Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity

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Characters Creation & Development Guide (2.0 updates - all classes updated)
By nerdcommando.gamestudios
This guide will focus on mapping out all the best builds in this game and will explain the optimal ways of their development. We'll also discuss some gameplay basics and party compositions (eventually).
 
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1. General Info
This guide is WiP. I'm investigating all of the classes gradually and so it's going to be updated along with my progress. If you prefer videos, I have a fresh playlist here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4UqltmSKaEeiHExNqo-Hkk-HrvuejI2K



This guide is adapted for the Path of the Damned difficulty as that's the only way I play it nowadays. But, of course, stuff that works on PoTD will be appropriate on the lower difficulties.

When it comes to the attributes, Pillars of Eternity is a min-maxing game – to make a real difference, you really need to max the stats out. Which requires a lot of points so you'll have to minimize something too. Therefore, there are pretty much three default settings for the attribute – 3 aka min, 10 aka norm, 18 aka max.

Min-maxing is especially important for the main character as the maxed out stats not only make him combat-viable, they also allow him to solve dialogue situations. Without min-maxing, you'll have only two stats at the level of 17-18 (and that's what required to solve the really tough challenges). With it, you'll have three or four such stats – much more solutions available.

One of the toughest choices about the game is custom party vs companion party. Companions have personal stories and plenty of dialogues, but they're all build rather horrible so the combat is harder with them. And they take away the joy of building your party and your strategies – PoE's system is very rich and there are lots of combos to try out. On the other hand, custom companions deprive you of the NPC storylines. Without using mods (which allow you to respec NPCs and even change their classes), it's a lose-lose situation. So either use them or decide what is more important for you (and, well, if put your bet on the companions, don't set the game difficulty too high – normal is fine with them).

The party composition here is rather simple – you need one tank and one half-tank on the frontline, up to two second-line damage dealers and the rest are third-line pure damage dealers and crowd controllers. The difference between second and third line damage dealers is their durability – seconds can usually take some damage, though not a lot (barbarians, for example), whereas the thirds are very squishy and, should the things go wrong, will melt in a second. You can skip second-liners altogether, but that will make your party rather prone to the ambushes – that can be worked around, but relies on save-loading and/or metagaming.

Percentage increases to damage are better than they seem. Say, two-handed gives x1.15 damage – 15%. So the average ~17 damage from the large weapon becomes ~19,5. Against the DR 10 (nearly all foes have high DR, never forget that) 17 damage is 7 damage per hit. 19.5 is 9.5. And that's 35% more than 7.

To explain it easily, each 5 points in both accuracy and deflection equal to 10% of effectiveness. That's how the formulae work when you're evenly matched. To a new player, wizard's 20 starting accuracy being very low and rogue's 30 accuracy being very high may look confusing – it's just 10 point difference, no? But, as you see, it's 20% less hits for the wizard. Same for deflection – 15 deflection of his is 30% more hits on him than on the paladin's very high 25. Keeps this “5=10%” thing in mind to easily gauge the benefits of various talents and abilities.

One important thing for this guide is that you first distribute your ability points, second choose your culture. But, as you distribute the points, you do that with the +1 resolve culture already included. So if there's 1 point somehow missing for some of my builds, that's because of that - just switch your culture to the mentioned one and it's gonna fit.
1.a - On the Attack Speed
Speed bonuses work in a somewhat weird way. Now, dexterity is easy - it just amplifies/penalizes all of the actions. However, other speed bonuses are different. See, all attack actions are split into the attack animation & recovery time. For guns and crossbows, reload animations is also present. And see, all of the attack speed bonuses and penalties are applied only to the recovery time. Why that's significant? Because they're not always equal. Now, for the dual-wielded weapons, attack time always equals recovery time. So it's 20/20 frames for the small ones and 30/30 frames for the big ones (1 second is 30 frames, btw). And that makes all penalties/bonuses incurred much weaker than they seem. For example, plate armor penalty sounds scary - 50% recovery time. But, as it gets applied to the recovery only, it changes from 20/20 to 20/30 frames total - from 40 to 50, only a 25% penalty actually. Which is still steep but not as devastating, of course. By the same grace, 45% recovery from the deleterious acceleration of motion potion is not as potent as it sounds - it's only 22.5% more actual attacks.

But what about one-handed wield and two-handed weapons? And bows & wands, btw? They work another way - for them, the recovery time is always the double of the attack time. So one-handed wield of fast weapons is 20/40 split. Medium ones and two-handers are 30/60 splits. So are the hunting bows & wands. War bows & rods are 40/80. What that means is that they take the penalty much harsher - full plate turns 30/60 into 30/90 - 33% delay.It's still not a full 50%, but ouch. On the brighter side, that potion is more like 30% of actual speed increase for them.

Finally, guns and crossbows couldn't care less about those penalties and bonuses. For them, the split is 53/76/100-194 between attack, recovery and reload. First two numbers here are a bit rough - they vary for +/- 1 point for different weapons. And reload time varies from crossbow (the smallest) to the arquebus (the longest). So, for example. the full basic attack time of Arquebus is 319 frames. Recovery is only 76 frames of that so getting 50% penalty to it is turning that number into a 357. That's an 11% decrease. Even for the crossbow, the plate gives only 16% of actual attack speed loss. But, of course, that also makes all kinds of weapon speed bonuses (mind you, not the reload ones - reload are precious, as you see) nigh-useless for them. On the other hand, we've already loved our penetrating shot with our blunderbuss and now it's crystal clear why that's a no-brainer - it's up to 25 extra damage per shot for a measly price of 4.4% attack speed.

So the logic is simple - with duals and guns, you really want to stick to your plate armor. With everything else, it's as little armor as possible and, also, as much attack speed as possible. It even works in a somewhat exponential manner and the more attack speed you have, the more DPS you gain out of each next increase. So, while for duals the 100% attack speed bonus means double the damage output, for one-handers, bows and two-handers it actually triples it.

Now, by no means it's an easy number to acquire - not a lot of classes have attack bonuses and they're not that huge. Still, a naked monk under the deleterious alacrity potion, swift strikes and paladin's hastening exhortation has a 0.9 attack speed modifier. That's an incredible damage output gain. Of course, this is a bit too dependent on the potions (which are, of course, finite), but there are plenty of other bonuses too - special weapon enchantments, giving +20% speed, and that can be improved by the Durgan steel enhancement, stacking another +15% on the top of that. The gloves of Swift Action will add another +15%. That alone is a half of what you need.

Now, because of the relative rarity of all those sources of speed bonuses, it's not really something you can amass in your party. Not easily, at the very least. But you can gear at least one or two DDs around that- a speedy fighter specializing in the adventurer weapons (gives both estocs and war bows), a speedy ranger, of course, a lightning-fast rogue (good with the borresaine war bow - high attack rate means lots of criticals, lots of stuns), Llawran's stick & General Butt-Naked (who was pretty much born for this kind of stuff), monk with the Blade of the Endless Paths, you get the drill.
2. Races Review
The most important thing about races is not their stat buffs (the effect is negligible) but their specials. Many of the specials are very strong and can support your strategy greatly.

Humans: all three kinds have the same bonus and it works for any kind of a damage dealer. Once you're below half of endurance, you're gaining 7 accuracy and 15% extra damage dealt for 20 seconds. Note that this time is influenced by the Intelligence so dumb humans will get only 13 seconds of buff. Also, squishy humans (low endurance/deflection classes) will probably drop too fast to gain much use from it. So don't take a human character if you want to min int or play something frail.

Coastal Aumaua: 20 defense against Prone and Stunned. You can either compensate a low-fortitude build with this (past the 2.0, they became almost non-existent, however) or take it on a 18 Might 18 Constitution character (these ones are more common) to become nigh-immune against stunning and proning. Since these two disables are rather common (and there's no cleric +defense spell against them), that seems like a nice option.

Island Aumaua: a non-obvious bonus. Thinking straight, three sets of weapons make you incredibly flexible. Practically, though, your character build is usually centered around one kind of a weapon (mass critical builds & disabling weapons, for example) and it becomes so potent that the gain from switching to another weapon is overshadowed by the loss of your primary synergy (because the majority of your talents and class abilities will be directed towards it). And even in the places where you absolutely need to switch, 2 basic sets are usually enough. 3 is an overkill. There are also economical reasons – try finding/crafting 3 really strong weapons. But that's if you want to play honest. The proper way to use Island Aumaua is to go with the gun-toting Quick Pockets one. That way, you have 4 gun slots and, instead of reloading your weapons slowly, you just grab another one quickly (as it was done IRL so it's not even cheese, tbh).

Mountain Dwarf: 20 defense against Disease and Poison. Way too narrow. Not only this can be replicated by some rather primitive magical items, it's just not useful often enough. You want your bonus to be great in every battle, not in every tenth battle. And yeah, there are some annoying poison encounters in the game, but still, not good enough.

Boreal Dwarf: to be honest, it's also rather narrow. +15 accuracy against wilders and primordials won't work in every encounter, of course. But, at least, when it is enabled it is stupidly strong – that much precision gives you a lot of hits and criticals. You want your boreal dwarf to be a damage dealer and, if possible, somewhat focused around that extra accuracy so when he hits, he hits big.

Wood Elf: 5 accuracy, reflex and evasion against distant foes. Pretty obvious race. Excellent for rangers (and other missile weapon users), decent for casters (but here look at the range of the spells – wizards, for example, are not as far-reaching as druids are).

Pale Elf: extra 10 burn and frost reduction. Nice race for tanking – yeah, the extra sturdiness is not showcased in each battle but you'll really feel it once you start fighting drakes, for example. Or even shades in the first dungeons. They also make interesting wizards – wizards have some incentives to take Scion of Flame and Herald of Rime talents, both upping the reductions by 5 (so you're taking 15 less damage in total). Druids can consider taking these talents too. A small but nifty combo. But tanking is probably the forte of this race.

Hearth Orlan: 10% of hits against enemies who are also targeted by your teammates are converted into criticals. It seems quite a no-brainer for a damage dealer but it's actually even better for a crowd-controller. Some extra damage is nice but 50% extra durations on your disable is even better – it'll lead to that extra damage anyway. So Orlans are casters, first and foremost, though with some unique weapons that cause a disable on a crit they can also make good warriors.

Wild Orlan: after being targeted by a will attack, they gain +10 deflection/will/reflex/fortitude for 10 seconds. An obvious tank trait that also requires at least normal intelligence to be useful. They're a bit overhyped but, all in all, will attacks are not that uncommon so they're a rather fine choice. They also make excellent low-intelligence fighters (which are somewhat common in 2.0) - low will sucks and this alleviates it at least for a little.

Death Godlike: 20% extra damage against enemies with 25% endurance or lower. They got much worse in the White March - previously, they were used in a couple of builds that centered around finishing foes for some kind of a gain (Kind Wayfarer paladins, for example). Now there's an incredible helmet for such builds in the game and the ability to wear it totally overrides this Godlike's bonus. So the only stuff that is left for them is battle magic - these 20% do apply to it and, as you will see, pure magical damage bonuses are very rare.

Fire Godlike: once he's below 50% endurance, he gains 4 damage resistance to everything and deals 2 fire damage per level to every foe who hits him in melee. An obviously good tanky ability that works even better in 2.0 as the common tanks have lots of strength. They can even take the Scion of Flame talent to agument this ability even further, though that depends on the class abilities. Paladins, though, have an awesome fire damage ability (and I'm not talking about Flames of Devotion) so this race seems golden for them. Becomes even better when there are lots of healing in the party (again, paladins) - for obvious reasons, of course.

Moon Godlike: first time he reaches the 25/50/75% endurance thresholds in every combat, he heals an amount of endurance in a very large radius. The amount depends on your level and is affected by your might bonus or penalty – it starts as 10 basic and on level 12 it is something like 50. But, of course, if your godlike is just 3 might (which, actually, is the way to go with some of the tank builds), it gets downgraded into 8-32 range. The radius of healing is also affected by your attributes – intelligence, as usual. But, given that its basic value is immense (20 whopping meters!), it's much more forgiving – even the 3 int gives you 13 meters which is all that you need, to be honest. So if you want a mighty tank or even a lasting damage dealer, moon godlike is a solid choice.

Nature Godlike: as long as his endurance is below 50%, gains +3 Might, +2 Dexterity and +2 Constitution. Very close to the human bonus – the effects are a bit weaker but, on the other hand, it lasts indefinitely (which can forgive the lack of intelligence, for example). Otherwise, should be used pretty much the same way.

BTW, let's not forget about an extra godlike penalty - you can't wear helmet and you lose some fighting capacity that way. In the White March 2.0, it is harsh for the Damage Dealers as they've added some sweet, sweet helmets to the game.
3. Paladins - the Hitcher
Role: second-line damage dealer + healer/buffer.

Order: Kind Wayfarer

Race: Death Godlike. This is one of the instances where his special ability is the vital part of the combo and no one else can really compare.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 19
C 10
D 10
P 18
I 18
R 3

You want to deal lots of damage so your Might and Perception are maxed. Per over Dex as your weapon of choice rewards extra accuracy immensely. Also, to keep in line with that healer/buffer function, you really need to have a maxed out Int. The only downside is that this makes you sacrifice your Resolve - turns you into a very bad frontline fighter (it's not even the low deflection - it's the annoying enemy interrupts) which is why you slyly fight with the pike.

Weapon of Choice: Tall Grass pike (sold in Dyrford Village) - in White March, guns got nerfed and two-handers/one-handers got buffed. It's all about fast attack fighting & Durgan Steel - does nothing for your fancy firearms, but makes weapons like these a wonder. Not to mention that Tall Grass also benefits from extra accuracy that you now gain from Perception - more the crits, more the fun.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Lay on Hands. After the 1.6 update, this heals so much that it's not even funny. And it heals twice per each combat. Flames of Devotion just can't compete with this - they make you deal maybe 10% more per combat (by a very generous estimate) and lay on hands allow you to live for thrice as long, dealing the corresponding amount of damage in the process.

2nd level: Strange Mercy. Not much of a mercy coming from this paladin, actually. He thrives on bathing in blood of his foes (and his party keeps him company). Kill a foe – heal the rest of the party (yeah, he's a selfless psychopath) for 25 endurance. Rinse and repeat. Now it's obvious why he's the Death Godlike – who else can finish your foes as well? Killstealing is his raison d'etre (I bet his friends refuse to play Dota with him). Works even better on the PoTD - encounters get much bigger and there are lots of relative weaklings for him to slaughter.

3rd level: Zealous Focus. This build thrives on killing foes and zealous focus helps that greatly. And not only him but all his teammates, of course. The critical specialists will be especially grateful (though, with the Tall Gras, he himself became one). As well as the casters, btw — they lack the accuracy the most so this stuff is golden to them.

4th level: Bloody Slaughter. Yeah, that's very kind. Kind of a combo – you need to kill foes and, coupled with godlike's Death Usher, this makes dealing the finishing blow as easy as it's gonna get. Gotta keep that healing coming.

5th level: Sworn Enemy. This pally needs a daily dose of butchery and this little toy really helps that. An insane offensive skill, actually. Limited by its uses (though 3 is a lot – burn all in a single battle to turn some tables) but insane: 15 accuracy is a very rare bonus and damage increase is nothing to sneer about either.

6th level: Critical Focus. While it's not the most noticeable of effects, when applied to the entire party, it behaves rather nicely. It helps our Tall Grass (if you don't know, on the crit it sends your foes prone for 4 seconds), it helps our casters, it helps anyone else with a crit-oriented weapon (and any weapon under Durgan Steel becomes this way).

7th level: Inspiring Triumph: synergizes with the Strange Mercy rather nicely. We search for the weak targets, we snuff them out and keep the crew going.

8th level: Two-Handed Style: gotta deal some damage to kill foes, right?

9th level: Righteous Soul or Reinforcing Exhortation or Reviving Exhortation or Hastening Exhortation. Ouch, tough choices time. Righteous Soul is nice because mind control is annoying and it makes fighting some enemies much easier. Reinforcing Exhortation is great when you need to protect a frail damage dealer - a rogue, for example. Reviving Exhortation is insane with the buffed up Monks and Barbarians - second life means a lot for them. Hastening Exhortation is a must for the speed-oriented strategies. It's all good so look at your crew composition to define your priorities, I guess.

10th level: Weapon Focus: Soldier.

