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Cipher Weapons


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#1
MortyTheGobbo

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I've played Pillars of Eternity on-and-off for a while, but I still feel like I've only scratched the surface of its mechanical intricacy. One of the things that I can't crack are ciphers. Many of their powers feel situational, but more importantly... what's a good weapon for one? I've had Grieving Mother use a blunderbuss, but that's mostly because I defaulted to it based on hearsay about it being a good choice. Now I'm not so sure. Can ciphers melee, or is it a choice of a ranged weapon for them?



#2
MaxQuest

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I've had Grieving Mother use a blunderbuss, but that's mostly because I defaulted to it based on hearsay about it being a good choice. Now I'm not so sure. Can ciphers melee, or is it a choice of a ranged weapon for them?

Blunderbusses are not an optimal choice for GM because of her average might. On the other hand BotEP would suit her perfectly. And yeap, ciphers can melee)
 

One of the things that I can't crack are ciphers. Many of their powers feel situational, but more importantly... what's a good weapon for one?

Gladly there is no single weapon that would rule them all. Generally it all comes to the role and niche you want your cipher to fill.

Ranged cipher would generate most focus (over a long run) by using Rain of Goddath Godagh Field and Cloudpiercer. Followed by Golden Gaze and Borresaine.
Also cipher can make great use of quick-switching firearms if you are ok with extra micro-management and using the skip-recovery bug. Quick-switching blunderbusses (vs mid-low DR enemies, while having vambraces and penetrating shot) will result in a great burst and focus explosion.

Melee cipher has two optimal options of going dual-Bittercut route or two-handing Blade of the Endless Paths. Less optimal, but also viable options include: Llawran's Stick (if your party has lots of melee, and you want to place your cipher into midline), Rimecutter/Strikehard + Shield and lastly dual Purgatory followed by dw Godansthunyr + Shatterstar.

Related threads:
- link1
- link2

 
Few things I find important to take into consideration:
- eyestrike, whispers of treason, mental binding and ringleader have very short recovery duration. So it doesn't matter much if the cipher casting them is in plate or naked.
- melee weapons result in higher (by 30-50%) steady dps and focus generation than any ranged variant. On the other hand ranged cipher doesn't lose time on closing the distance and can start building focus immediately.
- attacking the enemy with heavily debuffed deflection (e.g. due to stun/paralyze/petrify!), increases your focus gain.
- take note what powers do you cast the most. If it is mostly cc stuff, than you don't need high might, and would better reduce it to 10-12 and go melee with botep. Warbow and quick-switching ciphers through should have high might through.
- it's best to have two ciphers. Because you could specialize one on cc, while other one (with high might) would mostly use damage powers.


Edited by MaxQuest, 10 April 2017 - 01:32 AM.


#3
Boeroer

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@MaxQuest: You meant The Rain of Godagh Field. ;) Another option is Sabra Marie which has Annihilation (=+0.5 crit damage mod) and fits the cipher theme perfectly well.

Blunderbusses used to be the top weapon for ciphers for one (or two) simple reasons:

- Draining Whip gave a flat +x focus bonus per hit - so any weapon with multiple hits (blunderbusses do 6 with one attack) where best.
- Carow Golan drug did the same: it gave +x focus on hit with the same result: blunderbuss was the way to go.

Both got nerfed to +x% and therefore blunderbuss is not that great anymore - except if you can stack DR bypass a lot (Lead Spitter + Ryona's Vambraces + Penetrating Shot + Effigy's Resentment: Devil of Caroc) and add Body Attunement (steal DR of target). Then blunderbusses are still great. But they need more preperation as you can see. So an arquebus is more convenient and will produce the same results without that much fuzz on high DR targets.

#4
MortyTheGobbo

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Hm, interesting. I don't plan to play cipher myself, to be clear. I just feel like I'm not using Grieving Mother to her full potential, and I was wondering what I did wrong.

 

It won't help me much in my current run, since I've almost finished it. But it might in my next one. Assuming I'd use non-unique version of those weapons until I found them, I'd give her a war bow, a sceptre, an estoc, a staff or two sabres. I'm currently deciding between using a war bow or some dual-wielding combination on my paladin. But even if I run melee on my MC, maybe I'll have GM go melee too, just for the sake of variety.


Edited by MortyTheGobbo, 09 April 2017 - 11:14 AM.


