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Ciphers - focus fills up too slow?


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I rolled up a cipher with the subclass that buffs it at max Focus and gimps it when below max Focus. I don't think I made him all that hopeless as a combatant, but his focus nevertheless took forever and a day to go up. It could be I'm just playing badly though, as I haven't investigated this all that much, but at first blush it looks like focus charges up real slow-like. What are everybody else's impressions?

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I only have a handful of fights with one in my party but my initial impression was that focus gain was similar per point of damage dealt but that it's way easier to do less/no damage. Being below the enemies armor pen hurts more than just having an unfavorable DR matchup and grazes being off by default means a lot more 0 focus attacks. Gonna keep playing more tonight and experimenting.

Edited by Breckmoney
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I rebuilt my PoE1 Cipher, picked Ascendant because he was built around being mostly damage dealer with a bit of CC, but I never managed to hit the focus cap. I'd only gain about 3-5 focus per attack, and I believe that's because I was constantly under the Pen requirements, so I was doing 5-12 damage with a pistol on average, rather than the actual range of ~30-40. Just my own experience, but it's looking like my Cipher is pretty nonviable under the current circumstances.

 

Unless I actually just suck at this game, that's also a possibility.

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I finished the Beta with a Psyblade, who's focus fills up quite quickly.  But I messed around with using Ascendant for that combination and imo it's basically terrible, you barely have time to even cast a spell after reaching max focus before it all drains back down to zero.  Ended up going soul blade instead which was quite good (awesome) in combination with devoted.

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Cypher is BY FAR my favorite class in POE so I have tested it thoroughly. Pretty much a multiclass class without multiclassing. Has lost MUCH with the new system now that all caster classes use their spells per encounter instead of per rest. Obsidian will probably have to make a couple changes if they keep Penetracion such an important aspect of combat because if you cannot do decent dmg with this class, the spells fall apart and therefore the entire class falls apart.

(This is the problem you are having with not being able to build focus despite soul whip now granting +50%/+70% upgrades to focus gain with Ascendant subclass you chose)

 

Ascendant-  needs love. The 5 seconds at max is far too short. Should be raised to 10 seconds at the very least. The least viable of the 4 options overall even with the tweaked soul whip.

 

Beguiler- Average. Should only use if you are a veteran. Takes planning and strategy in combat to get the most out of this subclass but can shine. Not viable as melee option.

 

Soul Blade- decent solo, Borderline OP multiclass with any melee focused class.

 

No subclass- Weak melee character overall. Average ranged character. 

Edited by TheC
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Cypher is BY FAR my favorite class in POE so I have tested it thoroughly. Pretty much a multiclass class without multiclassing. Has lost MUCH with the new system now that all caster classes use their spells per encounter instead of per rest.

 

 

All of the other casters have much fewer casts-per-combat than they did in PoE1, which actually makes Ciphers look all the more attractive in PoE2.

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the beguiler is a bit different, but the mechanics o' generating focus for an ascendant is similar to what we saw in poe for ciphers. do damage and get focus.  not complicated. 'course for deadfire one must be aware of penetration in addition to accuracy.  generating big damage is more complex in deadfire than were the case in poe as armour v. penetration is a serious obstacle to generating big damage totals. 'course the cipher actual has a penetration boosting ability which is current a must.  can start off combat with an aimed arquebus shot for excellent initial focus generation. cipher with proficiency in arquebus and weapon penetration ability is actual kinda reminiscent o' a cipher using lead spitter from the poe beta... and you can get a fine arquebus immediate at the start o' the deadfire beta by choosing the appropriate weapon proficiency during character creation. wizard's expose vulnerabilities spell will decrease armour o' affected foes by 2.  body attunement won't be available to you immediate at the start o' the beta, but you should be able to get it at level 7 for a single-class cipher. body attunement reduces armour by 5, yes? etc. otherwise, make certain to choose weapons with excellent penetration... though most o' the bestest penetrating weapons is piercing weapons, which places you in an unfortunate situation when facing creatures immune to piercing.  estoc, stiletto and arquebus for big win or complete fail? the morningstar has good base penetration.

