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AdelarD

First-timer: PotD Cipher, melee or ranged?

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Hello you all!

 

After being persuaded by my brother to finally get a new computer just to play the only recent game I am actually interested in and spending 2 days choosing a class... I am at a loss xD luckily I still have time till i have my new computer

 

I definitely want to play a hearth orlan cipher, no question there anymore, but I can't choose a combat-style or stats.

 

While I don't mind min/maxing to a certain extent, I do mind ignoring roleplay.

 

My brother said, as I am used to playing Baldurs Gate on SCS (heavy AI-improvement mod), I would feel at home on PotD, though they are very different games...

 

How does a melee Cipher fare on PotD?

What stats should I go for?

Or is ranged far superior to melee on a Cipher?

Do I suffer role-playability (compassionate good guy with racial issues because of 'heritage') because of necessary powergaming when I go melee?

 

Probably stupid questions (dunno, me tired) but still relevant to me ^^

 

 

Greetings

Adelard

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IMHO, if you're experienced playing BG, then yeah, PotD is the best way to go.  I wish I'd picked it for my first run.  I had to play a second time for PotD since you can't change in mid-game past "hard".  Be advised: difficulty is spiky: lots of easy fights (even on PotD), interspersed with the occasional much tougher one.

​I have only played ranged ciphers, so can't help directly with your stats question.  Whether ranged is better than melee might depend on the rest of your party, too.  I had enough tanking already for my PotD game, and I found that a ranged cipher was an awesome addition to my PotD group.  I suspect a melee cipher would work great too.

 

Generally it seems that the character system in PoE is flexible enough you can build up almost anything as either melee or ranged if you want to.  If you want to do something unusual for RP reasons, it can almost always be made to work out.  You don't need ​that much power-gaming for PotD.  The names exaggerate by about one level: I'd suggest thinking of PotD as "Hard", and "Hard" as "Normal".  I played through without trying to min-max, and it worked out fine.  What's probably more important in the end is to have a good grasp of how the combat mechanics work, and of how to make best use of your abilities.  E.g, attacking your enemies weaknesses rather than their strengths makes a huge difference.  Or adapting your defensive tactics to what the enemies are doing.

​​

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Any build is technically viable in POTD.

The key mechanic to the cipher is generating focus by dealing damage (via soul whip), and spending that focus on powers. When you do not have full focus, you deal extra damage. So mostly, it's about having a balance of saving up focus for powers, but having a slight deficit to keep damage output as high as possible.

 

Most builds you'll see usually use light armor for the fast recovery speed, which increases your attack speed and damage output (and thus focus gain).

 

However, an argument could be made about using medium armor (or even heavy armor) to increase your Damage Reduction (DR), deflection and survivability.

 

Melee wise:

  • Light weapons have low damage, but high attack speeds- Making them typically deal more damage per second (DPS), but have a harder time getting through high DR enemies.
  • Medium weapons are generally balanced.
  • Heavy weapons have high damage and slow attack speeds- They typically deal less DPS but punch through high DR enemies.
  • Wielding a shield would increase survivability at the expense of DPS/Focus Gain.

Ranged wise:

  • Hunting/War Bows fire the fastest, as they don't have to reload, leading to high DPS,
  • Crossbows/Arbalests deal more damage, but take longer to reload-They are generally the middle ground between bows and firearms.
  • Firearms deal the most damage, but take the longest to reload- great for punching through high DR enemies.

It all really works out to personal preference- all weapons have special properties: I.E. Arbalests knock enemies prone on a critical hit, stilettos have 3 DR bypass, pikes have reach, blunderbusses fire multiple projectiles, etc. 

 

Ranged ciphers are probably "easier" because they need less micromanagement- you can just have them sit back and unload on the enemy.

