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I've been faffing about trying to get a grip of where game balance was now that everything's out (I only finished up to Core + BoW on vet upscaled at the time) and it seemed to me that Tactical Meld didn't get mentioned a lot, to the point that it feels slept on.

I figured it might make for a nice Psyblade build's centerpiece spell when paired with a rogue on the first run where I figured out how Aloth's romance starts, hence the name.

 

Race - to taste, but I prefer snow elves (I could make up some nonsense about loving the elemental DR it brings but really it's just elves)

Stats - I start with Dex 15, Per 17, Int 12, Res 14. While these are the RP stats I had in 1, I do feel like Per is worth going heavy because it's harder in 2 to find permanent bonuses to it compared to 1, while Might just doesn't feel worthwhile when the basic psychic lash already gives 20% additive damage baseline. If I use a backstory where I made a sacrifice chances are it's Durance (with Int bumped to 13, Con down to 9 on the understanding that I'll get Durance's Resentment back after Hasongo). The cauldron upgrade 100% goes to Perception even if the potion for it requires Adra Ban.

Class - as the title says, Soulblade Cipher/Tactician Fighter

Skills - I ran this character as the group's primary lockpicker so I didn't have a lot of spare points to do much more than mechanics and athletics, although I think a few points into explosives might have been a nice idea. I also split between Insight and Streetwise more or less evenly for passives.

 

Preferred gear

- Weapons:

Rapier or Club are imo kinda essential for a melee tactician (Gipon is a pain to farm for and also requires much lower rep with the principi than I'll ever have). Squid's Grasp has my preference since it's easy to beeline with the 50k pires blessing, has immunity to flanking right out of the gate, the mats to lift the curse are trivial to find, it's one of the two-ish items in this game with Second Chance enchants, and it doesn't require sinking a galleon with a crack crew.

The ideal offhands for this setup are the bashing bucklers, hatchets, or daggers, although the two unique stilettos have good enchantments that are worth consideration, although in this case a source of non-piercing damage is especially essential.

Grave Calling deserves a honorable mention as a plan B backup weapon because every pierce-immune is a vessel, but this is, on the whole, incredibly niche for niche situations - although on the plus side, it's incredibly easy to rob the Crookspur general store.

Opening up with a pistol or blunderbuss before going to melee helps with the very focus-hungry initial setup, especially with things like the special attack on Kitchen Stove or Thundercrack, and all the uniques for both weapons (except Scordeo's Trophy) have a way to get around piercing immunity (it's still a mystery to me why it even exists and why it's specifically applied to things that shoot .60+ balls of lead but whatever).

- Armor: Miscreant's Leathers, imo, is the best option, with Contender's Armor, DoC breastplate and Reckless Brigandine distant seconds (for a variety of reasons like respectively not being available until act 4, requiring specific history choices, and being rather ugly)

- Accessories: My personal preference for hats is Fair Favor but Blackblade's Hood for the +1 Perception is nice and both essentially buff weapons that are good for this setup. Gwyn's Garter Belt or Cipher's Shackle is nice for the Dex resistance. I tend to use Harmony (paired with, say, Aloth or really anyone I expect will be in melee) and either Kuaru's Prize or Entonia for rings, with the Burglar's Gloves from the tailor in Periki for hands. Charm of Bones or Upright Captain's Belt are nice options to fill up the remaining slot.

- Pets: I like using the cosmic bird but really any +Per pet will broadly do

- Consumables: Unless I have a surfeit of ingredients for captain's banquet, I feel like a svef habit is a relatively good way to mitigate mental afflictions in general. Potions of Merciless Gaze and Deftness are also nice if I can't use one of the drugs with equivalent effects (due to being on svef, for example)

 

My preferred leveling scheme is basically

1 - Eyestrike & Knockdown

2 - Mind Wave (or debatably Tenuous Grasp)

3 - Fast Runner (debatably Monastic Unarmed Training)

4 - Phantom Foes & Fighter Stances

5 - Draining Whip

6 - Psycho Shield (as was pointed out, if I'm going to use Foes on the build, better off asap, especially considering the lull in combat encounters that usually happens after finishing Maje Island)

7 - Secret Horrors & Penetrating Strike

8 - Hammering Thoughts

9 - Puppet Master

10 - Silent Scream & Charge

11 - Mule Kick

12 - Body Attunement

13 - Tactical Meld & Mob Stance

14 - Two Weapon Style (edit: In retrospect I think Greater Focus would be better off around here)

15 - Borrowed Instinct

16 - Disintegrate & Unbending

17 - Mind Plague

18 - Keen Mind

19 - Echoing Horror & Unbending Shield

20 - maybe the Complete Self? Alternately maybe Ancestor's Honor or Stasis Shell

Fighter feels like a dip, all told, with only 2-3 picks from its tree outside of tier level ups. Mule Kick is nice to make sure whoever got missed by phantoms, eyestrike or a friendly rogue's distraction is still going to be flanked in the end. Also while Phantom is nice and all, my true setup to keep Brilliant flowing from level 13 on is to make sure that I have a friendly rogue in melee who can keep as many enemies locked down as possible with Tactical Meld. And for that, my preference is Aloth as a Spellblade, because getting Eder to 6 engagement slots is extremely easy and it's kind of hard to get him more surrounded than that. I just give Aloth Griffin's Blade, one of the leftover bucklers (usually Shimmerscale or the Outworn Buckler) and Llengrath's Martial Masteries and have him jump in the fray. Ydwin also works okay for the purpose of a melee rogue (but in very big fights might be better off paired with someone else for maximum engagement slots), but sadly Mirke's streetfighter subclass has anti-synergy with Tactician and just about anything that pumps her engagement slots (and the other rogue options are better off staying out of melee).

