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First off, I'm starting on Normal Difficulty (i can beat the old Infinity Engine games with SCS installed without using cheesy meta-gaming tactics), but Dear Sweet Lord Fluffy, this game has mechanics that make my brain melt.  Nothing works like I expect it to, and quite frankly, the system seems a little over-engineered, but I digress.  I've started the game twice, but keep giving up somewhere early in Act II as combat becomes a slog.  Oh, I'm winning.  But I can tell I'm taking WAY too long, and for really hard fights, I have to use cheesy tactics and exploit the AI, something I don't like doing, as a rule.  I'm also looking to move from POE1 to POE2 after I'm done.

So at the moment, I'm torn between three classes:  Fighter, Paladin, and Cipher.  I've tried the last two in my aborted playthroughs, but haven't touched Fighter. 

What I'm looking for:

  • Melee DPS, with maybe some mild off-tanking.   Kinda prefer Two-handed, but Dual Wield is not off the table.
  • Heavy Armor (Medium will do in a pinch if it wrecks resource management)
  • RP Build (ie I want stats that'll let me pass some of the checks); no min-maxing needed as I'm not going POTD or Solo. 

I've browsed the forum and run some searches, and I've found a few interesting builds.  The Fighter "Lady of Pain" variations look interesting.  But everything seems designed around POTD and/or Solo so I dont' know what I can safely "tone down" for a less challenging playthrough.

On a side note, I'm looking to the future, too.  It seems like Cipher (Soulblade) and either Paladin or Fighter make a good Multiclass Combo in POE2.  Does it matter which class I take through POE1 (and thus is the "main" class)? 

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Fighter would be your best bet, of the three options.  A Fighter with the Rapid Recovery talent is very tanky even without using a shield, and their Armored Grace talent substantially reduces the recovery penalty for wearing armor - you can treat heavy armor like medium armor, medium armor like light armor, and light armor as if you weren't wearing armor at all.  Skills like Disciplined Barrage and talents like Confident Aim make them very consistent damage dealers, even if they won't get the crazy crits that a class like Rogues can get or the AOE potential of a Barbarian.


Ciphers get the most unique responses of any class, however.  They aren't terribly tanky, but they do respectable damage and have some very powerful control skills and a few choice buffs.  For POE2, single-classing is just as good as multiclassing and you should probably single-class unless you have good reason to multiclass.  The tier 8 and tier 9 abilities are quite powerful, and faster power progression means you can use your abilities more often in a combat.  That said, Fighter is arguably THE best multiclass if you're willing to trade in your favorite class's maximum performance in exchange for durability and reliability.

Your instincts are accurate in that it's usually best to have one "main tank" and one "off tank" to handle enemies.  Most of the time you only need the "main tank," especially if they can engage 3+ enemies, but sometimes you'll face a horde of enemies in a more open area and having another person that can lock down another 2-3 creatures (taking Hold the Line at some point is pretty valuable for this) can make a big difference.  Eder and Pallegina are good choices for this "main tank" role if you want your PC Fighter to be a two-handed striker type of build.

 

If you're worried about RP, Resolve tends to get you the most responses (and the most important ones.)  Intelligence or Lore skill is also very useful.  After that, the rest are pretty much equivalent although I don't think I've ever seen a Constitution check except to drink someone else's beer.  On anything less than PotD, you don't need to min-max at all to do well in the game.  Assign stats as you see fit.  There are "better" stats, but no "bad" stats.

Edited by PizzaSHARK
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If a build is taylored towards (solo) PotD difficulty it will surely work on lower difficulties and in a party as well.

A fun an powerful two handed build which becomes tanky enough (after some levels) is "The Cauterizer" Barbarian from the build list. Lady of Pain does less damage (consumables aside) but is sturdier in the earlier levels.

Also check out dual wielding characters with good sturdyness: "Monksterlasher", "The Juggernaut" and "The Anvil" all work very well. 