 

Attribute wise:

  • Might - More might equals more damage, I recommend putting at least a few points here. Role-playing wise, might reflects using brute force or physical intimidation. Used somewhat often in dialogue options.
  • Constitution - More constitution, more health. Unless you plan on being in the front line, there's really no need to have this above 10. Role-playing wise, reflects one's ability to endure physically taxing ordeals. Used rarely in dialogue options.
  • Dexterity - High dexterity equals faster attack speed. Most builds put some points here. Role-playing wise, reflects quickness of action. Used somewhat often in dialogue options. 
  • Perception - More perception means you'll hit more often. It's debatable if its worth putting points here. Role-playing wise, reflects how observant you are. Used somewhat often in dialogue options. 
  • Intellect - The higher your intellect, the longer the duration of your powers will be. Furthermore, it increases your powers area of effect. Doesn't necessarily have to be your highest attribute, but you really want to put a few points here. Role-playing wise, reflects your problem-solving. Used very often in dialogue options. 
  • Resolve - The higher your resolve, the higher your deflection. Only put points here if you want to be tankier. Role-playing wise, reflects mental intimidation and leadership. Used very often in dialogue options. 

Attributes really depend on your play-style. Most builds see lightly armored ciphers either acting similarly to a rogue (Letting the tank take agro, attack/disable then run if you take heat), or sitting safely behind your front-liners destroying them with ranged weapons/powers. However, I have seen some tankier builds usually used in POTD solo runs. Also remember many items/resting bonuses/consumables affect your attributes as well- so you can always use certain equipment, rest at a certain tavern or eat some food to get a temporary boost needed for combat or for a scripted interaction/dialogue.

Hope this helps. 

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Thanks, you two ^^

 

So, for melee I thought (I dont mind being squishy at the frontline)

might - 17

con - 3

dex - 18

per - 12 or 18

int - 18

res - 10 or 4

 

or, after seeing the blunderbusses, I start to like ranged as well xD

m - 17

c - 3

d - 18

p - 12 or 18

i - 18

r - 10 or 4

 

The characters I will probably take along (because they sound the most interesting/nice as far as I tried to learn about them without spoiling - I don't even know how/when/why they accompany me) are Eder, Durance, Hiravias and Grieving Mother. Pagani sounds nice too, but I already have many offensive chars like it is, so the last one is free for now ^^

Second playthrough will most likely be Kind Wayfarer, because Pallies are always cool :D then a pure tank with max resolve and constitution ^^

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If you're going melee, you'll want to keep resolve at 10, otherwise the moment you get touched you'll probably drop. Also, you'l get interrupted like crazy when trying to use your powers.

Not a huge deal when going ranged, so long as you stay back- I also never found hitting things to be a problem with at least 12 perception.

 

You can also build anyone to fit a role. I've used Devil of Caroc as a tank. Durance can off-tank pretty good as well (throw some mail on him). 

If you have WM1/2; I'd consider swapping out Grieving Mother for Devil of Caroc, Zahua, or Maneha.

I'm assuming you meant Sagani- I felt she was... Meh. Pallegina can be built as a tank as well. At least an off-tank. Aloth is pretty interesting as well, with arcane veil and some other spells wizards can make pretty good tanks/off-tanks. 

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Thank you

I think I will go for ranged to min/max a bit more and get more 'high-level' conversation choices ^^

 

Any other recommendations regarding my build and party?

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Lol I played a melee cipher and found going defensive was the worst choice you could make.  Simply put, you still bring two tanks, you just treat your cipher like they are a rogue and do what you can to make sure they don't get aggro.  And yes, a melee cipher will crush a ranged one for damage.  Especially if you put a hard hitting two handed weapon like a estoc on them.  That said, just like the melee rogue, they do need some micro management or they won't be as effective.

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How would you play such a super-squishy cipher in melee?

Getting enemies to not target you seems quite difficult in melee o.o

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Engage the enemy with your tanks first, then start picking them off from the side.

If your having trouble, you can always open up with your cipher using a ranged weapon, have your tank take agro, then go melee and use Mind Wave to knock enemies prone and go to town. Use Eyestrike on enemies that appear to be hitting you pretty hard- and you should be good to go.

Edited by Prince of Lies
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Thank you ^^

 

Well, I still have some time till I can build my PC, and thus still have time till I can build my PC :'D

Most likely I will just try both squishy melee and ranged (just realised my stat distribution is the same for both) and see which strikes my fancy ^^

 

When should I specialise in one or the other?

I like the Ruffian weapons quite a lot, so, unless they suck for melee Cipher, lvl2/4 shouldn't be the breaking point for that ^^

 

Edit:

Are war bows good for ranged ciphers?

Edited by AdelarD

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One more thing...

In terms of lore, I start to like the Pale Elves and Coastal Aumaua a tad more than the Orlan.