11th level: Some skipped choice from level 9 or Healing Chain - if you feel like you lack healing (though this build really shouldn't), you can go that way too.

12th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack - an awesome new feat for us. It's easy to activate and we can always use more damage output.

13th level: Sacred Immolation: no real competition here, this thing is just insane. Think your paladin was a nice damage dealer/healer before? Look at him now. BTW, these kills totally activate the Strange Mercy.

14th level: Scion of Flame: Immolation is so great that it's worth to take this talent to improve it even further.
3. Paladins - The Holy Avenger
This is a Kind Wayfarer or a Bleak Walker build. The problem of the bleak walker is that tactically he is the same as the kind wayfarer only the results of his carnage are much, much weaker. So he's a marginal option, unfortunately.

Role: second-line damage dealer + buffer/healer.

Race: Anything offensive.

Stats (Human, the Living Lands bonus included):

M 20
C 10
D 10
P 10
I 18
R 10

A really basic build - might for healing and damage, intelligence to make his buffs truly useful.

Weapon of Choice: Duals. Initially, stilettos are the best, but as the game goes you can also use stuff like rapiers, daggers, Hearth Fire hatchet + Cladhaliath spear combo efficiently. Thankfully, respec option makes it easy to adjust.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Lay on Hands. It just became mandatory for the majority of paladins.

2nd level: Strange Mercy / The Black Path. See, making your foes frightened is not that bad but it's definitely worse than healing 25 endurance to everyone. Healing is reliable and always useful whereas some foes may be practically immune to frightened due to their resists. Another thing is that healing can stack much better than this debuff. So if you have a yelling barbarian in your party (great source of frightens and terrifiy's), suddenly this special is almost useless.

3rd level: Zealous Focus.

4th level: Vulnerable Attack - for the fast duals (and fast are the best in the majority of cases) Vulnerable Attack gives an insane amount of damage so nothing else can be reasonably taken at this level.

5th level: Sworn Enemy.

6th level: Two-Weapon style: we focus less on kill-stealing and more on plain damage dealing.

7th level: Reviving Exhortation or Coordinated Attacks. Coordinated are a nice new choice - gives one of your teammates (only one - the closest one) +10 accuracy against the same target. This is a very solid improvement, especially when already amplified by the Zealous Focus. Tough choices - no easy ones for the pally at the high levels.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Noble, Peasant or Ruffian. These three are most likely.

9th level: Righteous Soul or Reinforcing Exhortation or Hastening Exhortation or lvl 7 choice. If you're in trouble, you can always ask a magical 8th ball, they never give bad advice.

10th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack: the more damage the merrier.

11th level: Level 9 choices or the Healing Chain. Flipping a coin might work too.

12th level: Envenomed Strike - not the holiest of tactics but paladin is probably the only char who can actually use this one now. The best approach here is to keep a single attack-focused weapon as a side arm - it's especially good if you have Weapon Focus: Noble as Measured Restraint is very easy to find tool for this. Make them your Sworn Enemy, then poison them with your +29 Attack (+5 for Rapier, +12 from enchantment, +12 for one-handed style) sidearm for the best effect. If you don't wish to bother, just go for the Critical Focus instead.

13th level: Sacred Immolation.

14th level: Scion of Flame.
3. Paladins - Anvil of Dawn
(or Dusk - whatever suits your alignment)

Role: first-line tank & buffer

Order: Darkozzi Paladini, Shieldbearer of st. Elcga, Goldpact Knight - these are the best choices. Other two orders can play two, but they'll be a bit less efficient as their level 5 will be somewhat wasted.

Race: Anything tanky.

Stats (Moon Godlike, the Living Lands bonus included - lots of backgrounds are actually useful here, it's just that the living lands allow you to start with a brigandine armor and that's helpful):

M 18
C 17
D 4
P 3
I 18
R 18

The nature of Perception & Dexterity now is that once you begin to minimize one, you can easily minimise both - the damage is abysmal anyways. So, as we can do lots of good without attacking straightforwardly, we redirect all the points to better stats - Might for Healing, Con & Res for survival, Int for buff duration. That also makes us a very good speaker - a classical leader build which became much less common under 2.0 conditions.

Weapon of Choice: the standard early game tanking package - hatchet & kite shield. TBH, as your offensive potential is so abysmal, no point to switch to anything else.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Lay on Hands.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield style: the rather obvious choice but for this build the reflex bonus is also very important. The weakest spot of such stat distribution is the negative reflexes score - mages will crit you. But once you add up the bonuses from this talent and your Faith and Conviction (more so if you are the main char and can upgrade it by role-playing), the problem suddenly vanishes. Yeah, your reflexes won't be good, they will be mediocre, but with your life pool and healing mediocre is more than enough. And don't forget that your Will and Fortitude are awesome instead.

3rd level: Zealous Endurance or Zealous Focus: Endurance seems more logical but it's more about what your party needs. If you have lots of control (which is greatly amplified by focus), that might be the better protective choice overall. If not, you can go Endurance. It also gets better with lots of beefy characters (like barbs & monks).

4th level: Cautious Attack: it has been nerfed but even 8 deflection is good for you.

Next two levels depend on your order.

Darkozzi:

5th level: Liberating Exhortation. A great way to bail out your friends out of strong disables and, hopefully, when it runs out the enemies will be too dead for that to matter.

6th level: Inspired Liberation: the only flaw of the previous choice is that it matters only when you actually experience debuffs. And, against many foes, even if you remove those once, they can easily repeat them again. This upgrade removes this conditionality – even if you don't need to remove anything, you still give out the +10 accuracy bonus. And your damage dealer/crowd controller will be extremely happy to have that. The exhortation effect itself becomes just a cherry on the top.

St. Elcga:

5th level: Flames of Devotion: by itself is absolutely useless for you. However...

6th level: Shielding Flames: ...this upgrade turns them into actually useful “30 seconds of +10 Deflection for your party”. That's a nice buff.

Goldpact Knight:

5th level: Liberating Exhortation.

6th level: Bond of Duty. Not as universal as the Darkozzi upgrade – the conditionality doesn't go anywhere. But charming etc. foes are one of the most annoying ones in the game and more protection against them is always welcome.

Other two orders just take Exhortation and some tanky talent.

7th level: Reviving Exhortation or Coordinated Attacks. High deflection still doesn't protect you from tough choices.

8th level: Greater Lay on Hands: +50% to your heal efficiency. Allows to get through some really harsh focus.

9th level: Even more tough choices – same as for other paladins.

10th level: Superior Deflection.

11th level: Time for a bit more of traditional paladin suffering.

12th level: Deep Faith. Just a bit of overall survivability.

13th level: Sacred Immolation: yeah, it's a bit clumsy in our hands as that accuracy bonus hurts, but otherwise it's as strong as for the straight DD paladin. And it even heals too. So suddenly we've grown from a pure tank into more of a hybrid character. Which is great, I guess.

14th level: Scion of Flame. Snake's Reflexes can be fine too if your low saves annoy you, but I prefer to develop our mega-skill with this. You can even take this preemptively and push down the Deep Faith here.
3. Paladins - Lawful Stupid
(not sure how true the lawful part is but he definitely is stupid)

Role: damage dealer

Race: Anything offensive.

Order: Goldpact Knight. Can be anyone else too – the order affinity is barely important here.

Stats (Boreal Dwarf, The Living Lands bonus included):

M 21
C 10
D 16
P 18
I 3
R 10

While theoretically paladin is a very Int-dependent class, through all the updates he got so much different passives and skill that now he can easily do even without that. Sure, this narrows him down to a plain (yet sturdy) damage dealer, but who said this is a bad thing? At least there are no scary choices here. Almost. The good part of being a paladin that Faith & Conviction and one class talent will negate all of the downsides which come with the low Will this build has. Other similar Dds have to suffer lot more from it.

Weapon of Choice: Duals – stilettos and sabers work best early on, then it can also be daggers and rapiers. You can even try hatchets to amplify paladin's high deflection.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Flames of Devotion. Probably the only build that wants it lvl 1 now. The cool thing for the duals is that it applies to every swing so we get two enhanced attacks out of this.

2nd level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack – not difficult to activate and, at this stage of the game, gives you more than other offensive talents.

3rd level: Zealous Focus. Sure, our radius is crap, but we still affect ourselves and can catch 1-2 members of our party. Considering that many other classes would eagerly spend a talent/ability to take +6 accuracy for themselves only (that's what you do with the Weapon Focus), that's still a nice deal.

4th level: Vulnerable Attack. Way much damage for the duals at too small of a cost.

5th level: Sworn Enemy. This thing makes the ordinary paladin's attack truly sting, just imagine what it does for this one. Or why imagine when you can actually check this out?

6th level: Two Weapon Style.

7th level: Reviving Exhortation or Coordinated Attacks. Well,even for the build which is as narrow as this one, some choices remain yet. I'd go with the attacks, tbh – exhortation is not affected by your Int deficiency greatly, but it does suffer a bit at this precise point where everyone is not that tanky and the HP loss element of it comes a bit too soon. Coordinated Attacks, on the other hand, are instantly great.

8th level: Weapon Focus: whatever the duals you prefer.

9th level: Righteous Soul: and here is the absolution for our stupidity. This one helps a lot.

10th level: If you have a pet-oriented ranger in your party, go for the Enduring Flames. Actually, you can go for that even earlier, straight from the level 2 if you wish (everything else will get delayed by two levels; you still take Vulnerable at lvl 4, though). It's not for the damage itself – that is negligible. It's for enabling the predator's sense which now is a quite a viable talent and path of development. If you don't have one, go for the Bloody Slaughter instead.

11th level: Healing Chain or Reviving Exhortation – Reviving works rather well now and Healing Chain doesn't get nerfed by the low wits. I like the reviving a bit more, however, as it's nearly the same amount of healing yet it can work at any given moment whereas it may be too late for the chain.

12th level: Deep Faith. We ran out of damage sources so let's work on defenses.

13th level: Sacred Immolation: sure, range & duration are crap, but you still hit a couple of foes for good damage and maybe heal an ally or two. Even if it is not as insane, it's still decent.

14th level: Superior Deflection or Scion of Flame.
3. Paladins - Weatherproof Pally
This is a build for the very specific weatherproof party combo with two or three high reflex Pale Elves on the front. Read “calldown monk” for detailed explanation. To put it shortly – you place two or three high-reflex tanks and damage dealers on the front, they tie-up the enemy, then your mages mercilessly place reflex-targeting spells on the entire skirmish. Your guys, thanks to their builds, survive. Your foes – not so much. SO it's all about having diverse and viable and synergistic builds with maxed out Dex and Per – thankfully, it isn't hard under the new patch.

This build is also more or less a rehash of a previous one, but that's only logical - would a really smart person agree to play this role?

Also, this strategy grandly profits from the respeccing – it's quite good during the first 2/3rds of the game, but somewhat falls apart after that. And that's when you respec into the simpler builds.

Role: first-line tank/damage dealer.

Race: Pale Elf.

Stats (The White That Wends bonus included):

M 16
C 10
D 19
P 20
I 3
R 10

As we need to take lots of incoming damage, we prioritize perception and dexterity over might. Gives us nice interrupts potential too.

Weapon of Choice: shield & Mosquito rapier, Shatterstar war hammer, Spear of Vile Loner. The high interrupt stuff. Later on, you can switch into any one-handed weapon that either has the +20% speed enhancement or can stun on the crit – Sword of Denisys, Cladhaliath, Starcaller, Godanstunnyr, etc..

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Flames of Devotion – once we get to the stunning weapons, they will really appreciate the +20 accuracy attacks, even if they're only twice per combat.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield style: this build pursues the new style of shield usage in White March – the passive/aggressive one. You fight with a good offensive weapon and, as soon as you can do it, you ditch your armor. Not just heavy armor – all armor altogether so you have zero recovery penalty (you can also apply Durgan steel to shields & armor, both decrease it by 16%, but Durgan steel is very finite, obviously). Enchant some clothes so you're not naked. And you're also interested in any speed enhancements you can get – first and foremost, it's the Durgan Steel enhancements and , for the tough fights, potions of Deleterious Alacrity of Motion. That way, you have both high deflection and decent damage output. And, of course, this gives us more reflexes for our tanking strat.

3rd level: Zealous Focus.

4th level: Interrupting Blows: at times, offense is the best defense. And such time will come once you get one of the abnormally high interrupt special weapons – that's gonna be around level 5. It's also a very nice combo with the speed enhancements. Potentially, you can strike every 1.5 seconds with the Mosquito while interrupting your foe for 0.75 seconds with each hit – that's half of his time wasted. That's also not so fun for the casters.

5th level: Sworn Enemy. Becomes especially good once the stunning weapons come into picture - +15 accuracy will lead to some crits.

6th level: Deep Faith: even more protection & reflexes.

7th level: Reviving Exhortation or Coordinated Attacks. No clear winner here, as always.

8th level: Weapon focus: whatever you fancy the most. BTW, even though we are a tank, we're skipping the Cautious Attack – it just doesn't combo well with our speedy tactics.

9th level: Righteous Soul.

10th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack – damage is something we rather lack and it's a really strong and not so difficult to activate bonus.

11th level: Level 7 skipped choice or Healing Chain.

12th level: Superior Deflection.

13th level: Sacred Immolation: it's just good for anyone.

14th level: Scion of Flames: upgrades our immolation and, well, if we've ever needed more fire DR, that's it.
3. Paladins - Meep Meep
This is a build for a mass-shooting, shot on the run party.

Role: damage dealer and buffer

Order: any order goes.

Race: Wood Elf. You can also try Hearth Orlans but elves are the best at shooting.

Stats (The Living Lands bonus included):

M 19
C 10
D 10
P 19
I 16
R 3

You're a precise damage dealer. Loosing resolve hurts, of course, but it's not as crippling for the ranged fighter.

Weapon of Choice: War Bow. See, this build is for a mass shot on the run party and guns just don't work that well there. You have to stop and reload and that allows the monsters to get near to you. War bows are also nice for the high accuracy builds as it has the really strong criticals (more like, better effects at criticals) and, against a sworn enemy and under the focus, you will have 21 accuracy bonus. New perception helps too.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Lay on Hands.

2nd level: Fast Runner. That's the standard fare for all the classes in a shoot & run party (which is pally + 2 chanters + any number of shooty DDs, all with war bows; well, the wizard can also try out the rod, it's weaker than the wand/scepter but it's all about the uniformity of offense here).

3rd level: Zealous charge. Move speed is golden for mass-shooting parties as well as disengagement bonus and this provides both aplenty. Very strong in this setup.

4th level: Shot on the Run. Nice combo with the zealous charge - in the open space, nothing will catch you.

5th level: Sworn Enemy. We're sorta damage dealing build so why not go for one of the best damage dealing abilities?

6th level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer.

7th level: Reviving Exhortation. Too good to pass up.

8th level: Marksman.

9th level: Righteous Soul - you'd hate for this pally to become charmed or confused, hence the safeguard.

10th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack - lots of distant ways to apply Hobbled (and reasons to do so) so it shouldn't be that hard.

11th level: Hastening Exhortation. Attack speed means a lot for the shooters, especially at this stage of the game.

12th level: Bloody Slaughter - not that bad of an overall damage increase, especially on the PoTD where 25% of enemies health remaining is still a lot.

13th level: Sacred Immolation - even if it doesn't damage at all, it still heals. And, well, let's have it just in case something goes wrong.

14th level: Scion of Flame.

Note that this is a combo build, meaning that it really requires the presence of other elements to become truly efficient.
4. Barbarians - the Human Fireball
Role: 2nd line damage dealer

Race: anything offensive. I really like godlikes so you can start with the 20 intelligence - building that up is important for the barb. See, intelligence increases the area of our templates, but its description is a bit misleading. It doesn't increase the area directly – it increases the radius of your template. And actual area is calculated by the πr2 formula. The squaring means that if you increase radius by two times, the area increases by four. And the further you push the bonus, the better the gains are. So you really want the +2 Int amulet, the resting in Caed Nua +3 Int bonus and maybe even some Cassita Casserole for the tough battles. Barbs also love priests greatly – Crowns for the Faithful not only give the colossal defenses, but also +6 Intelligence. If you count all non-stacking bonus, you can have up to 31 Intelligence – that should give the actual 500% area increase. I want to hug the world! Or something like that.