#5
Boeroer

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War Bow is a solid choice for a ranged cipher. But I would really like to see a cipher with The Golden Gaze. Soul Whip, Biting Whip and Dangerous Implements plus Apprentice's Sneak Attack add up nicely to a total bonus of +80% base damage.

Too bad the cipher has nothing like Blast or Driving Flight to tune up the proc chance of Expose Vulnerabilites. Of course Time Siphon is nice, but it comes rather late.

Another nice variant for a cipher is Firebrand (Forgemaster's Gloves). With its high base damage and annihilation it works extremely well with Soul- and Biting Whip as well as with crits (which do happen a lot if you use Mental Binding for example). You can also use gear that gives +10% against flanked targets and add survival-bonus to it (up to +30%, +20% is more realistic) and then use Phantom Foes to trigger this. Phantom Foes also works with Apprentice Sneak Attack. Scion of Flame boosts the damage of Firebrand by 20%. Add Savage Attack and Two Handed Style and you'll pile up the following dmg bonuses:

- Soul Whip: 20%
- Biting Whip: 20%
- Flanking bonus: +30% (+40% in theory)
- Appr. Sneak: +15%
- Two Handed Style: +15%
- Savage Attack: +20%
- Scion of Flame: +20%
-------------------------
= +140% weapon base damage without enchantments and MIG (Firebrand has Damaging III which adds +45% damage as well). With Damaging III this adds up to +195% at 10 MIG.

On a crit this will be +295% (without Merciless Hand).

Of course you can only summon Firebrand thrice per rest - but you can use an estoc or great sword for backup. Actually Justice is not bad because lashes do generate focus and justice has two of them: a 10% crushing lash and an additional +25% crushing lash. Of you manage to get that first lash through DR it's not bad for early to mid game. Later, with elemental lashes and durgan steel I would perhaps use Rumbalt or Blade of the Endless paths. But nothing beats Firebrand in the early to mid game if you can stack a lot of dmg bonuses.

Edited by Boeroer, 09 April 2017 - 11:38 AM.


#6
MortyTheGobbo

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I sort of gave Golden Gaze to someone in my current run and forgot about it. I could give it to GM in my next one, but it'll be a while before I reach White March. So she'd have to use something else in the meantime.

 

An estoc of greatsword is an interesting choice for her. Maybe I'll go for that. Like I said, she spent my first two runs firing away with a blunderbuss, so moving her to the front row would be a change of pace.


Edited by MortyTheGobbo, 09 April 2017 - 11:51 AM.


#7
Ensign

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The biggest consideration in my mind is how much gear you want to dump into the character.  Durgan Ingots are a very limited resource, for instance, and you're not going to have 6 sets of Gauntlets of Swift Action, and there's only one Helwax Mold - and all the max DPS builds mentioned above are going to make a lot of demands on those resources.

 

I like BotEP on a melee Cipher as it's less demanding than the other options, and still very high performance.  Plus there are lots of great two-handers that work better on other classes, and you can ride the adventurer weapon focus to use a war bow until you build up some of the gear to really activate the melee Cipher.

For ranged Ciphers, blunderbuss is ok it shares traits with pistol, so you can swap between the two (pistols for high DR enemies, blunderbuss for low / debuffed foes).  If you aren't going to micro a quick switch / arquebus every fight you'll get better performance out of blunderbuss + pistol as needed.  More importantly, firearms are way less resource dependent than war bows to be effective.  If you're going to throw your ingots and GoSA at your ranged cipher, war bow is going to outperform firearms pretty handily, but if you're not (because you'd rather use those on a different character) firearms are the way to go.  Firearms end up outperforming bows in the early to mid points in the game for similar reasons - they really just need traits, not gear, to shine, but benefit so much less from durganifying than bows that they fall off once that comes online.

 

So there are a lot of good options, and a lot really depends on what else you want in your party - and who is getting dibs on the priority DPS gear.



#8
Boeroer

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Another point for Firebrand: it actually needs no resources at all to be awesome. :)

Aaand it uses whatever weapon focus you have. So you are not limited to WF Soldier.

#9
Dr. Hieronymous Alloy

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I still like the blunderbuss for the ranged cipher, it's still a perfectly viable choice if not an optimal one. The nice thing about blunderbuss is that it delivers its "punch" as a single alpha strike, so you get a very powerful combat opener -- a big blast, and then you can cast a big power right away.

