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I read quite a few posts about Ciphers being among the weakest classes in Poe2, and being outclassed in every way in the things they are good at. But all the info I could find was from 2019 at latest. So, I wonder if things have changed since then, either by patches or by people discovering new niches for the class.

Especially interested in their PotD viability, as that is what I will be playing on.

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Posted (edited)

I don't think there are bad classes, just classes you have not yet learned to use. There are probably classes that are more specialized, but if you play with a party you can easily mix and match different roles.
Having said that, if you are thinking about solo play/single cipher class, probably the most versatile (without strand of favor-like cheese) is Beguiler, Soul Blade if cheese is allowed
If you are considering also multi classes, I'd go with Psion-Troubadour, with (to try an ultimate challenge run) or without cheese (for anything else)
Also Ascendant-Priest of Skaen should be fun after you learn Salvation of Time + Barring Death Door (and a way to get brilliant)

 

Edited by abot
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Cipher is one of very few classes that were successfully used (by @abot above) to beat the Ultimate. It is the only class that can completely trivialize one of the hardest and most annoying fights ever designed :) (Hauani o Whe megaboss). And at least this last point has been true and known for a while.

In a party, every subclass and multi combination of Cipher can be very strong but having an SC Ascendant and a Priest = party god mode with a bit of setup/management.

Solo or if you're looking at characters' ability in a self-contained way, you can build amazing synergies around cipher multiclassing both to complement martial melee/ranged and casting playstyles. The only thing if you're playing Cipher as a Caster/Caster is that you need to pay attention to action economy and resource management. This is one of many reasons why Psion Troubadour in particular is highly regarded: it always has resources to do something fun - uses focus, uses phrases, uses focus etc. etc.

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Every class is usable, in a party some are better than others, in solo some are better than others...

I never play party so i can't say anything about it - in solo ciphers have some of the best tools in the game to get things done.

Charming is amazing, borrowed instincts is amazing - Disintegration is the easiest way to defeat one of the megabosses - build right they are amazing.

 

Build wrong they don't do anything, a Psion that gets hit all the time can't cast anything, an Ascendant that doesn't autto attack gets no focus (okay, with one shot abilities...)... I love ciphers, but i don't play them a lot, i love chanters and forbidden fist too much, and they don't pair well with ciphers (okay, Psion/Troubadour, but thats the wrong focus generation for me, for a casual run)

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Reent said:

Every class is usable, in a party some are better than others, in solo some are better than others...

Well, in Solo some are better than others but some are straight-up not viable no matter how you build them - to me that's a big difference when considering builds vs. party play. And by viable I mean able to deliver against the critical path, not necessarily to do all the optional content or an Ultimate-style run.

Indeed Cipher is viable solo in multiple and quite diverse ways.

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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1 hour ago, SirMirrorcoat said:

I read quite a few posts about Ciphers being among the weakest classes in Poe2, and being outclassed in every way in the things they are good at.

Uh... what would-be expert wrote those posts?

Ciphers are good for PotD. Especially in a party (but also not bad solo). Ancestor's Memory alone is enough to make a Cipher very interesting for any party. A Psion with Ancestor's Memory and decent INT can keep a party member perma-brilliant. Imagine your fellow Druid to be able to spam stuff like Great Maelstrom without limit. 

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Posted (edited)

I don't know what you read that ciphers are underpowered, but ciphers are definitely not.

Obv, there's the fact that even a multiclass cipher gets brilliant, as @Boeroer mentions.

But ciphers have a lot of really good powers. Even a tier 1 charm is useful in to the end-game. an underappreciated power is Mind Plague - basically battle-wide confusion and dazing for huge durations. On PotD especially, giving a gigantic -4 PEN penalty to basically every enemy on the battlefield along with no engagement capability is a gigantic survivability boost; all enemy casters also get weaker, and in certain fights is just utterly ruinous (where enemies might have a weakness: intellect).

 

I think the big thing to be worried about on PotD is PEN, because most cipher approaches require damaging the enemy with weapons, and if you don't manage your PEN and enemy AR situation, you're going to be in a world of frustration. If you don't want to micromanage that, a psion or a properly built beguiler can get you focus in less-PEN-dependent ways.

