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If CC is where Serefan really shines would it make more sense to set Aloth up as an elemental nuker? Then he and I will be the main damage dealers?

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I played him several times and cannot see why he should miss more often than any other caster. Also mortars target reflex which is extremely easy to debuff, especially with a CC Wizard in the Party. Very few fights are boss fights. And for them you should always bring a Morning Star, a CON and an MIG affliction and then Psychovampiric Shield + Disintegration. Very nice against most bosses.

Edited by Boeroer
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12 minutes ago, Blunderboss said:

because of Wild Mind shenanigans 

There are very few "trap" builds, but serafen is very close to a trap character if he is part or full cipher.

Wild Mage in BG2/EE was fun, and the outcomes tended to be in your favor, and there were many ways to skew it in your favor - you also got the benefit of mage specialization (+1 spell cast/day per spell level) without the downside (excluded school). Wild Mind does not do that - as far as I can tell, the outcomes are symmetric, with no way to influence them, and there's no extra perk to boot. That means all Wild Mind does is add variance to your fights. In general, more variance = bad for player, because in general the player is expected to win in general, variance gives the enemy more opportunities to triumph.

All this is to say that especially on PotD+upscaling, Serafen can single handedly take a fight you were winning to a fight that is going catastrophically poorly all from one poorly timed Wild Mind trigger (back before his aoe effect got nerfed, he literally once single-handedly wiped my party).

I would strongly urge either rolling Serafen as a barbarian, or just using Ydwin for a cipher.

Edited by thelee
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As I said twice already the Wild Mind effects are (slightly) positive on average. And none of his negative effects makes him miss more. 

The only real problem that can occur (seldomly - 1.8% chance per cast) is a Miscast - and that can be build around. If you pile up shock AR and raise Will it's no thread to Serafen but can be used to kill enemies even. The rest of his negative effects can be a bit annoying but aren't too bad either. The positive ones are actually really good:

12 PER is no problem with Xoti + Blessing and later Borrowed Instincts (+20 ACC). He should miss less often than a Wizard like Aloth (who has no access to a +20 ACC boost). Then mortars target reflex which is easily debuffed.

Use Aloth with Miasma, Chillfog and Binding Web and they should be already at -40.

Also as I said: try Heaven's Cacophony with Avenging Storm with Blinding Smoke and Chain Shot and be amazed. Graphics Card might get grilled though... 

 

Edited by Boeroer
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You can verify this with the scripting, but in my experience the things you call "positive" and the the things you call "negative" are not truly so because they don't appear to differentiate between what kind of target the spell is. I have turned my allies invisible, for example (which was still bad when I needed to heal an ally but could no longer target them). But I haven't used Serafen since like 3.0 so maybe they restricted the targeting.

Even then, I don't understand how you call that "slightly positive" on average. Are there different weights for them? Because it looks like even in your charaterization, the negative outcomes outweigh the positive outcomes

 

 

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Eh?

Improve PL by 5 vs decrease by 3.

Echo Spell cast (cool in most cases, great on others) vs. Turn enemies invisible (depends, but not too bad. AI doesn't know what to do with that so it actually doesn't matter much in most cases).

Set Focus to full (good) vs. push 2m away from target (who cares much).

Rest is balanced 1:1. But I would argue that the player makes better use of a tier3-affliction on a target than most targets know what to do when receiving a tier-3-inspiration.

That's positive on average in my book. And then there's the Miscast which is separate. It seems really bad but when you play around it it can actually by used in your favor as a potent but random damaging tool. Especially if you start to cast a lot once you get Time Siphon and maybe have some buddy get you more focus with Reaping Knives. If you give yourself Iron Will and stack some shock DR (it has only 7 PEN) you often only get grazed and then the dmg underpenetrates you while it may wipe enemies. It's a major thing but it can also be fun to play with/around it.  

Also concerning SC Ciphers and their damage dealing potential: besides Borrowed Instict there's Time Parasite which is the (potentially) most potent attack speed buff after Blade Cascade + SoT or Wall of Draining cheese - because it stacks its effect when it jumps. 

