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Hi everyone! 

I'm finally starting my first playthrough of POE II (with full party, planning to go with Veteran mode) and thinking about creating a CC-focused caster (with some nuking sprinkled in). Will be playing turn-based. After looking through multiple forum posts here I'm leaning towards trying out a blood mage/priest and even found this amazing FAQ with a Wael Thaumaturge build, written by @thelee as far as I understand:

https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/pc/227477-pillars-of-eternity-ii-deadfire/faqs/76599/case-study-2-deadfire-lich

I also sort of like the idea of cipher/rogue.

I have some unresolved questions after my search, however:

1) Is the Priest class in the gameFAQs build worth it for extra healing or the blood mage would be better off with e.g. multiclassing it with paladin? Would the build still function well in the turn-based setting?
2) Stats for thaumaturge (and for blood mage in general) are a bit confusing to me. Some recommend to dump CON, others suggest a fair bit of CON investment. What would ideal stats look like for this build?
3) Would a cipher (beguiler..?) or a cipher/rogue be a more robust choice for a cc-focused build? Is it possible to make a good gunner-cipher who is also effective as a caster? What would be approximately good stats for this build?

Sorry for the messy questions - it just seems like there is quite a lot of information on the builds but none of it is recent and in games like this I try to make a build that feels right from the start, otherwise I end up forever restarting...

Any input on the topic is highly appreciated! Thank you!

 

Edited by foxinspace
clarified starting difficulty and non-solo playthrough
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heya! i can answer a few questions directly though opinions can differ

 

3 hours ago, foxinspace said:

1) Is the Priest class in the gameFAQs build worth it for extra healing or the blood mage would be better off with e.g. multiclassing it with paladin? Would the build still function well in the turn-based setting?

the priest class is there not just for healing but also for BDD and Salvation of Time and getting to and staying near death for the +3 PL. Paladin can kinda do it if you pick the right subclass, but IMO because wall of draining comes so late, getting salvation of time slightly earlier has strong utility. a paladin can definitely spam heal a lot better than priest, but because the build focuses on being in near death in late-game fights, the paladin's death shield is less useful since it comes on top of healing and you can't separate the two.

as for turn-based, someone else will have to comment. the perennial concern is getting favorable rounding cutoffs. i think with wall of draining you have to make sure you're hitting enough valid targets to meet the right cutoffs. getting a pet like ooblit or getting gear/food that extends beneficial durations might be pivotal.

 

3 hours ago, foxinspace said:

2) Stats for thaumaturge (and for blood mage in general) are a bit confusing to me. Some recommend to dump CON, others suggest a fair bit of CON investment. What would ideal stats look like for this build?

i still maintain that for blood mage you want CON more than other casters, simply because health turns into a casting resource. in fact, in turn-based, i would sacrifice dex to invest more in con and might because turn-based makes dex matter less (and i believe blood sacrifice is a free action) and more con = more blood sac early on and more might = more healing to get more health back.

 

3 hours ago, foxinspace said:

Sorry for the messy questions - it just seems like there is quite a lot of information on the builds but none of it is recent and in games like this I try to make a build that feels right from the start, otherwise I end up forever restarting...

yeah the state of builds is pretty messy, there have been some patches that changed a lot, some that have not, and very few builds get updated for each patch and it's hard to tell from a glance which builds still work and which builds have broken. that's why on this forum when i post a build i explicitly label it as 5.0 so it's clear that it's up to date. at least in my guide they should all be updated to the latest patch.

Edited by thelee
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While not as... self-sufficient as a BDD Priest, I propose you have a look at an Assassin/Bloodmage.

One issue with the Priest, is that the Turn Based action economy is not great for dual-casters IMO. You cast either a wizard spell or a priest spell in a given round.

+25 Accuracy from Assassinate is nothing too sneeze at, also for CC. For nuking additional +4 PEN and +50% Critical damage is quite devastating.

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A fun CC/damage hybrid I played recently is a Troubadour/Psion.

