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Noob looking for a 2handed rogue or cipher build for PoE/PoE2

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Never played farther than Defiance Bay before, and I've never played PoE2 at all, but the teaser for Avowed got me in the mood to try this game again.

This may be a bad idea, but I'm sort of infatuated with the idea of a rogue in medium armor and swinging a greatsword, mainly because that's not usually a thing in other RPGs. Although I've never played a cipher and they seem fairly tempting too, so I could easily be persuaded towards one of them. I'm wondering if anybody has any good builds they could point me towards to make a rogue or cipher that's tough enough to frontline with Eder tanking and maybe Kana or that bird girl paladin as an offtank(or somebody else if there's another good option I don't know about). I'm hoping to play through PoE with this character than maybe multiclass with fighter or paladin for PoE2, since it seems like both are popular multiclasses for rogue and cipher.

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Why would that be a bad idea? :)

Three nice Great Sword for rogues are

  • "The Hours of St. Rumbalt", because it does extra dmg on crit (and Rogues tend to crit fairly often) and it causes prone on crit, which unlocks Sneak Attack bonus right away and also is a hard CC effect of course. For this weapon you might want to focus on PER (more crits) and INT (longer prone duration) as well as DEX (prone-lock enemies with faster attack rate). You need some money to buy the sword, but besides that it's obtainable early.
  • "Tidefall", because it's one of the weapons with the highest dps potential in the game. Its wounding enchantment is a raw dmg over time "lash". Lashes are multiplicative dmg bonuses. And this lash stacks on the enemy. It also gets influenced by your MIG attribute: for example 15 MIG generally means +15% additive damage for everything, but it's also adding 15% to the wounding lash. A Rogue who plans to wield Tidefall shouldn't drop MIG but instead raise it. On top of that TIdefall also drains life for you once you damage foes. This can help rogues a lot who tend to be rather squishy. On top you can put on a second elemental lash as you can with any other weapon. For this weapon you want to focus on MIG as I said but have not too high INT (because then the wouding damage gets spread thinner over more seconds and that's not what you want - it's an oversight and never got fixed). This is also a great weapon for backstabbig since the wounding dmg will be based on your overall physical dmg and that's rather high with a backstab. You need mechanics of at least 10 to find the sword in a hidden stash.
  • "Firebrand", because it has a lot more base damage than any other Great Sword. And this works extremely well with all kinds of damage bonuses - and Rogues have a lot of those (Sneak Attack, Deathblows...). On top it also does extra dmg on crit like Rumbalt. It is a summoned flame weapon though so you should bring a "backup" great sword for the times the summoning duration is over - or when you just don't want to summon it (e.g. when you face fire-immune enemies). There are two items which each let you summon Firebrand 3 times per rest: Forgemaster's Gloves and Belt of the Royal Deadfire Cannoneer. While the gloves do not much besides summoning Firebrand, the belt is one of the best in the game (i'd say the best) so you will want to wear that anyway. 6 * Firebrand per rest is absolutely enough to be able to summon it for every fight since you will rest at least every 6 fights in general (there will be exceptions I'm sure). For Firebrand you want high INT (to keep the sommoning duration long), high PER (because of the extra crit damage) and DEX (because you can't enchant it with Durgan Steel like you could do with a regular weapon - which means it will be a bit slower in the later game). This is not a good backstabbing weapon because once you summon the sword your stealth will break. You could of couse backstab with a regular great word and only then summon Firebrand - to get both. 

Good Great Swords on the way are "Justice" (has an extra mini-10%-crushing lash on top of the 25%-crushing lash it displays and thus does more damage than a regular great sword), "the Temaperacl" (it does the same as Rumbalt but without the extra crit dmg).

A great backup weapon for enemies who are vulnerable to pierce dmg or if you can't reach the enemy because you're behind a party member or whatever: Tall Grass. It uses the same weapon focus as great swords and has reach (1.8 meters), causes prone on crit like Rumbalt and has a higher chance to crit (converts 10% of hits to crits which stacks with the rogue ability which does the same - but not additively. Two times 10% conversion translate to overall 19% chance, not 10%, three times 10% would get you 27% and so on).

