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Hey guys

I recently started playing PoE2 and have tried to find some solid starting builds for MC but there's a lot of information out there that's based on older patches, with dexterity probably being the most contentious stat when it comes to turn based mode.

I've had a look at the wiki to plan out my party and have pretty much settled on Eder (fighter), Xioti (priest) and Tekehu (druid), with flex spot that will also determine my MC class reserved for Pallegina (paladin), Aloth (wizard or battlemage) or Serafen (Cipher).

Which means my MC would be either paladin, cipher or wizard (evoker). The problem is that I don't know how to spread out the stats. For Wizard I took 18 might, 8 con, 10 dex, 19 per, 18 int, 4 res. I'm not far enough into the game to gauge the usefulness of dexterity yet and I'm still not fully clear yet if the game works on a round system or if initiative works more like speed in other RPGs, giving you more turns over a period of time.

In any case, I'm wondering about Cipher specifically, and how to build it. Ideally I'd like to keep it as close to my PoE1 cipher as possible, which was using ranged weapons (blunderbuss, and later the legendary bow). However, I wouldn't mind some tips regarding starting stats for casters or melees either as it will surely help me with stat optimisation (gear wise) for the companions further down the line.

 

Thanks in advance for answers.

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Dex is not quite a dump stat in TB mode because you will lose a significant amount of Stride if you fully tank it.  But otherwise it's pretty terrible.  They could have made it slightly better if, when you delayed your turn, you decided exactly when you would re-enter the initiative order instead of just going straight to the end.  But as it is, if you really do need to interrupt some crucial thing, having an initiative that is too low is just as useless as having one which is too high.  10 dex is fine.

In practice, the way to make sure you can interrupt at need is simply to make sure every one of your characters has a ready method of interrupting at will.  If their class doesn't provide one, a single point of Arcana will let anybody use Thrust of Tattered Veils scrolls, which are super cheap and will do the job on any opponent except if they put up Spell Reflection.  Note that ToTV even works on skeleton mages who are immune to the piercing damage- they take no damage but still get interrupted.

Ciphers still work well for ranged.  Good weapons are the Red Hand (arquebus), which is still very good even if it isn't the ridiculous monster it is in real time with pause, Scepter for enemies weak against bludgeoning, Hand Mortar/Fire in the Hole (special Blunderbuses you can get from Serafen's starting equip & personal quest) are good, and in RTwP particularly, Rod with the Blast modal enabled is a pretty decent weapon for clustered enemies, so long as it gets sufficient penetration (which Rods are relatively weak at).  There's a unique ring that gives +4 ranged ACC and +1 ranged PEN, which on top of Hammering Thoughts gives ciphers reasonable penetration even with the weaker weapon types.  There's also a late-game pistol doing Raw damage (with a modal to also do Crush/Corrode with VERY high penetration), which is also pretty awesome in turn-based because the initiative penalty of the modal doesn't matter at all.

For a ranged cipher, pure single-classed will work well enough.  Multiclassing either rogue or ranger would give good performance at range.  Damage-wise Ranger doesn't really take off until Driving Flight though.

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There is an excellent animancy themed bow, the Essence Interrupter, available for sale early in the game that also deals the Shock damage type.  If you decide to play a Cipher you should check it out.  

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1 hour ago, Wotcha said:

Dex is not quite a dump stat in TB mode because you will lose a significant amount of Stride if you fully tank it.  But otherwise it's pretty terrible.  They could have made it slightly better if, when you delayed your turn, you decided exactly when you would re-enter the initiative order instead of just going straight to the end.  But as it is, if you really do need to interrupt some crucial thing, having an initiative that is too low is just as useless as having one which is too high.  10 dex is fine.

In practice, the way to make sure you can interrupt at need is simply to make sure every one of your characters has a ready method of interrupting at will.  If their class doesn't provide one, a single point of Arcana will let anybody use Thrust of Tattered Veils scrolls, which are super cheap and will do the job on any opponent except if they put up Spell Reflection.  Note that ToTV even works on skeleton mages who are immune to the piercing damage- they take no damage but still get interrupted.

