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Melee Cypher build


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#1
GawainBS

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I'd like to play a melee Cypher. I've googled around for possible builds, but the discussions range from "Go Heavy Armour & Twohander" to "Light Armour and Dual Wield."

My preference is for a character that doesn't crumble when someone looks at it sideways and which can reliably generate damage & CC.

 

Which weapons & fighting styles should I go for? Dual Sabres seem nice, but won't the DR mechanics botch this? Is Vulnerable Attack enough to solve this?

 

Thanks in advance!



#2
MaxQuest

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I am just playing with one, and having a class build to post in my plan.
 
First of all there are 3 questions you want to answer:
- do I have only one cipher or two?
- do I want to specialize him in crowd-control, spell-damage or both?
- how much cc and debuffs my other party members have? (because if much, you can get away with way lower defenses)
 
After much experimentation I've found that:
- melee cipher is great because he can mental bind those who have engaged him in melee, which will result in that he losses less endurance, while also gaining more focus because his targets now have lowered deflection due to paralyze.
- if you want to place your cipher into frontline, heavy armor is the best option. You need a lot of stats to empower his idps output for the focus gain, as well as int for any decently-lasting cc, leaving you with mediocre constitution. And low end-to-health coefficient will keep reminding of itself.
- you can make your cipher versatile or specialize him (to avoid that strange feeling when you have high might but have to cast a cc-power that actually doesn't benefit from that stat at all).
 
For weapon options, you have several optimal variants:
- sabres - due to higher base damage which scales nicely with ciphers high damage coefficients; and because there decent choices like Purgatory and Bittercut.
- estoc - due to 5 DR bypass and THF which allow to get away with lower might; and because there is Blade of the Endless Paths.
- reach weapons - because you can take a lighter armor. [Llawran's Stick staff + leather armor + Vulnerable Attack] is basically the same as [BotEP + plate armor].
 
 
Regarding specializations:
- you can focus your cipher on crowd control, in which case might is not that important, but you still want to deal high weapon damage to get the focus.
So for instance something like: [10/10/18/16/16/8] boreal dwarf with BotEP estoc and THF talent would be perfect. Or you could take pale elf for the extra DR and lower constitution a little more in exchange.
- another cc-variant could be built around annihilation sabres: [8/10/18/19/15/8] boreal dwarf with dual Purgatory. You will get lots of focus on crits.
- but if you would like to top the dps in your party, than there is no better thing than a detonate cipher with maxed might, like: [20/8/16/13/15/6] boreal dwarf with dual Bittercuts. But you'd better have another team member paralyzing/stunning his nearby enemies.
 
 
Few considerations:
- because base recovery is higher than base attack duration, it's highly advisable to reach zero rec.
- because you can reliably reach zero-recovery only once you durganize your equipment, it's best to dual-wield prior to that point.
- 1h sabre + (non-bashing) shield might also be an option (once your durganize everything). But you will have to wear leather armor.
- gauntlets of swift action are a must.


Edited by MaxQuest, 03 June 2016 - 04:34 AM.

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#3
Boeroer

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Dual sabres is the best option in terms of focus genration in my opinion. Sabres have nearly the same base damage as two handers (which is great because sould whip's damage bonus applies to that base damage and therefore has a much better effect than with whimpy weapons) while their recovery time is halved while dual wielding. There's no better "basic" combination of damage and focus generation. YOu don't necessarily need Vulnerable Attack. It will slow you down and you won't want that and you will have a spell that reduces DR anyways.

I also had good experience with a monkish cipher build which uses Novice's Suffering instead of sabres by the way: The Dichotomous Soulbenders
Ok, so dual wielding sabres works fine with focus genreation... BUT: that's only if you play him like a rogue and avoid being hit - which can mean a lot of running around and positioning in order to not get surrounded and so on. Ciphers are not extraordinarily sturdy, so a melee cipher skilled for max focus per attack might go down really quickly. At higher levels this might not be a problem any more because you will have spells with which you can open combat which will disable the foe you want to hit. This lowers the risk of being knocked out. But you will still have to watch out a lot.

 

So, a setup with sabre and shield is my favorite: Still close to the damage of a two-hander but with the possibility to wear a shield which will increase your sturdyness immensely - especially if you combine it with defensive self buffs like Psychovampiric Shield (which doesn't matter much if your deflection is abysmal anyways - but really pays off if you put it ontop of an already good deflection - and it also debuffs the target). Your focus generation will be slower than with dual sabres of course - but still better than with most ranged weapons - while you can stand in the front row without any fuss and low micromanagement and also use some of the powerful spells that you can't use properly when you're in the back rows or when you have to flank, like Antipathetic Field and Mind Lance.
I like this a lot - BUT: I prefer slower fights with sturdier characters over shorter fights with one or two tanks + glass cannons. First of all it's less micromanagement and secondly because you don't have to reload that much. ;) But that's just my personal preference and the sabre and shield cipher fits into this.