 

Of course it has some real drawbacks, especially at high level, when the relative irreducibility of reload times starts to really tell, so bows and implements pretty clearly supersede it at top level/gear. Still, for the first 14 levels or so it's a good choice.



#10
Boeroer

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It depends. If you can't cast Body Attunement yet a blunderbuss is really bad against high DR targets and you have to take Penetrating Shots, too.

#11
MortyTheGobbo

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I guess I'll decide when I meet Grieving Mother on my next playthrough. I do have her in my party right now, but I'm about to face Concelhaunt, and then it's just the final dungeon left. Which I won't be bringing her along for.

 

Also, where do you get Forgemaster's Gloves? The wiki doesn't say. I vaguely remember having this item at some point...

 

Also also, it seems I've mistakely treated Ciphers as casters, rather than DPS/caster hybrids.


Edited by MortyTheGobbo, 10 April 2017 - 06:45 AM.


#12
Boeroer

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You can buy Forgemaster's Gloves from Dunstan, the smith in Crucible Keep, after you completed the first quest of the Crucible Knights faction (which will NOT lock you out of the other factions). This unlocks that faction's shop at Dunstan. He also sells Shod-in-Faith boots for example and the White Spire. The gloves are not very expensive.

Edited by Boeroer, 10 April 2017 - 07:48 AM.


#13
firkraag888

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the best cipher build for weaponry is:

 

Island Amua (extra weapon slot)

the extra arms talent

Scion of flame

quick switch

coil od recoursefullness

 

Weapon set 1: Arquebus

Weapon set 2:Arquebus

Weapon set 3: arquebus

Weapon set 4:arquebus

 

Hands : Forge master gloves

 

Just fire all arquebuses quick switching and then use the gloves.

 

Good fun build too



#14
Boeroer

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Twin Sting and Stormcaller are nice as well. Both don't care about Weapon Fo us. Stormcaller with Pen. Shot has 11 DR bypass (so to speak) and thus also works well against higher DR despite being a hunting bow. Heart of the Storm works with it, too (+20% base dmg).

But the best way to get full focus very quickly is the Quick Switch way firkraag888 described. It is quite micro intensive though - but ciphers are anyway.

#15
hilfazer

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- Draining Whip gave a flat +x focus bonus per hit - so any weapon with multiple hits (blunderbusses do 6 with one attack) where best.
- Carow Golan drug did the same: it gave +x focus on hit with the same result: blunderbuss was the way to go.

Both got nerfed to +x%

Is it necessary a nerf? Won't heavy hitting weapons benefit more from % focus generation increase?

#16
Boeroer

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Blunderbuss + Carow Golan led to ridiculous focus gain. Same with multi-retaliation.

 

edit: I meant before the "nerf".


Edited by Boeroer, 12 April 2017 - 07:04 AM.


#17
MasterCipher

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Boeroer, your wand idea is actually pretty close to what I'm doing now, except my MC Cipher is using the duel fire/pierce damage type rod with combusting wounds proc because I'm not running a wizard and 20% damage from scion of flames is nice. With swift gloves and time parasite recovery fps was 3fps last time I checked with penetrating shot (which also boosts mind lance - it works on mind blades too but I passed on that one). My chanter uses golden gaze and my coordinating attacks amuaua darcozzi paladin uses the marking wand after alpha FOD switching through arbalest and arquabus. The pally carries forgemaster gloves to FOD vs pierce immune. Ciphers are brutally efficient controllers, so I prefer wood elf for sticking ranged afflictions. Attirbutes in order of priority: DEX, INT, MIG, PER. For tempo fights where I want a burst of upfront focus: alacrity followed by 2 shots of twinsting before switching to wand.

 

Because Cipher can do so many different things well, it's best to outsource some of them. For example, let chanter proc or invoke DR reduction rather than blow 40 focus on a single target DR reduction. 



#18
Boeroer

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Huh? I thought Curoc's Brand has pierce/burn and not burn/pierce and therefore doesn't work with Scion of Flame?

 

Anyways: why all the implements? :)



#19
dgray62

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Curoc's brand is pierce/burn, so its regular attacks with it won't benefit from scion of flame as you point out, Boeroer. Only the 1/rest fireball cast will benefit from this talent, so it's probably not worth the talent point.



#20
MasterCipher

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I didn't know that burn had to be first for the scions of flame to work. I figured it would work if the target had lower fire damage resistance.






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