Ciphers still work well for ranged.  Good weapons are the Red Hand (arquebus), which is still very good even if it isn't the ridiculous monster it is in real time with pause, Scepter for enemies weak against bludgeoning, Hand Mortar/Fire in the Hole (special Blunderbuses you can get from Serafen's starting equip & personal quest) are good, and in RTwP particularly, Rod with the Blast modal enabled is a pretty decent weapon for clustered enemies, so long as it gets sufficient penetration (which Rods are relatively weak at).  There's a unique ring that gives +4 ranged ACC and +1 ranged PEN, which on top of Hammering Thoughts gives ciphers reasonable penetration even with the weaker weapon types.  There's also a late-game pistol doing Raw damage (with a modal to also do Crush/Corrode with VERY high penetration), which is also pretty awesome in turn-based because the initiative penalty of the modal doesn't matter at all.

For a ranged cipher, pure single-classed will work well enough.  Multiclassing either rogue or ranger would give good performance at range.  Damage-wise Ranger doesn't really take off until Driving Flight though.

 

Thank you! Assuming I go with a Cipher, are any of the subclasses worth it? I've read that Ascendant seems to work well with a priest in group for extending Ascension. 

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The "big money" combo requires separate priest and cipher, because a cipher cannot cast Ancestor's Memory (for the Brilliant buff) on themselves, and that is the buff that potentially allows unlimited casts of Salvation of Time (and thus indefinite durations for any other buffs).

Ascendant works well either solo or multiclass, but you should think of it more as a tradeoff, where you sacrifice -1 PL to get significantly increased focus generation.  Ascending for the +3 PL bonus can take quite a while to assemble the focus at the start of the fight, which is generally the part of the fight that you most want to be spending your time casting actual spells (like, say, Ancestor's Memory on your Priest so you can get the sweet, sweet SoT spam going).  Once you get things under control, you can either Ascend (and stay there forever with SoT spam), or don't bother because there aren't all that many fights where you aren't already well on your way to mopping up before you finish ascending.  That's true for single-classed, anyway, if you multiclass rogue or ranger, you will gain focus a lot faster and it becomes a little more feasible to Ascend soon enough to really make a difference.  Because action speed is so worthless in turn based, Time Parasite is not the sexy thing it is in real time, so the only real draw in my mind for a SC cipher is Driving Echoes, which basically makes penetration as a mechanic a nonissue.  However, if you are paying attention to gearing and spell choices, penetration isn't as big a deal as all that.

Beguiler is interesting as well, because you can basically spam Deception spells to gain focus instead of weapon attacks, at least early in the fight when there are many enemy targets.  Once the board clears, they instead gain focus SLOWER because they get a lower total multiplier on their damage.  But they are more friendly with caster multiclassing, spending the first couple of rounds maxing out their focus (and throwing around AoE debuffs while they're at it), and then rationing out their focus for the rest of the fight along with spell casts.

Psions get a bad rap because their focus generation is slower than you can get from the other options, but it's automatic, and in turn based mode it has the extra benefit that you get your focus gen for the round up-front rather than trickling in per second.  They also pair well with casters, particular casters that hang back from the fight (because they lose their focus gen for a round if they get hit).  Psions in turn-based get 6 focus per round, and an additional 6 per round at every odd PL.  So at max level, a MC psion will get 24 focus each round.  Which means that as long as they aren't getting hit, they can spam PL 1 or 2 powers indefinitely, which is something other ciphers can't do (except for Ascended Ascendants receiving SoT cheese).  If they are instead spending rounds casting spells from their other class, they can bank up a bunch of focus for dropping bigger spells.  A minor note, if you are abusing SoT for endless buffs, you are also in the position of abusing Barring Death's Door, and casting BDD on your psion, extending it with SoT, and leaving him at 1 hit point without healing, will mean that he technically doesn't take damage even if somebody hits him, and so he will not lose his focus generation.  All that said, a Beguiler is probably better than a Psion in most situations.

I personally don't think Soulblades or vanilla ciphers offer any real advantage compared to these three options.  Dumping focus on melee strikes just isn't that great.

TL;DR: go Ascendant/Trickster, you'll probably be pretty happy with it.  Once you play through and see how things work, you'll be able to judge for yourself what you'd like to try.

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All look solid. Just avoid builds and abilities which traditionally rely on better recovery, as all that means is that they will act first, but don't get much in terms of meaningful advantage. I generally find Spellcasters very effective in turn based as one spell, Vs one attack is a no grainer. Dex is helpful but not super necessary. High dex allows spells to be cast faster, therefore lower chance to get interrupted and loose a spell. 

Overall, it seems like you know what you are doing, so don't sweat it. It ain't an RPG where misstep in character creation might lead to a campaign restart. 

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