Stats (Death Godlike, The Old Vailia bonus included): 

M 18
C 10
D 10
P 10
I 20
R 10

No more min-maxing as everything is just too important for the barbie. So we focus on two primary stats – Might to have good carnage & self-healing and Intelligence to have even better carnage and self-healing. High Int also helps our self-buffs and those are quite important for this build.

Weapon of Choice: Forgemaster's Gloves, buyable from knights of the crucible. Wait, you'll say, that's not a weapon – sure, but the greatsword Firebrand they allow you to summon totally is. And the Firebrand is insane – it has the basic damage of 29-44 (meaning that will get amplified even further by your might & talent/ability bonuses). And an extra 0.5 crit modifier – it's perfectly capable of producing 100+ damage crits later on. You can summon it thrice per rest and the duration is 30 seconds base – with your high int, that's 45 seconds minimum. And it works with the carnage, obviously, so each of your attacks becomes like a fireball. Better than fireball, actually. For those cases where the enemy is highly fire-resistant/immune (it does pure fire damage), keep a greatsword or pike sidearm handy.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Barbaric Yell, but at level 9 respec into Frenzy. Respecs really help out barbarian to progress through the game – at early levels, Frenzy just sucks. You see, it's really great when you cast it while being under no recovery penalty. But that means wearing no armor and in the early game that's rather suicidal. Only past level 9 or so you will have enough control and buffs to afford that. At the very same level Yell becomes obsolete – it's a very strong early game debuff, cutting down about 25% of enemy damage output, but later on you'll have much better sources of Terrify and that totally overrides Yell's Frighten.

2nd level: Two-Handed Fighting: barbarian totally adores damage bonuses because of how the Carnage works. It adds a 33% damage penalties to all secondary hits. That doesn't sound like much but, thanks to DR system, that may be the difference between your carnage doing some damage and no damage. So you want some early bonuses to negate that quickly.

3rd level: Savage Defiance. Despite looking extremely buff, barbarians are actually somewhat squishy and getting a huge amount of extra endurance (because that's what this ability is, pretty much) is quite welcome. Especially at this level where it almost doubles your endurance pool.

4th level: Weapon Focus: Greatsword. We're preparing for the incoming Firebrand, generally you can buy the gloves somewhere at level 5. We'll use some generic two-hander in the meantime. Or maybe a pike. Also, carnage attacks come with the -10 attack penalty and carnage grazes are really weak – the -33% penalty of the carnage adds up to the -50% of the graze, cutting almost all damage from your attack. So extra accuracy is also welcome.

5th level: One Stands Alone, at level 9 respec into Bloodlust. OSA is not even about occasional extra damage - ignoring flanked pretty much equals gaining 10 extra deflection and we're not against some extra longevity. Bloodlust got much better as now playing for the high attack speed is actually viable – drink the Alacrity potion, turn on the Frenzy, kill two guys (easy when you're hitting for 50 per hit) and now you have 100% attack speed bonus, 1 Firebrand swing per second. That won't last for long but which enemies will last as long? So OSA is great for the early game convenience and Bloodlust is your endgame tactic.

As for other options - Blooded seems nice, but once your barbarian gets focused it goes down rather quick so don't really expect to linger in that sweet under 50% endurance zone. Brute Force gives us a nice accuracy bonus against some foes (which is very important for our carnage hits) but not as many as you'd like to. It's a decent tool but you need to build your team around exploiting it – some decent sources of Weakened debuff are required (at the very least, Rotfinger gloves) and some other characters who'll profit from the lowered fortitude of your foes (druids, for example).

6th level: Scion of Flames: 20% more damage for your Firebrand carnage. Believe me, that's a lot.

7th level: Threatening Presence. I've come to like this one a lot. Doesn't look that much but reduces your enemies' damage output by 6-7% in total (in comparison, Thick-Skinned on the PoTD gives you about 5-10% extra survivability, depending on the stage of the game) and reduces their Will and Fortitude by 14, allowing for some nasty disable landings. Surely someone in your team will be able to appreciate this.

8th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack: more fuel for our flames.

9th level: Barbaric Shout: it's rather terrific (sic). Lots of enemy damage output lost, some extra reflexes too. Considering this barb build is a glass cannon (however deceptively beefy he looks), extra protection is always welcome. I guess if you have other great sources of Terrifying (pretty much Wizard) you can skip this one for the Vengeful Defeat. It's a nice consolation talent for when your barb gets overwhelmed and killed and, more importantly, it can be built around. Steal a Second chance cloak from the Eder - now you fall down twice, ergo twice the mass attacks. Get your pally friend to bail you out once more - 3x vengeful defeats. And additional resurrect - more and more mass attacks. Your foes are not likely to live for this long, however. It can be fun too. But shout is generally more reliable.

10th level: Bloody Slaughter – helps us to activate our bloodlust (we've respecced into it, mind you) and it's a nice damage dealing ability. Especially when you're hitting lots of targets so you're almost bound to vanquish some wounded ones.

11th level: One Stands Alone or Vengeful Defeat or Thick-Skinned. All are nice but not exactly game-breaking so choose whichever you fancy the most. Eye of the Storm is sorta meh – the barb has no real reason to run around the battlefield. Same goes for the Wild Sprint. You can also take Brute Force if you have those sources of Weakened – btw, it's great at killing the mages. Hardened Veil, +75 deflection, almost impossible to hit? Take a punch in the gut, buddy.

12th level: Accurate Carnage – as I've said, bad accuracy really hurts your carnage. We're a bit late with this but better late than never.

13rh level: One of the lvl 11 choices or Dragon Leap. It's cute but you gotta be really careful here – barb is frail so if you rush into the combat headlong, you're just getting insta-killed. So it's more for the later stages of combat, where the enemies are already settled on your frontline (as much as they do in 2.0) – it allows you to jump into their vulnerable backrows and to wipe them down immediately. So that's a nice tactical option, but not a mandatory one. Feel free to choose whatever you please.

14th level: Superior Deflection.
4. Barbarians - General Butt-Naked
This one has lost a bit of its flair in the update - now lots of people are actually eager to fight naked. Guess he can boast he was frontliner of this fashion, though.

Role: damage dealer and disabler.

Race: Hearth Orlan or Boreal Dwarf. You really want something that'll help your criticals.

Stats (Hearth Orlan, the Old Vailia bonus included): 

M 15
C 10
D 10
P 21
I 18
R 4

So this is a fast-DD + crit/stun build combo. Incredibly squishy and prone to interrupts itself in the close quarters but, despite his supposedly reckless nature, this guy actually prefers fighting safe so he'll abuse as much out of his reach as possible. The stat focus is on perception so we'll have as much crits as humanely possible – previously, this build was about interrupts but, well, why do that when you can stun?

Weapon of Choice: the Tall Grass pike. Enhance it with the Durgan Steel and it becomes just ungodly. Mega-speed, lots of crits, great damage, good prone accuracy. All in the area of effect - you can totally Carnage with reach weapons. Ranged are no-no, reach are ok. And, well, fighting actually naked is probably a bit too much for the early game – go for the Robes and Padded Armors instead. Angio's Gambeson is pretty cool with this build. Later, however, you will want to have 0% of basic recovery penalty.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Frenzy. We take it from the start as we can get the Tall Grass as early as level 5. And that performs even better while having a humongous attack speed.

2nd level: Weapon Focus: Soldier. +6 accuracy is incredibly helpful at the start of the game. Well, at each point of the game but it's especially noticeable here.

3rd level: Savage Defiance – it's not a panacea but it's better that no protection at all. Might buy you a couple of seconds needed to send the enemy on the ground.

4th level: Two-Handed Fighting: we're interested in both disabling and damage dealing.

5th level: Brute Force: whereas this was an option for the previous build, here it is a must. We'll have to focus our party on reducing their Fortitude as that's what protects them from our Tall Grass prone hits. An as the constant Sickened + Weakened combo becomes mandatory (reminder: Rotfinger gloves are really good), so does this.

6th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack: more of the easy to claim damage.

7th level: Threatening Presence. Our aura radius is big enough to hit foes which we can reach with our pike. So we can debuff them from relative safety – nifty.

8th level: Accurate Carnage – even better for us as we really need that accuracy.

9th level: Barbaric Shout. He really doesn't want to be in the midst of the foes, he's more of a flanker so the Vengeful Defeat is somewhat pointless. And while he's good at dealing damage, he's probably not good enough to fuel the Bloodlust constantly.

10th level: Interrupting blows – even if you don't stun them, you can still interrupt them for 0.75 seconds. After the Durgan steel treatment of your Tall Grass, you will be able to hit once in every two seconds under the Frenzy. Add the Alacrity potion into the mix and it's once every 1.3 seconds. 0.75 interrupt becomes very noticeable under such conditions.

11th level: Wild Sprint: ok, since most of the defensive options are useless for us (low resolve doesn't allow us to stay & endure), here we can try to run out of the dangerous situations.

12th level: Bloody Slaughter.

13th level: Dragon Leap. But here it's more of another escape mechanism than anything else.

14th level: Fast Runner or Powerful Sprint. We're out of offensive options (barbaric blow is not that great as we rely on lots of speedy common attacks, not on some occasional specials) so let's upgrade our escape mechanism. Fast Runner gives a constant mobility bonus, Powerful Sprint is better when you're in a dire pinch – all in all, they're equal.
4. Barbarians - Active Defense System
Role: tank/debuffer/disabler

Race: Hearth Orlan. Previously, he was optional – for this build, he's absolutely mandatory. The only valid alternative is the Boreal Dwarf - he'll shine against his racial foes but will be somewhat weaker against everyone else. Dwarf's stats are also not as convenient here.

Stats (Hearth Orlan, the White That Wends bonus included): 

M 2
C 17
D 3
P 21
I 18
R 17

The stats are the classical pre-addon tanking distribution. The only difference is that, because of perception now giving accuracy, they lost any sense for the majority of tanks. Not for this barb, though – he still manages to put them to good use. The mental stats maxed also make him a great party leader (which now is more of a rarity).

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet & Shield early on, then Spear of the Vile Loner, then Starcaller flail. Spear is more of a temporary weapon – it allows us to be useful by giving some extra debuffs (-5 defenses to everyone who's in the carnage zone) and interrupts. Sure, we'll swing rather slowly with our bad dex, once in 4 seconds or so, but its 1 second interrupt time still makes its worth it. It's almost a mini-stun.

The Starcaller benefit is that it can stun your foes on a critical hit and, well, the stun is a very good disable and it lasts for quite a while – 4 seconds. Starcaller is also a fast weapon so, even with our bad dex, we'll attack once in 2.5 seconds. That's without armor, of course – like many other builds, we'll fight in the full plate initially but later on we'll go for the 0% recovery penalty (that'll happen around the same time the Starcaller will become available for sale). So, since we'll attack a lot of foes, our chances to stun at least someone are pretty good. That's why the hearth orlan is indispensable – you want as much hit to crit conversion as you can get. Durgan steel upgrade, potion of merciless gaze, paladin's upgraded zealous aura, priest's Dire Blessing – those are your friends here. Accuracy buffs and deflection debuffs will work rather nicely too, that's why Boreal Dwarf can work. +15 accuracy is no joke crit-wise.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Barbaric Yell. Quite an obvious choice for an accurate 2 might tank. But, once again, at level 9 you respec into Frenzy – we want to hit real fast with our Starcaller.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield style: hard to tank without deflection. We have great amount of endurance but crappy defenses – gotta fix that ASAP.

3rd level: Savage Defiance. Sure, it works half as good as it does for your ordinary barbarian, but that's in terms of the pure endurance. Considering we'll have about twice as much deflection than your ordinary barbarian (and so we also take twice less damage), the survivability increase will be roughly the same. And it's an excellent increase in the early game.

4th level: Stalwart Defiance – said increase is going to get even bigger than this. +10 to all defenses is a lot. Almost negates the initial barbarian frailty. Also, combats got a bit faster in the 2.0, so 20 seconds of duration mean more than they previously did.

5th level: One Stands Alone – so it's more or less another 10 deflection for us and, as a tank, we want to have as much of that as possible.

6th level: Superior Deflection: we don't want to go for the Cautious Attack as we relatively care about our attack speed. Meaning that it's already as low as it can get and we can't afford to bring it down any further.

7th level: Threatening Presence. Even for the pure tank it's better than the Thick-Skinned.

8th level: Accurate Carnage – more attacks landing will mean more potential criticals.

9th level: Barbaric Shout. You also respec into Frenzy at this point – Starcaller should become available rather soon.

10th level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer – more Starcaller crits, you know. Yeah, we're a strange tank, even though we're really defensive, we gain a lot from our attacks. But then, considering the main feature of the barbarian is the carnage, that's only logical, no?

11th level: Brute Force – put some Weakened+Sickened combo on them, hit them better, stun them harder.

12th level: Quite an empty level for us. Well, Interrupting Blows, Gallant's Aura (if you have no palading), Snake's Reflexes etc – these all can be useful. Take whichever you fancy the most.

13th level: Thick-Skinned: better than nothing. Everything else doesn't do anything for this build.

14th level: same as 12th.
5. Chanters - short intro
One important thing to understand about a chanter is that he focuses on either phrases or invocations. Sure, you gain both as you level up but see, to cast invocation you must first pronounce enough phrases. From three to five, depending on invocation's level. And the higher the phrase is, the longer it lasts. 1st level is 4 seconds, 2nd level is 6, 3rd is 8. And you start a new phrase only after finishing the previous one.

That means that if you want to cast 3rd level invocation with 3rd level phrases, you'll need to wait 40 seconds. Using 1st level phrases is only 20 seconds, on the other hand. But, obviously, high level phrases provide more benefit than the low level ones. That's why you'll have to focus on one of the aspects and that's the main difference between the two primary builds.
5. Chanters - 80s shred
Role: second-line damage dealer and buffer/disabler.

Race: anything goes.

In terms of stats, there are two branches here. This archetype is a damage dealer but it doesn't really need to do anything physical to deal said damage. Still, you can either focus on better defenses or on some physical prowess. Both are fine.

Defensive stats (Human, the Living Lands bonus included):

M 20
C 10
D 3
P 17
I 18
R 10

Offensive stats (Human, the Living Lands bonus included):

M 19
C 10
D 10
P 17
I 18
R 4

So in first case you sit behind your shield and burn them with your auras, in second one you grab a pike and poke them occasionally.

All in all, this chanter variant focuses on phrases and thus it needs lots of might. It doesn't really need to attack physically, though, hence is the minimized dex in the first (and probably optimal) build.

Weapon of Choice: shield & hatchet or quarterstaff or blunderbuss.

Talents, ability and spell choices:

1st level: Come, Come Soft Winds of Death – irreplaceable in the early game, really. Your primary damage dealing tool until you get better phrases. Doesn't look (sound?) like much but burns a lot of their endurance away. Don't leave home without this one.

Dull the Edge, Blunt the Point – better than it looks. Let's say that we have 5 damage resistance and they deal 10 damage to us normally. That's 5 damage per hit. Under this debuff, they start dealing only 9 damage and, after DR reduction, it becomes only 4 damage. And 5 to 4 is a 20% damage reduction, not just 10.

But Reny Daret's Ghost, He Would not Rest – a rather handy summon. He's not brawny so don't throw him into the midst of combat, but his damage against early game foes is pretty good and he has sneak attack – flank with him. But his biggest boon is that each strikes of his can stun your foe for 4 seconds - considering that he attacks rather fast, he can absolutely perma-stun some foes. Naughty.


2nd level: The Thunder Rolled Like Waves on Black Seas – it's not about damage, it's about 7,3 seconds stun (that you can repeat every 12 seconds). For an early game disable, that's colossal. Even later on it's still solid.

Weapon and Shield style or Weapon Focus — you don't really want to hold any aggro but hey, who will ask you? That's for defensive build. And offensive one will want to build up its power, of course.



3rd level: Blessed Was Wengridh, Quickest of His tribe – that's mostly for the future. At early levels, you want to repeat Come, Come ad nauseam, maybe mixing it with Dull on POTD. Wengridh will shine later on, when you'll need some extra reflexes.

On the other hand, if you have some good interrupters in your party, take Thick Grew Their Tongues, Stumbling O'er Words: -10 Concentration is a huge boon to them. It got even more important in 2.0 where Perception has become a really frequent damage dealing stat.

