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I'm nearing the end of my first Turn Based playthrough (just mega-bosses and Ukaizo left!) so I wanted to share some findings and thoughts in hopes that it will help others (or at least that I'll have my mind changed on some things and get better for my next playthrough).

 

Mods/Berath's Blessings Disclaimer:

These are the mods and BBs that might have influenced how I viewed this playthrough:

 

Godlike Tweaks (Mod): Switches Godlike stats to be +1 Con/Dex/Per/Int. Obviously pretty good for my Nature Godlike Watcher. Specifically the Con boost alongside Bloodpool Durance and Gift From the Machine is an effective boost to all of my other stats because it makes dumping Con way safer than it would normally be.

Soulbound Upgrade (Mod): Soulbounds that normally cap at Superb instead cap at Legendary. Fairly relevant with Lord Darryn's Voulge, since you will end up wading into melee in some longer fights and it upgrades very quickly, allowing pretty early access to Legendary.

Close to Board No Damage (Mod): Skip right to normal combat with ships. Massive money saver, since you basically don't need to upgrade or maintain your ship.

+5000 Starting Money, Fine Equipment, and Unique Item Vendor (BB): The start with good equipment cheat. Makes Port Maje that much easier and gives fairly early access to some end game gear.

Can I Pet Him Anyway (BB): I didn't have Eder in party the whole time (I know, I know, hard to believe) so not as powerful as it could be. A second pet is very strong though, and I'd probably not use this except that not giving Eder a pet would make me a heartless monster.

Skills (BB): Makes dialogue checks passable, basically. Definitely allows for some quicker item access and easier early game quest completion.

Mythical Discovery (BB): This went on Kapana Taga, which is extremely relevant, since the drawback of that weapon is low pen. Kapana Taga also spent a lot of time with my Harbinger and the extra accuracy to land debuffs and start making a foe's stats more hit-able is pretty strong too.

Veteran No Upscaling For Engwithan Digsite: Not a mod or blessing but I decided to start the game on Veteran to ease my way into Turn Based. I switched to POTD for Gorecci Street onwards. I think I'd have been fine taking on that Drake on POTD since I was already meta-gaming the fight by taking Charm Beast at level 2.

Cosmic Pets: Also not a mod or a blessing but I consoled them in right away. They're not game breaking but specifically handing Comet to Eder is pretty strong for Port Maje.

 

 

Background Info: Build and Party Set-Up

I played a Nature Godlike Fate Testarossa build (credit to Ascaloth) for my Watcher. Pre-level 13, I had a fairly standard party: Priest Xoti, Riposte/Engagement Swash Eder, Single Class Aloth, and story relevant companion slot. My post level 13 core party consisted of the Watcher, a Zealot Vatnir (Preist of Rymrgand/Rogue) with a focus on buffs and AoE DPR, and a hireling Harbinger (Troubadour/Trickster) that ended up being basically another Ascaloth build (The Cunning Duelist), except with more of a focus on dual-wielding than crits (I was actually really excited about building this character and wanted to make a build post but then checked the build list and it's like... 90% the same character. Oh well, someone else coming up with it first just means I was right about it being good). The spare slots were for story relevant companions, with generally one being a Chanter healer (Tekehu, Pallegina, Konstanten or Fassina) and the other being built for DPR (literally everyone else).

 

Post Level 13 Core Party Builds

Watcher - Nature Godlike Ascetic (Fury Druid/Helwalker Monk)

 

Attributes

Might: 20 (17, +1 Gift From The Machine, +2 Gauntlets of Ogre Might)

Constitution: 6 (3, +1 Godlike [Mod], +1 Durance, +1 Upright Captain's Belt)

Dexterity: 18 (16, +1 Godlike, +1 Boots of the Stone)

Perception: 22 (18, +1 Godlike [Mod], +1 White That Wends, +1 Kuaru's Prize, +1 Cauldron's Brew)

Intelligence: 22 (18, +1 Godlike, +2 Charm of Bones, +1 Kuaru's Prize)

Resolve: 4 (3, +1 Boots of the Stone)

 

Equipment

Head: Godlike

Neck: Charm of Bones

Armor: Deltro's Cage (Core to the build: +2 Electricity PL)

Rings: Kuaru's Prize, Ring of Overseeing

Boots: Boots of the Stone

Shoulders: Cloak of Greater Protection -> Giftbearer's Cloth if you don't care about dialogue or you're past most of it

Trinket: Detonator Shard (Obviously not important but I figured healing to pair with Helwalker's Might is good)

Hands: Gauntlets of Ogre Might/Woedica's Strangling Grasp (Core to the Build: +2 Might is necessary to hit the 35 cap)

Waist: Upright Captain's Belt (more for the Concentration/Constitution than the immunity)

Pet: Loki

Weapon Set 1: Lord Darryn's Voulge (Core to the Build: +3(!) Storm PL)

Weapon Set 2: Spearcaster [Elemental Bolts/Pinning] (Not important but ranged backup is useful and this gets an accuracy boost from a skill you want)

Ascaloth's Fate Testarossa used a lot more 1/rest equipment but I'm really picky about resting before I'm out of Empower so I ditched most of it. I'd guess that the 1/rest stuff is more powerful but I'm just showing my work here so I gotta be honest about what I have.