The idea is that while one resource pool (phrases/focus) is refilling you can cast from the other one. No fuzz with regenerating resources: it's purely automatic. Pick Killers Froze Stiff, Phantom Foes, Ben Fidel's Neck, Secret Horrors, Mental Binding and so on. For the damage part pick Thrice She was Wronged, Soul Shock or whatever you like.

You will have nearly no casting downtime. With Killers and Mental Binding I could paralyze-lock one enemy 100% and the rest for a good amount of time, too. If enemies cluster around the tank then I can cast Soul Shock almost non-stop after some levels because the focus regeneration is faster than the spending of 10 focus and the recovery time. Should focus generation stop because I got hit there's always my phrases. Healng can be done with Ancient Memory, Pain Block and Two Fingers of Daylight. You can even revive.

I wasn't too impressed with the idea first but after playing it I have to say it was one of the most fun character concepts so far. It may be though that the basic idea doesn't work as well in TB mode. But I think it's still valid.

I don't like Barring-Death's-Door- and Salvation-of-Time cheese. The fun of breaking the game only lasts a short while for me. 

Edited by Boeroer
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/18/2020 at 9:22 PM, Haplok said:

While not as... self-sufficient as a BDD Priest, I propose you have a look at an Assassin/Bloodmage.

One issue with the Priest, is that the Turn Based action economy is not great for dual-casters IMO. You cast either a wizard spell or a priest spell in a given round.

+25 Accuracy from Assassinate is nothing too sneeze at, also for CC. For nuking additional +4 PEN and +50% Critical damage is quite devastating.

@Haplok @thelee@Boeroer Thanks a lot for your super helpful replies!!! 

 assassin/blood mage looks pretty awesome, but what would be the right balance between might and con? If I get low might (say 10), would it seriously hurt it’s stealth nuking ability? I’ve been planning to get about 12 con for blood sacrifice , but not sure if that would be enough with higher might. I’ve also decided to go RTwP instead of turn based, but I think microing a stealthy wizard sounds fun. I’m just completely lost when thinking about the stats...

On the other hand pally(shieldbearer?? For lay on hands invul. shenanigans)/blood mage also seems like an interesting idea on paper, but not sure if this combination will take away from casting potential too much, and again - totally confused about right stats.

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Assassin/Bloodmage is fun. The+25 ACC from stealth/invisibility is great. With Arkemyr's Brilliant Departure you can cast non-damaging CC and debuffs without lifting the invisibility, which means +25 ACC for impactful debuffs all the time. If you have decent healing you don't need lots of CON. I personally really like to pile regeneration gear on a Bloodmage: Trollhide Belt, Rings of Regen., Three Trolls Stiched, Fleshmender... just to be self-sufficient. But of course a strong healer at your side is very helpful, too. Especially once you get Wall of Draining you can prolong all healing over time on you (Blightheart's shots, Lesser Lay on Hands from gloves, friends' healing spells and so on). You can also heal yourself with Concelhaut's Corrosive Siphon. 

An Amulet of Greater Health and "Tough" can help if you feel you went too low. I mean if you can spare the ability point. And there's always +CON gear and food.

I personally even like to play around with the risk of having high MIG and low CON. Like it's a challenge to overcome that danger of killing yourself with Blood Sacrifice.

I don't remember if Voidward reduces Blood Sacrifice's damage...? 

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IMO you should absolutely max Con as an Assasin/Bloodmage.

One thing is that it will help with Blood Sacrifice. But there's more. You should probably be human and nearly always at least Blooded - with Fighting Spirit. So more Con - more safety.

But wait, there's even more. IF you're serious about nuking, you kinda need Deltro's Cage helmet. You'll want to hit yourself with Chain Lightning. And you'll want it to HURT. You want to crit yourself with the Assasinate 50% crit damage bonus, regular 25% crit damage bonus, 30% Overpenetration bonus. This can mean being hit for like 130 damage - and you still need to survive (and get a sweet 130% lash for your spells). For that purpose, avoid buffing Reflex. Consider Reflex debuffs. And you still want a HP buffer to still use Blood Sacrifice. 