 

as others have noted, combine cipher with barbarian adds impressive damage potential.  the barbarian's +6 weapon focus passive ability synergizes well with the cipher's  penetration ability. carnage your way to big focus, but with admitted reduced cipher powers due to multiclassing. 

 

am not a fan o' ascendent, but if you wanna make it work, combine with barbarian and/or be cognizant o' penetration. 

 

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I'm playing a Corpse Eater/Soul Blade, and it's pretty damn fun--Carnage and Soul Whip work quite well with each other, and it's pretty badass. Soul Annihilation is ****ing nasty.

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I'm not sure how the mechanics behind it all function. It destroys all your current focus and deals a primary attack+raw damage; right now my Soul Annihilation can do 25.8 raw damage according to the tab.

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Cypher is BY FAR my favorite class in POE so I have tested it thoroughly. Pretty much a multiclass class without multiclassing. Has lost MUCH with the new system now that all caster classes use their spells per encounter instead of per rest.

 

 

All of the other casters have much fewer casts-per-combat than they did in PoE1, which actually makes Ciphers look all the more attractive in PoE2.

All caster classes (Wizard, Druid...) can now use ALL of their spell per combat. They can use all spells in a battle and all those spells are refunded when combat ends in POE2. That is why I was saying that Cypher has lost much of what made the class, well OP, to be perfectly honest about it.

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Cypher is BY FAR my favorite class in POE so I have tested it thoroughly. Pretty much a multiclass class without multiclassing. Has lost MUCH with the new system now that all caster classes use their spells per encounter instead of per rest.

 

 

All of the other casters have much fewer casts-per-combat than they did in PoE1, which actually makes Ciphers look all the more attractive in PoE2.

All caster classes (Wizard, Druid...) can now use ALL of their spell per combat. They can use all spells in a battle and all those spells are refunded when combat ends in POE2. That is why I was saying that Cypher has lost much of what made the class, well OP, to be perfectly honest about it.

 

 

Not quite i would say. Since casters casting time are long and recovery. For me during combat, time is crucial and casting appropriate spells efficiently are better than spamming unnecessary ones.

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I'm playing a Corpse Eater/Soul Blade, and it's pretty damn fun--Carnage and Soul Whip work quite well with each other, and it's pretty badass. Soul Annihilation is ****ing nasty.

 

I'm curious. What are the mechanics of Soul Annihilation?

 

It adds raw dmg to your attack, expending all your focus reserves. It can be used as often as you have focus, gaining dmg for each point of Focus. If you miss, however, all your focus is wasted. You also have a lower Max focus and less starting focus compared to the other Cypher builds.

Even with these negatives, they will probably have to nerf the dmg on it. Having your focus about 70% filled adds over 100dmg at lvl 6. That is borderline OP to be honest.

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I'm playing a Corpse Eater/Soul Blade, and it's pretty damn fun--Carnage and Soul Whip work quite well with each other, and it's pretty badass. Soul Annihilation is ****ing nasty.

 

I'm curious. What are the mechanics of Soul Annihilation?

 

It adds raw dmg to your attack, expending all your focus reserves. It can be used as often as you have focus, gaining dmg for each point of Focus. If you miss, however, all your focus is wasted. You also have a lower Max focus and less starting focus compared to the other Cypher builds.

Even with these negatives, they will probably have to nerf the dmg on it. Having your focus about 70% filled adds over 100dmg at lvl 6. That is borderline OP to be honest.

 

Yeah...I'll be sad when they do it, but you're probably right. My Barb/Cipher is consistently one-shotting things partway through combat lmao

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I haven't tried a multi-class cipher yet but a single-class cipher has it rough right now (especially if they pick Ascendant or Beguiler).