Generally speaking you shouldn't tank with a non-shield character. Paladin, Fighter and Monk (with Veteran's Recovery) can make really good and "no fuzz" main tanks. Chanters will struggle a bit in the early game but will be ok later on with that role.

You can also use Ciphers, Rogues or Barbarians as main tank, but those need support in the early game and only can take the role as main tank after certain levels.

Safest bet for a tank is Paladin and Fighter.

 

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I've narrowed my options down to a "Lady of Pain" 0-recovery build, which would require starting over (it's been nearly a year, so that doesn't bother me too much), or rebuilding my current Cipher.

I've found this build for a Melee Cipher.  It's over a year old, and I'm uncertain if it's still viable.  https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1293352068

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That melee build from steam is ok - except wasting a talent point for Bloody Slaughter which is absolute rubbish.

Please note that the Lady of Pain with a two handed setup can only reach 0 recovery if you frequently use potions of Deleterious Alacrity of Motion.
If you don't want to do that you must go for Two Weapon Style.

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4 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

That melee build from steam is ok - except wasting a talent point for Bloody Slaughter which is absolute rubbish.

Please note that the Lady of Pain with a two handed setup can only reach 0 recovery if you frequently use potions of Deleterious Alacrity of Motion.
If you don't want to do that you must go for Two Weapon Style.

What would you recommend in the place of "Bloody Slaughter" then?

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For example Savage Attack. It's totally fine to lose 5 ACC later in the game since you will have tons of ACC through weapon enchantments and Borrowed Insticts (which is a must have/use in my opinion).

For more sturdyness Veteran's Recovery is fine, especially if you have high MIG an INT.

Also Outlander's Frenzy can be used to speed up your attacks until you have collected enough focus for Time Siphon.

Aspirant's Mark is better suited to ensure more crits than Bloody Slaughter is as well. It's actually pretty good as opener for a cipher since it lasts pretty long and will cost no focus.

Even Scion of Flame/Heart of the Storm/Spirit of Decay/Secrets of Rime would be better than Bloody Slaughter - depending on which lash you put onto your weapon via enchantmant. If you put on a burning lash take Scion of Flame for example. It raises the lash percantage from 15% to 30%. Since lashes are multiplicative dmg modifiers and also generate focus this is worthwhile for a cipher. Especially if you also have a chanter in the party who puts an additional burning lash onto your weapon via "Mith Fyr" chant.

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On 5/5/2019 at 4:16 PM, Boeroer said:

For example Savage Attack. It's totally fine to lose 5 ACC later in the game since you will have tons of ACC through weapon enchantments and Borrowed Insticts (which is a must have/use in my opinion).

For more sturdyness Veteran's Recovery is fine, especially if you have high MIG an INT.

Also Outlander's Frenzy can be used to speed up your attacks until you have collected enough focus for Time Siphon.

Aspirant's Mark is better suited to ensure more crits than Bloody Slaughter is as well. It's actually pretty good as opener for a cipher since it lasts pretty long and will cost no focus.

Even Scion of Flame/Heart of the Storm/Spirit of Decay/Secrets of Rime would be better than Bloody Slaughter - depending on which lash you put onto your weapon via enchantmant. If you put on a burning lash take Scion of Flame for example. It raises the lash percantage from 15% to 30%. Since lashes are multiplicative dmg modifiers and also generate focus this is worthwhile for a cipher. Especially if you also have a chanter in the party who puts an additional burning lash onto your weapon via "Mith Fyr" chant.

Interesting!

I have another question that's been on my mind, since reading up on mechanics.

Cipher gain Focus by damaging enemies.  Every melee cipher build I see talks about high Might to do more damage. 

But I've tried that, and I've noticed that due to average Accuracy and only a 10 PER, that my Cipher misses as much as he hits, at least in Act I.  Wouldn't the way to gain focus faster be to hit more often and worry less about the damage per hit, by having a high PER?