I also made a build that used sabre & retaliation shield because retaliation used to give you focus - but OBS nerfed that and now I wouldn't recommend it (until they buff it again ;)).


Edited by Boeroer, 03 June 2016 - 01:52 AM.

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#4
GawainBS

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Awesome, so dual wielding sabres is totally an option? Should I get Vulnerable Attack with them, or will the base damage be enough?

Estok seems nice as well, but combined with the heavy armour, won't it be slow?

 

EDIT: Thanks, Boeroer, you answered my questions before I could really pose them. I'm going to start out with Heavy Armour, Shield & Sabre and then switch to Dualwielding later on.


Edited by GawainBS, 03 June 2016 - 01:59 AM.

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#5
Boeroer

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Dual sabres is definetely an option. Especially if you choose thick armor because dual wielding itself negates the recovery penalty of heavy armor like plate and brigandine.

 

Estocs will indeed be slow but is best against enemies with high DR.

 

Most "common" ciphers tend to be pretty useless if they can't target enemies with low DR in order to gain focus. With such a cipher you always want to hit the target with the lowest defletion and DR in order to

a) kill ist fast

and more important

b) to get as much focus per hit as you can

 

Enemies with high DR will only get MIN damage from you if you don't have any DR bypass and/or high base damage and that means a very laughable focus gain. 

 

This is especially bad if you use small, fast weapons like daggers or Hunting Bows and then run out of soft targets. Against a dragon, animats or beetles those ciphers can't generate any focus - against ghouls and such they can be great. A sabre however can punch through pretty much anything, but it's much slower than fast weapons of course. You can take Vulnerable Attack and only switch it on if you feel the enemies' DR in certain fights is too high. You will be free in the choice of your targets you and can get good focus out of any enemy - but in 75% of most fights you won't need it.

Novice's Suffering combines that high base damage with higher speed and therefore can also be a good option - but you can't enchant your fists which is a disadvantage on higher levels, but it's good in early and mid game.

 

An Estoc can be great if you want to focus on the really sturdy enemies with the thickest of armors. You can then stack as much DR bypass as you want (+5 Vuln. Attack, +5 Estoc, +3 rending (there's an Estoc named "Drake's Bell" with that enchantment), +3 Ryona's Vembraces, +7 Body Attunement spell) for a crazy DR bypass of 20 (23 with that special estoc "Drake's Bell"). That means that against nearly all enemies you will just punch through their DR as if it wasn't there (Ryona's Vembraces also work with certain spells by the way - like Mind Blades and Mind Lance for example). You could skip Vuln. Attack and lose not much. Most of the time the -20% speed will be worse than having 15 DR bypass instead of 20.

Estocs have a unique representative named "The Blade of the Endless Paths", which has speed. This is a great enchantment for a two hander. It the main reason (besides the 5 DR bypass) that estocs are popular.

 

There is one big disadvantage that sabres and estocs share though: they only have one damage type. This can be superbad if you meet foes who are immune to slash or pierce. You will have to switch to a different weapon then - like from sabres to clubs. But there's a nice sabre that renders this fuzz needless: name's Bittercut. This sabre does corrode/slash damage and also profits from Spirit of Decay (giving you +20% damage on top of your soul whip's 40% and also working with Antipathetic Field which you should use as a frontliner all the time). You won't have to switch weapons again once you pick up this special sabre. 

With estocs it's a bit more complicated (but also doable without losing the benefits of your weapon style). They all do pierce damage only - so you would have to switch to a pollaxe if you meet immune enemies.

 

If you make yourself sturdy enough (for example with plate armor, blunting belt, Shod-In-Faith boots and/or Veteran's Recovery) then an estoc can also be a good choice - if you want to focus on the really turtlelike enemies as I said. Against all others using dual sabres will result in better focus gain.


Edited by Boeroer, 03 June 2016 - 02:28 AM.

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#6
MaxQuest

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Awesome, so dual wielding sabres is totally an option? Should I get Vulnerable Attack with them, or will the base damage be enough?

Once you have taken Two-Weapon Fighting and durganized the weapons, you can take Vulnerable Attack without the recovery hit.
 

Estok seems nice as well, but combined with the heavy armour, won't it be slow?

Early in the game it will be.
Late in the game, a durganized Blade of the Endless Paths (which has the speed enchant) will be ok.
1.5 x 1.15 x 1.15 x 1.2 = 2.38 (so zero-recovery in durganized plate)

As for damage output, this spreadsheet might be found useful. (scroll to bottom for melee weapons; and to the right for DPS values)
And if you will stumble upon pierce-immune enemy, you can switch to Llawran's Stick. 
 

I'm going to start out with Heavy Armour, Shield & Sabre and then switch to Dualwielding later on.

I would recommend doing vice-versa. Starting with plate armor, blunting belt and dual-wielding sabres. Because you lack attack speed early on.
And after durganization, switch to 1h+shield if you want.