 

Edited by thelee
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I do think that Ciphers need some babysitting as they are the squishiest class in the game. The Wizard is also fairly fragile but makes up for it with various defensive spells; Ciphers don't really have much outside of Borrowed Instinct and the ability that steals AR from an enemy. A secondary issue is that they have to land (and have enough PEN on) both their attacks and spells to be particularly useful (martial classes really only have to land their attacks, and casters really only have to land their spells, so ciphers have to jump through more hoops). That said, you're not going to find Brilliant on any other class, and charm/dominate are both incredibly powerful.

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1 hour ago, abot said:

I don't think there are bad classes, just classes you have not yet learned to use. There are probably classes that are more specialized, but if you play with a party you can easily mix and match different roles.
Having said that, if you are thinking about solo play/single cipher class, probably the most versatile (without strand of favor-like cheese) is Beguiler, Soul Blade if cheese is allowed
If you are considering also multi classes, I'd go with Psion-Troubadour, with (to try an ultimate challenge run) or without cheese (for anything else)
Also Ascendant-Priest of Skaen should be fun after you learn Salvation of Time + Barring Death Door (and a way to get brilliant)

 

Could u elaborate a little on your psion/trobadour build? Gearing and skill set wise? I’m theory crafting that Sasha’s singing scimitar and least unstable coil will have some fun stuff at least.  Any interesting synergies? What were the harder / hardest fights? 

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4 minutes ago, SirMirrorcoat said:

Next time, I need to do more research before asking (stupid) questions.

Hey no worries! Not a stupid question, I'm just wondering who gave this POV you mentioned about Cipher being bad.... Anyway that's what this forum is for and you will see that generally people are very happy to help :).

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Ciphers are one of my favorite classes in Deadfire. They have incredible utility, and I generally have no problem with PEN and getting focus on PotD. The Hammering Thoughts ability helps here, naturally. It's one of the best passives in the game when you play PotD. Soul Blade is my favorite in multiclasses, with assassin, trickster or forbidden fist monk especially. SC Ascendent is great for ranged/caster builds.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, boareder said:

Could u elaborate a little on your psion/trobadour build? Gearing and skill set wise? I’m theory crafting that Sasha’s singing scimitar and least unstable coil will have some fun stuff at least.  Any interesting synergies? What were the harder / hardest fights? 

well, it is normally a pure-caster build (with the exceptions of some hard-to-penetrate megabosses with which  you may prefer to use monastic unarmed training fists) centered on controlling the battle field with always-up summons with brisk recitation and always recharging chants/spells, summing the summons damage with the cipher spells control and damage (as controllable summons make you able to use a lot of spells targeting them) while possibly keeping player (and Vela if you play with Hylea challenge) away from damage
Basically you try to start from stealth placing a trap/a bomb, keep stealth at least until your perma-summons are up, then according to enemy difficulty you keep the summons up from stealth and improve them with fast casting of things like pain link (25% always hit damage back), lately Tactical Meld.
If the enemy is not super tough/risky you can wait to have high focus and then go out of stealth and spam cipher spells ascendant style

You have so many good spells you can try it's hard to choose, but as the level 1 is the most difficult as you can't respec it, I'd say
level 1: Psion: Soul Shock, Troubadour: The Thunder Rolled
reason for not getting  Whisper of Treason from the start: at a certain point/focus level you may (or not) want to replace Whisper of Treason (pros: cheap) with Puppet Master (not so cheap, but better)
The Thunder Rolled is a great control/debuff spell targeting reflex and it even does decent damage, it can get +15 accuracy with the update so it remains always good
Then if e.g. you want to try the starting cave you can temporarily get If their Bones skeletons summon to attack the corrosive bats and the rest while you use soul shock for damage. after that, you may want to respec the skeletons with something else, personally I love the wurms, they are the summons I use most until the animated weapons are available

