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I'm having a heap of trouble deciding on a class. So far I've rolled three Mindstalkers (Soul Blade/Assassin, Beguiler/Assassin, Beguiler/Trickster) and the furthest I've gotten is Neketaka with any of them (I could probably do Maje Island blindfolded). I enjoy aspects of both classes but I'm not gelling with this particular combination it seems. Wall of text ahead (sorry!).

What I enjoyed about Cipher:

  • Charming/dominating enemies, it's very useful early on and is also lots of fun
  • Setting up sneak attack situations with spells like Eyestrike and Phantom Foes
  • Soul Blade's raw damage ability

What I enjoyed about Rogue:

  • Heaps of sneak attack damage and being able to disappear in a cloud of smoke, especially with Assassin
  • Putting points into stealth for my MC and it being useful both inside and outside combat (I like stealing everything that isn't nailed down)
  • Trickster's handful of spells

But for some reason, I don't find myself having a whole heap of fun with Mindstalker. Combat gets a bit formulaic and stale since I'm basically cycling between casting foe AOE spells that proc sneak attack damage, Whisper of Treason-ing problematic enemies in the group, re-entering stealth and repeating this ad nauseam.

I've done some thinking and have come up with some things I'd like my MC to have in terms of roles/abilities/skills, etc.:

  • Striker/DPS or CC role
  • Multiclass (though I could be convinced of single class), most likely magic (or chanting/summoning)/martial since I enjoy being able to sling spells and stab things
  • One-handed, two-handed or dual wielding weapons (was leaning towards greatswords because they seem to have the most unique options?)
  • Points in stealth (though I don't know how many points are "enough") and ideally mechanics as well, since I'm somewhat of a klepto in video games/having both of these on one character is a nice quality of life thing
  • Somewhat unique in my party, as I don't like to have too much crossover with companions 
  • Fitting with my MC's alignment/disposition, so no outwardly "evil"/cruel Bleak Walkers, priests of Woedica/Skaen, etc.

For the sake of the second-last point, I'll list what classes I chose for each of the companions:

  • Eder, Swashbuckler 
  • Xoti, SC Priest (thinking about making her a Contemplative in this playthrough)
  • Aloth, SC Wizard
  • Serafen, SC Barbarian
  • Pallegina, Herald
  • Maia, Scout
  • Tekehu, Theurge

There's also the sidekicks, but seeing as I don't really have them in my party a whole heap, I'm not so concerned with overlap.

My apologies for the essay, thank you if you read until the end. I welcome any and all suggestions that can break me out of this analysis paralysis!

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Regarding Mindstaller: Maybe you just didn't find the right combo yet?

A Soulblade/Trickster combines good sturdyness and great damage output.

You can combine Riposte + Offensive Parry (from the Great Sword "Whispers of the Endless Paths") with high deflection (from Mirrored Images + Borrowed Instincts, they stack). 

Those two is one of the best combos of melee offense, CC and defense imo. 

---

What I found most fun to play so far (in nearly 5K of hours played on Steam, although some of that is idle time):

- Psion/Troubadour: strict caster, no weapons needed (you'll still have them of course - I used a small shield setup and fairly high deflection to demotivate enemies from rushing this guy). Non-stop spamming spells, resources refill automatically, super-versatile: can do dmg, support, disable, debuff, healing, summoning, mind control... 

- Helwalker with dual mortars (Serafen's Blunderbusses, obtainable quite early): unbelievable dmg output and awesome CC. The late game potential is enormous because of Resonant Touch + Whispers of the Wind. The mid game is also excellent bc. of Stunning Surge with AoE weapons. benefits a party setup that focuses on keeping enemies in a tight formation. So a main tank who draws attention first and a Wiz who can cast stuff like Pull of Eora or so.

- Assassin/Bloodmage: not for the damage but for the awesome accuracy bonus from stealth or invisibility. A well-placed disabling or debuffing spell with +25 ACC trivializes most encounters. Arkemyr's Brilliant Departure makes you invisible (unique spell from a unique Grimoire) and has the unique feature that it doesn't break on non-damaging spells. That means that once you got that spell you can stay invisible and cast debuffs and disables while invisible all the time. Bloodmage lets you regain spell uses (but the self damage will break the invisibility, so proper timing is needed).