Edited by MaxQuest, 03 June 2016 - 02:34 AM.

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#7
Boeroer

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On the other hand, shields give you the most benefit in the early game, because the ratio of deflection bonus from level : deflection bonus from shield + style is more balanced than in the late game. And you will lack the spells that can save you once you get targeted. And if your're knocked out you can't do anything. SO I would do it like GawainBS said. But as I said that's also a matter of preferred playstyle- I hate nothing more than going down all the time. I am always wiling to sacrifice some offensive power to avoid that. :)

 

But plate, Blunting Belt and dual sabres is also very good. If you have a priest or paladin in the party or use shod-in-faith boots this is save. So maybe you can skip retraining at all and just stick to dual wielding sabres and just reduce the armor step by step if you feel you're sturdy enough and want more speed - until you reach the point where you're so fast (as MaxQuest described) that you can wear a plate without getting slowed down by it (late game, once you have access to durgan steel).

 

So both recommendations work I guess. :) Just pick what you like best - also style wise and so on. That's also important - I mean you want to have fun and not doing a "perfectly optimized" playthrough when your hero looks stupid to you. ;)


Edited by Boeroer, 03 June 2016 - 02:39 AM.


#8
MaxQuest

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I was of the same opinion, before I tried it.
I have started with Eder's mail armor, sabre and a light shield.
The problem is that in act 1 (potd) enemies have quite high accuracy, and my extra deflection wasn't really solving the survivability problem.
Charming, paralyzing the bigger threats, and dishing more damage via dual-wielding (and thus getting more focus, and paralyzing more often) turned out to be a better way.

So I've just pumped the DR against low-hitting stuff like xaurips, but was cc'ing hard-hitting enemies.

Edited by MaxQuest, 03 June 2016 - 02:40 AM.

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#9
Boeroer

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Depends how you play and if you have other sturdy guys I guess. I had a good time with a max RES sabre and shield cipher + Psychovampiric Shield and medium armor only. But as I said above, I also think that dual wielding sabres with plate armor and blunting belt is a good choice. 


Edited by Boeroer, 03 June 2016 - 02:42 AM.

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#10
MaxQuest

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True that, it indeed depends on the playstyle and cc-available.
Tbh from level 1 to 9, I have even used Psycho Shield only 3 times. Just quick-debuff (painful interdiction + asp.mark) -> cc -> and burst.
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#11
GawainBS

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I'm playing on the lowest difficulty.

 

Would it be an option to have a set of clubs in case the enemy is immune to slashing? And/or a set of stileto's?

 

Next question: is Weapon Focus worth it?



#12
Boeroer

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Yes to both questions. :)



#13
GawainBS

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Thanks for the clear and expedient answers!


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#14
MasterCipher

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If you want to minimize getting hit in the face reach weapons vs stuck targets are fun because they can't hit you back. Also, tall grass knocks enemies prone on a crit, so you can knock them down before they are close enough to hit you. On the flip side, I hate it when my fighter moves in to use knockdown and I get poked by a skeleton pike before I'm in range. Ciphers are one of the most versatile classes and there are many good/viable options, so follow your play-style.



#15
GawainBS

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I'm having a lot of fun with dual sabres and heavy armour. One thing I was meaning to ask: is the "multiclass" Rogue Sneak Attack Talent worth it? I'm leaning towards yes, since most of the time the important targets are debilitated anyway.

Also, the talent that increases the Whip's damage with +20%, I assume it stacks with the basic +20% from Ciphers?



#16
Raven Darkholme

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I'm having a lot of fun with dual sabres and heavy armour. One thing I was meaning to ask: is the "multiclass" Rogue Sneak Attack Talent worth it? I'm leaning towards yes, since most of the time the important targets are debilitated anyway.

Also, the talent that increases the Whip's damage with +20%, I assume it stacks with the basic +20% from Ciphers?

Yes the talent is worth it and yes it stacks with the base 20%.



#17
GawainBS

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That sounds great. Ciphers seem to be able to dish out some mean damage.



#18
Boeroer

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They are. Savage Attack is also a good option. Since your main targets are disabled most of the time the -5 ACC doesn't matter much - but the focus gain and damage are better with it. Stacks with Apprentice's Sneak Attack and also Soul Whip + Biting Whip. Draining Whip is also good if you do lots of damage per hit. You will do +40%+15%+20% = +75% damage which really hurts and gives you good focus.



#19
GawainBS

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Nice. Atm I got Dual Wield Style and Soul Whip or Biting Whip, not sure. Planning on getting the other Whip, Apprentice Sneak & Savage Attack, possibly Weapon Focus: Rufian.

Side question: Crits are determined by how much your accuracy trumps the respective defense, right?



#20
Boeroer

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Right. So all those disabling spells of yours (e.g. Mental Binding and Mind Wave - which reduce deflection via allfiction like paralyzed, prone and so on) increase the chance to score a crit and thus do additional damage. 






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