4th level: And Hel-Hyraf Crashed Upon The Shield – provides a lot of extra damage to the rest of your party, especially to the barbarians and dual-wielders. Or to any spell effect with multiple damage instances, really.

Cautious Attack or Two-Handed Style or Vulnerable Attack.

5th level: Rime and Frost Followed the Footfalls of Karth – excellent stuff. Allows us to basically solo certain encounters. You just run away from your foe, leaving a deadly trail. Enemy chases you foolishly and gets all blown up. What's not to like? Even in proper combat it's not hard to use – it's just a constant frost damage to your foes.

6th level: At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff – huge AoE, paralyze for 11.6 seconds. Affects only foes – no worries about catching your comrades (that's a huge plus of all chanter's disables, btw).

On the PoTD, go for the My Son, Do you See your Sisters across the Moor instead – you really need summons here and can't afford to go greedy. And wisps are pretty nifty – sure, they don't deal lots of damage but place them safely and they'll sow a some confusion into enemy ranks.


Secrets of Rime for all three branches - let's do more damage with our infinite path of frost.

7th level: Lo, their Endless Host, the Harbingers Doom – not nearly as good as Rime and Frost but it's mostly against the foes who don't care about frost or cannot be kited.

Alternatively, if you have a couple of gunners/archers in your party, Sure-Handed Ha Nocked Her Arrows with Speed will be pretty good so take it instead. It's a decent boon to the gunners and archers and one of the highlights of a mass shooting party. We'll discuss that a bit later.

8th level: Shatter their Shackles, Cast off their Chains – on hard, I don't like 2nd level summons as they will become redundant after a while so I'd rather take this mega-utility spell. It won't be useful in each combat, but when it's good it's very good. On PoTD, you take this or At The Sound of His Voice here. The choice is more or less even.

Scion of Flames – just to make our next choice significantly more powerful.

9th level: The Dragon Thrashed, The Dragon Wailed – that's why 80s shred, because we shred and burn our foes to death. Should've used the thrash metal allusion, though, it's a better joke, no? Anyhow, 70 burn and 70 slash damage every 13 seconds, what's more to ask here? Now, you don't want to be chanting it constantly, you want to interrupt it with a level 1 or 2 chant (the lingering effect makes that ok), but that's still a lot of damage being dealt.

10th level: Oh, But Knock Not on the Door of Urdel and Gurdel
– drake one is nice, but this is just better. Lots of tanking, huge damage potential. Note that 3rd level spells take 34-36 seconds to charge up (on the average) so don't plan on using them too often – you won't.

Superior Deflection or Apprentice's Sneak Attack or Marksman.

11th level: Seven Men, Onto The Deck They Went – sideboard option, I guess. Thing is, The Dragon is so good that you never ever chant anything else.

12th level: Rise Again, Rise Again, Scions of Adon or Seven Nights She Waited While the White Winds Wept– Rise can be quite a get out of jail free card. You can even plan your battle around it – run around while your party is getting killed, resurrect it (the AoE is big enough for that), run around some more, resurrect it again... No rest for the wicked. Seven Nights, on the other hand, already benefits from your secrets of rime and it's beauty is that if you place the template from a close range, you tottally hit the enemy with two shards at once. Big, fat targets can even get 3-4. That's a solid amount of damage.

Snake's Reflexes etc. or Superior Deflection or Gunner.

13th level: They Shielded Their Eyes 'Gainst the Fampyr's Gaze: chanter's 4th chants are really disappointing. They disrupt your invocation frequency even further and what for? I mean this one is +40 protection against mind control so it's fine as a plan B. But Her Courage Thick as Steel? 30 extra hit points every 10 seconds? Yuck. Would've been good at level 5, but at 13 it's pretty unnoticeable. And lifedraion of Old Siec Would Not Rest is quite the same – would've been cool earlier on, but now it's just not viable. Just stick to the Dragon Thrashed – it's better than all of these.

14th level: What Rou Naka Found Down the Deep for defensive and blunderbuss, Their Champion Braved The Horde Alone for staff wielder: at least 4th invocations are decent. Well, So Singt is the utter trash – it costs 6 phrases and is actually weaker that the Seven Nights. These two are fine, though – either summon a spore that will utterly dominate your foes (quite literally – it throws the Dominate spits around; it's also quite sturdy) or become a mega-melee fighter with great attack speed (works best with Llawran's Stick – enchant it with Durgan's Steel and, unarmored, you will have 180% attack speed this way; suddenly, you're quite a melee damage dealer).

Snake's Reflexes etc. or Interrupting Blows or Apprentice's Sneak Attack.
5. Chanters - Hard Rock
Role: tank and buffer/disabler.

Race: Moon Godlike or Pale Elf.

Stats (Pale Elf, the Aedyr bonus included):

M 3
C 18
D 4
P 17
I 18
R 18

This chanter variant focuses on invocations and thus has no use for might. As well as the offensive chanter, it also skips dex so it can easily focus on being an ultimate tank. While Per no longer gives us deflection, it makes our disables more accurate and that also works to protect us rather nicely.

Weapon of Choice: hatchet & shield.

Talents, ability and spell choices:

1st level: Come, Come Soft Winds of Death – even despite the low might, it's still rather efficient early on. Hence, in early game you're both tank and an ok damage dealer – sweet deal. Later on it will become useless so you'll probably respec into something save-giving.

Dull the Edge, Blunt the Point – kinda no-brainer for the tanky character.

But Reny Daret's Ghost, He Would not Rest – as good as it usually is.

2nd level: The Thunder Rolled Like Waves on Black Seas – your damage with it is crap, but who cares? The 7,3 seconds stun doesn't go anywhere. That's the point here.

Weapon and Shield Style – it needs to be said that Hold the Line was really good previously, but now the AI became somewhat smarter so it's not as efficient as it was. Hence, all the tanks just start with ramping up their deflection ASAP.

3rd level: At the Sight of their Comrades, their Hearts Grew Bold – for the times when you are assailed by those fortitude and will targeting spells.

Taking Thick Grew Their Tongues, Stumbling O'er Words if you have interrupters is still an option.

4th level: And Hel-Hyraf Crashed Upon The Shield – you can also consider Not Felled by the Axe, Not Broken by the Storm here. Won't cast it often but it's a decent utility option.

Cautious Attack.

5th level: Lo, Their Endless Host, the Harbingers Doom - -10 accuracy from the frightened helps you tank and makes your entire party more or less sturdy. TBH, though, that is not that strong of an option so you may just stick to your 1st level phrases – Come, Come is probably already outdated so stick to the Dull the Edge. Or, if you have enough gunners and shooters, the option of Sure-Handed Ha Nocked Her Arrows with Speed is great.

6th level: At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff – every 16 seconds this build will paralyze his foes for 11.6 seconds. At least it will have a chance to do that. An obvious choice.

Superior Deflection.

7th level: One Dozen Stood Against The Power of the Saint – won't use it frequently but there is a couple of pesky battles where you are constantly terrified. Might help you there. Can also take a level 1 invocation there, just to increase your flexibility. After all, you want to paralyze your foes frequently, you stick to the short phrases.

Or, if you have enough gunners and shooters, the option of Sure-Handed Ha Nocked Her Arrows with Speed is great to support them.

8th level: Shatter their Shackles, Cast off their Chains.

Bear's Fortitude.

9th level: Aefyllath Myth Fyr – It works as an extra lash, thus increasing their damage output by 25% (against the monsters who aren't fire immune, of course). So it gives some serious damage to your group and it couldn't care less about your might. Now we have a tough choice – do we stick to short invocations and cast often or do we take this and boost our fighters? Depends on this numbers, I guess – the more physical damage dealers we have, the biggest incentive is. Well, you can always test out both modes and decide which one you like the most. We'll still want to weave this with the 1st level chants (with 1st level chants going first) so we are casting more or less frequently.

10th level: The Bride Caught their Ruse and Set to Make them Pay – I like it better than the bridesman. 5 dexterity and 5 perception is an insane damage multiplying option and 5 intelligence is a rare yet very useful buff. On PoTD, it's ogres, though - summons are crucial there.

Bull's Will – let's work on our saves.

11th level: Seven Men, Onto the Deck They Went or The Silver Knights' Shields Broke Both Arrow and Blade – Dragon is useless because of our low might but that doesn't matter. Once again, we plan on spamming 1st level phrases weaved with the Aefyllath, not on using these ones. We'll take one of them just in case but they're quite pointless for us.

12th level: Oh, But Knock Not on the Door of Urdel and Gurdel - Rise again is not that great with the low might. Summons are pretty useful, on the other hand. On PoTD, you've already taken them so you get the Bride here.

Mental Fortress.

13th level: They Shielded Their Eyes 'Gainst the Fampyr's Gaze: everything here sucks as usual.

14th level: What Rou Naka Found Down the Deep – other options are useless with the low might.

Body Control.
5. Chanters - Speed Metal
(last time I checked it, arrows were metallic and pretty fast)

Role: third-line damage dealer and buffer.

Race: Wood Elf.

Stats (with the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 18
C 10
D 18
P 10
I 19
R 3

The Sure-Handed Ha phrase is pretty decent and so the ranged build around it is quite predictable. Note that you build your entire party around this idea – 2 x rangers, shooting paladin with zealous charge, such chanter, a wizard and a druid. Some control & lots of shooty death & some serious shooting & running potential.

Weapon of Choice: eventually, anything ranged without reloads - you play from the speed & running.

Talents, ability and spell choices:

1st level: At the Sight of their Comrades, their Hearts Grew Bold – however good Come, Come is, ranged chanter just does not want to stay close enough to his foes to use it. So let's take the defensive phrase for the future.

Blessed Was Wengridh, Quickest of His tribe – coupled with zealous charge of the paladin, can make for some nice shoot & run tactics.

But Reny Daret's Ghost, He Would not Rest – still a decent summon. Gotta have some early game tools, right?

2nd level: White Worms Writhed in the Bellies of the Dead – the range is huge (a definite plus for us) and it can be rather devastating in early game combats.

Fast Runner – this party loves to have some mobility and the ability to lure the monsters away (while the rest of the squad shoots at them). So fast movement speed is a must.

3rd level: Dull the Edge, Blunt the Point – all the remaining phrases need to be aimed at foes (whom you want to avoid) and thus not very useful. So it doesn't matter what you pick here.

4th level: The Thunder Rolled Like Waves on Black Seas – should anyone get close to your gunner stack, they'll definitely regret that.

Shot on the Run – I'd call this a run n' gun party setup but guns are horrible here, unfortunately. Reload time just doesn't work well with this stuff - it's too long and anyone catches up to us. That's why we need to use either bows or implements. The chanter himself won't do any major damage so he's more about weapons with some side effect - like the Elawen Ein (-5 to victim's accuracy on the hit) or Cgadob's Hazel (+10 to all allies shooting at the same target).

5th level: Sure-Handed Ha Nocked Her Arrows with Speed – the raison d'etre of this build.

6th level: At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff.

Marksman – you probably won't find your weapons of choice yet so this is a more universal one.

7th level: Rime and Frost Followed the Footfalls of Karth – considering that this party composition is build around kiting, why not take the tool which amplifies that aspect greatly?

8th level: Shatter their Shackles, Cast off their Chains – +25 defense against disengaging looks especially sweet for us.

Weapon Focus. Probably Adventurer.

9th level: Aefyllath Ues Myth Fyr – 25% extra damage to our shots is not a bad deal at all. Pretty much a no-brainer.

10th level: Oh, But Knock Not on the Door of Urdel and Gurdel – you'll throw you summons to slow down and distract your foes and ogre duo is better at this.

Scion of Flame - improves both of our 3rd level phrases.

11th level: The Dragon Thrashed, The Dragon Wailed – not our main plan, but why not?


12th level: Seven Nights She Waited While the White Winds Wept – with your running speed, it shouldn't be too hard to get in close and finish them up with one potent blast.

Secrets of Rime - to make said blast truly potent.

13th level: They Shielded Their Eyes 'Gainst the Fampyr's Gaze.

14th level: Their Champion Braved The Horde Alone – combined with Sure-Handed Ha, that's 60% bonus speed alone. Add the Durgan Steel enhancement and the druid's Nature's Bounty and we're already at 100%. Yay to the triple damage output!

Apprentice's Sneak Attack.
6. Cipher - no ciphers included
Unlike other characters, Cipher is a very narrow class (in terms of builds - in gameplay, he's one of the most flexible ones). He needs both great physical damage and high Intelligence so his stats are pretty much set in stone. And, as he needs to attack his foes but is incredibly squishy, he should stick to the ranged combat – melee is way too risky. Especially as the Cipher has huge incentive to fight unarmored – extra attacks that way, plenty of focus generated, much more powers used.

Note that his soul whip's Focus restoration is tied to the damage you deal. 25% of it in the basic state, 33% with the draining whip upgrade. So it doesn't matter whether you use fast or slow weapons as long as you deal good damage. There are some cipher drugs to change that - Carow Golan & Blacsonn give you extra focus for each hit you make, giving an incentive to go for a blunderbuss as your primary tool (which was a common thing in the pre 1.05 times). And without them, Pistol or War Bow have the best DPS (depending on whether we go for armored/unarmored build) and thus the best focus drain available.

Role: third-line damage dealer, disabler & buffer

Race: Wood Elf.

Stats (with The White That Wends bonus included):

M 17
C 10
D 10
P 20
I 18
R 3

You need great might & perception to deal your physical damage, thus regaining focus, and your powers are useless without int. We prioritize Per over Dex as that gives lots of accuracy to our controlling powers.

Weapon of Choice: Blunderbuss, then War Bow.

Note that generally skills are like whatever, but cipher really benefits from the Stealth with the addition of the individual stealth mode

Talents, ability and power choices:

1st level: Antipathetic Field – this power creates a thick line between you and target foe which will exist for 6 seconds. You're tied by it and as either of you moves, the line moves as well. Every second, the line deals damage to everyone caught under it, either friend or foe. The original target is unaffected, though. Anyways, that's 6 instances of 17.5 corrupt damage on average – that's almost one hundred damage! From a first level spell! Yeah, you'll need to micro your cipher properly to avoid harming your party (putting an anti-corrosion enchantment on your frontliners armors may also be helpful; or just make some 18 Dex 18 Per ones so you'll never hit them), but it's definitely a great choice.

Mind Wave – the AoE shape of this spell is a bit strange but it's so huge that it hardly matters. A lot of foes will go prone for 4.4 seconds – what more could you ask from a first level disable? It's also a fast cast so it allows you to burn through the spare focus in easier fights.

2nd level: Soul Shock – it's not anything fancy but it's much easier to use than the Field. So, when you're too tired to micro or can't afford to maneuver, you go for this one.

Talent: Biting Whip – makes us deal 20% more damage with our weapon. That's a lot of extra damage and we seriously need that. Note that this gives you 40% damage bonus in total – that's a crazy amount. Cipher is not only a potent caster, he's a great physical dd as well.

Powers we skip:

Whisper of Treason – isn't really usable with the 3 Resolve. Long casting time is way too easily interrupted. And it alone isn't worth sacrificing our Perception, tbh.

Tenuous Grasp – too small of an effect.

Eyestrike – I'd rather make them prone for 4.4 with Mind Wave, tbh. And you'll probably have better sources of Blind in your party.

3rd level: Mental Binding – crazy disable, decent duration, good area of effect. What's not to like? Even after the nerf, it's still the best level 2 power. The best thing is that being stuck gives enemies -20 deflection and paralyze is a whopping -40 so our cipher can hit them easily, regaining his focus back.

Amplified Thrust – the rest of the powers on this level are rather meh. The damage here so-so but the silver lining is the fast casting speed. With us no longer being able to afford 18 dexterity, fast casting speed became more valuable – they give you some extra options when you need to act swiftly.

4th level: Psychovampiric Shield or Phantom Foes or Recall Agony. Psychovampiric drains 30 Concentration and 20 Will from your target so it is great if you have strong interrupters and/or plan to use further will-targeting attacks at the victim. Phantom Foes is decent for the mass-ranged parties as they can't really flank foes so they don't gain the bonus naturally (not that often, at least). Recall Agony is a decent focusing tool. Have some kind of a boss that is very tanky and hard to bring down? This spell will help you a lot. You won't use this often but where it's needed it's great. So you make the choice here depending on your party composition.

Talent: Penetrating Shot – early on we're using the Blunderbuss and this is the key to unlocking its full potential.