There are a ton of other option which are all fun, but those stood out the most I think.

For example Arcane Archer/Ascendant with Frostseeker is a well-known combo that seems to be fun for most players. 

But: with many builds the real fun starts after the early game. So it's difficult to judge your character only by the experience on Maje Island/pre Neketaka.

But some combos start off really front-heavy and are fun right off the bat, for example when you use classes that start with a special feature right away, like Steel Garrote with the draining, Forbidden Fist,  Streetfighter with blunderbuss+modal or so. For example Berseker/Streetfighter with Hunting Bow + modal starts really strong because of the triple speed buff (but won't improve a lot during the game).

 

 

Edited by Boeroer
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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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For an awesome martial cipher, I'd recommend Transcendant. My favourite is Ascendant (particularly if you have a SC Priest in your party to buff you with Salvation of Time), but a Soul Blade can work well also.

On the monk side I like Forbidden Fist the most, but a Helwalker can work beautifully as well - you just have to be quite a bit more careful not to get focused by enemies/mobbed. 

Monk synergizes very well with casters, particularly martial ones. Huge Int bonuses mean long ability durations and large aoes. Swift Flurry / Heartbeat Drumming crit chains simply melt squishier (therefore often most dangerous) enemies. Stunning Surge keeps enemies stunned while usually being free (if you crit with one of the 2 attacks).  Helwalker offers a huge Might boost that will increase the potency of your powers. But FF offers something arguably even better: +50% DOT, CC & debuff durations on affected enemies and enemies cannot heal or regenerate. Plus its a "free" (if used reasonably) and quite strong attack). The Fire lash is nifty too. 

And do try Grave Calling Scimitar with a Chanter in your party summoning skeletons for some fun. Kill them with the Cipher and you'll generate party-friendly Chillfogs that blind, paralyze enemies and damage - while providing Focus for you! (with the right scimitar enchantments).

Later on, the Seeker's Fang rapier from SSS DLC is awesome.

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1 hour ago, Boeroer said:

Regarding Mindstaller: Maybe you just didn't find the right combo yet?

A Soulblade/Trickster combines good sturdyness and great damage output.

You can combine Riposte + Offensive Parry (from the Great Sword "Whispers of the Endless Paths") with high deflection (from Mirrored Images + Borrowed Instincts, they stack). 

Those two is one of the best combos of melee offense, CC and defense imo. 

---

What I found most fun to play so far (in nearly 5K of hours played on Steam, although some of that is idle time):

- Psion/Troubadour: strict caster, no weapons needed (you'll still have them of course - I used a small shield setup and fairly high deflection to demotivate enemies from rushing this guy). Non-stop spamming spells, resources refill automatically, super-versatile: can do dmg, support, disable, debuff, healing, summoning, mind control... 

- Helwalker with dual mortars (Serafen's Blunderbusses, obtainable quite early): unbelievable dmg output and awesome CC. The late game potential is enormous because of Resonant Touch + Whispers of the Wind. The mid game is also excellent bc. of Stunning Surge with AoE weapons. benefits a party setup that focuses on keeping enemies in a tight formation. So a main tank who draws attention first and a Wiz who can cast stuff like Pull of Eora or so.

- Assassin/Bloodmage: not for the damage but for the awesome accuracy bonus from stealth or invisibility. A well-placed disabling or debuffing spell with +25 ACC trivializes most encounters. Arkemyr's Brilliant Departure makes you invisible (unique spell from a unique Grimoire) and has the unique feature that it doesn't break on non-damaging spells. That means that once you got that spell you can stay invisible and cast debuffs and disables while invisible all the time. Bloodmage lets you regain spell uses (but the self damage will break the invisibility, so proper timing is needed).

There are a ton of other option which are all fun, but those stood out the most I think.

For example Arcane Archer/Ascendant with Frostseeker is a well-known combo that seems to be fun for most players. 

But: with many builds the real fun starts after the early game. So it's difficult to judge your character only by the experience on Maje Island/pre Neketaka.

But some combos start off really front-heavy and are fun right off the bat, for example when you use classes that start with a special feature right away, like Steel Garrote with the draining, Forbidden Fist,  Streetfighter with blunderbuss+modal or so. For example Berseker/Streetfighter with Hunting Bow + modal starts really strong because of the triple speed buff (but won't improve a lot during the game).

