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The Ultimate Challenge - Seer (Soulblade/Ranger) - Full playlist and guide/build overview.


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Link to the run => Ultimate Run
Introduction:

I've been trying the ultimate since summer last year. From the release of PoE:II I was infatuated with the ranger class, and it was the first Single Class i beat solo PotD difficulty on and the theory crafting started from there. The main benefit to ranger is also its biggest downside. The pet. So the first thing that had to be solved was how to deal with the downsides. One of them being the stealth sections, where it's not only you who has to stealth through them but your pet has to as well. Another one is that, when your pet dies, you get a nasty debuff wich lowers your accuracy and resolve. There is no argument that other classes, with no pet, are the safer pick for this challenge. And there are many ways to approach any given situation in the game. But the upsides of having a pet far outweighs the downsides of having one, especially when paired with a Soulblade Cipher.

 

Starting Build:

Race: Wood Elf

Class: Cipher (Soulblade) / Ranger (no subclass)

Might: 16

Constitution: 10

Dexterity: 11

Perception: 20

Intellect: 12

Resolve: 9

Culture/background: The White that Wends / Hunter

Weapon Proficiency: Club / Medium shield (Heater)

Pet: Boar

 

 

I think this build is possible with any race, but most optimal would be the ones that give you a bonus to perception cause this build relies heavily on accuracy. So either Elf or Orlan, but Orlan has -1 to might. And might being the second biggest focus of the build, i opted for Elf cause i'd rather have a bonus to perception without the penalty to might. We are getting more accuracy buffs throughout the game than might ones. The other race bonuses are verry minor in the long run, cause i tried most of them, and in the end the change was barely noticeable. Same for culture, there we take another +1 perception, again accuracy will be needed. Hunter background provides us with +1 in alchemy/mechanics/survival. This one is mostly picked for the mechanics, there's alot of lockpicking in the first sections of the game. As far as weapon proficiency goes, it doesn't really matter, we are going a monastic build. There is an argument to be made for clubs, wich lowers the targets will, and lets you land your debuffs more reliably. But the switching weapons downtime always felt really clunky to me so i did not really use it. Pet wise i think boar is best suited for the run, cause of the free regen between deaths.

The Class combo : Seer (Soulblade/Ranger)

It is with this class combo, that the rangers biggest downside, becomes it's strongest asset. Before, you dreaded your pet dying. Now, you want it to die. Alot.

The soulblade passive :

  • Gains "Soul Annihilation" ability: A soul enhanced melee strike that consumes the cipher's remaining power pool and converts it into Raw damage on the target.

  • Shred cipher spells cost less Focus.

  • Downing an enemy with a Melee Weapon temporarily grants Concentration and raises Max Focus.

So whenever we kill a "target", we grow our focus pool, wich in term means a bigger hit. We already have a target, our pet, we can kill however many times we want. Now we only need to extend the duration of the buff itself, for that we use Cabalist's Gambason and Strand of Favor to prolong the buff, so we can keep our high focus pool and therefore our big burst. There's three points in the run where i buff up by downing the pet. The first time to a 100 stacks, the second time to 1000 stacks, and the third time to 2000 stacks. Wich gets us a starting focus pool of 250, 2500 and 5000 respectively. The dmg is not a 1:1 conversion it's hard to say how it does but i think it does 2/3s of the current focus pool as damage. What also could make it hard to gage how it determines damage, is the fact that when you have 1000+ base focus, when you use Soul Annihilation, it doesn't dump your focus completely as it says in the tooltip but only a -1000. So when you have 250 base focus, you have one big punch, at 2500 you have 3 big punches, and at 5000 you have 5 big punches. Is what it comes down to, that's why damage and accuracy is what the build will focus on most. The way this build approaches fights that have to be fought is to identify the biggest threats, focus them down fast with our big punches, and then just control dps down the rest. And it all comes together with all the ranger and cipher spell kits.

 

Abilities and Passive tree

Ranger Abilities: Marked Prey, Heal Companion, Evasive Roll, Concussive shot, Concussive Tranquilizer.

Cipher Abilities: Valerous Echoes, Recall Agony, Psychovampiric Shield, Pain Block, Borrowed Instinct, Echoing Shield.

Passives: Monastic Unarmed Training, Penetrating Visions, Biting Whip, Hammering Thoughts, The Empty Soul, Resilient Companion, Uncanny Luck, Improved Critical, Tough, Survival of the fittest.