Edited by Barachiel
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That is correct for the early game. There you don't have many tools to raise your party members' accuracy and thus PER is often the only source of bonus accuracy. You also don't have that many tools to lower enemies' defenses. Both you will get plenty of which trivializes the bonus of PER a bit once you gained more levels.

Same could be said about MIG: the more other dmg bonuses you stack (Soul Whip, Biting Whip, Savage Attack, weapon enchantments like Exceptional etc.) the smaller the contribution of MIG.

The "best" dps stat for a cipher might be DEX - it not only speeds up his attack animation and the recovery (which is equivalent to a multiplicative dmg improvement instad of the additive that MIG gives you) but also the casting time of his cipher powers (and the recovery from them).

Ideally you have all three high of course.

If you can't hit a lot during the early game you can raise PER higher and retrain later for less PER. Some players fin that cheesy but I think it's toally ok to do so.

Other tricks to hit more often is to always use flanking (-10 deflection without casting anything), using a single handed weapon (gives you +12 accuracy), having a Priest with Inspiring Radiance (must have if you have a priest - stacks with everything) and all the defense debuffs you can apply (e.g. Fighter's Knockdown causes Prone which also lowers enemies deflection).

If you know how to easily lower enemies defenses - for example using a single handed sabre and flanking an enemy already gives you the equivalent of +22 PER when it comes to accuracy without any cast or ability use - then hitting isn't a problem anymore. 

It's common though that you have problems with misses and grazes in the early game. Pretty normal.

 

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29 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

That is correct for the early game. There you don't have many tools to raise your party members' accuracy and thus PER is often the only source of bonus accuracy. You also don't have that many tools to lower enemies' defenses. Both you will get plenty of which trivializes the bonus of PER a bit once you gained more levels.

Same could be said about MIG: the more other dmg bonuses you stack (Soul Whip, Biting Whip, Savage Attack, weapon enchantments like Exceptional etc.) the smaller the contribution of MIG.

The "best" dps stat for a cipher might be DEX - it not only speeds up his attack animation and the recovery (which is equivalent to a multiplicative dmg improvement instad of the additive that MIG gives you) but also the casting time of his cipher powers (and the recovery from them).

Ideally you have all three high of course.

If you can't hit a lot during the early game you can raise PER higher and retrain later for less PER. Some players fin that cheesy but I think it's toally ok to do so.

Other tricks to hit more often is to always use flanking (-10 deflection without casting anything), using a single handed weapon (gives you +12 accuracy), having a Priest with Inspiring Radiance (must have if you have a priest - stacks with everything) and all the defense debuffs you can apply (e.g. Fighter's Knockdown causes Prone which also lowers enemies deflection).

If you know how to easily lower enemies defenses - for example using a single handed sabre and flanking an enemy already gives you the equivalent of +22 PER when it comes to accuracy without any cast or ability use - then hitting isn't a problem anymore. 

It's common though that you have problems with misses and grazes in the early game. Pretty normal.

 

Huh.  I've not done a lot with flanking in the early game.  At least not in deliberately moving the team as individuals around.  Everyone swears Normal mode is too easy and you can just let the AI do the work, so I that's typically what I've done, barring micro-managing spell/power usage. 

The more I look into this system, the more I think that "Min-Maxing" stats is a trap.  Many of the stats seem deliberately designed to trip up the old D&D Powergamers (MIG affected spell damage; PER (which is also the WIS equivalent) being used for accuracy) by merging different stat needs on a whim (seriously MIG being a measure of physical AND spiritual strength?  that's... there are countless examples of a person having a great deal of one and not another; same with PER I'm pretty good at reading people and finding things, but I've a vision impairment that makes hitting things at long range near impossible) for no other reason than to prevent "dump stats." 

With that in mind, with so much weight given to EVERY stat, and how Buffs in the mid-to-late game render a lot of this largely irrelevant, I'm beginning to think this system is designed around a spread of slightly above average to decent stats (15 15 14 13 10 10 for example) rather than the usual min-maxer paradise of a couple super high with the rest being average or dumped.