A cool dmg spell for cipher is actually Mind Lance. Not because I find it superdamaging in itself but because it works nicely with those passives like Empty Soul and stuff which boost all kinds of Will-based spells (ACC, crit conversion and focus refund). Mind Lance is the a Cipher spell that targets Will and deals damage. Silent Scream also does this but its cast time is longer iirc.

A great boss killer combo (if you bring enough fort bebuffing tools) can be Death of 1000 cuts + Antipathetic Field. Every beam tick will trigger Death otC. 

Still I wouldn't play a Cipher 100% damage oriented (unless Soul Blade maybe). Some of the CC powers are just too good to be skipped. Also because of Lingering Echoes which I find quite nice as well. 

Edited by Boeroer
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I am not concerned about Serefen's miscasts however, I feel like having another CC centric party member will make battles take longer than they should.  If barbarians are not gimped by never being bloodied is the Witch build more damaging? 

Willbreaker (modal Body Blows), Deltro Cage Helmet

Spirit Frenzy/Tornado, Secret Horrors, Borrowed Instincts, Soul Ignition/Disintegrate, Brute Force, Psychovampiric Shield, Whisper of Treason and/or Puppet Master

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A Witch with Morning Star, Secret Horrors and Spirit Frenzy (for example) has a lot easier time to apply stuff like Disintegration. Also Secret Horros make it easy to "unlock" the Willbreaker's echantments during battle. It also lowers Will which is good for many cipher spells. And of course the synergy of Blood Thirst and long recovery casts is quite nice once you get there. Make sure to wear the White Witch Mask. Just because of the name. ;) It's also a great item for a Witch though if you want to use Bloodied. Once you get reduced to 50% health you will trigger Bloodied and Repulsing Image, giving you more damage but also makes the enemy stop attacking you.

However, the issues with the Wild Mind subclass will still be there. If you find them particurly annoying then a Witch build will not change that. I read it as if you do not mind that too much though. So yeah - Witches can work very well. 

I played Serafan as SC Barb a few times. He's doing well enough at that as well. I once build him towards max AR and Barbaric Retaliation with Battle Axes + modal (works well) and also as Morning Star wielder who ended up using Driving Roar as combined CC/damaging ability nearly 100% of times.

As SC Cipher I especially like the effects of Time Parasite + Shared Nightmare + mortars' AoE (really good AoE dps and focus gain - but of course that all comes rather late) and I actually like to play around Miscast. It can make things interesting, at least for me.

I am not recommending a CC "centric" Serafen Cipher either. I'm just saying that it makes him not a better damage dealer to completely concentrate on damaging powers. Since powers are competing for focus anyway you only need two or three good damaging ones. Then there are a few really good CC spells. Why would you want to skip them? To have a somewhat "pure" damage dealer? It doesn't do much for your damage dealing capabilites to pile up too many different damaging cipher powers. Instead you can be a bit more flexible and also cast a decent CC power every now and then. For example: casting a rel. cheap Secret Horrors right at the start of battle can have a good impact since enemies can't use their offensive abilities and you'll lower enemies deflection and fortitude. It doesn't prolong the fight too much but makes it a lot safer. Or lure enemies to a spot with Aloth's Dazzling Lights from stealth (use like Sparkcrackers) and then cast a Miasma + Mental Binding on them with Serafen from stealth. If you then start to shoot your mortars you will not only hit a lot of enemies but also they'll have lower reflex and can't move. You'll get more focus, deal more damage and can cast a second damaging power on them while they are still clumped together. Stuff like that

That's only one CC cast but it can make a difference. I don't understand why players often build their characters as "pure" this or that. Often it makes them extremely unflexible. A bit of diversity when it comes to abilities i often more benefical than sticking to a rather artificial construct like "damage dealer" or "healer" - especially for most official companions since they don't even have optimized stats for certain roles. Like... you can play a Druid as pure damage dealer - but it really doesn't hurt to also pick a healing spell that youcan use when your pur healer fails. Or take Xoti: you can of course use her as pure healer/support. But often there are fights then where it doesn't mak a whole lot of sense to unload all your healings or support spells. Then why not join the nuking with a Pillar of Holy Fire or a Shining Beacon. I mean except one simply likes to build such pure characters of course. 