Having more then 10-12 Might is not worth it IMO. Not that much damage impact AND you do increase self-inflicted damage from sacrifice.

Arkemyr's Departure is probably cool and all. Particularly if you want to focus on debuffs, rather the direct damage. But not so great for action economy in Turn Based. You need a whole round to cast it. Meanwhile Shadowing Beyond is instant and you can start casting another spell immediately.

Also using Arkemyr's Grimoir means you're not taking advantage of Ningauth's Teachings, and that's a fantastic grimoire for an Assassin Bloodmage nuker. Note Death Ray is absolutely fantastic in Turn Based mode and one of the staple spells I've kept using till the very end. And opening combat with Shadowflame with +25 Accuracy is often an "I win" button.

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Deltro's Cage Helmet is too cheesy for me personally. For the same reason I don't use Barring Death's Door and Salvation of Time which are excellent with a Bloodmage: if you can't die you can do Blood Sacrifice all day and night and can drop CON to 3 while raising MIG to 20. 

My normal routine (admittedly not in TB which I don't play) is to have the tank exposed and then first start buffing/preparing with the other stealthed party members. That means Dire Blessing, then Devotions etc. while Assassin Wizard would do Arkemyr's BD, Infuse wVE and so on. The Wizard can then switch Grimoire no problem (no idea how long that takes in TB). Everybody except tank is still stealthed after that. Usually the tank is completely surrounded by enemies by now. Then I start CC'ing and debuffing which usually would drop stealth. And that's why I like Arkemyr's BD so much: first of all l'll get the party buffs as always and thus I'll be able to hit way better with the debuffs/CC  which will increase my nukes' efficiency a lot - but on top of all the buffing I'll be having constant Assassinate (which stacks with all that for all the CC/debuff you're doing). Which then means my final nuke that will lift invisibility will have enormous impact and the best possible damage. It's a bit like chess to me I admit and I play the game slowly because of that (even if it's RTwP). I can't get no satisfaction(r) from casting Shadowflame from stealth at the start of every combat while my buddies just stand there watching. But on veteran it may indeed be the better solution in terms of time investment/result ratio in nearly all cases. 

As I said: I'm not doing Turn Based so I don't really know if that's working there. Also stuff like Death Ray is crap for Assassins in RTwP and Smoke Veil better than Shadowing Beyond. And honestly when I wrote my last answer I already had forgotten that you wanted to play TB mode, heh. :blush: So take it all with a huge grain of salt. 

But it's indeed so that I only get little enjoyment from doing stuff like casting Chain Lightning on myself to get a huge lash (you don't need high CON for that if you have access to Barring Death's Door and Salvation of Time as I said - to make the cheese completely round ;)) and then blasting the enemies with Shadowflame (presumably while wearing Engoliero do Espirs to maximize the overkilling ;)).

But it's also so that everybody is different and enjoys different things - so I guess all different angles mentioned here may help you to find a character that is fun to play for you - just don't feel pushed into a certain direction. It's def. saver to have high CON and not too high MIG and that can prevent frustration. It's certainly no fun if your char is dropping in every fight.

Edited by Boeroer
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15 hours ago, Haplok said:

Also using Arkemyr's Grimoir means you're not taking advantage of Ningauth's Teachings, and that's a fantastic grimoire for an Assassin Bloodmage nuker. Note Death Ray is absolutely fantastic in Turn Based mode and one of the staple spells I've kept using till the very end. And opening combat with Shadowflame with +25 Accuracy is often an "I win" button.

I've never played Wizard, but I am thinking of playing the next run, and I noticed that Ningauth's grimore is almost universally recommended for a nuke wizard. But here's the problem: Some of Ningauth's nukes are 6 second casts. So are they viable in turn-based in that case? It seems to me that the only way to ensure they land before mobs move out is to immobilize/stun/paralyze them, but most of those effects only last 1 turn in turn-based. So by the time my cast completely, the mobs will be un-immobilize/stun/paralyzed, no?