I mean look at it like this:  as a Melee Cipher, I feel like I need at above average levels:  MIG for physical and spell damage, DEX for attack speed, PER for decent Accuracy, and INT for spell duration and improved AOE.  RES comes recommended in general to keep my defenses up (and is tied with PER as the main RP dialogue choice stat, I've noticed; so that's a good stat for the PC to have in general).  CON is the only one that isn't strictly mandated, but as a melee fighter, it can't be shortchanged either, because I need Endurance to not die.   Every class faces this to some degree.  Despite the "Star" system highlighting only 3 stats, the classes I've looked at (Fighter, Cipher, Paladin) all need 4 good stats at the very least, and nerfing any of the other two would be a serious detriment. 

God I hate point-buy systems, and miss the days of hammering "Re-Roll" in BG.  *laughs* 

Edited by Barachiel
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Min-maxing stats is not a trap if you know what you are doing or follow a special build idea, but it has less impact than in most other RPGs. Often a more "rounded" stat spread will work very well.

But for example a ranged character in a party usually doesn't need any RES and also not that much CON - if you know how to prevent the enemies from rushing them.

The "star" recommendations are only for archetypical builds. Once you know more about the mechanics and classes you can totally ignore them.

I actually like the stat mechanics of PoE. Also they did a great job of allowing a plenthora of different roles and builds for every class even though there is no multiclassing. 

Edited by Boeroer

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I like the stats on paper, but from an RP perspective, it's all a very flimsy excuse to either subvert expectations or try to avoid dump stats (or both).   Now having said that, I usually prefer the array of midling stats.  The only game I've ever power-gamed on is the Infinity Engine series, and that's just because 2nd Ed D&D was so damn stingy with stat bonuses, I felt compelled to have the best stats possible starting out with any character.

*nods* I like the classes and I'm figuring things out.  I wish the game did have multiclassing because it seems like, given what happens, starting out one class, then gaining Cipher just seems like a natural story point.  But that's what POE2 is for, I guess (assuming I don't stick to your advice and just stay single classed.)  I did notice the "Aspiring" feats (abilities, whatever) that give you a taste of another class' core mechanic. 

I've got a low level fighter and a low level cipher.  My fighter is nearly untouchable.  Hits often, is hard to hit, can take a hit easily and recovers quickly.  My cipher has a couple cool powers but has at best a 50% hit rate, mediocre damage, and if i stick him in armor, his casting slows down to a crawl, but if i don't, he dies in two hits.  I know at some point the Linear Warrior, Quadratic Wizard effect will kick in and the Fighter will taper off in power while the Cipher becomes as unto a God, but I'm not sure how long that'll take and if i can take the frustration of getting there, given I'm an amateur with the system.  But my inner roleplayer LOVES the concept of a Cipher!

Edited by Barachiel
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It's definitely quadratic wizards in Pillars.  I'm not sure if the dev team tried to avoid it or not, but if they did they failed pretty badly.  If Cipher is what gets you excited from an RP standpoint, just stick with it for a few tedious levels and it'll even out.  If you're on the front lines, Veteran's Recovery is a seriously useful talent to take.  You can always respec out of it later if you no longer need it.

Potions of Iron Skin, Mirrored Image, and Displaced Image are great for boosting durability and the first two are pretty cheap to make.  Wizard's Double is kind of useless if you don't have high Deflection already.  You can use Spirit Shield as a poor man's Iron Skin, too.

If you're having trouble landing hits, maybe have someone take Aspirant's Mark.  Good duration, it's per encounter, and it reduces enemy Deflection several points.  You could also use any weapon with a +Accuracy inherent bonus (club, dagger, spear, maybe some others) or the "Reliable" quality (converts grazes to hits), such as all Flails, the Whispers of Yenwood unique sword you can get early on, etc.

Edited by PizzaSHARK
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