Sasha's scimitar is good, least unstable coil is good but the most OP synergy is Grave Calling sabre + Chilling Grave + Grave Bound + Many Lives Pass By stream of skeletons, whenever you kill a skeleton you generate a paralyzing enemy only chill fog. When you have them your build gets 100% more control and 50% more damage

other interesting abilities for next levels:
For Troubadour:
Thrice Was She Wronged + Her Revenge Swept, Its Crash Could Not Be Denied (more reliable stuns), Gernisc Slew the Beast (3 summons, always good with fire-sensible enemies, fast on swamp too, sturdy enough to survive a lot and not so armored to avoid being critted so good for pain link, especially with engaging enemies), (Oh, But Knock Not on the Door of Urdel and Gurdel for things not damaged by wurms/ancient weapons) , Called to His Bidding, the Ancient Instruments of Death for anything else,  Eld Nary
chants: Come, Come Soft Winds of Death, Thick Grew Their Tongues, maybe Ancient Memory in some rough situations (e.g. The Oratory of Wael to heal Vela from the moving ray while you are busy killing things), Many Lives Pass By (this one is OP)

For Psion:
Whisper of Treason/Puppet Master, (maybe Valorous Echoes too but only until you get Pain Link, maybe Eyestrike but cinder bombs are cheap and then you will probably get the chilling fog), Psychovampiric Shield (this one is good for a little extra deflection on start, less enemy deflection and lowered will to be able to land borrowed instinct on tough enemies), Mind Blades (great at middle/high level for super fast/easy spam casting on >= 2 enemies), Pain Link, Secret Horrors (control+lowering defenses), Mental Binding (covering paralyze until you get the Grave Calling synergy up), Borrowed Instinct, Ringleader, Tactical Meld, Disintegration, Screaming Souls (Mind Plague/Amplified Wave are good but when your skeletons stream is available you usually have enough focus to be able to use Screaming Souls)
Passives: Penetrating Visions, Arms Bearer, Hammering Thoughts,  Monastic Unarmed Training, The Empty Soul

Modals: medium shield, flail, club, morning star, pike

for more specific situations, probably it is easier to take a look at the videos.
Apart the no-comments ultimate run upload, I'm currently playing with this build a sort of ultimate-like relaxed test run (you can probably run it a 2x speed if micro-managing of summons is boring, I am a slow speaker and it should still be intelligible), with no iron man/Wael challenge to be able to stream/comment and no Eothas challenge (but trying to emulate it), doing most risky fights for fun/challenge but pointing out those better to be avoided in a real ultimate run, and how to prolong out of combat positive effects with strand of favor like items if you want/need to cheese with them

Edited by abot
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, abot said:

and how to prolong out of combat positive effects with strand of favor like items if you want/need to cheese with them

Tbf with SoF cipher goes from one of the worse (not bad at all but still worse than most others) to THE best class in the game.

The only classes for SOLO worse than cipher are barbarian and maybe ranger (even tho ranger is honestly already similar or better to cipher).

Ofc as stated in previous posts in a party cipher is insanely good, but solo without SoF there isn't much reason to pick one.

Edited by Raven Darkholme
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Posted (edited)

I think something that manages to kill Gorecci street thugs at maximum difficulty solo without strand of favor cheese is not so bad after all, no? Obviously the summons are doing most of the work, but pain link helps
[EDIT] not even pain link, I think just Valorous Echoes works, for clearing the Dig Site too

Edited by abot
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1 hour ago, abot said:

I think something that manages to kill Gorecci street thugs at maximum difficulty solo without strand of favor cheese is not so bad after all, no? Obviously the summons are doing most of the work, but pain link helps
[EDIT] not even pain link, I think just Valorous Echoes works, for clearing the Dig Site too

That's not a benchmark at all.

All summons do well early game, so does pulling single enemies with traps on pretty much any class, so does tb cheese with all casters.

(and prolly more I forgot)

Beating Gorecci street and dig site was impressive when the game came out, now it's all about mega bosses and some parts of the dlc and cipher just does bad there without SoF.

You can't even rate how well a chanter/cipher multi does in those scenarios because summons just change how every class is played (except for those who already have their own summons ofc).

I once beat every non ship bounty in the game with a level 10 sc wizard, also beat Arkemyr with the same level and prolly could have done way more fights, just because I had wizard with splodey phantom.

 

I want to point out I'm not one of the people who says cipher is bad, I think it's amazing, but it's much better in a party than solo and there is just so many classes MUCH better than the cipher at soloing.