Powers we skip:

Mind Blades – was nerfed into oblivion. Besides, if you position yourself properly, antipathetic field does much more damage.


5th level: Ectopsychic Echo – an antipathetic field 2.0, only this time you tie it to your ally. However, it does more damage per ticks and it last longer, making, like, 10 ticks in total. Yeah, the damage it does is ridiculous, especially against lightly armored targets. But even the heavies will suffer a lot. Sure, you need to position your party and to micro it properly, but the damage output is absolutely worth the effort. That's the stealth justification right here, btw – really helps you to get into the right spot for it.

Pain Link – The beauty of Pain Link is that you can cast it pre-combat, essentially using no time and focus. And its AoE is huge and deals raw damage. So your party member loses 200 endurance, everyone around are dealt 50 raw damage. Now, that's not as impressive, but what if he loses 400 endurance? Of course, you need a character who can survive such amount of punishment, but with a priest and healing potions and moon godlikes that's not that difficult to achieve. And best part is that it's essentially for free. Even if it's just an extra “fireball”, that's still good.

6th level:


The problem with powers here is that all of the remaining ones are either very specific or very mediocre. So you can pick anything and everything, really.

Soul Ignition – sounds nice but the damage is dealt in portions and each is reduced by enemy's DR. So actual damage is much smaller than it's written. Very much smaller.

Puppet Master – the problem is that it is actually equal to the Whisper of Treason. Yeah, on practice, the domination is almost equal to charmed. Only Whisper costs less focus and has larger range.

Secret Horrors – very nice disabling area and duration, but the effect itself is mediocre and, if you have a barbarian, even redundant.

Fractured Volition – gives -24 to all non-deflection protections and makes your target so slow it crawls but I'm not sure its worth 20 focus. To bring down strong targets, there are better choices and it's obviously useless against crowds.

Talent: Draining Whip – it got nerfed severely but still, we need all the focus we can get.

7th level: Pain Block – your tank will love this. 10 extra damage reduction and 80 endurance restored over a large amount of time (so you can cast it even when he's healthy and still gain decent healing out of it). That's gonna make one tough nut to crack.

Mind Lance – pretty much the rendition of the classical dnd lightning bolt spell, just dealing piercing damage. It's not that fancy, tbh, and doesn't truly compare to Ectopsychic Echo, yet rest is worse. And, well, at least this one is fast.
6. Cipher - continuation
8th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian.

Body Attunement – probably the best one remaining. Fast cast speed is always remaining. It can theoretically bail us out of trouble and it helps us to focus down some targets. Not really that useful but rest is worse.

Wild Leech – too expensive and unpredictable, thus unreliable.

Silent Scream – just way too mediocre at anything it does. Focus is better spent elsewhere.

So these three are all meh – choose whichever.

9th level: Ringleader – make one half of their party fight the other one. What can go wrong? Did I mentioned that the cipher really benefits from the stealth skill so you can open your combat with this? One of his best powers. Your resolve sucks, of course, but there are Potions of Spirit Shields for such occasions. Priest's Holy Meditation may work too.

Tactical Meld. Both it and Borrowed Instinct are good and enable you to do great amounts of damage. The difference is that Instinct gives better benefit (while also taking 32 will away from its victim – that asks for an obvious follow-up) but it can miss so it's not reliable. Whereas Meld is more limited in what it allows you to do but is 100% reliable. So is it a tie? No, because the real difference is that you can cast Meld pre-battle. Yeah, it's one of the only pre-buffs in the game – that makes it an unquestionable choice.

10th level: Borrowed Instinct – that still finds its way into your build, though. Simply because Detonate is horrible and there's nothing else here.

Marksman.

11th level: Amplified Wave – Mind Wave on steroids. Hits an entire screen, longer prone duration, better damage to all enemies. The cost is steep, of course, but it's worth it. Very convenient to mop up weaker enemies too.

Mind Plague – the projectile here could've jumped a bit faster, it's a bit sluggish to affect all its targets but otherwise, a sturdy disabling spell. Excellent for the tough fights.

12th level: Disintegration – looks cooler than it is. It's supposed to kill bosses but, because of the slow casting time, it's really hard to put it on them. So you won't use it often (or even at all). But, well, no other options here.

Gunner.

13th level: Time Parasite: this is the level we suddenly drop our blunderbuss and respec into the bow. See, after this spell, getting to the 100% attack speed becomes trivial. And while that does almost nothing for the blunderbuss (stupid reload times), it triples the damage output of the Bow. Not something that the blunderbuss can match.

The talents will be: draining whip, biting whip, marksman, weapon focus, apprentice's sneak attack, greater focus – the latter is good because it allows us to start our fight with this one..

14th level: Stasis Shell: it's a horrible power that we'll never use. We'd rather cast mental binding almost thrice. We take it only because we have to take something.

Superior Deflection – we've run out of offensive talents so just a tiny bit of protection.
6. Cipher - Zealot Fenix
I'm not that big of a fan of melee ciphers, but that's not because they're weak – it's just that they are frail in melee and thus have to over rely on their Mental Binding. It's pretty much their entire life – cast mental binding, carve their target, cast some more, carve some more, repeat ad nauseam. And melee is not as good in terms of Antipathetic/Ectopsychic positioning as ranged is. Still, you can play them this way.

Role: second damage dealer, disabler & buffer

Race: anything offensive.

Stats (Boreal Dwarf, with the Living Lands bonus included): 

M 21
C 9
D 10
P 10
I 18
R 10

Going min-maxey is not that great for melee cipher – while you plan on protecting yourself with the Binding, it's not exactly guaranteed and anything may happen in the process. So even stats give us extra chances in case of that. Also, extra resolve allows us to use charms efficiently and, as we already plan on being in close range anyways, why not abuse that to the fullest?

Weapon of Choice: duals – stilettos or sabres.

Talents, ability and power choices:

1st level: Antipathetic Field – not as great for us as it works best when you stay far from your foes, but too useful early on to pass up.

Whisper of Treason – charms are incredibly good. For 14 second, the most dangerous foe stops fighting you and tries to harm his team. And his team tries to harm him back in return. Note that the poor charmed fella will have 25 penalty to his Accuracy & protections – he won't be good at killing his ex-buddies but they will harm him extremely well. Keep that in mind when choosing the target. You can also attack it by pressing the A keyboard button, but that tends to break the charm.

2nd level: Mind Wave – cutting prone foes will also work when we're too low on Focus or time to cast binding.

Talent: Biting Whip – ranged or not, never ignore this one.

3rd level: Mental Binding – this one makes or breaks the build so we shouldn't leave the home without it. As I've said, this is our bread n' butter skill.

Psychovampiric Shield: our chances to get hurt are much higher than for the ranged build so potential extra deflection is nice. At least theoretically – practically it's usually binding anyways.

4th level:

Talent: Vulnerable Attack – gives crazy damage to the duals and that means excellent focus gain for us.

Amplified Thrust – just to burn through our focus reserves. Melee generates more focus than raged (that's the reward for all the risk) so more often than not you'll have more points that you will be able to use conventionally.

5th level: Ectopsychic Echo – not as perfect as it is for the ranged cipher. For example, you can't really cast it from stealth because then you're standing far away from the foe (that's the stealth plan) so you can't hit anyone to replenish some focus. Still, it will get occasionally useful.

Puppet Master – since we're going the close distance route, why not? I still prefer charm to it but this can be better against certain foes.

6th level: 

Pain Link – as usual, wins by the margin of being free.

Talent: Draining Whip – with all our fast casts, we can always use some extra focus.

7th level: Body Attunement – the DR gain here is much more important for you than for the ranged ciphers. Especially as the duals make it easy to wear plate armor without suffering much from it. Fast casting speed helps too.

Pain Block - but let's not get egoistic, healing others may also be useful.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian.

Mind Lance – extra ways of burning that spare focus.

9th level: Ringleader – since our resolve is decent (as decent as it gets under 2.0 when it became sorta global dump stat) and we're geared towards the frontline operations (and, hopefully, our party is geared around supporting us under such conditions), this one makes us significantly more powerful. The ability to use Ringleader nicely is probably the trump card of this build.

Tactical Meld – free stuff that leads to dealing more damage is always nice, right?

10th level: Borrowed Instinct – nice combo of buff and debuff, though with our basic perception it's not as reliable as we'd like it to be.

Two-Weapon Fighting.

11th level: Amplified Wave – great for us. We probably stop using the binding and use this, then hack on the prone targets to regain focus, then wave some more.

Mind Plague – still helps in the boss fights..

12th level: Disintegration.

Apprentice's Sneak Attack.

13th level: Time Parasite – not as useful for us as we need to first control the victim reliaby and only then we have the luxury to cast things like these. Very powerful when we do have the time for it.

14th level: Stasis Shell.

Greater Focus.
6. Cipher - Bizarro
Cipher without Int sounds rather baffling, I know. But there are some valid reasons for it. True, most of your powers get devastated by the lack of said stat. Most. Not all. And even though you like to have a plethora of powers, in practice, you generally use only a handful of choicest ones. So reducing your spell repertoire to just a couple of spells is not that harmful. It's what you actually do anyways. And, as a lucky coincidence (which makes this build viable) some of your craziest powers are intelligence non-reliant. Specifically, the Antipathetic/Ectopsychic duo. Int 3 or int 18, they act the same. Skipping int, however, allows you to invest heavily in the offensive stats, thus increasing your physical damage output greatly and giving you more focus to play with. To spam your powers, pretty much.

Role: second damage dealer

Race: anything offensive.

Stats (Wood Elf, with the Living Lands bonus included): 

M 19
C 9
D 19
P 19
I 3
R 9

Yeah, as much attack prowess as we can squeeze out of char generation. Sure, we're dumb as a payoff, but that's just a minor inconvenience.

Weapon of Choice: Blunderbuss – our main tools are the beam powers and they're much easier to use from the distance.

Talents, ability and power choices:

1st level: Antipathetic Field – wouldn't be smart to skip this one after all the sacrifices, right? And, obviously, we want to play smart. Just not in a very conventional sense.

Mind Wave – prone effect and area are demolished, but the fast casting speed and the damage remain the same. Can be useful to spam when we want to bring down some high-DR monster quickly.

2nd level: Soul Shock – radius is crap, but it still can damage 2-3 foes periodically. At least it's better than everything else that remains.

Talent: Biting Whip.

3rd level:

Amplified Thrust – not affected by Int at all and a fast cast to boot. Should we have some focus to spare (we will), that'll make a great spamming material.

Mind Blades – not affected by the intelligence at all. Too bad they were grotesquely nerfed in one of the patches. Still, against spread-around low-DR foes they can be useful at times.

4th level:

Talent: Penetrating Shot.

Any power you please – remaining ones are all ruined by low-int.


5th level: Ectopsychic Echo – now it's our time to shine as we will want to spam this one rather constantly. And, unlike with generic ciphers, we cast this one very quickly and with great precision. Our main tool until the end of the game (and it's good enough during the whole game).

Whatever power.

6th level: 

Whatever power.

Talent: Draining Whip – let's profit even further from our maxed offense.

7th level: Mind Lance – the length here is a bit shorter but generally it's the same. Another fast focus-burner.

Pain Block - it's not nearly as great, but still lasts long enough to allow one member of our party survive some heavy focus. Maybe not exactly allow, but at least help him do that – high-dexterity is good for applying this one quickly.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian.

Any power.

9th level: Detonate – hey, at least that's a nice amount of raw damage on the main target. Not that you'll ever cast it, though.

Tactical Meld – it's free so even 13 seconds are fine, right?

10th level: Any power.

Marksman.

11th level: Amplified Wave – even in the vastly reduced shape, it's still not that bad. Could've been better, ofc, but not that bad. Note that bizarro is an early and mid-game build – once level 11 hits, you really want to respec him into more, erm, respectable cipher. That's the best way to play him.

Mind Plague.

12th level: Disintegration.

Apprentice's Sneak Attack.

13th level: Time Parasite – another reason to respec is that Time Parasite usage by the average cipher pretty much negates our offensive advantage yet their powers are still much better than ours are. Time to get normal, I guess.

14th level: Stasis Shell.

Gunner.
7. Monks - short intro
Let's solve the main theological issue first - the unarmed question. Finally and after some serious buffs, the fists became a valid option. Your average monk DD build goes for them. Yay and rejoice! Plate armor is still required in the early game, though. And it's not all that easy - the fists have a curious power curve. They're really strong at the start of the game, dealing 1.5 as much damage as the other fast weapons. But in the mid-game (somewhere at level 7) they fall off a bit - mostly because potential weapon upgrades outrace the transcendent suffering upgrades. You can find Tidefall greatsword at this level, after all. But comes level 11 and they catch up, after which there's a sort of parity.

Sure, the level 13 transcendent suffering once again does 1.5 damage as much as the superb fast weapon. But said weapon has the ability to add a leash enchantment (1.25x overall damage increase - half of this difference already) and the durgan steel enhancement (the monk, unfortunately, can not dip his bare fists into the molten durgan steel to become Ferrus Manus). Durgan steel easily covers the second half of the gap – 15% attack speed Is 7.5% damage multiplication, and 20% hit to crit conversion and 0.3 crit bonus are extra 16% damage multiplication. So, when all multiplied, that gives 55% extra damage dealt. Not to mention any other effects the weapon may contain. On the other hand, fists will still have the higher basic damage and that provides better results when multiplied by the monk's main offensive skills – Swift Strikes, Turning Wheel, Torment's Reach. Combine them properly and that's a 125% modifier – that one really makes the high basic damage count.

So what's better? Really depends on your approach. For basic damage dealing purpose fists are the best. If you are using a critical-oriented party (with the Priest to cast Dire Blessing and the Paladin for the Critical Focus) then durgan-enhanced dual sabres (Resolution & Purgatory) are unparalleled. Finally, if you want to play from the high speed, Blade of the Endless Paths estoc or Sword of Daenisys rapier will be your best friends. As it's always when it comes to the high speed, duals are not as efficient as the other weapon styles.

Keep in mind that White March introduced some crushing-immune foes. So unarmed monk can try to pet them or hug them, but he can't quite attempt to kill them. Thus, even if you're absolutely fist-centric, keep a couple of spare bladed weapons handy.

Next important thing is that monks special abilities are fueled by wounds – you take 10 damage, you receive a wound. Mind you, they're temporary and their duration depends on your intelligence. So to be useful, they need to take damage but not so much that they're toast. So, depending on the battle, they may wish to go full-armored, lightly-armored or bare chested. You'll want to adjust them accordingly – no static answer to “what's the best armor for monks?” Unless they play from the ultra-high speed, of course.

Monks also benefit incredibly from the draining (i.e., vampiric) weapons. All melee combatants do, but monks benefit the most. You get more life – you can take more wounds – you're more useful. On PoTD, though, your drains are not half as good as they were so here the monks go moon godlike or rely on their party to feed them with endurance.
7. Monks - Akagi
Role: tank/damage dealer

Race: Moon Godlike.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 18
C 18
D 18
P 10
I 3
R 10

After the buff to the Constitution, it became a rather desirable stat for the monks – after all, endurance is like mana for them, the more of it they are able to burn (by going into the battle lightly-armored), the more damage they can incur on their foes. Multiplied on the Godlike's crazy regeneration, this makes him almost as good defensively as he is offensively. Might is unavoidable for the monks as they need to have a high basic damage to gain the most out of their natural damage amplification. And dexterity helps us to “cast” their stuff much faster – unfortunately, monks are a bit micro-intensive so you will have to spam a lot. There is the AI mode introduced, but it's still not as efficient as the manual control. At the very least, you'll have to do stuff personally in the toughest combats. Intelligence loss also doesn't hurt us that much – we don't have many dependent skills and fresh wounds aren't difficult to gain, especially on PoTD.

Weapon of Choice: fists. Btw, if you want to try out that sabre crit build, you do it almost the same - just swap Dex for Perception (perception is golden for crits) and change the weapon focus.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Torment's Reach – hence the name. Obscure references aside, this ability needs to be understood a bit. While it has an AoE,that's no longer important – you just don't have enough min-maxing powers now to make a monk who can both deal damage, sustain it and have a high Int. So ignore that stuff altogether. The main point here is that it provides 50% damage bonus to your full attack. As a lash mechanic – you attack, calculate damage and everything that remains after the damage reduction is multiplied by the lash amount, then added to the overall damage. And for the duals it's a double reach time – each swing gets this multiplier. Considering the power of your fists, you can easily trade 1 wound for the 20 or so extra damage done. And that's on the level one – the further, the better. The only downside is that spamming reach constantly may get annoying, as I've said, but at least the results will be truly satisfying.