 

Skills

Active: 6 points into Stealth, then the rest went into Arcana. I used Spearcaster as a backup weapon and 13 Arcana gets you scrolls of Avenging Storm by level 20, which is pretty important for a Nature Godlike that can't wear Heaven's Cacophony. 1 or 2 points out of Stealth and into Athletics might be better.

Passive: Insight, Diplomacy, and Metaphysics so that my Watcher can say the lines I want her to. Respec'd into maxed History to wear Giftbearer's Cloth for SSS, and will keep it that way for megabosses/Ukaizo.

 

Proficiencies

Only one I used was Arbalest w/Spearcaster. I obviously grabbed Pollaxe, too, but never felt the need to use it. Everything else was irrelevant - I did not use those weapons.

 

PL1 (Levels 1-3)

Dancing Bolts (Fury)

Swift Strikes

Sunbeam

Charm Beast -> Force of Anguish post-Digsite

Lesser Wounds

 

PL 2 (Levels 4-6)

Burst of Summer Flame (Fury)

Taste of the Hunt (2nd most important spell behind Relentless Storm, IMO - saved my Watcher 100s of times)

Dance of Death

Two-Handed Style

Long Stride (I found stride to be extremely useful in TB)

 

PL 3 (Levels 7-9)

Returning Storm (Fury)

Combat Focus (Concentration is really important in TB)

Swift Flurry

Efficient Anguish

Stag's Horn  (Taken last because let's be real: this spell slot is dedicated to Returning Storm until you hit Relentless Storm)

 

PL 4 (Levels 10-12)

Hail Storm (Fury) (I ended up really liking this spell - it's boosted by Lord Darryn's Voulge and clears trash fast)

Heart of the Storm

Duality of Mortality Presence

Thunderous Blows

Enduring Dance (Taken last because you get 2 wounds right away for activating it, so half the time it gets knocked off you'll have a decent wound count anyways)

 

PL 5 (Levels 13-15)

Relentless Storm (Fury) (VERY good in TB - more on that in the post)

Rapid Casting (This allows you to cast Relentless Storm in the Surprise Round)

Enervating Blows

Secrets of Rime (I don't love underlevel picking stuff but Hail Storm was getting cast so often that it seemed like a strong choice)

The Long Pain

 

PL6 (Levels 16-18)

Sunlance (Fury)

Spell Shaping (Another underlevel pick - I think it gives some needed life back to Sunbeam and is obviously good with my favorite trash clearing spell, Hail Storm)

Turning Wheel

Uncanny Luck (Really a bunch of the underlevel picks here should be Monk goodies like Flagellant's Path but I spent so much time playing this as a control/DPR caster that picking passives felt like better choices)

Fast Runner (See above ^^^)

 

PL 7 (Levels 19&20)

Weather The Storm (Fury)

Bear's Fortitude (The final piece of the dump CON plan)

Heartbeat Drumming

Instruments of Pain (This was my first Monk and this having a duration was a pleasant surprise)

 

 

Hireling - Wood Elf Harbinger (Troubadour Chanter/Trickster Rogue)

 

Attributes

Might: 18

Constitution: 7 (3, +3 Girdle of Eoten Constitution, +1 Baubles of the Fin)

Dexterity: 14 (10, +1 Elf, +1 Chameleon's Touch, +1 Burglar's Gloves, +1 Boots of the Stone)

Perception: 20 (18, +1 Elf, +1 White That Wends)

Intelligence: 20 (18, +1 Baubles of the Fin, +1 Chameleon's Touch)

Resolve: 9 (8, +1 Boots of the Stone)

If I'd had a better idea of what I was doing when starting this build, I'd have gone Wild Orlan instead of Wood Elf and kept Might at 10 (well, 11, -1 Orlan), sticking one or two of those points into Dex, and the rest into Resolve instead. I was keeping the stats open to being an Ancient Memories healer but then didn't go that way and didn't want to deal with the huge XP gap of grabbing a new hireling in the late game. Besides, 18 Might was useful for Eld Nary.