The only time cipher really shines is if you multiclass it with perfect matches like chanter, ranger wizard or priest, or obviously if you use SoF and multiclass it with pretty much anything or even single class.

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3 hours ago, Raven Darkholme said:

The only time cipher really shines is if you multiclass it with perfect matches like chanter, ranger wizard or priest, or obviously if you use SoF and multiclass it with pretty much anything or even single class.

How would you build a mystic? Soul blade/priest of Woedica might be nice for the massive raw lash until you get the Seeker's fang, but maybe there are other builds that would work even better. And how about a spiritualist? I tried a skald/soul blade once and it was definitely fun.

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4 hours ago, dgray62 said:

How would you build a mystic? Soul blade/priest of Woedica might be nice for the massive raw lash until you get the Seeker's fang, but maybe there are other builds that would work even better. And how about a spiritualist? I tried a skald/soul blade once and it was definitely fun.

Skaen is probably better for solo because of the invis, the raw lash weapons of Woedica are nice but they "only" scale like summoned weapons, not like monastic, so they are less good vs high dr targets than battle axes with bleeding cut or monastic.

The one big synergy of priest and soul blade would ofc be, sot + soul blades focus on kill.

Wouldn't get much out of it vs doru, but at that point in the game you have scordeos + sot and ofc bdd etc.

(the cipher doesn't contribute that much here, occassional SA ofc since you build focus fast, but main dmg would come from bleeding cut)

 

Skald/Soul Blade probably has best synergy, Bellower and Troubadour are also always decent choices and ofc the Psion/Troubadour @abot went for his ultimate.

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Posted (edited)

> The only time cipher really shines is if you multiclass it with perfect matches like chanter, ranger wizard or priest
Well, that's 4 classes to combine with, this "the only time" concept seems good enough for me.

Assuming no strand of favor cheese is used, IMO cipher can still be one of best classes for multi (as showed clearing the dig site, gorecci street  etc), obviously synergies/what kind of cipher subclass is better varies with the other class
I think the problem here is you are measuring class/class combination power mostly with damage per second, I am measuring it with ability to overcome challenges (with/without cheese) in longer times using tactics/synergy with other classes

Single class solo no cheese, yes, I may agree there are probably better classes (single class blood mage on top, maybe monk but I have not enough experience with monks) than single class cipher as cipher needs synergy to shine, so multiclass or party.

[EDIT] @dgray62 about a mystic class, I've been impressed by Yue Dai Priest of Skaen/Ascendant build used for the ultimate, once you get SOT+BDD+Scordeo+Brilliant+Ascended spells like Mind Blades become another thing, maybe I'd use human instead of death godlike, less powerful probably but easier to survive if your reflexes (I mean the real ones, not player stat) are not top notch

Edited by abot
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1 hour ago, abot said:

The only time cipher really shines is if you multiclass it with perfect matches like chanter, ranger wizard or priest

IMO Cipher synergizes extremely well with ranged Assassin too. Vanilla Cipher with Biting Whip + Hammering Thoughts + Disintegration = outstanding complement to Assassin damage for 3 measly ability points. If you want to briefly switch it as a hybrid Arcana user for few late game DLC encounters where hit n' run doesn't work, you can also spec farcasting and rapid casting and it's just gravy on top.

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18 hours ago, Reent said:

Build wrong they don't do anything, a Psion that gets hit all the time can't cast anything, an Ascendant that doesn't autto attack gets no focus (okay, with one shot abilities...)... I love ciphers, but i don't play them a lot, i love chanters and forbidden fist too much, and they don't pair well with ciphers (okay, Psion/Troubadour, but thats the wrong focus generation for me, for a casual run)

Forbidden Fist pairs beautifully with ciphers...

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Just now, Haplok said:

Forbidden Fist pairs beautifully with ciphers...

with community patch sure, without... i just don't see it - okay, FF for enfeebled, but it sounds like the wound/focus generation suffers.

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Yeah, I do use CP. I guess it would quite a bit worse without it. But FF is a full fledged monk regardless. I don't spam FF. Its maybe my every 3rd -5th attack. So I could still benefit from other attacks (like Stunning Surge).

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