Do I gimp my offensive potential a lot by picking a race with a defensive passive? On the other hand I can increase might by up to 3 more points ^^

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Warbows are good for ranged ciphers, yes.

 

For melee Ciphers, these are my two favorite ways a begginer can build them (not the only ways, just the best for someone who just started the game):

 

The first is the dual-wielding gunslinging high burst cipher, who shoots one or two guns to build up focus, uses it to deal high damage or CC and then uses two sabers. For this cipher, I recommend Island Aumana. For attributes, raise MIG, PER and INT and leave the rest at base. When choosing your powers, prioritize damage and control over stat drains, as your main role will be taking out priority targets as the fight beggins. Use the Ruffian weapon focus for sabers.

 

 

The second, and my favorite, is the two-hander wielding CC and stat-drain focused melee cipher, who should raise DEX, PER and INT, leaving the rest at base. When choosing a weapon, use either a Estoc or Greatsword as a main weapon.

 

The first weapon type deals more damage (specially if it is called Blade Of The Endless Paths) and has a very diverse weapon focus, but against pierce-immune enemies you will be forced to use an halberd. There are also many cool greatswords, and the Soldier focus has pikes, arquebi, and arbalests, making it a hard choice.

 

This cipher should take stat drains, buffs and control powers instead of nukes, and serves as a constant pain in the enemy's backside, dealing damage even against stronger foes and mind-controling or locking them in place. Start fights with a stat drain, self-buff or CC and engage weakened enemies with a teammate by your side.

 

ps: Pale Elfs work well with the second build, IMO.

Edited by DreamWayfarer
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@AdelarD

 

When should I specialise in one or the other?

 

Doesn't matter. You can always respec at a tavern- and you can totally have a character built for melee weapons, but still have them hold their own with ranged weapons (regardless of attributes/talents/etc). 

 

I like the Ruffian weapons quite a lot, so, unless they suck for melee Cipher, lvl2/4 shouldn't be the breaking point for that ^^

 

Sabres are arguably the best melee weapons in the game, depending on who you ask. For "medium" sized weapons, they have the highest damage per hit, so you'll be able to punch through some high DR enemies easily. They also hit fairly quick. There are also some pretty cool unique sabres. 

 

Are war bows good for ranged ciphers?

 

Yes. They attack faster than crossbows/firearms, and more damage per hit than the hunting bow. Just like your question about sabres, it's really just personal preference. 

 

One more thing...

In terms of lore, I start to like the Pale Elves and Coastal Aumaua a tad more than the Orlan.

Do I gimp my offensive potential a lot by picking a race with a defensive passive? On the other hand I can increase might by up to 3 more points ^^

 

Any race can play any class/build well. Obviously some are more well-optimized, but it certainly won't gimp you. 

Personally, In my first cipher play through, I played a coastal Aumaua who used a blunderbuss and pistol. In my second cipher play through, I tried a death godlike dual wielding stilettos and an estoc for high-DR enemies. When it comes to weapons, it doesn't really matter, just remember you may need to use bigger weapons to punch through higher DR enemies more effectively.

If your finding that enemies have resistance or immunities, you have quite a few debuffs at your disposal while your teammates chip away at 'em. 

 

@DreamWayfarer

 

[...] who shoots one or two guns to build up focus, uses it to deal high damage or CC and then uses two sabers. 

 

I'm assuming you mean firing two shots before going to melee range- you can't dual-wield firearms.

 

This cipher should take stat drains, buffs and control powers instead of nukes, and serves as a constant pain in the enemy's backside, dealing damage even against stronger foes and mind-controling or locking them in place. Start fights with a stat drain, self-buff or CC and engage weakened enemies with a teammate by your side.

 

That entirely depends on how you build your cipher. There are some very powerful support powers that the cipher gets. Furthermore, "nuking" with a cipher is more than viable, most of their "nuking" powers deal raw damage, which no enemy in the game has immunity or resistance to (it completely bypasses DR). 

When it comes to class builds anything can really work. Without spoiling much, my Aumaua took certain talents and used certain items that allowed him to essentially act as a rogue with sneak attack. You can totally build a character to use both melee and ranged weapons without suffering a loss to DPS or viability. The devs specifically went out to make it so anything would work with anybody, so the game won't punish you if you choose to build your character a certain way. The only caveat to that is, of course, running the game solo, which in this case doesn't really apply.

