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Hi, all. 

 

I've played PoE when it came out, but haven't touched it in years (I have both expansions, but haven't played them). Now, I've come back to the game because of PoE 2, and because I wanted to try out the White March. I'm playing a melee cipher, currently at level 7, and I find myself in a position where I am no longer just using whatever I can get my hands on, but have the resources to focus on getting the gear that I want. 

 

My stats are as follows: 

 

Pale Elf, The White that Wends- Hunter. 

MIG 15

CON 9
DEX 16
PER 12
INT 16
RES 10

 

Current talents: 
Greater Focus (for the +10 starting focus)
Draining Whip
Biting Whip 

Spells: 
Antipathetic Field
Soul Shock
Whisper of Treason

Amplified Thrust
Mental Binding
Psychovampiric Shield
Recall Agony

Ectopsychic Echo
Soul Ignition

Body Attunement
Silent Scream 

Playing on Hard, with story companions exclusively. 

 

Right now, I am using Durance's Staff, standing behind Eder and whacking things from safety, with Justice as a backup. I was thinking of getting Weapon Focus: Soldier, so I could eventually use Tall Grass and Tidefall, then get all the damage increasing talents. Is there a better weapon option for this build? What about armor? I am using fine padded +1 INT right now to keep recovery low, and I feel rather squishy as a result. Is heavier armor an option, or will it hamper my recovery too much? 

Also, what would be an optimal party build of story companions look like for this character? 

 

Have a very nice day.

-fgalkin

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If you whispers of treason something before hitting it, that's -25 deflection right there and the guy you're whacking won't hit you back.  Have you considered going with fists using Novice's suffering?   Since monklike fists hit fast and hard, and are further enhanced by whip, you could generate a lot of focus if you flip an enemy before using him as your personal focus battery.  Since Fists and Hunting Bows are both peasant weapons, times where you MUST hang back or MUST NOT use blunt damage are covered, too.

 

You can respec pretty cheaply to change from two-handed to dual wield.  It's a lot easier for dual-wielders to reach the magical no-recovery limit, even with heavier armor.

 

Ideas for party members:  

 

Ciphers have two defenses they must contend against: 

 

1. Deflection, so they can deal their physical damage to get focus.  Deflection isn't as important, as we can get that by attacking charmed or flanked enemies and it's usually trivial to debuff deflection AND because of how grazes and crits work with Novice's suffering, a graze is actually nearly as damaging as a hit or a crit.   

 

2. Will, because most of your powers target the enemy's will save.  It's a LOT harder to debuff will, and almost every condition that does, ALSO debuffs Fortitude.  So picking party members that can inflict and take advantage of sicken and weaken make you more effective.  Weaken has double the debuff of sicken and is far harder to land, the best one being a priest's Painful Interdiction since that's a per-encounter ability.  You can get free unlimited sickens from having a barbarian in the party, and Plague of insects is a highly powerful (and mid-level) druid spell that sickens in addition to its other excellent effects.  So right from the beginning, Durance, Hiravias and if you bought the White March expansion, Maneha the Manhandler seem to form part of a core. 

 

Since Melee cipher, Barbarian, Druid and Priest gives you two physical DD's, 2 squishies and no tanks (although Maneha isn't exactly fragile), I'd say your AOE, buffing and CC needs are being adequately handled and now you need at least one tank and maybe an off-tank.  Eder as control tank and either Kana or Pallegina as off-tank seem fit to fill those roles, and they can be built offensively as well.

 

I personally would build Eder as a engagement king, using the talent that lets him knock down people breaking his engagement.  Since both flanking if he holds 'em  and knockdown if he doesn't both allow for sneak attacks, consider apprentice sneak attack for both yourself and Pallegina.  Give her Zealous endurance (the defensive aura) and give Maneha Gallant's focus (because it's superior in almost every way to Accurate Carnage, you're not wasting a talent).

 

I'm actually theorycrafting a build right now for Pallegina that would make her able to deal really serious damage to a single-target so long as it's not fire-immune... using The forgemaster's fingers to summon an annihilating fire greatsword, Outlander's frenzy to pump STR and attack speed, someone else to land a hobbled, stuck or blinded condition on the victim, then chaining Wrath of the Five Suns (sworn enemy also causes fire projectiles), Flames of Devotion, Runner's wounding shot, and then another Flames of Devotion.  Scion of Flame, Apprentice sneak attack, two-handed fighting all increasing the damage.