 

Equipment

Head: Whitewitch Mask/Helm of the White Void (I think Helm is better but Whitewitch is available way earlier and a lot of builds want the Helm)

Neck: Baubles of the Fin

Armor: Devil of Caroc Breastplate [Devil's Due/Mechanical Mind] -> Robes of the Weyc (Ascaloth's similar Harbinger used Gipon Prudensco instead of DoC and I'd have done the same if I hadn't already switched to Weyc by the time I saw Ascaloth's build - Robes of the Weyc offering Brilliant shenanigans is just too good in the end game)

Rings: Chameleon's Touch, Ring of Overseeing

Boots: Boots of the Stone

Shoulders: Ruata's Walking Cloak (Probably should have dropped this for Greater Protection)

Trinket: Betrayal (IMO better than picking than Charm Invocation for how often I actually wanted to Charm someone over just trying to kill them or casting Confusion to remove buffs)

Hands: Burglar's Gloves (This was my Mechanics Monkey)

Waist: Girdle of Eoten Constitution

Weapon Set 1: Main: Endre's Flog of Obedience [Tortured Mind] Off:Kapana Taga [Champion's Relic/All Comers] (Endre's in the Main is occasionally +5 accuracy for Kapana Taga via Terrified)

Weapon Set 2: Main: Sasha's Singing Scimitar [Refreshing Finale/Shocking Prelude] Off: Wand of the Weyc (Endgame weapon set essentially... Empowering an Eld Nary, then getting Weyc's pseudo Empower and enough phrases for a second Eld Nary was literally 1000s of damage over two rounds and the portion of the game I had this stuff for (SSS) was a bunch of encounters perfectly set up to get a lot out of Eld Nary)

 

Skills

Active: I went 12 into Mechanics, and the rest into Stealth.

Passive: Survival because high Perception makes you good at scouting and I was originally planning to use Mohora Tanga alongside the improved mobility from Ruata's Walking Cloak to jump to the backline and gib squishies, then just... didn't.

 

Proficiencies

Club and Flail! -25 Reflex and Will is an amazing debuff for an auto-attack and I pretty much always had the modals on, since this wasn't a DPR build. I also took Wand and Sabre and used those modals a fair amount, too. My other proficiencies included Battle Axe and Mace, with the idea that I'd lower armor and apply DoTs in long fights but I never actually used that weapon set, since the debuffs from my Club/Flail were pretty much always relevant what with Chanter abilities.

 

PL1 (Levels 1-3)

Arkemyr's Dazzling Lights (Trickster)

And Hel-Hyraf Crashed Upon the Shield

Come, Come, Soft Winds of Death

Escape

Crippling Strike

Fast Runner (Could have easily been Defensive Roll but I love Stride)

 

PL 2 (Levels 4-6)

Mirrored Image (Trickster) (So good!)

At the Sound of His Voice, the Killer Froze Stiff (Core to the Build: This lasts 1 round in TB, so a Troubadour can prevent enemies from acting 50% of the time)

Blinding Strike (Core to the Build: +10 Accuracy means you hit, Blinded means you keep hitting)

Thick Grew Their Tongues, Stumbling O'er Words (Core to the Build: The basic premise was a dual wield interrupter)

Dirty Fighting

 

PL 3 (Levels 7-9)

Ryngrim's Repulsive Visage (Trickster) (Very good on a melee build like this one)

The Shield Cracks (Super important for boss battles, this effectively has duration: infinite)

Confounding Blind (Core to the Build: This is a massive debuff and pretty much assures everyone else starts hitting the target)

Finishing Blow

Combat Focus (Concentration is good in TB - you often won't have another means of defense against focus fire interrupting you)

 

PL 4 (Levels 10-12)

Lengrath's Displaced Image (Trickster)

...And their Fear Followed (Core to the Build: This upgrade allows a Troubadour to completely prevent foes from taking relevant actions if they're not Dex/Res resistant)

Persistent Distraction

Aefyllath Ues Mith Fyr

The Long Night's Drink Birthed the Revenge of the Morning

 

PL 5 (Levels 13-15)

Confusion (Trickster)

Spell Shaping (Underlevel pick but hitting more foes with hard control is worth it)

Deep Wounds

Devastating Blow

Rapid Casting

 

PL6 (Levels 16-18)

Arkemyr's Wondrous Torment (Trickster)

So Singt Biting Winds o' Eld Nary (IMO one of the best DPR abilities now that it's DPR and not DPS)

Uncanny Luck

Rise Again, Rise Again, Scions of Adon (Underlevel but leading up to...)