 

 

Thank you for such a detailed response! 

I think I might try out Soulblade/Trickster since I really do love the idea of Mindstalker as a class.

What should I go for in terms of stats and abilities? My current Beguiler/Trickster (using this build as a guide for what abilities to pick) has a spread of 14/12/17/20/17/10 (including Berath's Blessing, race bonus and background bonus). I really like the idea of using Whispers of the Endless Paths -- IIRC, Soul Annihilation is a primary attack so a two-hander seems like the best way to go. Prior to reforging the sword, would it be worth picking up Riposte just to have as a 'just in case'?

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If you want to use Whispers of the Endless Paths with Offensive Parry (and Riposte) I would go for high RES (also good for dialogue options), INT and PER, good DEX. MIG and CON can be left alone. Hits with Offensive Parry do generate focus by the way, which is cool because you can reload focus just by getting missed. Riposte does not afaik, but in contrast to Offensive Parry, which is a single target retaliation, Riposte will retaliate with the whole cone of WotEP. Both stack, that means they can proc both off of one single miss! :)
Also the cone + Rogue strikes such as Arterial Strike is very good if you manage to hit several enemies.

In order to gain even more deflection I would look at armors like Nomad's Brigandine, Gipon Prudensco or Casita Samelia's Legacy (with maxed Intimidate skill). Also stuff like bracers/cape of Greater Deflection. 

Another good setup is Sun & Moon flail + Tuotilo's Palm. The two flail heads roll for hits sepertely and work very well with Soul Annihilation. First of all you get two chances to not miss the SA attack - and if both hit the first one dumps the focus into raw dmg while the second already generates focus for you. Because Soul Annihilation is a Primary Attack you will not strike with the bashing shield in your offhand - yet you will profit from the dual wielding speedup (and two weapon style if you take it). And you will also be more sturdy because shield.

 

Edited by Boeroer

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Thanks a bunch. 

What kind of weapon setup you recommend for early game? You mentioned those particular pieces of armour, is recovery time not a concern? It seems like heavy armour + greatsword would make recovery time pretty hefty.

My stat spread right now is 10/10/12/16/14/16 (w/o Blessing, just race and background bonus), would you say that's decent or should I rejig it a bit more?

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Two Handers hve the same recovery time as the heavier one handed weapons. Gipon Prudensco is a padded armor, so it doesn't slow you down that much.

Nomad's Brigandine is indeed a heavy armor and thus will give you the highest recovery. You can counter that a bit with with a proper pet (see Abraham). 

Those are two options. Armor is very effective in Deadfire if you can make sure the enemy doesn't fully penetrate. It makes a huge difference when you look at your sturdyness. If you sacrifice armor for faster attack speed you will a) get attacked/shot at more because some enemies prefer "soft" targets and b) go down more easily.

This you can circumvent with stuff like hard CC (what is disabled can't attack you), mind control or summons. Or a very sticky tank or so. 

I think you will have to play a bit in order to find out what works best for you. For example in the early game it might be better to stick to the heavy stuff, but the better your defenses become from buffs and items and abilities (and the less attacks actually land on you as a result) the more likely it becomes that you can get away with using lighter armor. 

Offensive Parry and Riposte can make up for a slower recovery because they will happen when you get missed - which is completely independed from your own attack speed. 

Concerning attributes: keep in mind that the cone size of WotEP Greatsword is determined by your intellect. The smarter you are the bigger the cone. But you can also enlarge it with Ring of Overseeing or a pet (see Loki).   

I think it's okay. You could try to min-max the attributes more and go for 3 CON for example - but I wouldn't recommand that for the first playthrough since it would not only make your health pool smaller but also drop your fortitude defense a lot. 

Edited by Boeroer

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Based on what you said in your opening post, I would also say to go for a Cipher/Monk. Between their raw fist damage, Swift Strikes, and a Cipher’s melee damaging passives (and buffs), you should be swimming in focus. Plus, those are the two classes youre missing in your party. Cipher has a lot of fast cast spells, so you can fire them off and then go back to your punching. I would recommend more but dont want to add to your analysis paralysis lol

While Assassin is a fun sounding class, I too find it somewhat…formulaic starting all battles with stealth nukes. Imo the most fun classes are ones that feel almost ‘opportunistic’, where you have a lot of offensive tools and you can use best one when theres an opening.