2nd level: Apprentice's Sneak attack – because of this multiplication thing going on, we truly enjoy any bonuses to the physical damage we can muster. After all, once the reach is thrown out this 15% will become riichi ippatsu pinfu tsumo dora dora haneman 22.5%. And that's not even the limit.

3rd level: Turning Wheel – another set of multipliers for us, this time it's 5% for the wound. Since we are built with the absolute longevity in mind, having 10 wounds on us while remaining combat-worthy won't be that much of a trouble. It's our modus operandi, pretty much. We'll even be able to sustain more damage so we can both spam our reaches while keeping that maximum wound limit online. After all, a reach under 9 wounds is a 95% multiplier. Double damage, pretty much. And fist basic damage is pretty insane.

4th level: Vulnerable Attack – it's cool when it adds 5 damage per attack, but for us that's already gonna be from 5 to 10 damage. Which is even cooler, of course. And that's not even the end of the amplification.

5th level: Swift Strikes – the low Int supposedly ruins them, but that's not true. Instant cast speed allows to keep them online almost constantly, providing you don't mind extra micro. And, well, it's not only 12.5% of extra attacks for you...

6th level: Lightning Strikes – it's also another 25% multiplier. So, all added together, you can have up to 125% per strike. That's bound to cause some major pain.

7th level: Rooting Pain. Rooting Pain is a great damage dealing skill – we gain and spend wounds all the time so it procs really, really often. The small radius hurts, of course, but we always hang out in the depth of combat so we're bound to hit at least a pair of foes. It has one issue, though. Late game monsters deal solid amounts of damage to you, often causing multiple wounds at once. And this thing procs whenever you gain a wound, but it doesn't proc for each wound you gain. Meaning that if you gain 5 wounds instantly, it still procs only once. So while it activates rather frequently on level 7 and does good extra damage, the procs really dry out at level 11 or so. Giving you a good cause to respec it. But then, there are not any other solid choices that this build wants, tbh, so it's not exactly clear what to respec it for. I guess take whatever you fancy the most.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Peasant. The good spare weapons are the Hearth Harvest hatchet & the damage-oriented Cladhaliath combo.

9th level: Duality of Mortal Presence – our damage output is great and, well, we actually want to deal said damage instead of getting stunned or whatever. Especially since our Will save is a bit mediocre.

10th level: Two Weapon Style.

11th level: Crucible of Suffering. Iron Wheel sounds delicious, I know, but at the moment it's not stacking with the Turning Wheel. Either damage or DR is gained (and Turning Wheel seems to take the precedence). No idea if that's a bug or a feature, but that's how it is. Enervating Blows also sounds cool, but monk's fists don't cause much criticals, especially without any perception bonus. And, well, even with low duration crucible will still be online constantly as you're assaulted by the debuffs way too frequently. So that's more like a passive +10 bonus than the activated one. And defenses bonuses are always good.

12th level: Bull's Will: let's work on our saves even more.

13th level: The Dichotomous Soul: one of the best skills in the game. Gives you two very sturdy and damage dealing summons. And as you will gain wounds very swiftly in some of the tougher combats, it's not hard to activate at all. If your summons die, it shouldn't be even that hard to activate it once more. Depends on the difficulty, of course, but on the lower ones you just wear no armor on your monk so he still suffers some damage.

14th level: Scion of Flames: just turns that 50% from the Turning Wheel into 60%. That's not a lot but you've ran out of great choices at this point so it's the best that remains.
7. Monks - Some Like It Hot
Role: tank/damage dealer.

Race: Fire Godlike

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 18
C 18
D 10
P 18
I 4
R 10

Unfortunately, because of the min/maxing changes, the monk builds became somewhat more unified. So this one isn't that different from the previous one, it's just that it focuses on the speed-tactics and it's also a fire Godlike. I'm not sure if it's not a case of bug becoming a feature, but the godlike's Battle-Forged gets multiplied by both Turning Wheel and Lightning Strikes. So instead of 30 or so damage it can easily deal 50. These two factors are the reasons why we prioritize Per over Dex here - Dex does nothing for the Battle-Forged whereas Per helps it lands. And, well, once we begin to attack once every two seconds or so (for the monk, that's not hard), the 0.75 interrupt time of the estoc (our weapon of choice here) becomes an actual threat to our foes. Once we get into the 1.3 seconds attack time territory (that'll happen during tough fights under the potions), it gets even crazier, obviously.

Weapon of Choice: Estoc – Blade of the Endless Paths, ideally. Estoc are real nice for the monks for the same reason that Vulnerable Attack is – their bonus gets multiplied by all the good stuff we have.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Swift Strikes – getting that 125% amplification is total is pretty uniform for all the attacking monks and we're no exception.

2nd level: Lightning Strikes – let's get this bonus enabled even faster.

3rd level: Turning Wheel.

4th level: Two-Handed Style – we're aimed at gathering as much attack speed as possible so Vulnerable Attack harms us more than it helps. Instead, let's just get plenty of physical damage to get the most out of our amplification.

5th level: Torment's Reach.

6th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack.

7th level: Rooting Pain. For this build, this is a definite respec on the level 11 – you'll switch this for the Duality of Mortal Presence.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer.

9th level: Enervating Blows – we'll enhance our Blade with the durgan steel eventually, getting ourselves a nice 20% hit to crit conversion. Not to mention we have a real high accuracy. And an insane attack speed, so we will get them weakened frequently. And while it doesn't do too much for the monk itself, it's a great tool for the rest of the party - it reduces enemy's will and fortitude by a freaking lot and surely someone in your crew will be able to exploit the fact nicely.

10th level: Interrupting Blows: by this point, we're very likely to have the Blade in our hands and that's already quite a stable 60% bonus. Manage to find the Gloves of Swift Action and it's up to the 75%. You'll have to ditch your armor, of course, but why would you need armor when your foes fall in a matter of seconds? Them getting constantly interrupted also negates a big portion of this flaw.

11th level: Crucible of Suffering: attack speed aside, it's not like our Will suddenly got great.

12th level: Bull's Will.

13th level: Dichotomous Soul: note that the copies here are not your exact copies so even if you are an estoc master, they still will be fist-fighters. Doesn't make this ability bad, though.

14th level: Scion of Flames: even better for the Fire Godlike as it enhances the battle-forged too. You can even take it earlier if you wish to, probably at the level 10 – that's where the racial begins to truly count.
7. Monks - Captain America
Role: tank/damage dealer.

Race: Fire or Moon Godlike

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 18
C 18
D 10
P 10
I 4
R 18

The name stems from the fact that early on this character will fight in the traditional cap' style - shield and a fist. You'll betray that later, though, going for the rapier. You see, all attacking monks are DD/tanks now (it's the most comfortable way of playing them), but while the rest are more of DD than tank, this leans to the other side. Note that he's still not a pure tank - thanks to the attack speed bonuses finally getting to work and the addition of Durgan Steel and reworked Gloves of Swift Action into the game, sword & board style ceased to be the purely defensive one. The damage won't be as crazy as in the Akagi build, but it still will be quite considerable. And, at the very least, you will have 22 deflection and reflexes to compensate for that. Not to count the possibility of Durgan Steel Shield enhancement and the benefits it gives to you. And the final boon here is that, unlike for the other monk builds, you don't have any problems with mind control.

Weapon of Choice: Sword of Daenisys – that's a rapier, actually. Fast attack speed, +20% speed enhancement, 3 innate damage reduction. Superb weapon (you'll lack the enchantment slots to make it actually superb, though).

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Torment's Reach – here we'll delay swift strikes so we can get shield boost on level 2. For this build, btw, it's more of an early game choice – it's not that efficient with our weapon of choice. You can respec out of this by that point, but it's not like you'll have much better stuff to gain, though. Something like Long Stride or Soul Mirror, I guess (soul mirror's reflections are definitely in theme with the Captain America), but that won't change much.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield – want to get this early on as extra 6 deflection means a lot.

3rd level: Turning Wheel.

4th level: Vulnerable Attack – that's strange, right? We want to set our attack speed as high as possible, shouldn't we be avoiding such penalties at all the cost? All praise to the Vibranium Durgan steel shield (which we will eventualy have). It removes 15% from the weapon attack speed penalty, turning this into a measly 5%. And that is easily compensated by the huge 5 DR penetration it gives. So with Daenisys you'll have best of the two worlds – turb-attack speed and 8 DR ignored per hit.

5th level: Swift Strikes.

6th level: Lightning Strikes.

7th level: Rooting Pain, later respec into Duality of Mortal Presence.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Noble.

9th level: Enervating Blows – considering we'll attack once in 1 second (at least) with 20% hit to crit conversion, activating them is real easy.

10th level: Interrupting Blows: our maximum possible attack speed is 0.66 seconds. Even on rapiers, interrupt time is 0.35. So, in that condition, it will still count for a lot. If you find that unreliable, just go for the One-Handed Style – few know that, but it actually works with the weapon & shield combo.

11th level: Crucible of Suffering: extra saves will never hurt, though.

12th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack.

13th level: Dichotomous Soul.

14th level: Scion of Flames.
7. Monks - pr0n tank
Role: tank-disabler

Race: Hearth Orlan.

Stats (The White That Wends bonus included):

M 2
C 15
D 3
P 21
I 18
R 19

Times come and go, yet pr0n remains. Tells us something about the nature of humanity, doesn't it? On a serious note, the stats build here indeed remained the same – it just turned out that deflection giving Per was great for this char to amplify his tanking capabilities and accuracy giving Per does wonders for his disabling parts. Or is that him disabling the parts of the others? I though pr0n was supposed to, like, activate certain parts... Anyhow, this character is not really versatile by any means, but he is really good at tanking and he's great at keeping the foes down.


Weapon of Choice: any +5 accuracy fast (Measured Restraint is really good) & small shield early on, Aattuuk or Reghar Konnek later on. Both are fast one-handers with 10% hit to crit conversion, that's important. Aattuk also has +5 dagger accuracy bonus, always a boon for us. Konnek has a nice 20% speed enhancement which sorta compensates for our 3 Dex. With a priest in your party and some durgan steel to spare, you may even go for something like starcaller – or any other one-handed stunning/proning weapons.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Swift Strikes - with our low might Torment's Reach is useless anyways and this skill actually compensates for our slow attack speed rather nicely. It's not like we'll ever do any damage, but it's more about applying our disabling/debuffing effects with greater frequency.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield style: you might've noticed that previously we've took Hold the Line a lot and now we're ignoring it. That's because White March enemies are smarter and your tank will no longer hold their attention that easily. Even if he gets the engagement, foes will break it and rush towards your squishies anyway. Unless you make them prone, of course. But when they're prone, Hold the Line isn't really doing anything. So we go for the full defense earlier on.

3rd level: Force of Anguish. You see, both this and Turning Wheel are awesome. But they're also rather mutually exclusive. You either accumulate wounds or spend them, doing both is hard. Not to mention that with the new min-maxing offensive monk can't afford even a mediocre Int score. As a fully defensive tank, we can't do dps so we focus on the disabling aspect of a monk. While he has only two such abilities, he can spam Anguish for as long as he has wounds (and, as he stays on the frontline, that's a rather constant thing). And this is a miraculous disable – 14 second of enemy doing nothing. Even on a graze, that's still 7 seconds of downtime. And on a crit (we're orlan, we'll get some - that's why the racial choice) it's a whopping 21. Note that our melee attack is used here and that's why we want that +5 accuracy weapon (or 5+12 Measured Restraint)– to have a higher chance of it landing. Or critting, even. That's why we've chosen Hearth Orlan, btw – her ability can make her disables crit and that's a 21 second nap for the foe. 21 Per helps this too now.

4th level: Cautious Attack: not so pleasant with our 3 Dex, but we don't really want to swing fast – just average will do.

5th level: Stunning Blow – our secondary disable. We usually initiate with it as we've yet to earn wounds for the Anguish. For us it's even better than for offensive tank – 4.4 seconds duration is sweet. Note that while it's rather impactful in the hard and below, it falls apart in the PoTD - too much monsters, too good protection. So you'd rather take the Clarity of Agony here - Soul Mirror looks very tanky but it's rather bad. Enemy archers are not that omnipresent, they're not really bound to attack our tank (they choose squishier targets usually) and it works on the miss only (which, even with the high deflection, is not that common). And even then, it's only a half of your misses. And it has to be February 29th and there's gotta be blue moon in the sky. Well, maybe I'm lying about the latter two but you get the point.

6th level: Superior Deflection.

7th level: Duality of Mortal Presence: keep in mind that the +Deflection bonus here doesn't stack with the cautious attack so it's the constant +8 to magical defenses for us.

8th level: Weapon Focus: more accuracy means more hits/crits with our stuns. By this point, you've probably already found Aattuuk, but Reghar Konnek should still be out of reach. Well, you can always delay this until level 10.

9th level: Enervating Blows — and that's the reason of the Orlan race and weapon choices. More crits means more -28 Will and Fortitude penalties to our foes. And those, at the very least, allow us to crit with the Force of Anguish effect. But surely your party will find some way to exploit this.

10th level: Bull's Will or Lesser Wounds: lesser wounds are usually needed on lesser difficulties, where you become so defended that you stop being dealt that much damage. Don't forget that adjusting your armor is necessary for any monk and, even though you are a tank, you shouldn't stick to the plate armor too hard. On the PoTD, however, you'll take lots of damage anyways so it's no biggie. Instead, just go for some extra defenses.

11th level: Iron Wheel or Crucible of Suffering: since we don't take turning wheel, we can easily benefit from the Iron one. With the fully upgraded plate armor, that can be up to 30 DR. But that's mostly for PoTD and probably an overkill for everything else. If you feel like your deflection protects you enough, you can go for the Crucible instead – debuff/disables are always annoying and extra resistance is always welcome.

12th level: Bear's Fortitude.

13th level: Dichotomous Soul: one awesome side-effect of the copies being generic here is that suddenly and unexpectedly your tanky monk also becomes a nice damage dealer. So he can knock his victims down and his copies will easily finish them.

14th level: Body Control or Mental Fortress.
7. Monks - Call Down
(note: weatherproof tactics got seriously buffed in 2.0 Previously, high Dex/Per was a wonky stat pair, now it's one of the best ones in the game; also, weapon&shield can now deal some serious damage in the hands of primary weatherproof suspects, so you're not even losing any efficiency)

Role: tank / damage dealer

Race: Pale Elf or Moon Godlike

Stats (Pale Elf, the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 16
C 10
D 20
P 19
I 3
R 10

This is a combo build, meant for a very specific party setup. It's not that great of a tank, it's an ok damage dealer, though (praise the 2.0) and it has a rather lulzy use. This build starts with a whopping 58 reflexes. That's as high as it gets, pretty much. Also, thanks to the racial, it also has 10 fire and frost reduction. Wear something like a brigandine and that's 20 already. So what do you do, you take such monk and aggro some foes, gathering them around. Of course, ideally, you want more than one character doing that, but you get my point. Then, as the monsters are busy, your wizards and other casters start to unleash their potent AoE spells, the ones that are dealing frost & fire damage and targeting reflexes. First level Fan of Flames is a great example – it has an insane killing potential but is very hard to cast without touching your party. So you just make a party that doesn't mind getting touched. Of course, making your frontline out of only monks is somewhat boring, but you can make such builds with other classes too.

Weapon of Choice: good fast one-handers (Rapiers Mosquito and Sword of Daenisys, for example) & shield.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Torment's Reach. Here everything is as usual. We'll be spending our first couple of levels with our fist, btw, so this will help our early game damage.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield style. Previously, you were forced to choose whether to go tank or DD with this build. With new speed changes and Weapon & Shield combo becoming actually good at DD, you're getting the best of the two worlds. Anyhow, the point is that, with the shield style and medium shield, you'll have 79 reflexes. Throw in a rather common cloak of protection and, for your second level 33 accuracy wizard, that's a -51 modifier to hit. Only misses or grazes or only 7% of hits for the Fan of Flames. And, should it land, this monk will soak up a huge chunk of the graze (either by pale elf resistance or by moon's healing). Gaining some useful wounds in the process. So it's, like, deadly for enemies – cozy and nice for yourself.