... And Face Your Foes (Helped with bosses, since I'm not always very careful about not having squishies in the danger zone)

 

PL 7 (Levels 19&20)

Gaze of the Adragan (Trickster) (A little redundant with Killers Froze Stiff but having both is still nice)

Many Lives Pass By, Each Leaving Footprints

Deathblows

Accurate Empower (Sasha's Scimitar means your Chanter will be Empowering things, so your empowered stuff may as well hit)

 

Chants

Trash Mobs: Mith Fyr, Soft Winds

Some Bosses: Thick Tongues, Long Night

Other Bosses: Thick Tongues, Many Lives

Interrupt Immune Bosses: Many Lives, Many Lives

 

 

Vatnir - Endings Godlike Zealot (Priest of Rymrgand/Rogue)

 

Attributes

Might: 13

Constitution: 11 (8, +1 Godlike [Mod], +2 Girdle of Mortal Protection)

Dexterity: 16 (12, +1 Godlike, +2 Footprints of Ahu Taka, +1 Rokowa's Fingers)

Perception: 16 (15, +1 Godlike [Mod])

Intelligence: 17 (16, +1 Godlike)

Resolve: 12

Vatnir has some pretty good stats. I'm glad Obs finally realized "Dump CON" is the only way to go.

 

Equipment

Head: Godlike

Neck: Cog of Cohh

Armor: Miscreant's Leathers (Super important! You really want Vatnir to go first, and this is the fastest armor)

Rings: Ring of Greater Regeneration x2 (Uninspired, should've at least worn Halgot's Warmth)

Boots: Footsteps of Ahu Taka (Honestly more for the Dexterity than the Priest benefits)

Shoulders: Cloak of Greater Protection

Trinket: Whatever the Rymrgand one was for flavor

Hands: Rokowa's Fingers (+DEX where the second ability didn't feel "wasted" - Firethrowers probably would have been better even w/o Evocation spells since more DEX is way better than free Sparkcrackers)

Waist: Girdle of Mortal Protection

Weapon Set 1: The Willbreaker

Weapon Set 2: Watershaper's Focus -> Chromoprismatic Staff

 

Skills

Active: 3 Mechanics to pair with another party member having 4 Mechanics to boost the Harbinger, 6 Stealth, and the rest into Athletics. Vatnir was my Athletics problem solver, which doesn't really fit his character but he was always in my party, so...

Passive: Religion 5, then whatever boosts the Watcher. I respec'd to pure Metaphysics at the same time I respec'd the Watcher to pure History but I could probably count on one hand that amount of times I used Chromoprismatic as a weapon rather than a stat-stick.

 

Proficiencies

Morningstar! -25 Fortitude! The Rod modal is okay too, though I'm mostly using it as a stat-stick. Quarterstaff is theoretically useful, except enemies didn't really try to focus Vatnir if he was hanging back in caster mode. Probably the Watcher and the Harbinger having minmax stats was drawing focus away from Vatnir.

 

PL1 (Levels 1-3)

Touch of Rot (Rymrgand)

Interdiction (Auto)

Crippling Strike (Auto)

Restore

Escape

 

PL 2 (Levels 4-6)

Blizzard (Rymrgand)

Two-Handed Style

Blinding Strike (Core to the Build: +10 accurcy helps you hit, then Blinded means everyone else starts hitting. Great on a Priest, since it stacks with all your accuracy buffs)

Dirty Fighting

Iconic Projection (Could have been something else but I was specifically picking something to spam w/Footsteps of Ahu Taka granting an extra level 2 slot. Health and damage seemed like good spam but I also didn't use it all that much)

 

PL 3 (Levels 7-9)

Spreading Plague (Rymrgand)

Dire Blessing

Confounding Blind

Finishing Blow

Combat Focus

 

PL 4 (Levels 10-12)

Noxious Burst (Rymrgand)

Devotions For The Faithful (This spell was the key that unlocked POTD - you cast it and everyone starts hitting stuff. A top notch nerf to those enemies that get scripted to start combat right on top of you, too)

Persistent Distraction (Didn't use this as much as I could have with Vatnir, as I'd often be positioning him relative to the party rather than relative to the enemy)

Divine Terror

Spell Shaping (Took this on all my casters because it's a solid 7/10 skill to me but I think it's more like 8/10 or 9/10 for Priests - the -5 PL for bigger AoE is basically irrelevant on buff spells)

 

PL 5 (Levels 13-15)

Blast of Frost (Rymrgand)

Rapid Casting (+10% Action speed is very important since you really want Devotions for the Faithful to resolve in the Surprise Round)

Deep Wounds

Devastating Blow

Barring Death's Door (Standard action with Vatnir's good Initiative makes this super easy to time well)

 

PL6 (Levels 16-18)

Ninagauth's Freezing Pillar (Rymrgand)

Salvation of Time

Uncanny Luck

Pillar of Holy Fire

Farcasting (This is me being lazy - I picked this up because of Ninagauth's range but Vatnir doesn't overuse his Guile and he can afford to use Escape for the occasional spell positioning)

 

PL 7 (Levels 19&20)

Death Ring (Rymrgand)

Cleansing Flame

Deathblows

Accurate Empower (Probably should have been something else - mostly used Empower to return resources on Vatnir)

 

 

An Aside - What's With the Pre-13/Post-13 Divide?