I tend to use soul annihilation in that setup more to soften or when there's nothing better to do with the focus, since it tends to play poorly with mob stance (I think it only triggers cleaving if it registers the death as being due to the attack and not the spell, which is ugh), so soul blade is in this build more for the ease of getting concentration and as a safety blanket than for the spammable melee shred. I don't overly mind ascendant as an alternative but the concentration thing gets on my nerves in melee (the alternative belt does help to some extent I guess, as would picking Disciplined Strikes in the early levels).

There's times when I'm a bit dubious about Brilliant Tactician's value, but admittedly I wouldn't build a dual wielding fighter with pen strike as an active were it not for it, I think. Mule Kicking Concelhaut to death while doing Bekarna's Folly at-level was the highlight of my first attempted run and it would probably not be possible without Brilliant.

 

EDIT that's not just going over a few details where I blanked: I can sort of see why Psyblade doesn't exactly have a ton of building, it's a really straightforward thing and kinda hard to make a seriously heinously bad one, short of doing things like trying to stack buffs that don't (Borrowed Instinct overwriting every defense and accuracy modal was something I didn't expect on my first run, that's a lesson since learned).

Edited by DubiousNixie
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Posted (edited)
On 5/7/2022 at 11:09 AM, DubiousNixie said:

because every pierce-immune is a vessel

Mostly vessels, but there are also other enemy types that are immune to pierce damage - for example some spirits (see Flame Blights).

On 5/7/2022 at 11:09 AM, DubiousNixie said:

Borrowed Instinct overwriting every defense and accuracy modal

Borrowed Insticts usually stacks with all single-defense buffs (Arcane Veil, Escape, Shields ftFf, Mirrored Images and so on) - but unfortunately not with Vigorous/Refreshing Defense which is also a buff to all defenses (like Borrowed Instincts). It's still a mystery to me why buff from modals are considered active buffs (and thus won't stack with other active abilities that buff the same stat), given that modals always have pros & cons which makes them balanced all by themselves. 🤷‍♂️

 

Edited by Boeroer
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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Boeroer said:

Mostly vessels, but here are also other enemy types that are immune to pierce damage - for example some spirits (see Flame Blights).

Oh, right, I forgot blights, even though it's the main reason I kept a note somewhere with the acceptale lash elements to circumvent immunities in 1.

 

As for the stacking, I assume at some point math or assumptions were made that a cipher with +40 to accuracy from rapier or arquebus might be a bit much, idk, but it's still weird to have to juggle this (even though it's still less opaque than figuring out what stacks in 1)

 

Also speaking of dubious picks - I think in retrospect I'd have been better off with Greater Focus over Two-Weapon Style since between gear, already dual wielding, dex and mob stance there's a lot of competing speed buffs on the sheet already (I didn't really do the math of how they stack up but I think one of them might be in diminishing returns territory), and I forgot Greater Focus also buffs your starting focus

Edited by DubiousNixie
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If you are going to focus on rapiers and arquebuses, you can always use the Red Hand with the double tap upgrade, which will destroy vessels that are lower level, even pierce immune ones. But you might also want to spend a skill point on the extra skill slot, and keep weapons there like Grave Calling, Keeper of the Flame, Magran's Favor, Sungrazer, etc. Weapons like these, that have an AOE effect on hit, crit or kill, are great for ciphers since you'll also get focus from them when they proc. You might also want to get the Seeker's Fang eventually. It's one of the best weapons for melee ciphers, since it inflicts a raw damage DoT effect, like a mini disintegration, when you crit, and you'll crit a lot as a psyblade wielding this.

Also, I'd recommend that you get Phantom Foes at lvl 4 rather than 6. You'll want this right away for a tactician psyblade. You might also consider getting antipathetic field instead of mind wave. It's fast cast and is a situationally very useful spell that can do great damage if you set it up properly. I use it throughout the game. Mind Wave, in the other hand, I tend not to use much after the lower levels, largely because it is a slow cast spell that doesn't do much damage.

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3 hours ago, dgray62 said:

Also, I'd recommend that you get Phantom Foes at lvl 4 rather than 6.

The 4-8 slice is kinda weird since it's relatively easy to spend most of these levels not fighting anything (especially if you spend about a month or two after Maje island wandering aimlessly to grab exploration XP which adds up really fast at low levels), but fair, Phantom at 4 makes sense if you hit the digsite at that level.

 

As for antipathetic field, I like it enough in TB but I think I'd probably sink dex for the same TB setup, and it's definitely powerful, but I find it miserable to use in RTWP - especially at lower levels when it's especially good - since it ends up exploding companions a lot more than I hoped (also Mind Wave is mostly to be there as a cheap aoe interrupt, which admittedly is messy to time because of the cast time 2 tacked on it on top of the other nerfs)

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I use AF all of the time when playing solo, but you are right, you have to be careful with it in a party. Yes, MW is very cheap in terms of focus if you're a soul blade, but it is more expensive, time wise. It's probably better for a back line ranged cipher.

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