 

Edited by Boeroer

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Since no one is mentioning it - you don’t bring SC cipher for pure damage or cc  especially not serafen, you use it for ally targeting powers mostly pen buff and ancient memory. 

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That as well. Driving Echoes and Ancestor's Memory*  mean +8 PEN and replenishing spells for a fellow caster for example. Which is crazy good.

Another good example why you shouldn't go all dmg with a SC Cipher. They have some really good ones which don't all fit into the same category such like "damage" or "CC".

Unfortunately Defensive Mindweb is but a shadow of its PoE version. :( 

*(Ancient Memory is the Chanter's healing phrase)

Edited by Boeroer

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18 hours ago, Boeroer said:

Rest is balanced 1:1. But I would argue that the player makes better use of a tier3-affliction on a target than most targets know what to do when receiving a tier-3-inspiration.

I think you missed my point that unless things changed (and they could have, as I said, I basically stopped using Serafen after like 3.0), the targeting for those effects are not limited to enemy vs ally, they depend on the targeting of the spell that triggers the wild mind (except for self-effects, like the empower usage changes).  So for example, I wouldn't consider inspirations "positive" or invisibility "negative" because they depend on the targeting of the spell that triggered them, and hence I would just call it "even more variance, which is bad" (again, I don't know how to look up the scripting to verify, but I also have a memory from before I abandoned Serafen of granting Swift and another time Brilliant to an enemy--though Brilliant is not that much different from Acute on most enemy targets, still unpleasant though)

To another point, PL boost up/down has to be asymmetric to be balanced, this feeds back into the "more variance is bad for the player" point. I feel like I could copy-paste my guide on the wild mage in BG2 discussing the finer points, but a +X PL may help you kill an enemy faster or disable them more,  but you were expected to to win that fight anyway, whereas an -X equivalent PL could mean a pivotal inability to accomplish something. For BG2/EE I used the point of using magic missiles to dispel mirror images; getting +5 spell level doesn't matter because you were going to knock out all the mirror images anyway, but getting -5 spell level means leaving some mirror images still up, which could be a critically bad swing in the battle (especially due to how spell interrupts work in BG2/EE). I don't know if +5/-3 is "balanced", but I do know that +5/-5 even in Deadfire wouldn't be, and it's certainly not clear that it's a net positive for the player in terms of practical game impact.

edit: to rephrase it in BG terms, if Wild Mage only gave you the wild surge and +-spell level effects, I would also consider it a trap subclass, even considering BG's more generous wild surge list (though to be fair, the downsides of a wild surge are deeper than the downsides of a wild mind). The reason why a wild mage works at all is because they get generous other benefits; the wild surge and added variance are essentially the "Cons" of the class, and the "Pros" are the extra spell per spell level and the unique spells that let you skew odds in your favor, and not to mention the level 1 spell that lets you basically cast any spell out of your spell book (albeit with a surge). Wild Mind is basically a Wild Mage without any comparable Pro. Without some retooling, I can't recommend it to anyone. (Though if the targeting has been limited, it's less of a garbage subclass, just a mediocre one.)

Edited by thelee

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I don't know why we need to overcomplicate this with comparisons to BG2 and missiles removing whatever mirror stuff.

It may also be influenced on how you play, but in my book the average effect of Wild Mind is slightly positive (especially when using Miscasts in your favor). Obsidian seems to think the same - given their balaced subclass approach and all and their refusal to buff him. I know - sometimes they don't get their own mechanics right. But still the whole "trap build" stuff ist totally overexaggerated. I say it's slightly positive - you say it's negative. Whatever. Is it really that bad? No. It's just random stuff going on and most players seem to hate that.  

Those effects will occur 20% of times. Sometimes it's bad, sometimes it's good. Let's make that a 10% chance per cast that something mildly bad happens ("Oh gods the Fampyr is Brilliant for some time - we're all gonna die... ") ;).

You can play around or even use Miscasts to your advantage. Maybe you even want to use Deltro's Cage Helmet.