 

I'm just wondering if the speed bonuses from Outlander's frenzy and Vielo Vidòrio stack?

Edited by Manty5
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I just finished my first playthrough a little over a week ago with a cipher.  My party was like this:

 

Watcher Cipher, human raider from Deadfire.  I was in heavy armor and was dual wielding sabers most of the game.

 

Pallegina, Sword and board, mostly, with Deadfire belt Firebrand for occassional burst damage.

 

Devil of Caroc, dual wielding stilleto's, mostly, since I had a ton by the time I got her and wanted to see them used.

 

Itumak, mostly focusing on Casters.

 

Sagani, with Twin Sting helping her fox focus casters.

 

Grieving Mother, on CC and using Stormcaller.

 

A player made wizard for AoE, since I'm not a huge Aloth fan.

 

Overall it went pretty well.  I think that any party can work for almost any watcher.  While the story companions might not be optimized, they still do a the job just fine.

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If you whispers of treason something before hitting it, that's -25 deflection right there and the guy you're whacking won't hit you back.  Have you considered going with fists using Novice's suffering?   Since monklike fists hit fast and hard, and are further enhanced by whip, you could generate a lot of focus if you immobilize an enemy before using him as your personal focus battery.  Since Fists and Hunting Bows are both peasant weapons, times where you MUST hang back are covered, too.

 

You can respec pretty cheaply to change from two-handed to dual wield.  It's a lot easier for dual-wielders to reach the magical no-recovery limit, even with heavier armor.

 

Ideas for party members:  *Writing now*

What are the advantages of going unarmed over using a weapon, either dual-wield or 2H? 

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> What are the advantages of going unarmed over using a weapon, either dual-wield or 2H? 

 

We're assuming that you have the White March expansion and therefore access to Novice's suffering, which is a cross-class skill that give your fists nearly monklike levels of damage.

 

Monk fists are fast (especially with dual-wielding talent), accurate, blunt(least resisted physical damage type), and upgrade automatically when you level so that your MC never falls behind on the damage curve.   The only disadvantage is that you can't apply durgan steel enhancements to your fists (going Full Wolverine on your opponents would be hilarious, though!)

 

Ciphers are all about speed.  Speed in casting, speed in dealing physical damage, speed speed speed.  There are only a few non-fast-cast spells I'd take as a DD Cipher, and one of those is Silent Scream.  Whisper of Treason, beat with fists until 40 or 50 focus, then scream, treason if needed, beat with fists, repeat.  Awesome.

 

Another great idea is to Pain Link Maneha if she's getting focused.  Then she hits everyone nearby when he hits someone, AND hits everyone nearby when she takes damage.  When she's had enough fun for the day doing that, Pain Block to slow the damage considerably.  Of course, you can do that with Eder or Pallegina(Or Kana, if you chose him) if one of them is getting swarmed instead.

Edited by Manty5
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Some things to consider:

1. Flipped enemies don't give you focus. If you use Whisper of Treason on an enemy and then hit him, you won't get any focus.
Use Mental Binding instead.

2. Novice's Suffering's bonus damage doesn't profit from damage bonuses like Soul Whip/Biting Whip/Savage Attack and the like. Only the 5-8 base damage do. On the other hand the bonus damage gets raised by MIG - unlike weapons where MIG only uses base damage. Also, grazes and crits only work with Novice's Suffering's base damage of 5-8. Novice's Suffering therefore is perfect for builds that don't use damage bonuses, have lowish accuracy but very high MIG. You can build a cipher with them, but you have to know this stuff. Taking Biting Whip for example is rel. pointless. Also thinks like the Merciless Hand. You'd have to focus on attack speed and MIG and can use more defensive talents.

3. Fists can't be enchanted with a lash. But a lash generates focus.

4. Tidefall's wounding doesn't generate focus

5. The best melee weapon for a Cipher until you get Durgan Steel is Firebrand. You can get the Belt of the Royal Deadfire Cannoneer pretty early, followed by Forgemaster's Gloves. Those will give you 6 Firebrand uses per rest (from another thread):
 

- Buttercut (cipher): cuts soul and tissue as if it was butter. ;) Melee Cipher with the new Royal Deadfire Cannoner Belt + Foremaster's Gloves. I did this in one of my latest playthroughs and it's just so much fun. Firebrand is for damage/focus and spells mostly for CC (except the mandatory Silent Screams and the awesome Disintegration and Amplified Wave and so on). Firebrand with Soul Whip + Biting Whip + Apprentice's Sneak + Two Weapon Handed Style + Savage Attack + Merciless Hand + crits (easy with Mental Binding for example) is just... wow! Even works nice in the late game. You will also spare some nice resources like dargon eyes/kraken eyes, durgan steel and stuff. Not on the tankiest of sides but his reliable CC prevents knockouts pretty well. Somebody hits you? cst Whisper of Treason, done. Or just kill him with oine or two strikes... I didn't use Vet. Recovery on this one but it could be cool.

