps/heal/support, but they're not the best at any of those, and have some unique spells to boot. 

 

People tend to dump resolve more get perception. 

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People will point out that you can't dish out the massive damage other classes can on a PotD playthrough, but having a cipher is still good.

 

Ciphers are extremely good at crowd control though. When the PoTD re-balancing first happened and I was still adjusting to the new curve (especially early on) I was pretty much carried by charm/dominate effects that the cipher can basically do at will.

 

On another note, grazes are much more punishing to ciphers than they were in PoE1, so perception or perception inspirations are more important for a cipher. (In PoE1 grazes were an additive -50% modifier which you could easily trivialize with bonuses. In PoE2 grazes are very close a x.5 multiplier [slightly more complicated than that, but just to illustrate how much stronger it is], so it's much harder to trivialize/dwarf with bonuses, and therefore grazes are much costlier for focus generation than before. I think the math works out that might or dex is still better for net focus generation (i did the math for an ascendant at one point), but on PotD early game especially perception is more important than it was in PoE1. If you're planning on picking up CC spells then obviously perception becomes more important than might/dex because it improves your focus generation and also helps your CC in ways neither might or dex can.

Edited by thelee
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In my most recent playthrough, I spent a lot of time with Ydwin as a ranged cipher/rogue (I had her around for Beast of Winter). I was initially somewhat disappointed with the level 7 cipher skills (your highest level for multiclass characters). At first glance, they seem super underwhelming compared to say, a wizards or priests level 7 skill set. I mean, really, Statis Shell? Priests can put someone into Statis on level 2.

 

But I guess Ciphers really shine in the long battles. All your other classes run out of spells, but the cipher can keep dishing it out. Also, all those mind control spells can turn the tides in a pinch. 

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As noted above, they aren't as visibly powerful any more because other casters have spells/encounter. Unlimited resources only comes into play when you have a very long battle. 

 

However, they have access to resource-inexpensive Charm/Dominate early on, which is arguably the best CC in the game. They also can reliably apply most afflictions to enemies and most inspirations to allies (Ancestor's Memory FTW). Many of their damaging abilities deal Raw damage, so they can bypass AR so long as you hit (so long as you have high perception).

 

Ciphers are still my favorite class. The only thing I don't like is that a lot of the buffs can't be self-cast (but that was also the case in POE1). 

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In my most recent playthrough, I spent a lot of time with Ydwin as a ranged cipher/rogue (I had her around for Beast of Winter). I was initially somewhat disappointed with the level 7 cipher skills (your highest level for multiclass characters). At first glance, they seem super underwhelming compared to say, a wizards or priests level 7 skill set. I mean, really, Statis Shell? Priests can put someone into Statis on level 2.

 

Priest stasis (withdrawal) is a defensive healing spell. Cipher's is a flexible target-anyone ability, no? That flexibility comes at a price. Can use it on defense (without healing), but also to sequester an annoying enemy away (or multiple enemies) until you've gotten rid of their friends. (After having done SSS would've been handy for my underoptimized party to have had a cipher to Stasis away some of the monsters on the Survival track challenges). Also, I forget--is this the one that lets dots continue unabated? If so, that adds to its power level.

 

PL7 also contains Ancestor's Memory, which is amazing.

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A trickster/soul blade is a very good skirmisher with decent defenses. You can also use assassin/soulblade to make an extremly squishy, but also extremly good alpha striker. Both builds require a good deal of micro management though. The trickster/soulblade with a two hander has been my favorite so far, it offers good defenses, massive mobility, high damage and you can get some good cc from cipher.

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