 

Level 13 is PL 5 for a multiclass character, which is when you get Relentless Storm. Between high PER, PL boosts, and a buffing priest, it basically never misses. With Duality of Mortal Presence giving you +10 INT, it hits every enemy in the encounter. In Turn Based, there is no downtime on the stun. The game changes entirely from normal gameplay to "Do my enemies have Might Resistance/Immunity? No? I win."

 

So Post-13 Party is dedicated to covering holes (like Might Resistance) and making sure Relentless Storm lands.

 

 

Early Game - Learning the System in Port Maje

Port Maje's job is definitely punishing me for my hubris. "I beat PoE1, I know what I'm doing!" "I beat this game on RTwP, I know what I'm doing!" I never actually know what I'm doing, of course. A lot of the combat in Port Maje I dealt with in Real Time with Pause by pulling enemies and you can't do that in Turn Based. A very basic strategy, totally out the window. Right from the start, you're forced to re-assess how to deal with two very hard fights (the Drake and Gorecci Street) because the standard method doesn't work. This forced me to learn the first really important part of TB, which is:

 

The Surprise Round

Entering combat from Stealth currently (v4.1.0) gives you a surprise round where your entire party and just one enemy will have a round of actions. This is a simple and powerful action economy boost - it puts your entire party at +1 actions over all but one of your enemies. The Surprise Round is short, initiative-wise, so you're "limited" to Free Actions, Movement, and 1 Standard Action or shorter Cast if you want to take advantage of it - longer casts will resolve in the following round and prevent you from doing anything that round that isn't movement/free actions, thus robbing you of the advantage of the Surprise Round (being up one action).

If you're thinking: "Don't a lot of hard fights prevent you from opening from stealth via scripted starts?", then you're sort of right. Here's the thing: a lot of scripted start fights give an effective Surprise Round anyways. The Effective Surprise Round is the game having toughest enemy being added to initiative on round 1, with adds joining round 2 for scripted starts. The only fights that consistently don't get Effective Surprise Rounds from scripted are ship fights - it seems like the scripted Effective Surprise Round is reliant on dialogue.

 

The Gorecci Street porch dwellers never knew what hit them (it was a Sunbeam, a Burst of Summer Flame, and Eder for the record).

 

Shorter Casts? Longer Casts? Standard Actions? Free Actions? What are you talking about?

The wikis don't seem to have this information yet, and though it's sort of available in game, it isn't really obvious how it works. Here's what I've determined:

Free Action: All the 0.5 sec/0 sec abilities. You can fire as many of these off in a turn as you have the resources for. They don't affect your initiative in the slightest and they're still available when you've completed a spell earlier in the round (an occurance that can prevent other actions).

Standard Action: Resolves on your turn. I haven't looked through thoroughly but basically all martial abiities are Standard or Free. Spells that have 0.5 cast time but require recovery time are Standard. Auto-attacking is a Standard. You get 1 Standard (or 1 Cast) per round and can move/take free actions both before and after taking a Standard.

Short Cast: All the 3.0 second spells. These seem to resolve 1-5 turns later. Good Action Speed generally meant they were resolving right after the caster's turn or with only one or two turns in between. Functionally the big difference between a Standard Action and a Short Cast+good Action Speed is you can move/use Free Actions before and after a Standard, while a Short Cast effectively ends your turn.

Medium Cast: The 4.5 second spells. These will resolve in the same round towards the end of everyone's turns. Unless it's the Surprise Round - they'll get pushed to the next round for resolution, which means you don't get to take a Cast or Standard action that round. Good Action Speed can get these to point where they'll be able to resolve in the surprise round.

Long Cast: Summons, AKA the 6.0 second spells. I didn't test these much because TB forces you to micro summons and it's agonizing to me. As a rule of thumb, these resolve the following round, effectively taking two of your turns. I'm sure that enough action speed buffs can land them in the same round but like I said, I didn't really test it out. And who I did test it out with was Pallegina, whose DEX: 11 isn't a good representation of how this might affect a Watcher that focuses on summons.

 

The real big takeaway from this is that Action Speed is incredibly important for casters and as far as I can tell meaningless for everyone else - none of the Standard Action martial abilities care about action speed.

 

Initiative is Just Like D&D

The second thing that I figured out while flailing around Port Maje is that the same minmax concepts around Initiative that I know from D&D apply here:

- Initiative for the party overall is about surpassing a threshold: It's just got to be good enough to act before Team Bad Guy.

- Any group buff casters need to have the best initiative: getting buff spells off before everyone has to reposition is important.

- Next in the initiative line is AoE casters/control casters: Their casts aren't instant resolve like D&D but it's still very important to see where the AoE will be and who gets to move before and after

- After AoE casters, Standard Action debuffers and engagers: This part doesn't actually have a D&D parallel but you know. Not all analogies are perfect. It's important for engagers and debuffers to have a higher initiative than whatever count spells resolve on so they can hold down targets and ensure your spells hit.