3rd level: Turning Wheel. With our buddies helping us to accumulate the wounds, it shouldn't be hard to deal lots of damage with the wheel.

4th level: Interrupting Blows. We already have all that perception racked up so let's put it to good use. With high dexterity and eventual swift strikes bonus, we'll swing really fast (even faster once durgan steel and Gloves of Swift Action come into play) and it's not gonna be that hard to make the Mosquito attack once in 1.2 seconds or so. With the 0.75 seconds interrupt time – your enemy won't be doing much, yeah. And even if you go for the Sword of Daenisys (Durgan is limited so you can't enhance both) and greater damage output, that one can be racked up to he 0.6 seconds attack speed eventually and even the basic 0.35 interrupt works rather nicely under such conditions.

5th level: Swift Strikes.

6th level: Lightning Strikes.

7th level: Duality of Mortal Presence – even more reflexes gained? Can't say no to that.

8th level: Vulnerable Attack – once again, the weapon & shield speed master goes for the durgan enhanced shield and this talent, gaining both speed and great damage output in the process. We delay this until lvl 8 as, well, we're not having any durgan until this moment.

9th level: Enervating Blows – we're not that great at causing criticals, but when you attack once per seconds with 20% conversion it's hard not to score them periodically.

10th level: Weapon Focus: note that you can experiment with other weapons, not just rapiers.

11th level: Crucible of Suffering - just a further +10 to all saves. Doesn't last as long but gets activated really often so it's fine.

12th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack.

13th level: Dichotomous Soul.

14th level: Snake's Reflexes or Superior Deflection.
7. Monks - Mazinger
Role: 3rd line damage dealer

Race: Wood Elf.

Skill: Survival

Stats ( the Living Lands bonus included): 

M 18
C 10
D 19
P 18
I 10
R 3

This is a novelty of 3.0 version – a ranged monk who shoots with his fist. Maybe not in the spectacular mecha rocket punch fashion, but still, now can attack from the distance. You need to build around, though, it as said ability counts as a ranged weapon, meaning that all melee talents & abilities do not apply to it. Whereas the ranged ones do – that's why we have Wood Elf as the race.

Main advantages here is that the flying fists strikes about 20% harder than your normal one and, of course, attacking from range allows us to go for a much riskier build. No defense, all offense. The downside here is that gathering wounds from the distance is hardly easy – in fact, you'll be relying on the friendly fire to charge you up. A wizard of yours wants to hurl a Crackling Bolt at your foe? Great! Just stand in its path and get electrified! Worst case scenario, just make another DD of yours smack your monk once or twice. Just to set up a proper mood, y'know. This sounds rather silly, but once you'll witness the damage this build does, you'll understand that it's totally worth it.

You can also try Mazinger Z stat distribution:

M 18
C 10
D 19
P 10
I 18
R 3

Not as impactful as the previous ones, but our wounds and self-buffs last longer, meaning we have to experience less problems to accumulate them.

Weapon of Choice: unarmed

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Swift Strikes. Not much of a choice here as Torment's Reach works with melee only – it's quite useless for us. 25% attack speed, on the other hand, is rather awesome.

2nd level: Lightning Strikes. Our rocket punches have a great basic damage, meaning that these 25% of bonus will give much more damage than they usually do.

3rd level: Turning Wheel. Same thing goes for this skill – accumulating the full 10 wounds won't be easy, but it's gonna be totally worth it.

4th level: Lesser Wounds. Since wounds are a problem, let's fix that as much as we can, as early as we can. Mortification of the Soul is still crap, though – it just doesn't cut it, not even for this build.

5th level: Long Stride. This build is squishy and will want to move in and out of the friendly fire. Meaning that extra mobility is rather welcome here.

6th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack. As I've said, any percentage damage bonus provides an immense return for us. So we gather them as soon as we can.

7th level: The Long Pain. Well, here's our rocket punch. What it does is that it summons a unique ranged weapon that attacks with the speed of melee and that receives your Transcendent Suffering bonus. So while the damage in the ability's description might look pathetic, in reality it's beastly. More than your average fist damage. And the attack speed is very good. And the duration of buff is long so you don't need to refresh it often. It's a great ability, else we wouldn't be basing our build around it. Keep in mind that this is not the best build to play from the start of the game – ideally, you recruit such monk when he's already level 7. Or you just start him as some melee build, then respec into this one.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Peasant. Our rocket punch still counts as unarmed so we're giving it some extra accuracy.

9th level: Duality of Mortal Presence. We don't have much choice here – most of the monk's stuff is melee only. But there's no complaints – extra defenses are always welcome.

10th level: Marksman.

11th level: Flagellant's Path. This build really likes mobility so we see this less as a damage dealing and more as a repositioning tool. If it became too hot on this side of the battle, we can always jump to some cooler place.

12th level: Beast Slayer, etc. Yeah, we really like our percentage damage bonuses, so we wouldn't mind against having these too. Whichever monsters tend to give you more problems – hate them into oblivion!

13th level: Crucible of Suffering - just a further +10 to all saves.

14th level: Beast Slayer, etc.

15th level: Resonant Touch or Iron Wheel. Both don't do too much for us so the choice is not very important.

16th level: Beast Slayer, etc.
8. Priest - SPAM HERE
Just like the cipher, priest is a narrow class. Or perhaps that wording is rather misleading – priest is very flexible and any party can benefit greatly from having one, it's just that his build is very strict and does not allow for a lot of meaningful variation. Even the deity of choice matters little – whereas the paladins are defined by their order in terms of both role-play and character development, here it's for flavor mostly.

You also shouldn't think about priest in DnD terms – there the cleric was one of the best tanks and melee fighters in the game, here he's a squishy, clumsy and blind pure caster. In 2.0, he finally got a very potent self-buff, but that's still not your cleric's “gain BAB equal to the fighter” stuff – that buff is all about casting nevertheless. Some deities' followers can gear around fighting a little, but that's gonna be a temporary stage of their development – something to use early on, when you don't have that much spells per rest, and then to be respecced out of. Respec is really beneficial for the priest.

He's also “high investment, high reward” sort of character. Early on, priest can be rather annoying to play – he's squishy and he can't cast that much on the early levels. And your party (if you play with story characters without rushing) is small so your buffs are not even that useful. But once you get past that point, it becomes a cakewalk – priest has a plethora of awesome tricks in his sleeve and, to sweeten the pot even further, at levels 9 his first level spells become per encounter. So you can use them all and, once the battle end, they're restored to the full. At level 11 same applies to the second level spells. Level 13 – third level spells. And these spells scale rather well so they're very useful even late in the game. That's also the reason you don't go for the full fighter build – that way, you'll have to invest in tankiness and wear heavy armor. However, in the late game you want to have as much speed as possible and just spam-spam-spam everything. So even if you spend talents on your physical attack capability, you won't be getting much use out of them.

Note that the priest gains a lot from being your main char – behave according to your deity's favored alignments while totally avoiding the opposed ones (you don't want to have even a single point in those reputations) and you'll gain considerable boosts to your Holy Radiance. Which has been buffed once again and now it's really strong in the fully upgraded condition.

Role: healer, buffer, debuffer, disabler, third line damage dealer.

Race: anything can do.

With respec being a useful options, priests (and also druids) got some very interesting development options. You'll have two sets of stats. First is for the early game – I call it “Energy Saving Mode”:

Stats (Wood Elf, the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 18
C 10
D 4
P 17
I 19
R 10

Since you can't cast often (or do anything decent, really) in the early game, you don't neet that high of an action speed. Therefore, you take those points and redirect them into high perception – that'll prevent your few spell casts from getting wasted. Later on (level 5 or 7, you'll feel the exact moment yourself by realizing you can no longer cast all you need on time) you respec into this:

Stats (Wood Elf, the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 18
C 9
D 19
P 10
I 19
R 3

Yes, it will not seem like that early on, but priests benefit colossally from the high dexterity. They want to spam as much of their free spells as possible (eventually) and, in tough battles, they want to cast humongous amounts of buffs in the shortest period of time. Might and Intelligence are unavoidable too – without might, your healing is horrible and you're relegated to the role of pure buffer/debuffer. Without intellect, your spell AoE and duration is atrocious – the priest really needs to max it out for his spells to become truly useful. And low resolve hurts, but you have plenty of ways to compensate for the lost deflection and concentration. Hence the mono-build. Well, if you have the priest as your main character, you can consider putting those dex points into perception – it's not as combat efficient (though still good – accurate disables) but will give you more dialogue choices. Follow your priorities, I guess.

Weapon of Choice: something shooty early on, later – hatchet and shield.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Choose your deity. Whatever suits the alignment of your party, pretty much.

2nd level: With the respec options on, this level stopped being as misleading and treacherous as it was. It even became somewhat beneficial as you can take some early game choices, use them to the fullest and, once they've outlived their usefulness, trade them for something much better. You even can play as the fighting priest for a while (you need balanced 18-10-10-10-18-10 stats for that, though).

Brilliant Radiance: after the totally undeserved nerf, it became rather crappy in terms of damage dealing. Avoid.

Interdiction: an ok early game choice. We're lacking spells to cast and, well, great AoE daze each fight (and with nice accuracy) is welcome.

Aggrandizing Radiance: it would've been nice if the duration was longer. But it's short and comes at the cost of devastating our Radiance's healing. So-so.

Inspiring Radiance: you can never have enough accuracy so that's a nice one.

The Pallid Hand (Berath only): +10 accuracy with great swords & maces, a crappy life leeching spell once per rest. The great swords become really cool eventually, but not at this stage of the game. They're somewhat weak early, so it's not much of a helper.

The Hope Eternal (Eothas only): +10 accuracy with flail and morning star, a crappy anti-fear spell once per rest. Same as above.

Inspired Flame: +10 accuracy with sword and arquebus and a weak fire damage spell once per rest. Now this is probably the best of them all – arquebus is quite nice and, of course, standing as far as possible and shooting is a great plan for the priest. And +10 accuracy equalizes him with more offensive classes. Developing him further this way is pointless, though – while it's rather strong in the early game, damage-wise the arquebus becomes almost worthless later on. Especially since guns gain almost nothing from the Durgan steel. So it's, like, Inspired > Weapon Focus > Marksman > level 7 respec.

Prey on the Weak: +10 accuracy with club and stiletto, lesser sneak attack – just like for a rogue, but only 20% bonus damage. Physical attacks only, of course. Totally stacks with the Apprentice's Sneak Attack, btw, giving 35% bonus in total. The sneak attack is rather good and this is probably the best priest to go melee. And stilettos and plate armor are a very efficient early game option for all the classes. So you probably go Moon Godlike (his inherent healing absolves the priest's frailty), this, 4th level – vulnerable attack, 6th level – apprentice's sneak attack. Then you probably respec, but if you want to stick: 8th level – weapon focus: ruffian, 10th level – two-weapon style, 12th level – heart of the storm, 14th level – scion of flame.

Incomprehensible Revelation - +10 accuracy with Rod and Quarterstaff, crappy dazing spell once per rest. Rod is really bad – the damage is horrible and while the weapon school can be used, it's all about debuffing qualities of certain rods (which you won't find early on). Quarterstaff, thanks to the reach, is much better. You can totally do balanced build, Revelation > Two-Handed Style > Apprentice's Sneak Attack, then respec. Unlike with the stilettos, this build is totally not worth sticking to the bitter end.

White March talents also give us couple of decent choices here:

Aspirant's Mark: 2 times per rest is annoying, but otherwise it's a great debuff with vast radius and decent duration. Your team will appreciate this.
8. Priest - continuation
Enigma's Charm: 5 seconds of time is hardly anything and, well, a charm is a charm, it's a very potent effect at any stage of the game. And it's one per encounter so you can use it without worrying much.

Prestidigitator's Missiles: best part here is the fast casting speed. So you can quickly burn them both to focus down some nasty and really annoying target (like a Shade, for example).

As you can see, lots of quality of life improvements available. So you take them at level 2-4-6, then respec into the actual build:

2nd level: Weapon and Shield Style: the priest is not a tank, of course, but he has no real use for his physical attack. Once in his prime, he'll do nothing but cast. So you don't need any offensive talents and, well, some defenses are always appreciated – enemies will try to focus him down, after all, and shield helps a lot here.

4th level: Scion of Flame – most of our offensive spells are fiery and we can always use scrolls. It also enhances the Holy Radiance.

6th level: Superior Deflection – we skip Cautious Attack as we hate its slowdown. And, after the nerf, it's not that much better than the superior anyways.

8th level: Bonus 2nd Level Spell – our 2nd level spells are pretty potent so we're not against spamming them Alternatively, you can always focus on more defenses – Bull's Will, etc.

10th level: Heart of the Storm – we have only one really strong electricity spell but it's so good it makes this choice to be totally worth it.

12th level: Bonus 3rd Level Spell or spell defenses.

14th level: Bonus 4th level spell or spell defenses.
8. Priest - Lots of Spell Notes
Since you learn all the spells automatically, there are no choices to review, but I'll say a couple of words about the most remarkable spells.

1st level:

Armor of Faith: Your bread & butter buff early on. 4 DR mean a lot at this stage. Becomes somewhat weaker as the game goes – 4 DR against 10-20 damage attacks is superb, 4 DR against 40-50 damage attacks is not as noticeable.

Blessing: I've seen occasional complaints about this and, well, they're wrong. Because of how game's gains work, this can easily increase you actual damage output against low-level foes by a quarter. Later on, it will get supplanted by stronger effects, of course, but it's a really decent lvl 1 spell.

Divine Terror: well, it's not about this, it's about all priest offensive spells – they all have a relatively small AoE. So you really want to either keep the priest outside of combat or turn the auto-attack off – you can't really target them even a second before actual cast or you'll miss. And if the auto-attack is on, you'll have to hit pause frantically or the priest will shoot/hit and his time will be wasted.

Halt: most important thing here is a fast casting speed. So while earlier on you want massive effect, once you gain level 9, you can easily spam through this. And while stuck is not the most potent disable ever, against melee-only enemies it's decent enough.

Holy Meditation: with Resolve becoming the universal dump stat, Holy Meditation becomes one of the best lvl 1 buffing spells in the game. Getting interrupted constantly is annoying and this really fixes the issue. +15 Will can be nice too.

Prayer against Fear: you start some very tough boss fights with getting mass-terrified and believe me, fighting those bosses under -20 Accuracy penalty is anything but pleasant. Hence, this spell.

Withdraw: once your low-lvl spells are infinite, you can cheese a bit with this. If priest is the solo combatant on your side and withdraws himself, the monsters walk away, disappointed, and the combat ends, refreshing all of the priests low-lvl spells. Invisibility ends too so the combat reengages. That means you can do infinite “offensive spell – withdraw” chain against certain foes. Apart from that, it's mostly for the ironman/expert mode – without permadeath, it doesn't do that much.

2nd level:

Consecrated Ground: your main healing spell. Heals much more than any of the Restore Endurance spells, but doesn't exactly make them obsolete. Ground is your average, slow but steady heal. Restores are your emergency heals. By the “spell slot used to actual gain” ratio they're horrible, but they give you the option to burn through resources rapidly to survive. And sometimes that's the only option to win.

Divine Mark: keep in mind that this spell is very short ranged. But it's crazy at bringing the singular strong targets down. One of the reasons we're building ourselves defensively.

Holy Power: that one is a weird one and works like a paladin aura, centered around yourself. The aoe is pretty narrow, unfortunately, but the resolve gain is good and can fix your Concentration issues even further.

Iconic Projection: great early-to-mid damage dealing spell. Fast cast is the key here. And the heal is so good that this spell makes the neighboring Restore Light Endurance obsolete – why would I heal for 23 when I can damage for 25 and heal for 25 for the same cost?

Instill Doubt: not that useful early on, but suddenly becomes better at level 11 when 2nd level spells become “free”. Dazed is a nice disable and, if you have no better sources of it, this can work rather nicely. Not a high priority cast, of course.

Repulsing Seal: one of the most overpowered spells in the game atm. Seals have huge basic accuracy (not mentioned in the description) and they seem to gain bonuses from your mechanics. Meaning that you'll have something like +40/+50 extra accuracy over your average spell. Yeah, forty to fifty, no typos. Meaning that you can win any combat if you spam this – send any kind of foes prone for 15 seconds (it crits frequently so more like 20) and what they can do? TBH, I personally don't even use this spell too much as it makes even the PoTD too easy.