 

The penetration system as currently implemented along with the lack of grazes together make it very difficult to gain focus quickly, cast times are very very long, most powers don't graze, and frequently miss (even with maxed-out Perception).

 

I'm not sure how to fix the problem, since multi-class ciphers seem to be gaining focus VERY fast. Maybe the return of the general talents will help a bit, as might the upcoming tweaks to penetration.

 

Other thoughts:

 

Now that everyone is per-encounter on all abilities, the Focus-building mechanic is more hindrance than help in a lot of ways; you only get a chance to use one or two powers at most per fight, whereas other casters can dump their whole skillbook every battle with no reservations. 

 

One thing I'd suggest is dramatically faster cast times for cipher powers; since they have to build focus, they should be able to cast fairly quickly relative to other casters, who don't have to go through that first step. I'd also suggest letting a lot more cipher powers Graze; they're targeting the soul after all.

 

Past that  . . hrm. CIphers are also really limited in their ability to give themselves the Concentration buff; wizards have at least two different ways to get that buff in the first two spell levels (spirit shield and arcane veil), Ciphers don't have anything comparable, and it's really important given the new concentration/interrupt system on casting and the longer cast times. Similarly Ciphers don't seem to have a good way to Interrupt opposing casters unless Mental Binding does so de facto via paralyzation.  

Edited by Dr. Hieronymous Alloy
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We should probably wait until the attack recovery on one handers is fixed before we start comparing ciphers to deeply.  

 

I definitely think that their cast times are to long, and I mostly used cipher as a multi class to get sweet soul whip damage plus extra weapon penetration.  After trying a couple of powers I concluded that 90% of them were worthless with current cast times.  Some of them have an effect duration that isn't any longer than their cast/recovery time.  Maybe my estimation will change when one handers get the proper recovery values, but most likely I'll still think any spell that has an effect duration the same as it's cast/recovery time is basically worthless.

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Not really on topic except that it is cipher specific, but I wish soulwhip had a lash effect again. Not sure when but it was mostly patched out of PoE1 but would be cool to have your weapon light up with purple flames (or however you want to portray it) when entering combat. I remeber it being a cool unique visual element to ciphers in PoE1's original release.

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We should probably wait until the attack recovery on one handers is fixed before we start comparing ciphers to deeply.  

 

I definitely think that their cast times are to long, and I mostly used cipher as a multi class to get sweet soul whip damage plus extra weapon penetration.  After trying a couple of powers I concluded that 90% of them were worthless with current cast times.  Some of them have an effect duration that isn't any longer than their cast/recovery time.  Maybe my estimation will change when one handers get the proper recovery values, but most likely I'll still think any spell that has an effect duration the same as it's cast/recovery time is basically worthless.

 

I don't understand why you need recovery time after casting honestly :p So if you swing a big sword, u need some break to recover it's fine. But you are chanting a magic spell! Are you letting your mouth to have a break?? Casting should have long cast time, but not long recover time!!!

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I don't understand why you need recovery time after casting honestly :p So if you swing a big sword, u need some break to recover it's fine. But you are chanting a magic spell! Are you letting your mouth to have a break?? Casting should have long cast time, but not long recover time!!!

Majority of cipher powers (I mark these as unusual) and wizard self-buffs in PoE1 had short recovery).

Do note through, this means that armor doesn't hinder their casting much.

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  • 2 months later...

Various thoughts on state of ciphers in beta3:

 

There are several theoretical ways to build a cipher:

 

v1. Pure cipher. When going for pure cipher we should ask what can he do better than other subclasses? Mostly it's echo powers. He starts with a higher focus than soulblade and can toss a rank 1 or 2 cc spell right at the start of combat, and after that build focus for echo. He could single-class if there is some really neat stuff at the higher ranks, but most likely will multi-class in order to get higher focus generation (most notable being multi-classes into: paladin, ranger and devout). In order to stay versatile, he requires:

- decent focus generation

- relatively fast power casting (otherwise we would be playing soulblade)

- and good enough acc, to avoid wasting time on nothing

 

v2. Melee Soulblade. This cipher usually multi-classes since he needs to maximize his focus generation. He is mostly reliant on soul annihilation, with an occasional Mind Wave and Detonate.