Also, would Paladin/Evoker still do decent nuke DPS? Or do I have to go single class?

 

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Paladin/Evoker can use Eternal Devotion in order to give his damaging spells a 10% burning lash which is not bad at all. In terms of damage that's nearly 2 Power Levels. So the damage with spells can be better than with several other multiclass combinations. I don't know how Delayed Fireball works in TB mode but maybe you can time Inspired Beacon (+40% dmg to enemies) with Delayed Fireball?

You will not gain access to some of the best evocation spells of the Wizard at PL 9 though. I'm talking about Meteor Shower and/or Missile Salvo.


 

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6 hours ago, Lampros said:

I've never played Wizard, but I am thinking of playing the next run, and I noticed that Ningauth's grimore is almost universally recommended for a nuke wizard. But here's the problem: Some of Ningauth's nukes are 6 second casts. So are they viable in turn-based in that case? It seems to me that the only way to ensure they land before mobs move out is to immobilize/stun/paralyze them, but most of those effects only last 1 turn in turn-based. So by the time my cast completely, the mobs will be un-immobilize/stun/paralyzed, no?

Also, would Paladin/Evoker still do decent nuke DPS? Or do I have to go single class?

 

Yes, very viable. They may take time to cast... but its not like you can do more then one action per round anyway. And if you're an Assassin you're safe during most casts due to stealth. Also Shadowflame  I've mostly used as combat opener, so then the cast time is moot. Beyond the  opening round, enemies tend to engage party members (or stay back if ranged/caster), so again, targetting isn't THAT difficult. Plus rays are really good nukes in turn based (most has only 3 ticks... and actually if you position yourself well, the 1st tick may even not break stealth - to keep the Assassinate bonus and stealth safety for the 2nd tick!) - and you target those at a specific enemy (plus others along the way), so enemy movement doesn't cause misses with that (at least vs primary target).

Regarding CC effects... those 1 rounds are before you consider stuff like Power Level, Int and... crits. In practice most short effects last 2-3 rounds (Shadowflame Paralyze lasts 1-3 rounds). 

Edited by Haplok
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4 hours ago, Boeroer said:

I don't know how Delayed Fireball works in TB mode but maybe you can time Inspired Beacon (+40% dmg to enemies) with Delayed Fireball?

Dealayed Fireball generally triggered before regaining control over my caster. I've found it very difficult to use well. But Inspired Beacon was indeed great in Turn Based. It would often last 2-3 rounds, so its not too difficult to take advantage of it.
 

Edited by Haplok
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Just had an interesting observation while trying out the assassin/BM build. Apparently DOT from active chill fog breaks invisibility from Smoke Veil. I checked with @thelee FAQ, and he states that Smoke Veil invis shouldn't be stopped by already active DOTs. Could this be a bug? The invis is breaking very consistently. 

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Chill Fog is not a DOT. Its a persistent, ticking aoe effect. With a separate attack roll on each tick. So no surprises there.

DOTs include stuff like Disintegration, Soul Ignition, Necrotic Lance, Concelhaut's Corrosive Siphon (absolutely awesome for a BM), Corrosive Skin, Cloak of Death, Shining Beacon, Cleansing Flame, a lot of the druid stuff.

 

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Absolutely what Haplok said. 

I made some tests recently to check which invisibility effects breaks on which action and the advantage of Smoke Veil is that it doesn't break from pure DoTs. Shadowing Beyond however does break. That means while you can use Gouging Strike, Toxic Strike, Lover's Embrace and so on with Smoke Veil and remain unseen while they tick, you can't do it with Shadowing Beyond and also NOT with Arkemyr's Brilliant Departure (which doesn't break on pure CC/debuff hits unlike Smoke Veil and Shad. Bey.). 