This all does't make Serafen as Cipher a trap choice. On average he performs just as fine as a vanilla cipher. Actually you can even cheese: there's no problem reloading a tough encounter when something bad happened - but the good things that might happen can help you win a difficult fight that a vanilla cipher would have lost. 

I think the biggest problem is that people tend to remember the bad things but not the good things that happen to them (or to a lesser extend). Would you remember the unexpected double cast of Amplified Wave that helped you kill those enemies or that unexpected invisiblity on the enemy wizard that screwed your tactic?

The other problem might be that several other subclasses are just too good. Ascendant, Soul Blade, Beguiler... jeez Beguiler.

Wild Mind stinks compared to that. But so does vanilla Cipher. But that doesn't make it a trap choice nor does this make Serafen a particularly bad Cipher. Besides that he comes with some pretty nice items if you bring him along. See it as a recompensation for enduring his miscasts. ;)

 

 

Edited by Boeroer

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3 hours ago, Boeroer said:

think the biggest problem is that people tend to remember the bad things but not the good things that happen to them (or to a lesser extend). Would you remember the unexpected double cast of Amplified Wave that helped you kill those enemies or that unexpected invisiblity on the enemy wizard that screwed your tactic?

This is not a selective memory issue, but a fundamental gameplay issue, I'm not trying to overcomplicate, I'm trying to draw an analogy to another very similar case.

In general, you are expected to win close to every fight. This is just a fundamental aspect of game design, because otherwise the game is impossible.

On PotD, I will have to occasionally reload a fight if a fight goes south, but I can say without ego that most of time I can just win a fight. K can also definitely say that the number of wipes or loads I had to do with Serafen in my party went up dramatically. Sure I don't internalize the fights where it helped me, but at the same time winning a fight 15-20s sooner is a very different outcome from having it impossible to have a party member healed, a catastrophic miscast (admittedly not as bad as at release), etc. Serafen's cipher subclass is decidedly unique in this respect (actively losing you fights), and I'll call it a garbage subclass as a result.

Edited by thelee

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But you're tellig the story as if the event of "it was impossible to heal an invisible party member" would occur often - which it does not. Maybe you're even the only one who had that experience at all, given that invisibility as side effect is very rare and then on a party member that had a DoT on him ( why else would he die when invisible where he should be safe usually). 

Also you are saying that the positive outcomes let you win a fight sooner. But that's not the only thing that can happen. It can also happen that you are only winning the fight because a positve side effect occured (e.g. getting a +5 PL boost that made it possible to land an important debuff or whatever). Or because you did a Miscast while you were standing in the midst of enemies and they got wiped immediately instead of killing you - winning the fight. Also a negative side effect doesn't necessarily mean you will lose the fight, it can also mean you win later.

As the effects are pretty balanced it can't be that your loss:win ratio would get bigger. It should stay the same roughly compared to a vanilla cipher. Hence no trap choice. And I would insist that calling it a garbage subclass is a selective memory issue. I'd say if you experienced a "can't heal invisible mate" situation others might have experienced a "oh cool my rushed squishy can't get overwhelmed because he turned invisible" situation. That's a nice thing but you won't remember it for long.

It's not a good subclass compared to some other "unblanced" classes, sure - but so is plain cipher and maybe even Psion (if you - like with Wild Mind - don't try to intensively circumvent the penalties). 

You may have to reload more often because of the randomness and you will remember that - but it's hard to keep track of how often you didn't have to reload because you won thanks to a positive side effect. 

Still - if you want to use an official companion and a cipher you can totally use Serafen and mustn't be afraid that it's a trap choice. It's just a bit more juggling around with his subclass "features". I actually find this interesting. Others do not. That's ok. But calling it a garbage subclass or trap choice is just overexxageration. It's not as good as a custom Beguiler or Ascendant - sure. But those are not official companions. So if you want the official companion and are not superfocused on powergaming Serafan is no problem. 

I played him twice as Cipher (Witch & SC Cipher) and it wasn't bad at all. Actually as SC Cipher with his mortars, fat armor, Heaven's Cacophony and Shared Nightmare, running into melee range but bombarding around, hoping for miscasts (also work with Shared Nightmare) and all was lots of fun.  
 

Edited by Boeroer

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