In order to be effective requires high damage from annihilation, and fast casting on the occasional Mind Waves.

 

v3. Ranged Soulblade. This cipher uses ranged weapons, and spends his focus on ranged shred powers. Mostly low-ranked ones, since the -5 focus cost results in a relatively bigger discount.

In order to be effective requires high focus gain and: either ability to quickly unload shred powers; or have shred powers deal really solid damage, and an ability to cover their cast time via some cheap concentration means.

 

v4. Melee Beguiler. The idea behind this cipher is to quickly debuff all enemies with some aoe like Phantom Foes, and after that start benefiting from focus refunds once he continues with other cc powers.

In order to be effective he requires reliability (i.e. to completely eliminate misses), decent duration of PF, and a few cc-powers with fast casting times and short recovery (because being a frontliner and thus likely in heavy armor, he can't afford long recovery time)

 

v5. Ranged Beguiler. Basically same as v4, but attacking with ranged weapon and being in lighter armor in order to compensate for the lower base damage.

 

v6. Ascendant. The idea is to max your focus asap, and start dealing mayhem.

In order to be efficient, ascendant requires:

- really high focus generation. So he will likely want to multiclass.

- access to high-cost powers, because he has only 5s of Ascendant state, and there is a limited amount of powers he can cast in that period. This means that if he is going to use powers... he actually wants to singleclass. This rules out the first point, and means he heavily needs the help of his party, specifically stuff like Aefyllath, Shared Flames of Devotion, Zealous Focus, etc.

- someone to grant him concentration, right before Ascending.

- something to prevent incoming cc; as he can't build focus while incapacitated, and more importantly: it would be a pity to get paralyzed just during those 5s of Ascendant.

Btw: during Ascendant state, cipher will either be casting free of cost or dealing phys damage (think of something like Heart of the Storm + temporary increased Soul Whip damage). But the thing is he will lose all his focus after 5s; so it would make sense, to actually lose focus at the start and not at the end of Ascendant state, such that we would be able to continue building focus right away.

 


In theory also, these variants should be somewhat equal in power. In practice though... I've tried v1, v2, v4 and v6 on both Normal and PotD; and only v2 is really viable, as you can just keep auto-attacking and dumping focus on soul annihilation. While those ciphers that attempt to cast something have to face quite an array of problems:

- First is the slowliness of power casting, coupled with a bigger window for being interrupted or hard-cc'ed, and lesser time remaining for actually building focus.

- Second is unreliability. Even with maxed PER, you are going to miss quite often; and having lower base acc in comparison to PoE1 and MinRollToGraze at 25 only make it harder.

- Third is affliction resistances, so if you want to charm through resistance, you have to spend 30 focus instead of 10 (and cast Puppet Master instead of Whisper of Treason). Although by themselves, resistances are ok, as they stimulate the strategy diversification for different encounters.

- Fourth is enemy inspirations. In order to cc an inspired enemy you have to cast the same cc twice, i.e. lose twice the amount of time and focus. It would be ok if we could just use another power, but we have now much less of them. In PoE1 at lvl 16 we could have 8 talents and 24 learned powers. In Deadfire a single-class cipher at lvl 16 can have 8 talents and 8 learned powers. Meaning we can't afford much versatility and have to specialize.

- Fifth is the lower base focus generation. We get 25 base focus from 100 damage now, compared to 35 in PoE. And the MIG->STR/RES split makes building focus even harder if you are thinking of investing points into RES for dealing spell damage.