I played rogues with all three great swords above and they were all viable and fun. It's more a matter of taste and character idea which wone you want to stick to, not so much a matter of raw power. 

I would comment on cipher if you dismiss rogue. ;)

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Definitely not going to dismiss rogue if it's viable! 😄

Between Hours of St Rumbalt and Tidefall, which do you think brings more survivability? I guess it's a matter of the prone CC vs the life drain? Should I lean towards Tidefall assuming that I'll be able to get decent CC from the rest of my party?

Oh and are defensive talents something I should be looking at? Or is it sort've a 'best defense is a good offense' type situation, where I'm better off focusing on killing things faster than they can kill me?

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It depends how you want to play the Rogue. Rogues tend to go down pretty fast once ganged up on, so it's almost never a good idea to rush into battle as the first guy. Rather stay stealthed until your tanks/offtanks/whatever sturdy party members engaged the enemies and the enemies decided whom they want to attack. This takes just a few secs. Only then unstealth and pick a target. Usually it's best to flank an enemy that is already getting attacked by one of the aforementioned frontliners of yours. 

Should you get attacked by only one enemy then Rumbalt is indeed very effective in saving your skin since the target very often spends the rest of its time on its butt. But once you get attacked by two or more Tidefall will be better for survival. But in general it's obviously better to not get hit at all rather than using healing - because while your endurance will heal your health will not. And as a Rogue you can't outheal damage too much because at some point your health will be so low that you'll have to rest - although you never were in danger of getting knocked out because of the healing of Tidefall. Potions of Infuse with Vital Essence can help you then. They resotre 50 health damage and they scale with MIG and "healing done" and "healing received" bonuses.

You can add some more healing with Veteran's Recovery (I find that very useful on Rogues in general) and Shod-in-Faith boots. Combined with Tidefall you end up as a rather sturdy Rogue (I mean compared to the usual dual-sabre-full-on-dps rogue who going down when only looked at).

It also depends on the difficulty setting. Enemies' defenses are a lot higher on Path of the Damned, so landing a crit is less likely. This gives Tidefall an advantage oder Rumbalt. On easier difficulties Rumbalt really shines. It also depends on how much debuffs your party can apply and how much accuracy buffs you can stack. For example Inspiring Radiance (priest talent) stacks with everything and Devotions (priest) stacks with most other ACC buffs, giving you +30 ACC (of top of other ACC buffs) which makes Rumbalt a lot stronger since crits are more likely.

I'd say playing with Tidefall is less micromanagement and more straightforward or "brute force" - while Rumbalt requires a bit more buffing and picking the right targets/position. But it's not a big difference. If you already get a ton of CC from party (for example constant Amplified Waves from a Cipher or whatever) I would pick Tidefall. Also if you want to pick backstabbing I would pick it since the initial attack is very impressive then and can kill casters etc. on the spot (not late game because too big endurane pools, but on the way there).

If you have a Priest you can use prayers to counter all sorts of afflictions so you don't really need talents like Bull's Will and such. Stacking deflection only makes sense if you go all the way (increasing returns). If you have mediocre or bad deflection doesn't make a lot of difference. But there are some enemies who like to pick the target with the lowest deflection (like enemy Barbs - gain stay stealthed at the start of battle). Higher DR prevents archers and gunners from focusing fire on you. So a medium or even heavy armor not only protects you onc you get attacked but also prevents certain enemies from attacking you altogether (players often dismiss that and then complain why their superhigh dps rogue glasscannon always gets gunned down and thus does 0 dps then). In my experience some good medium armor is enough to not get gunned down at once. Heavy armor would better but obviously hurts your attack rate. You might want to find the sweet spot that suits you best.  

I personally only pick defensive stuff on rogues if want to develop them into offtanks or generally sturdy frontliners who engage first - for example with a bashing shield (Badgradr's Barricade is great sice its spellstriking "Thrust of Tattered Veils" works with Deathblows and is great in synergy with a disabling weapon such as Godansthunyr or We Toki or whatever).

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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