Firebrand with Soul Whip/Biting Whip/Savage Attack/Scion of Flame and Merciless Hand usually crits for over 100 damage. Use Mental Binding (that will make sure you crit often) and get ridiculous amounts of focus.

Firebrand, unlike fists, loves damage bonuses. It can have no lash, but its base damage is so high that it more than makes up for this.

With durgan steel, more than superb quality and a lash other great swords can be better options. For example the Hours of St. Rumbalt. However, even in the late game Firebrand is viable. You can stick to it and spare resources like Durgan Steel and dragon/kraken eyes for other party members. Also, Time Parasite with Firebrand is epic...

If you are interested I can elaborate.

Edited by Boeroer
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@ Boeroer

Nice idea with the Firebrand! I probably won't have Merciless Hand, though, because I hate the Doeminels, and not playing on PotD means I don't have to suck up to them for it (I won't use the Heritage Hill machine to give me a boost, either). But I am wondering about Two Weapon Style, I thought Firebrand was 2H? 

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@Boeroer

Does cipher get more focus when the spell procs on Stormcaller?

No. Things that generate focus:

 

- direct weapon damage

- (non DoT) lashes (doesn't matter if raw/elemental/physical). That excludes wounding and stuff like Runner's Wounding Shot's raw damage, Envenomed Strike and so so on.

 

Procs of whatever spells or effect do not generate focus. There was a time wheere retaliation generated focus, but it was nerfed after I posted a somewhat OP retalition cipher build. 

Edited by Boeroer

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@ Boeroer

 

Nice idea with the Firebrand! I probably won't have Merciless Hand, though, because I hate the Doeminels, and not playing on PotD means I don't have to suck up to them for it (I won't use the Heritage Hill machine to give me a boost, either). But I am wondering about Two Weapon Style, I thought Firebrand was 2H? 

Eh, sorry. Two Handed Style obviously. Stupid typo. :)

 

Merciless Hand is not mandatory, it's just a great addition. Firebrand itself is Annihilating, meaning it does +100% crit damage instead just +50%. With Merciless Hand it would be +130%. You can do without.

Edited by Boeroer

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I rolled a cipher MC with Stormcaller and it's pretty sick. Would be really sick if the on-hit proc gave focus lol. I'm at 110 very quick. All these acc bonuses I can stack are great.

 

Although I'm also a glass cannon, so can't wait for mindweb. The fights with the enemies in White March can get messy. The lagufaeth or how you spell it can be very annoying. I'm not entirely sure if the "+10 def vs" talents are of any use tbh. I put both bear's fortitude and body control on most of my party, but they're still getting perma-paralyzed and stunned. What's the point even? I have to use priest buffs either way lol.

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Starcaller ist a good cipher weapon because the -6 shock DR helps a lot and the dual damage is also very nice. Not to forget that Heart of the Storm gives it +20% damage. The lack of a lash is not so good, but the Soul Shock proc on enemies is cool. It would have been even cooler if it was a Amplified Thrust, but Soul Shock is also ok. All on all I like it better on rangers though.

 

@Stargazer55: concerning "swashbuckler" - dual sabre is a good choice for melee ciphers. Rapier + Dagger (especially Sword of Daenysis + March Steel Dagger), too.

Firebrand is also good on Barbs with Blood Thirst, Paladins with FoD+Intense Flames+Scion of Flame, melee priests, rogues and dps fighters. Barb is maybe the best synergy because Blood Thirst/Bloodlust remove the biggest disadvantage: the low recovery speed that can't be improved by enchantments.

 

The Sword of Daenysis + March Steel Dagger combo is also on of the best dps setups for ciphers. The good thing is that both weapons come quite early and can be kept until the end. You'll hit 0 recovery pretty early.

Edited by Boeroer

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Yes, it is viable.

 

With Sword of Daenysis + March Steel Dagger I would use Vulnerable Attack. I the earlier part of the game it's beneficial anyway and later on you can use it without speed loss (because both weapons have the speed enchantment which leads to sub-zero recovery values with dual wielding and Two Weapon Style). Stats: nothing special.