- Sixth: in PoE1 we would easily lower enemy deflection by 40 via paralyze/petrify, 30 via stuns, and 25/20 via charm/blind. Lowering enemy defenses was resulting in a higher focus gain, as well as a really solid buff to party dps'ers. In deadfire using debuffs in order to secure the following cc; and cc in order to prepare the ground for sunsequent damaging abilities unfortunately is almost non-existant in comparison.

 

All in all I'd say that ciphers still require faster casting; complemented by a hefty accuracy bonus attached to a few of their cc powers.

Edited by MaxQuest
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In theory also, these variants should be somewhat equal in power. In practice though... I've tried v1, v2, v4 and v6 on both Normal and PotD; and only v2 is really viable, as you can just keep auto-attacking and dumping focus on soul annihilation. While those ciphers that attempt to cast something have to face quite an array of problems:

- First is the slowliness of power casting, coupled with a bigger window for being interrupted or hard-cc'ed, and lesser time remaining for actually building focus.

- Second is unreliability. Even with maxed PER, you are going to miss quite often; and having lower base acc in comparison to PoE1 and MinRollToGraze at 25 only make it harder.

- Third is affliction resistances, so if you want to charm through resistance, you have to spend 30 focus instead of 10 (and cast Puppet Master instead of Whisper of Treason). Although by themselves, resistances are ok, as they stimulate the strategy diversification for different encounters.

- Fourth is enemy inspirations. In order to cc an inspired enemy you have to cast the same cc twice, i.e. lose twice the amount of time and focus. It would be ok if we could just use another power, but we have now much less of them. In PoE1 at lvl 16 we could have 8 talents and 24 learned powers. In Deadfire a single-class cipher at lvl 16 can have 8 talents and 8 learned powers. Meaning we can't afford much versatility and have to specialize.

- Fifth is the lower base focus generation. We get 25 base focus from 100 damage now, compared to 35 in PoE. And the MIG->STR/RES split makes building focus even harder if you are thinking of investing points into RES for dealing spell damage.

- Sixth: in PoE1 we would easily lower enemy deflection by 40 via paralyze/petrify, 30 via stuns, and 25/20 via charm/blind. Lowering enemy defenses was resulting in a higher focus gain, as well as a really solid buff to party dps'ers. In deadfire using debuffs in order to secure the following cc; and cc in order to prepare the ground for sunsequent damaging abilities unfortunately is almost non-existant in comparison.

 

All in all I'd say that ciphers still require faster casting; complemented by a hefty accuracy bonus attached to a few of their cc powers.

 

 

You have more patience than I do -- I haven't bothered  to play ciphers in the current patch, I'm waiting for a balance patch to hit.

 

I'd also add the decreased critical benefit from high Per -- a bonus 50% critical to duration is a big chunk vs a 25% bonus -- and  the general relative weakness of the focus mechanic now that everyone else is also per-encounter rather than per-rest. I'm also still a little unsure how the stat system generally is going to shake out, but you're better qualified to comment there than I am.

 

I'd also add that a lot of CC is "double nerfed" in the current beta -- not only with longer cast times generally, but also in longer "casting time categories" than in the prior game -- for example, Whisper of Treason went from Fast to Average cast *category* on top of the general increase in casting times,  etc.

 

 

That said, one thing that is upcoming:

 

We're adjusting CC in this milestone (after our play week).  In the current BB, WoT now has a 20s base duration.  I just adjusted the cast time from Slow to Average.
 
Binding Web now has a Fast cast with Slow recovery, etc.
 
 
I'm pretty sure that won't be enough of a change by itself  but it will help a bit, and shows they're listening. I suspect you're fundamentally correct and they are going to have to move ciphers to *very* short cast times and give them an accuracy bonus and a few extra power choices in order to bring them back up to parity.
Edited by Dr. Hieronymous Alloy
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One thing though which is cool: a Beguiler can get more than 10 focus back for casting Eyestrike on a group. That means net focus generation without the use of weapons. ;) But you really have to hit a dense crowd.

 

Besides that: totally agree.

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