- Finally, the DPR can go. Their initiative is mostly fine being bad (and definitely should be worse than your other characters!), but Pillars has very few builds that are solely dedicated to DPR, so you'll probably still want to have these characters act in the debuffer/engager stage. If they're actually only doing damage, it doesn't matter when they act.

 

Initiative Isn't Just Like D&D

I wanted to bring up D&D because minmaxers familiar with D&D should intuitively understand why and where a round's order needs to be manipulated but it's important to note that there is a very big difference between Deadfire initiative and D&D initiative:

Deadfire's initiative changes based on the previous round's actions.

Things like Blind, interrupts, etc. that add recovery time to enemies? They really screw over their initiative. DEX Afflictions should also damage a foe's initiative. Your own recovery time is added to initiative too but it's a small number compared to the effects of actions. For example, if you and an enemy both attack with Quarterstaffs, you're both at +4 initiative before modifiers. If your Quarterstaff attack was a Confounding Blind, that adds +100% to the enemy's initiative for Blind, so your enemy is now at +8 initiative. The attack potentially interrupts to put them at +10*. The biggest initiative penalty you'd be getting from armor? Puts you at +6 instead of +4. The actions you take will likely have more influence on a combat's overall initiative than the number on your character sheet.

*In Spoiler:

As best I understand it, interrupts add +2 seconds onto recovery but can't take recovery above its normal max in RTwP - so for example interrupting a 5 second recovery 1 second into the recovery interrupts for only 1 second to reset them back to 5 seconds. If you had instead interrupted 4 seconds into the recovery, you would get the full 2 seconds of interrupt to push them back to 3 seconds. I don't at ll understand how this interacts with TB - it's obvious where the window to interrupt a Cast is but not at all obvious where the window to interrupt a recovery is. There also doesn't seem to be a clear point in the recovery to attack (at least 2 seconds in with that 5 second recovery for example - so you get the full +2 second interrupt penalty unlike if you'd interrupted 1 second in), so are you always getting +2 initiative when you interrupt recovery? If not, why?

Theoretically, interrupting gives the enemy +2 initiative. If you're targeting initiative, theoretically you should interrupt after your target has acted but before the next round because that's the logical place for them to be in recovery. Practically? I have no idea.

 

 

Engaging and Movement

The last thing I got a handle on while in Port Maje is engagement and movement. Engagement is... different. It's only sometimes automatic. It breaks for all characters involved in an engagement whenever an engager or engagee loses the ability to engage (this might be a glitch). I'm 90% sure a lot of engagement specific info will get patched out (this post is v 4.1.0) because it feels... off... but here it is anyways.

Team Bad Guy Engagement: In my not-at-all-rigorous testing, the enemy engages you at the start of combat if they're close enough, if you move past their melee range when they've got a bigger "base" (Drakes, Eotens, Ogres, etc. have bigger "bases" compared to the normal kith-size "base"), and if you engage them.

Team Good Guy Engagement: Taking an action or resolving an action next to a foe creates engagement. If you've used up your Standard Action for the turn, you can click on an enemy to engage them. Every time you engage, your character automatically fills as many of their engagement slots as they can.

What does this all mean? Well, a thorough reading here shows that if you can't engage, you can hit and run with Standard Actions. Not engaging means enemies won't engage and a lot of them don't engage automatically. BIG news for my glass cannon Watcher. I spent a lot of time on Port Maje popping out from behind Eder, giving someone a big two-handed whack, then running back behind Eder. Related, something Aloth taught me is that duration AoEs tick at the start of the caster's turn. Aloth and the Watcher as my engagement-incapable characters were pretty freely able to duck in and out of his Chill Fogs completely unharmed as we harassed the enemies who were inside.

 

EDIT: Finally booted up 4.1.1 instead of 4.1.0, engagement works like normal now. TB is still way  more mobile because of how much easier it is to micro the movement.

 

Movement is also way different from RTwP because it's instant speed. You can move freely during your turn without time passing or having to worry about enemy disruption. However, you can't move in reaction to enemies; once you finish your turn, you are committed to that position.

What does that all mean? Well, fights are more mobile. Movement is way less dangerous to take. Casters would constantly reposition for more effective AoEs. Engagers were less about forming a line in front of your squishies to catch enemies running past and more about pinning down high priority targets. Interrupters didn't need to hang out right next to enemy casters, they could participate in engagement tactics and still easily cross the battlefield to stop the caster on time, every time.

Going back to Aloth's Chill Fog lessons, instant speed movement also means it's way easier to drop AoEs on your own team. The instant speed movement allows you to pass through duration AoEs without harm. For non-duration AoE, you can just look at where it comes in on the initiative order and plan around that.