 

Maneha needs Two Handed Style, Scion of Flame, Savage Attack and everything else that gives dmg bonuses like One Stands Alone. And of course Bloodlust + Blood Thirst. Try to have high ACC as well because you want to crit with Firebrand. So Accurate Carnage and Weapon Focus are a good choice.

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Starcaller ist a good cipher weapon because the -6 shock DR helps a lot and the dual damage is also very nice. Not to forget that Heart of the Storm gives it +20% damage. The lack of a lash is not so good, but the Soul Shock proc on enemies is cool. It would have been even cooler if it was a Amplified Thrust, but Soul Shock is also ok. All on all I like it better on rangers though.

 

@Stargazer55: concerning "swashbuckler" - dual sabre is a good choice for melee ciphers. Rapier + Dagger (especially Sword of Daenysis + March Steel Dagger), too.

Firebrand is also good on Barbs with Blood Thirst, Paladins with FoD+Intense Flames+Scion of Flame, melee priests, rogues and dps fighters. Barb is maybe the best synergy because Blood Thirst/Bloodlust remove the biggest disadvantage: the low recovery speed that can't be improved by enchantments.

 

The Sword of Daenysis + March Steel Dagger combo is also on of the best dps setups for ciphers. The good thing is that both weapons come quite early and can be kept until the end. You'll hit 0 recovery pretty early.

Interesting. How does the damage output compare to 2H, especially against high DR targets? Wouldn't the higher base damage of 2H be better against them? 

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Interesting. How does the damage output compare to 2H, especially against high DR targets? Wouldn't the higher base damage of 2H be better against them?

The damage output is better for the biggest part of the game with those two uniques and some damage modifiers. Just because of the blinding speed. Also, Vulnerable Attack will give you +5 damage per hit and Sword of Daenysis itself is rending, meaning another +3 DR bypass. If you add Ryona's Vambraces at some point you can have +11 DR bypass with the rapier and +8 with the dagger, with 15 DEX you'll hit every 16 frames. That's hard to beat for a two hander (hits every 26 frames with 0 recovery and 0 DR bypass). If a two hander can get to 0 recovery it can compete - but it's not easy to reach 0 recovery with a two hander while it's very easy to reach it with those two weapons.

 

In the early game however they feel a bit underwhelming against high DR - but every dmg bonus and every DR bypass helps. Body Attunement is also great with fast light weapons.

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Interesting. How does the damage output compare to 2H, especially against high DR targets? Wouldn't the higher base damage of 2H be better against them?

The damage output is better for the biggest part of the game with those two uniques and some damage modifiers. Just because of the blinding speed. Also, Vulnerable Attack will give you +5 damage per hit and Sword of Daenysis itself is rending, meaning another +3 DR bypass. If you add Ryona's Vambraces at some point you can have +11 DR bypass with the rapier and +8 with the dagger, with 15 DEX you'll hit every 16 frames. That's hard to beat for a two hander (hits every 26 frames with 0 recovery and 0 DR bypass). If a two hander can get to 0 recovery it can compete - but it's not easy to reach 0 recovery with a two hander while it's very easy to reach it with those two weapons.

 

In the early game however they feel a bit underwhelming against high DR - but every dmg bonus and every DR bypass helps. Body Attunement is also great with fast light weapons.

 

Interesting. I'll definitely keep this in mind. Right now, Firebrand is just too much fun, and I haven't been to the White March yet (so far, I did some Defiance Bay quests and am currently on level 7 of the Endless Paths), but once I get the vambraces, I might respec and give it a try. If I end up not using it, which companion do you think will benefit from this the most? 

 

 

Also, I have a question about armor. Right now, I'm using Jack of Wide Waters. Should I stay with light armors, or move on to heavier stuff. One of the reasons I was thinking of using Tidefall is that my cipher feels kinda squishy, and right now Durance can cast Triumph of the Crusaders only twice per rest, and the draining aspect of that sword basically substitutes for that 

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I would never give up the belt & Firebrand. You'd have to rebind and level the belt again. :)

 

That rapier + dagger combo is good with every char who can have dmg bonuses and doesn't do too many Full Attacks. So, fighter, rogue, cipher come to mind.

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Thank you very much

 

Some things to consider:

1. Flipped enemies don't give you focus. If you use Whisper of Treason on an enemy and then hit him, you won't get any focus.
Use Mental Binding instead.