 

Everything revolves around landing your big punches at the start of a fight, most fights not all ( Belranga, and sigilmaster for example). So we have to know wich enemies in the group are major end running threats and focus them down first. And this kit helps you in doing so. We can buff ourselves with Borrowed instinct and Psycho vampiric shield, wich also simultanously debuffs the enemy. We can get extra accuracy on the target by flanking it together with the pet, and Marked prey. We also get a boost from our passives. So the go to strategy is, debuff the target and buff yourself enough so you are sure to land your big hit and you have to, because when you miss you lose that focus. So the fight can go verry wrong if you miss enough times. We can keep our pet alive in the meantime with Pain Block and Heal pet, remove might based stuns with Valerous Echoes. Echoing shield is mostly used to strip enemies from their concentration, wich allows me to interupt them with Concussive Tranquilizer. Evasive Roll is used to position ourselves almost instantaniously close to target to be able to hit them. With this ability you can reliable take out dangerous targets fast even though they are far away from each other. Recall Agony is just icing on the cake with our damage, cause it redeals 30 percent of it, mostly used on big targets, however it is worth noting that when you auto attack a target with recall agony you will gain focus faster.

Closing

There's alot more to this build than the write up i did. Like what route to take to be on time, wich items to get and where, how to protect vela, etc but this is the core principle of the build for the ultimate. You can see the route and strategies in further detail in the actual run posted up top.

 

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Since you are going with soulblade, which implies melee, why not go with stalker as well for the extra defense for you and your AC? Also, given the melee focus, you might consider reducing your MIG and boosting your RES a bit. You don't really need high MIG with a cipher, since you'll have a nice damage boost from the cipher side, and also from the ranger side for select foes if you pick Hunter's Fang as well.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, dgray62 said:

Since you are going with soulblade, which implies melee, why not go with stalker as well for the extra defense for you and your AC? Also, given the melee focus, you might consider reducing your MIG and boosting your RES a bit. You don't really need high MIG with a cipher, since you'll have a nice damage boost from the cipher side, and also from the ranger side for select foes if you pick Hunter's Fang as well.

The Ultimate run i did, prefered not to go stalker cause you only get the benefit of the AC and deflection for you and your pet when you are within 4m. And i was during most fights far away from my pet. Stalker also makes you suffer from bonded grief when you are further then 7m away from your pet, so i would suffer a big debuff of acc might and resolve. That is why i chose no subclasss.

Edited by Va'exna
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awesome! good job! did you submit and get recognition for this run? i'll have to carve out some time to watch the run (probably at 2x speed), but i'm just happy to see build variety that's not just priest of skaen/salvation of time (though i'm guilty of it) :)

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11 hours ago, Va'exna said:

The Ultimate run i did, prefered not to go stalker cause you only get the benefit of the AC and deflection for you and your pet when you are within 4m. And i was during most fights far away from my pet. Stalker also makes you suffer from bonded grief when you are further then 7m away from your pet, so i would suffer a big debuff of acc might and resolve. That is why i chose no subclasss.

Ah, that makes sense. I'm glad that your run was successful. Congratulations. Using the AC to build up focus and concentration sounds like a great idea.

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3 hours ago, thelee said:

awesome! good job! did you submit and get recognition for this run? i'll have to carve out some time to watch the run (probably at 2x speed), but i'm just happy to see build variety that's not just priest of skaen/salvation of time (though i'm guilty of it) :)

I did submit it at the same time i made the post here, so patiently waiting :)

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3 hours ago, Not So Clever Hound said:

Very cool @Va'exna! Impressive and very clever.

I have to report you to the animal protection society though :) what you did to this pet only rivals what @Boeroer has done to legions of skeletons over the years.

I can't even look at Eder anymore....

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On 5/30/2022 at 7:09 AM, Va'exna said:
There's alot more to this build than the write up i did. Like what route to take to be on time, wich items to get and where,

I'd be curious to know which weapons and armor you used. Did you really stick with club and shield the entire game? Since you took MUT I gather you probably also fought unarmed for a good portion of the game.

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6 hours ago, dgray62 said:

I'd be curious to know which weapons and armor you used. Did you really stick with club and shield the entire game? Since you took MUT I gather you probably also fought unarmed for a good portion of the game.

Yeah always used fists, there is some argument to made for the club modal, cause it lowers will on hit ( so you have an easier time landing debuffs). But i found it to be too clunky switching between weapons in fight just to land the will modal debuff from the club. The modal for fists also gives you extra pen. For armor i mostly used what i had with a high AR.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, dgray62 said:

That makes sense, thanks; fists are clearly one of the best weapons in the game.

the ultimate also exacerbates it because abydon's challenge will make basically anything not fists fall apart after a fight or two. (the priest of skaen builds had spiritual weapon to use as backup where alternative damage type for PEN was needed [edit: actually i don't know if others used spiritual weapon, but i definitely did for a few fights])

Edited by thelee
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