(And in reality just would make the game more difficult, not overtly punishing you.)

Hope that clarifies. 

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@DreamWayfarer

 

[...] who shoots one or two guns to build up focus, uses it to deal high damage or CC and then uses two sabers.

I'm assuming you mean firing two shots before going to melee range- you can't dual-wield firearms.
I meant switching between guns to avoid reloading. Why would one need dual wielding to shoot two guns?

 

 

 

This cipher should take stat drains, buffs and control powers instead of nukes, and serves as a constant pain in the enemy's backside, dealing damage even against stronger foes and mind-controling or locking them in place. Start fights with a stat drain, self-buff or CC and engage weakened enemies with a teammate by your side.

That entirely depends on how you build your cipher. There are some very powerful support powers that the cipher gets. Furthermore, "nuking" with a cipher is more than viable, most of their "nuking" powers deal raw damage, which no enemy in the game has immunity or resistance to (it completely bypasses DR).
This part was about the base MIG and high DEX Cipher, who won't nuke as well as a high MIG one. And the support powers were included under "buffs". Edited by DreamWayfarer

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This part was about the base MIG and high DEX Cipher, who won't nuke as well as a high MIG one. And the support powers were included under "buffs".

 

Except if you have low might, you limit your ability to generate focus. The more damage you deal, the more focus you generate. Seeing as that's how you use powers as a cipher, It would be counter-intuitive to have low might. Sure, it'd work- but it wouldn't be nearly as effective as having high might. You can easily have high might without a deficit to your other attributes. 

 

I meant switching between guns to avoid reloading. Why would one need dual wielding to shoot two guns?

 

You also get a recovery speed penalty for switching weapons mid-combat without certain talents. You also only have two weapon slots unless your an island Aumaua or you take another specific talent. So the benefit of changing from a gun to another gun to avoid reloading without talents is minimal. Those certainly aren't the worst talents, but there are more optimal choices for a cipher. 

Edited by Prince of Lies

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This part was about the base MIG and high DEX Cipher, who won't nuke as well as a high MIG one. And the support powers were included under "buffs".

 

Except if you have low might, you limit your ability to generate focus. The more damage you deal, the more focus you generate. Seeing as that's how you use powers as a cipher, It would be counter-intuitive to have low might. Sure, it'd work- but it wouldn't be nearly as effective as having high might. You can easily have high might without a deficit to your other attributes. 

 

 

Then again, DEX also affects the amount of damage you deal by increasing your attack rate. Which amount of Might vs Dex is optimal rather depends on what kind of build and playstyle you're using.

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Then again, DEX also affects the amount of damage you deal by increasing your attack rate. Which amount of Might vs Dex is optimal rather depends on what kind of build and playstyle you're using.

 

It's a moot point, and I think we are both on point. But you can easily have high Might/Dexterity/Intellect, and still have a few points to go around. That's not even min-maxing. 

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that dexterity affects your recovery speed- which doesn't effect reload speed, which takes a long time with firearms (it's less noticeable with crossbows and arbalests). 

Edited by Prince of Lies

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Dexterity affects everything, actually; attack (/spell/whatever) duration, recovery time, reload time. The only thing it doesn't affect is the short idle time between attack/action cycles. It's the attack speed bonuses that only affect recovery time.

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Like I said, dexterity speeds up everything (except idle). This includes reloading as well. Time it yourself if you don't believe me (or check the source code). Take, for example, an Arquebus attack cycle. With no attack speed bonuses/penalties and dexterity at 10, this will have an idle time of about 0.2s, 1.5s attack animation, 2.5s recovery, and about 6.4-6.8s reload time for a total duration of around 10.8s. Set dexterity to 20 (30% speed-up), and the duration drops to about 10.6/1.3 + 0.2 = 8.4s. If it did not reduce the reload time, that would be considerably higher, at about 4/1.3 + 6.6 + 0.2 = 9.9s. 

Edited by Loren Tyr

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Then again, DEX also affects the amount of damage you deal by increasing your attack rate. Which amount of Might vs Dex is optimal rather depends on what kind of build and playstyle you're using.