2. Novice's Suffering's bonus damage doesn't profit from damage bonuses like Soul Whip/Biting Whip/Savage Attack and the like. Only the 5-8 base damage do. On the other hand the bonus damage gets raised by MIG - unlike weapons where MIG only uses base damage. Also, grazes and crits only work with Novice's Suffering's base damage of 5-8. Novice's Suffering therefore is perfect for builds that don't use damage bonuses, have lowish accuracy but very high MIG. You can build a cipher with them, but you have to know this stuff. Taking Biting Whip for example is rel. pointless. Also thinks like the Merciless Hand. You'd have to focus on attack speed and MIG and can use more defensive talents.

3. Fists can't be enchanted with a lash. But a lash generates focus.

4. Tidefall's wounding doesn't generate focus

5. The best melee weapon for a Cipher until you get Durgan Steel is Firebrand. You can get the Belt of the Royal Deadfire Cannoneer pretty early, followed by Forgemaster's Gloves. Those will give you 6 Firebrand uses per rest (from another thread):
 

- Buttercut (cipher): cuts soul and tissue as if it was butter. ;) Melee Cipher with the new Royal Deadfire Cannoner Belt + Foremaster's Gloves. I did this in one of my latest playthroughs and it's just so much fun. Firebrand is for damage/focus and spells mostly for CC (except the mandatory Silent Screams and the awesome Disintegration and Amplified Wave and so on). Firebrand with Soul Whip + Biting Whip + Apprentice's Sneak + Two Weapon Handed Style + Savage Attack + Merciless Hand + crits (easy with Mental Binding for example) is just... wow! Even works nice in the late game. You will also spare some nice resources like dargon eyes/kraken eyes, durgan steel and stuff. Not on the tankiest of sides but his reliable CC prevents knockouts pretty well. Somebody hits you? cst Whisper of Treason, done. Or just kill him with oine or two strikes... I didn't use Vet. Recovery on this one but it could be cool.

Firebrand with Soul Whip/Biting Whip/Savage Attack/Scion of Flame and Merciless Hand usually crits for over 100 damage. Use Mental Binding (that will make sure you crit often) and get ridiculous amounts of focus.

Firebrand, unlike fists, loves damage bonuses. It can have no lash, but its base damage is so high that it more than makes up for this.

With durgan steel, more than superb quality and a lash other great swords can be better options. For example the Hours of St. Rumbalt. However, even in the late game Firebrand is viable. You can stick to it and spare resources like Durgan Steel and dragon/kraken eyes for other party members. Also, Time Parasite with Firebrand is epic...

If you are interested I can elaborate.

 

Thank you so much!  I thought I was on to something, but your explanation is way beyond my meager knowledge level.  You don't have to go into detail, but would a high-PER cipher be able to dish out enough AOE interrupts from spell crits to matter?

Edited by Manty5
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Hm... you mean interrupts via spells? I don't think so. For a good interrupt build you either need pulsing spells like Wicked Briars or potentially fast AoE abilities like Carnage or Blast. And most cipher powers have very potent CC effects themselves that make interrupting redundant. I can't think of a power that would be particularly well suited for interrupting.

 

But of course interrupts are always nice to have - or "nice to cause". :)

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I would never give up the belt & Firebrand. You'd have to rebind and level the belt again. :)

 

That rapier + dagger combo is good with every char who can have dmg bonuses and doesn't do too many Full Attacks. So, fighter, rogue, cipher come to mind.

I think the belt is very useful even without Firebrand, due to boosting the right stats for a cipher. What are your thoughts on armor? Heavy or light? 

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First heavy, then light(er). :) In the early game heavy armor is pretty effective. Later in the game not so much.

 

I really like the Wayfarer's Hide. Superb armor that comes not too late in the game with good defense buffs. But of course it looks very "special" (kind of derelict). 

 

I you like the looks of Vengiatta Rugia then it's a great armor for a cipher as well: you can use the survival bonus for flanked enemies (e.g. +20% with 12 survival), Apprentice's Sneak Attack (+15%) and the armor's bonus (+10%) and then use Phantom Foes to trigger flanked on every enemy. +45% damage with Firebrand is great. I hate the look of Vengiatta Rugia though.

 

I also like Kerdhed Pames because it's one of the few armors with a +3 stat bonus and because it looks really nice. The +3 RES bonus doesn't interfere with the belt's bonuses, which is great, too.

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