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Gotcha Boeroer. You're full of great advice! 

Re: weapons, would it be prudent to stick primarily to greatswords/two handers for the majority of the game? I'm pretty fond of dual wielding personally, so I'm wondering if that will have an overly negative impact. 

Also, if it isn't too much trouble, do you think you could maybe look over this build for me and seeing if it still holds up/if there are any parts to it you'd change?

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Whispers Mindstalker was way too slow for my taste. Slowly whittling multiple enemies - provided that they are actually positioned well - is not my kind of playstyle. Personally I prefer to focus on priority targets and eliminate the threats ASAP.

Also quite squishy.

Sun & Moon + Tuotilo's Palm is better IMO - but still quite a one-trick-pony.

 

My recommendation is to consider trying a monk  MC :)

Edited by Haplok
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1 hour ago, Haplok said:

Also quite squishy.

Soulblade/Trickster is def. not squishy. It's not a tank but def. not squishy.

1 hour ago, Haplok said:

Slowly whittling multiple enemies - provided that they are actually positioned well - is not my kind of playstyle.

Well... since Offensive Parry provides focus without you actually attacking - and since the cone of WotEP delivers Soul Annihilation dmg to all enemies in the cone it's not really "whittling".
Also players only look at the lower base dmg of WotEP and then claim it doesn't do enough dmg per hit - but forget that it has a 15% crushing lash AND +1 PEN from the get-go - which is very good. It also has reach (1.2m) which makes it possible to attack enemies that would be unreachable by normal melee weapons. YOu can stand behind your tank and still attacks the enemies the tank's fending off.

 

1 hour ago, Haplok said:

Sun & Moon + Tuotilo's Palm is better IMO

 It is especially good for Soulblade because of its unique dual hit roll mechanic which allows you to spam Soul Annihilation all the time. T's Palm makes it so that you get higher defenses and more importantly the dual wield and two-weapon style bonus without actually using it when attacking.

1 hour ago, Haplok said:

but still quite a one-trick-pony

I mean it's a Rogue with great weapon dmg and cool spells and a Cipher with great weapon dmg and cool spells - you can play it as a one-trick pony... but in reality it's versatile as heck if you want. The only thing it doesn't do well out of the box is self-healing (but when you use a heal-on-kill pet even that is solvable). But nothing stops you from controlling minds, do CC or support a party member if the situation calls for that. 

1 hour ago, Haplok said:

My recommendation is to consider trying a monk  MC :)

You know that is always my recommendation. :) Monk is almost always fun to play imo (if you're generally open to playing a Monk that is).

But OP was inquiring for the Soulblade/Trickster combo specifically. It is one of the combos with the highest potential weapon damage output, while still being sturdy enough so that you don't have to babysit all the time.  

2 hours ago, feainnewedds said:

Re: weapons, would it be prudent to stick primarily to greatswords/two handers for the majority of the game? I'm pretty fond of dual wielding personally, so I'm wondering if that will have an overly negative impact.

Generally speaking Deadfire rewards NOT sticking to a single weapon type. The individual armor ratings of enemies against certain damage types differ significantly - so you are encouraged to switch to a weapon set with matching damage types rather than sticking to your preferred weapon. Also enemies might use different tactics - and sometimes a parrying-style setup with WotEP might not work that well in some cases - for example against ranged enemies or tough singular bosses. Then it's time to switch to something else (an alternative Great Sword, a Morning Star or even a large shield setup).

If you like dual wielding better then there's no real argument to stick to Great Swords. I suggested WotEP because you mentioned Great Swords in the opening post and WotEP works very well with Trickster/Soulblade imo (currently playing a Soulblade/Shattered Pillar with WotEP).
But a Soulblade/Trickster also works very well with Rapier (the modal and single handed usage really help to land Soul Annihilation in the early game) or other one handed weapons like dual daggers (for example Pukestabber + Marux Amanth) or sabres and so on. I think Sun & Moon + Tuotilo's Palm (or Magran's Blessing - I believe the Fire Shield of Magran's Blessing even generates focus) is one of the most effective setups though due to the special features that support Soul Annihilation so well. 

Edited by Boeroer

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