 

Mid Game - Ideas Under Neketaka

While I'm putting to use my new understanding of Turn Based and trudging through the Old City to get the Kitchen Stove, I'm trying to come up with ideas on how to actually apply the play difference in builds and a functioning party. I start thinking about what is working and what isn't.

 

Melee Damage

Melee damage isn't working. I'm probably partially underwhelmed because I'm comparing it to one of the best DPR casters you can have (Fate Testarossa's schtick of constantly being at 35 Might, getting +3-4 PEN, and having +4-6 PL is very powerful). I'll admit that I also might not be very good at building for the One Big Hit that TB inclines you towards. That said, melee has its uses. Engagement is still a useful tool and the Club/Flail/Morningstar modals are key debuffs.

It's fair to also point out melee damage isn't actually bad - it's just not capable of RTwP's DPS. My endgame rogues were still doing 120+ DPR without even really trying. That was incredibly nice to have attached to things like -25 Fortitude and Blinded. I'll reiterate: I'm not some super talented character builder and could easily be missing something like "Class X and Y weapon do 500 DPR!" But currently, there's just not a lot of impressive low-hanging fruit for DPR. So, until some forum poster shows us the way: melee=utility.

 

Ranged Damage

Ranged damage is working fine and IMO that's because of unique weapons. Dual Mortars is still very good (and will be better when they go back to AoE debuffs!), Watershaper's Focus doing AoE and jump is decent for DPR, Frostseeker does its thing, etc. My RTwP playthrough was a Trickster/Beguiler with dual Mortars who brought Scout Maia and her Arquebuses everywhere, so I didn't actually focus on testing this stuff in TB too much beyond trying a few things out on back-up Companions/Sidekicks.

 

Weapon Switching and Style

Switching weapon sets takes up your turn's Standard Action, so while it's still the right course of action to adjust to armor strengths/weaknesses, making weapon switches is a massive hit to your DPR. It was never great, of course, but losing 1 turn's damage is way harsher than in RTwP losing 2.5 (plus modifiers) seconds' damage.

Two Weapon Fighting gets a huge boost over 1 and 2 Handed Fighting because auto-attacks are full attacks. The game isn't difficult enough that this matters if you stylistically want to go single weapon but from the min-max perspective, the only reasons to ever do anything but Two Weapon are the Morningstar modal, Rod Modal for AoE, and Stat Sticks.

 

Hard Control

I hadn't got Relentless Storm yet when I was brewing ideas but I could see it coming. Returning Storm was telling me everything I needed to know: If you hit a creature, they would lose their next turn. Didn't even matter if they were electricity immune, as I found out fighting grubs. This is the idea that I'd end up building my core party towards: Stunlocking enemies. Several abilities that were strong but not going to single-handedly win encounters in RTwP changed to be incredibly brutal hard control in TB.

The control I ended up focusing on:

Relentless Storm: Besides its screen-covering radius, this was my top-tier control spell due to the duration allowing the caster to actually take actions when the enemies couldn't. Not to mention the Fate Testarossa build giving it a significant PL-based accuracy boost.

Killers Froze Stiff: Specifically upgraded and cast by a Troubadour. It won't cover the screen and is resistable on two different fronts (DEX and RES) but Troubadours generating 2 phrases a turn means you can keep 100% uptime on the enemy being able to do anything relevant (auto-attacks really aren't). They're Paralyzed 1 turn, Frightened the next, and then you cast it again (if you even need to). The two turn duration and Chanter phrases being passive put this in the same sort of category as Relentless: Hard Control that allows the caster to be taking actions when the enemy isn't. Also very important: It's a Standard Action. No need for initiative manipulation or engagers to pin foes in the radius, this just works.

Ryngrim's Repulsive Visage: Small radius but so much fun on engagers. Definitely more for applying to key foes than taking over significant chunks of the battlefield. You could maintain 100% uptime on this in RTwP so I feel like there's not much new to say about it - we all know how it works. Much like Relentless Storm, its value is a little higher than it looks on paper because of how easy it is to get PL stacking items for it.

Pull of Eora: Not actually hard control but pretty close with how poorly the AI deals with it. Way less commonly resisted than the others. I didn't keep this in my party all the time but I tried a Geomancer Maia this go around, so between Maia, Aloth, and Fassina, someone could generally cast it. Instant speed move generally meant you had to have someone "guard" the edge of the AoE, to trick foes into ending their movement in the radius (with movement being instant speed, it's easier for them to leave without getting pulled back in - a concern specifically with Maia's low INT).