It's a moot point, and I think we are both on point. But you can easily have high Might/Dexterity/Intellect, and still have a few points to go around. That's not even min-maxing.
What about PER? And on melee you also need Con and Res. And with a two-hander, MIG does not matter much for weapon damage, with +40% from Soul+Biting Whip and +15% from the talent MIG gets less relevant. Edited by DreamWayfarer

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Like I said, dexterity speeds up everything (except idle). This includes reloading as well. Time it yourself if you don't believe me (or check the source code). Take, for example, an Arquebus attack cycle. With no attack speed bonuses/penalties and dexterity at 10, this will have an idle time of about 0.2s, 1.5s attack animation, 2.5s recovery, and about 6.4-6.8s reload time for a total duration of around 10.8s. Set dexterity to 20 (30% speed-up), and the duration drops to about 10.6/1.3 + 0.2 = 8.4s. If it did not reduce the reload time, that would be considerably higher, at about 4/1.3 + 6.6 + 0.2 = 9.9s. 

 

I have already timed it- I found similar results, but the reload animation in particular did not change.

 

What about PER? And on melee you also need Con and Res. And with a two-hander, MIG does not matter much for weapon damage, with +40% from Soul+Biting Whip and +15% from the talent MIG gets less relevant.

 

As i've addressed earlier: Perception only increases your chances to hit and your interrupt rate. You'd still have points left over, and I've been able to hit everything with at least 12 points in perception (plus talents/equipment). Constitution and resolve only really matter if you plan on being in the line of fire. If your playing it similarely to a rogue, you really don't need constitution or resolve. As also mentioned earlier. More damage = more focus. More focus = more powerful powers.

 

Also, you know, logic would show that higher damage kills things faster.

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Like I said, dexterity speeds up everything (except idle). This includes reloading as well. Time it yourself if you don't believe me (or check the source code). Take, for example, an Arquebus attack cycle. With no attack speed bonuses/penalties and dexterity at 10, this will have an idle time of about 0.2s, 1.5s attack animation, 2.5s recovery, and about 6.4-6.8s reload time for a total duration of around 10.8s. Set dexterity to 20 (30% speed-up), and the duration drops to about 10.6/1.3 + 0.2 = 8.4s. If it did not reduce the reload time, that would be considerably higher, at about 4/1.3 + 6.6 + 0.2 = 9.9s. 

 

I have already timed it- I found similar results, but the reload animation in particular did not change.

 

Then you should time it again, because it does. Timing 5 consecutive Arquebus attacks I get an average duration per attack of 10.7 for DEX=10, 8.3 for DEX=20 and 6.9 for DEX=30. Assuming an idle time of 0.2s (thus yielding 10.5, 8.1 and 6.7), this fits very neatly into the duration you would expect if DEX scaled everything: 10.5/1.3 = 8.1s, 10.5/1.6 = 6.6s. If only attack and recovery scaled with DEX, it would be virtually impossible to get anywhere near 6.9 seconds, the attack + recovery would have to be reduced to almost 0 for that to happen.

 

But more definitive still is the source code. In the AI.Achievement.ReloadWeapon.OnEnter() function that is called when reloading is initialized (or continued after interruption), we have the following bit of code:

float num = 1f;
if (this.m_firearm != null)
{
	num = this.m_firearm.CalculateAttackSpeed();
}
this.m_speedMultiplier = component.ReloadSpeedMultiplier * num;

The ReloadSpeedMultiplier reflects stuff like Gunner. The CalculateAttackSpeed() function grabs the Dexterity attack speed multiplier (as well as any speed-affecting AbilityMods if the attack is part of an ability being used, not sure this is ever used in practice). Dexterity and Reload Speed bonuses are thus multiplicatively combined in this speedMultiplier. In the same function the reloadTime is set to however much time was previously spent reloading (if any). 

 

In the AI.Achievement.ReloadWeapon.Update() function we have:

this.m_reloadTime += Time.deltaTime * this.m_speedMultiplier;

The reloadTime is thus increased by the actual time elapsed (deltaTime), multiplied by the Dexterity and Reload-specific speed bonuses. The reloadTime is subsequently checked against the intended reload duration for the weapon (there's a bit of wiggle there, related to the animation process). 

 

So yes, reloading definitely scales with Dexterity as well.

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