Most invisibility effects are implemented in different ways as you can see. Which is weird but that's what we got. :)

You have to separate direct damage from damage over time (DoT), even if it "pulses". I mean sure: semantically/logically Chillfog also does damage over time. But as Haplok already pointed out stuff like Chillfog does a new attack roll with every "pulse" and then applies direct damage as a result of that attack roll. DoTs just do one attack roll and put a damaging effect on the enemy and then the "ticks" just keep coming.

There are some key features that separate the two:

DoT abilities:

- one attack roll at the beginning

- applies a hostile effect with a duration on the enemy 

- that effect causes damage with every tick (usually every 3 secs but there's also ticks of 1 or 6, even 12 secs)

- can be shortened with high RES or dispelled with stuff like Clarity of Agony and all other stuff that reduces hostile effect duration.

- you cannot get rid of them by simply leaving the area. 

 

Pulsing abilities:

- an attack roll with every pulse

- usually applies the effect on the ground (Chillfog for example, Binding Web, Slicken, Wall spells...) but may also be anchored to an enemy or ally (rays or beams). There's nothing on the enemy (except of course if the pulses themselves cause a secondary effect like Blind - but that's not the original pulsing effect).

- that effect on the ground/in the beam also causes its effects to get applied with every pulse but with a new attack roll.

- cannot be shortened with high RES etc. since the effected is not places onto the enemy directly. 

- you can leave the area and thus stop it from hitting/pulsing on you

 

Because this has several mechanical implications (e.g. Combusting Wounds gets triggered by pulses but not ticks, interrupts while being Energized can happen with pulses but not ticks) the terms "DoT",  "ticks" and "Pulsing spells/ability" with "pulses" have been kind of established - at least here in the forum - so that we can distinguish between them rel. easily. 

The same is true for Healing over Time (HoT) and Healing pulses really. Lay on Hands is Healing over Time, Consecrated Ground is Healing pulses. Just no attack rolls here in general. But HoT can be dispelled (Arcane Dampener etc.) while Healing pulses cannot. But for healing pulses you have to stay in the AoE while with HoT you can go anywhere one it's applied. 

And so on. Big excursus, sorry - maybe overkill - but maybe also interesting. :)

Edited by Boeroer
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Yeah, its quite peculiar how the various stealth/invisibility effects have been implemented differently.

In Turn Based at least, Shadowing Beyond is win for me, despite its high cost and limited uses - as its a Free action, meaning you can buff to the teeth with various Free action spells, recover all used slots with Free action Blood Sacrifice, reposition & vanish with Shadowing Beyond AND still get to cast an offensive spell during the same round.

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I'm afraid not. First effect that ticks (such as Chillfog - or another ray pulse) would kinda "waste" the Assassinate (particularly in case of relatively weak effects per tick, like Chillfog).

Note Chillfog is still pretty great for a Turn Based BM/Assassin in the early game. It has good range and entire mobs of the weaker enemies with no cold resist can either be killed or greatly weakened (plus blinded) from the initial activation from stealth (with +25 Acc, +50% critical bonus, +30% Overpen bonus).

Edited by Haplok
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Yes, a pulsing spell will lift your invisibility (no matter which one) with the next pulse (that pulse gets +15 ACC and extra crit damage - but those pusles are usually small so it's not that great) - which make them not suitable for an Assassin/Caster IF you want to go invisible while the pulsing spell lasts. 

In RTwP an Assassin/Druid can apply Plague of Insects which is a pure DoT and then vanish with Smoke Veil and stay invisible (DoTs don't break it). He can't do the same when castng Wicked Briars or Venombloom - because those are Pulsing spells. But a pure DoT, cast with Assassinate is not as impactful as a direct damage spell because while the DoT cast will get +25 ACC it can't profit from the increased crit damage of Assassinate. That's why you see a lot of Assassin/Wizards but not that many Assassin/Druids. Although Sunlance with Assassin/Druid is pretty nice. :) 

Ah, forgot: the initial attack roll of a pure DoT will also lift Smoke Veil (any any other invisibility) - only the ticks will not. 

Edited by Boeroer
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