Thick Grew Their Tongues + Interrupts: Also not technically hard control. Still very good because being limited to one auto-attack/round is pretty much hard control in terms of the sort of enemy you want to interrupt (casters and bosses). Thick Grew Their Tongues isn't strictly necessary but makes this strategy way more consistent. Interrupts as control is also why my end game core party includes two Rogues: if it's important to keep an enemy interrupted, having one rogue delay generally meant you'd always have a shot at interrupting. That's how I beat Neriscyrlas in TB - Vatnir and my Harbinger just sat there Crippling Striking her anytime she even thought about casting Lengrath's Safeguard.

I know saying stuff like Interrupts are good! Relentless Storm is good! Killers Froze Stiff is good! doesn't seem like new information. They were all already good. But they're so much better in turn based. Simply preventing the enemy from taking relevant actions is an incredibly effective and resilient strategy in the new play-mode.

 

Buffs

AoE buffs are working great. This is probably me showing a bias as someone who wasn't great at micro-ing the whole party in RTwP but it's just so much easier to hit everyone relevant with TB's instant speed movement. I normally stopped using priests as soon as I hit Neketaka in RTwP and switched entirely to Druid or Chanter healers. But having a Priest in your TB party is basically like giving everyone +15 Accuracy, since you can pretty much expect to have Devotions for the Faithul always on, and Dire Blessing on most of the time.

Mostly a gut feeling, but the relative time the action of buffing takes is better in TB. 7-14 (+/- modifiers) seconds spent doing nothing but buffing was absolutely brutal to me in RTwP, while 1-2 turns spent buffing doesn't feel like it's very significant, action-wise - especially when one of those turns can be taken in the Surprise Round.

On the non-Priest side of buffing, those 0.5/0.0 second buffs? Being Free Actions makes them increasingly better depending on how many a character wants to cast at once. It wasn't huge but the couple seconds that a buff heavy Wizard was delayed by in RTwP was enough that it could be considered a meaningful drawback. That's totally gone now, so martial Wizards rejoice.

 

End Game - I'm Bad At Summary And This Post Was Too Long 10 Paragraphs Ago

One big thing is: Turn Based is easier. Round by round information is going to be much easier to process for most people than real time information. Having to play each member of your party is always going to be better than leaving anything up to the AI. Humans>AI (for now... *ominous music*).

 

It's also surprisingly way less tedious. I'd actively micro 2-4 characters depending on party composition in RTwP but TB's full party management ends up feeling like less overall management. Mostly an opinion thing, probably.

 

As far as a summary about what I learned playing TB? My Harbinger and Vatnir builds are that knowledge applied. They exist in the context of a specific Watcher but should be capable in any TB party.

 

I'm legitimately excited about the way things play differently and getting to learn new approaches to the game. I will probably do another full playthrough when they next patch (still has the occasional bad glitch *cough*SSS Survivor fights*cough*) and will definitely be consoling my way to specific fights so I can replay the notable battles with different builds/party set-ups.

Edited by Taudis
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Did you find that high INT was a requirement for keeping your storms (or anything else) up? Could you do a similar build with less INT?

I originally went with a high INT because I was operating off RTwP build rules where every extra second counts. As far as duration? I typically got +1-2 rounds on top of normal duration. That's nice for Swift Flurry in longer fights (Mortification is a limited resource) but definitely in the "luxury over necessity" category. Duality of Mortal Presence's +10 on top of base 10 INT would likely cover most durations - it takes Swift Flurry from 1.5 to 2 rounds, Thunderous Blows from 2 to 3 rounds, and Relentless from 2.5 to ~4 rounds.

 

For Storms it's also worth noting you get a third cast from your armor. Even the smallest amount of INT puts you solidly in the region of 9 rounds uptime a combat.

 

So no, maxed INT isn't necessary for duration.

 

The bigger deal with INT though was AoE radius. The difference between hitting 4 enemies and 5 enemies is pretty big (maybe life or death on a low CON Helwalker!). The friendly fire AoEs like Sunbeam and Hail Storm are also easier to use with a larger radius and important in dealing damage to, well, any group.

 

Did I need 20+ INT? Probably not. If you wanted more CON for the pre-Hasongo game, you could shave off some INT, I suppose. I did have an advantage doing that with 4.1.0's broken engagement - without that, more CON might actually be necessary to prevent some major frustration early game. Also CON is way more important overall without the Bloodpool Durance and Gift From The Machine significantly boosting your HP.

 

More DEX could be useful too in that most fights are really about how fast you can get off Relentless. I typically had it up before too many enemy actions with what I had plus Rapid Casting but there are some pretty interrupt heavy ship fights where even 3% more action speed might have made the difference.

 

I personally value INT higher than those stats and wouldn't change it. Answering your question and trying to think about it critically, you don't need to max it and might benefit from not doing so, especially if you didn't minmax your PoE1 history for the build. Just because I wouldn't lower it doesn't mean a lower INT build wouldn't work or even outperform my version in some areas.

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