3rd level:

Circle of Protection: looks really good but isn't as great because of the short duration. You'd rather invest your time into something more lasting.

Dire Blessing: it's an incredibly good buff and it's very strong with any of the "on crit" effects on weapons. So, if you have a priest in your party, you might want to equip more of your warriors with those (and to build them accordingly, of course). You can even center your party around this buff. It became even better with the White March and Durgan steel – it adds 0.3 extra damage modifier on the critical, increasing your profits from this buff. And the cast speed here is Fast. One of the best buffs in the game, tbh.

Pillar of Faith: another bread & butter spell, just a bit of damage & disables combined. Becomes especially constantly from level 13 as you can spam it freely.

4th level:

Barring Death's Door: this is just a worse version of Withdraw. Only burning your 4th level slots. Yuck.

Devotions for the Faithful: one of the biggest game-changers. Gives your party excellent damage while totally devastating their output. Huge AoE too. So good it's not even funny.

Prayer against Bewilderment: makes those mushroom fights so much rage-inducing. The priest is not only powerful (the most powerful character in the game, in my opinion), he's also makes the game much more comfortable with these buffs.

Searing Seal: so bad, tbh. It's an analogue to the druid's 1st level Sunbeam. Only at level 4. Yeah, the crazy accuracy is here, but the effect is not nearly worth it.

Shining Beacon: one of your main damage dealing spell. Yeah, the effect is not as big as written as it's a DoT, it gets dealt in smaller portions and part of their damage reduction is applied each tick, but under the Scion of Flame it melts foes rather nicely. And debuff part is helpful too. As well as foe only huge AoE.

Triumph of the Crusaders: not as great as it sounds. It's not reliable – usually, for the slow healing Consecrated Ground is enough and for emergency healing this stuff gives us no guarantee. Will we be able to quickly kill someone when we're low? Or we'll proc the buff before that happens and this does nothing? It's too difficult to control and thus useless.

5th level:

Champion's Boon: became even better in 2.0, resulting in even greater damage output increase. All damage dealers love this, all interrupters love this, all critical specialist love this, even disablers can profit from this. What's not to like?

Prayer Against Imprisonment: one of the best spells in the game. The fights with some mass-paralyzing foes are not exactly fair – they can start the fight with putting your entire crew into 20 second paralyze and, well, that's it. Those fights are winnable, of course, but highly reliant on either save/load or AI abuse and kiting. This spell, however, allows to fight them honestly. Doesn't make you quite immune, but there's a world of difference between 20-30 paralyze to all and 0-10 paralyze to few. So good to have a priest handy, right?

Revive the Fallen: great for the barbarian vengeful defeat combo. Allows you to revive him a lot. Range is a bit short, though.

6th level:

Cleansing Flame: not that it's more of a dispel spell than a damage spell. So it's good against enemy buffers first and foremost. One other annoying factor is that if the first charge misses, they all miss. So it's not exactly reliable.

Crowns for the Faithful: insanely strong buff. Lots of deflection, +60 to will (yeah, now you care even less about that paralysis), +6 Int also increases duration and area of effects (barbs really love that), 6 per just gives more accuracy and interrupts. Too much utility in just one cast.
8. Priest - Spell Notes Continued
Minor Intercession: it's not a typo, it really doesn't heal that much. So it's for dispelling debuffs from your group, not healing.

Spark the Souls of the Righteous: despite the relatively low basic damage, it applies it to pretty much the entire enemy squad and the tick rate is rather frequent. So, when amplified by the Hear of the Storm, this spell does a lot of actual damage. Now you get the reason for the max dexterity, I hope – in boss battles, we want this, crowns, Devotions, couple of champion's boons, dire blessing, shining beacon unto them, consecrated ground, a couple of Restore Critical Endurance here and there... So much to do, so little time.

7th level:

Holy Avatar: the priest was strong before and now he's quite literally god-like (not in the racial sense). Ignore the melee & ranged buffs – what's important is that +8 int gives your casts huge area and duration, +8 per allows you to land debuffs nicely, +8 might makes your damage and healing insane and +8 dex allows for some superb spamming. And +8 con and res make you really difficult to bring down. Honestly, at this stage you need your party pretty much as the meatshield squad and you can deal with the majority of problems single-handedly.

Storm of Holy Fire: much better than it looks like. Under the Holy Avatar, one storm cleanses the majority of enemy encounters in the game. Anything that survives can be quickly dealt with an extra beacon or Spark the Soul casting.
9. Rogues - short intro
Rogue is the best single-targeting damage dealer in the game. Barbarians can compete when we talk about big skirmishes, but against huge, fat mini-bosses and bosses rogue is unsurpassed. At the same time, he's a precise surgical tool and he requires a lot of care and support to shine. He is incredibly squishy and your group needs to have some ways to bail him out of troubles occasionally . He also is not that good at enabling his own sneak attacks – he can flank (if he's melee – ranged rogues don't even have that options), but flanking is risky. As the AI loves to munch on the scrawniest members of your party, rogue will be their favored snack. So he flanks – they gnaw straight on him.

You really want to have better sneak attack enablers and that means that even one rogue will dictate your party composition. Let's take our tanks, for example. Paladins & barbs can make great tanks, but they're bad with the rogue – no enables (but then, critting/disabling barbs are exception here). Tanky monks, on the other hand, can keep their opponents constantly prone and, much later on, weakened. Chanters have insanely long stuns & paralyzes and a source of a constant hobbling. Ciphers provide disables galore. Druids also give lots of hobbling and stunning cheaply. So guess who are the rogue's best friends? Ofc, it doesn't mean that you can never have a party with both rogue and paladin - it's just that you want at least 2 or 3 enabling characters.

Also, ideally speaking, since you are going through all these hoops already, you really want two rogues in your party. Three are probably overkill, but two will work rather well – if you're already putting the effort to setup sneak attacks, why not reap double the gains from them?

One other thing that needs to be addressed is the Backstab. Because +100% damage, that's awesome, right? Not really. After all, it's not multiplication - it's the addition. And, as the rogue quickly reaches the 200% overall bonus, it's not even that noticeable. And it's only one attack per combat - compare it with, say, two-handed fighting. Only 15% but on each strike. Do 7 strikes in combat - that's already 105%, that's already more than from backstab. Marginally, of course, but you'll do much more attacks than 7. And sure, shadowing beyond gives you 3 backstabs per combat. But that's once per rest! And even then, 21 attack with the two-handed weapon and you're even once more. That's about a minute worth of time - tough battles on PoTD will last that long. On lower difficulties, that combo works better, of course. But I still wouldn't take it early - another boon of the smaller bonuses is that they're applied in many batches. Even if some will miss, some will hit too. Backstabs are much more luck-dependent - you can easily have 2 miss, 1 graze on them and that's the end of your damage potential. Maybe not the end, but definitely a huge waste. So even if you want to try them out, don't take them on levels 2 and 4 - take the reliable stuff first, then go for them.

Finally, a rogue really wants to invest into stealth. Surprise, surprise. Previously, that wasn't really the case, but now individual stealth allows him to operate as a rogue would – instead of engaging with the rest of the crew, sneak into enemy's vulnerable backrow and gut their casters. Activating sneak attack may be a bit tricky there, but there are some good and long-reaching enables – Tangleroot, for example (also available in scroll form).
9. Rogues - Caleb
Role: second-line damage dealer/disabler

Race: Hearth Orlan – this build profits from a great amount of crits they provide.

Stats (the White that Wends bonus included):

M 15
C 10
D 10
P 21
I 18
R 4

This build is even squishier than your average rogue but it fights from relatively safe distance of reach weapon and it prones its enemies a lot. And high orlan perception allows for a lot of those hits to happen. Still, it's a very all or nothing build - it does great damage and control but also dies easily.

Weapon of Choice: Tall Grass Pike – if only there were pitchforks in this game... Anyways, this is a reach rogue build – we're frail so it's only logical to use our tanks as the human (or whatever they are) shields. Tall Grass is the only choice here – we'll have a total of 40% hit to crit conversion with it (minimum – apply durgan steel and it's a stable 60%, call your priest and it's an 80% already) and each crit can send our opponent prone for 4 seconds. Then it's just a matter of poking their tender places while they're down and vulnerable.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Blinding Strike. You can use Crippling Strike twice, but this build is more interested in the blinded debuff as it actually lasts for a while here – it gives your opponent -20 to their deflection and that makes your sneak-attacks ultra-precise. Especially good on the crit.

2nd level: Weapon Focus: Soldier. The rogue already has a very nice damage so it's all about securing the regular landing of said damage. Helps our crit strategy too. Backstab is a trap, btw – it's not half as good as it seems. Foes in the game are rather sturdy and even two-handed weapons are not strong enough to bring them down in one blow. Now, when we talk about ranged weapons, that's the different case... But also a different build. Backstab is not for melee heroes.

3rd level: Dirty Fighting – naturally, melee rogues go for the reckless assault here as it gives a far greater damage output. However, we'll get our Tall Grass at the level 5 (for sale in the Dyrford Village) and we want to be fully prepared for this moment. Hence the unnatural order. And what's to say? Extra crits mesh incredibly good with the Tall Grass and they get amplified even further by the eventual Durgan steel upgrade.

4th level: Vicious Fighting – so we go into early dirty fighting so we can take this talent on level 4 (as opposed to 6) and benefit from the Tall Grass instantly. Just a tempo thing.

5th level: Reckless Assault – makes the rogue even frailer, but that's not his business. He's a narrow to the point of a razor-edginess specialist. He doesn't care about creating sneak attack opportunities. He doesn't care about dealing with the retaliatory strikes. He cares about bringing total destruction upon your foes, that's what he's all about. The rest is the task of his party. So we go all in.

6th level: Two-Handed style – we follow the above logic. Shadowing Beyond is nice and certainly unique, but it's really not as useful as it seems. Let the party protect us. The damage always takes priority here.

7th level: Finishing Blow – a very potent tool against all kinds of fat and sturdy bosses and mini-bosses. For every percent of health they miss beyond 50%, it deals 3% extra damage. It may seem small but it adds up quickly and against foes with quarter of health it's already very good. But that's not the full story...

8th level: Devastating Blow – this is. The description is funky – it's not +2% extra damage, that would've been insulting. It's +2% per missing percent of health, raking it up to 5%. And that's even more considerable. For a dragon, a quarter of health (where the bonus now is 125%) is still about a hundred points. This is an excellent tool for bringing that down to zero ASAP.

9th level: Deep Wounds – it's decent but not as awesome as it seems. It's easy to look at it and say – dude, this thing is crazy with dual-wield, why are we even discussing your bloody pike? That's because Deep Wounds are not as sweet – they deal damage over time so when you hit with them, they place a timer on your foe. And there timers don't stack (apparently). So yeah, first hit will deal 12 or so damage. Over the ten seconds or so. But next hits won't stack – the timer is just refreshed. So, in reality, this thing reads more like “if you fight the monster for 10 seconds, you deal extra 12 damage”. Which is far from the “stab it lightning-fast to death” that it appears to be. But we're still taking them as there is not a lot of choice here.

Escape is mediocre because caring about himself is not one of the rogue's lifegoals. It's not that bad and, since Deep Wounds are also meh, can be taken here, just don't expect too much about it. Adept Evasion is nifty but we don't have enough reflexes to profit from it, it's a side option for the max Per+Dex builds.

Rest are worse. Both Withering Strike and Fearsome Strike are ridiculous – at lvl 9 you expect to get something much better than 25% extra damage for one hit and one debuff. Especially from the Fearsome Strike – sorry, but from 1 per rest 9 level skill I expect something like 20 seconds paralyze. Riposte is another trap – rogue has horrible basic deflection, that becomes even worse via Reckless Assault and there are no class-specific ways to build it up. Not to mention that misses are rare – against evenly matched opponent (and rogue will be outmatched), only 15%. Out of these, only 20% will be riposted – that's 33 attacks taken to send one swing back. Wo-o-ow. And with the Perception accuracy switch try to gain those 15% on the rogue. Coordinated Positioning has too short of a range to do anything serious (yes, even after the mega 2.01 buff which gave it a whopping 0.5 meter increase – so much goodness!).

10th level: Bloody Slaughter. The dragons will fear our finishing blow. Extra crits against them are also welcome.

11th level: Deathblows. Apparently, they don't deal as much damage as their description promises but they're still pretty good – better than everything else, at the very least. The new distracting talent definitely can't compete – distraction is cute but

12th level: Not a lot of options, tbh. You can take the extra deflection buffs so you're not suicidal. You can improve magical defenses. Maybe go into some monster-hating. Well, that's a lot of options, but none of them is a clear game-changer. Fire at will, pretty much.

13th level: Sap. It's nothing impressive (especially when compared with some other 13th level stuff), but it's a nice and guaranteed disable + some damage bonus so why not? You can always try out that new smokey thing, but don't expect it to do that much, really.

14th level: same as 12th.
9. Rogues - Prince of Persia Blue Edition
Role: second-line damage dealer

Race: Moon Godlike. Other races can also work, but moon-moons compensate for a lot of the rogue's squishiness.

Stats (The White That Wends bonus included):

M 18
C 10
D 17
P 19
I 4
R 10

This is a pretty standard damage dealing build for 2.0. Outside of any critting/stunning attempts, intelligence is absolutely useless for the rogue so we can safely dump it. Instead, we go all out on the aggressive stats, gaining as much offensive power as possible in the process. You may even try going 8 Con, 19 dex if you want a total min-maxing. Our will is low, though, but that's nothing that a good priest can't fix.

Weapon of Choice: Sabres. Unlike the previous builds, this one is not about control - it's all the plain and powerful damage dealing. We'll have a lots of crits and dualed Resolution & Purgatory are extreme under such setup. Especially once they are upgraded by the Durgan steel.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Crippling Strike – our int is dumped so we won't get much out of Blinding Strikes. Crippling, on the other hand, allows us to attack twice per combat with a small bonus - it's not that significant but is better than nothing. And, with the duals, the bonus is applied to each one of them so it's 4 attacks with +25% damage on.

2nd level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian. Provides bigger bonus than the two-weapon style so we get it earlier.

3rd level: Reckless Assault - more traditional rogues go into this one early as you won't find your beloved sabres for quite a while and for generic ones Assault is much stronger.

4th level: Two-Weapon Fighting: generally, the dual wielders prefer to take Vulnerable Attack here, but it is so-so for us. For Sabres with their ungodly basic damage, it's like a 31% damage bonus. At the cost of the 10% attack loss (the actual attack). Very quickly we'll have 100% basic + 50% bonuses from the sneak attack + 20% from reckless + 24% from might = 194% in total. Vulnerable first turns this into 225%, but then takes out the 10% overall, leaving 202.5%. That's still an advantage but add some bonuses from the weapon enchanting & buffing and the difference will become rather marginal. Noticeable against ultra-high DR foes, but not everything else. Hence, you go for the Two-Weapon Fighting that just multiplies those 194% by extra 10% (so it's like 213% in effect).

5th level: Dirty Fighting - under the durgan steel, resolution & purgatory will have 130% extra critical damage bonus per hit. Now, as everything else, that applies to the basic damage of the weapon, but sabres got that ultra-high - 16 points. So crit will be extra 20.8 points of damage. In addition to the 30 or so that you'll do naturally.

6th level: Vicious Fighting.

7th level: Finishing Blow – seems to apply to both duals, so you have two strikes actually. Not many will survive through that.

8th level: Devastating Blow.

9th level: Deep Wounds or Escape or Adept Evasion. For a build with the high reflexes from maxed our Dex&Per, evasion looks much better.

10th level: Bull's Will or Bloody Slaughter – let's either fix our feeblemindedness a bit or become even better against heavily wounded foes.

11th level: Deathblows. That smokey distraction thing is even more useless for us because of the 3 Int.

12th level: Mental Fortress or Bloody Slaughter.

13th level: Sap or something you hadn't taken at level 9. Without intelligence, Sap devolves into a 30% damage bonus for one strike – at this stage of the game, that barely matters. Only filler choices here.

14th level: More defenses, I think. Both physical or magical are fine. Shadowing Beyond may work too, just as the escape mechanism.
9. Rogues - Golden Axe
Role: second line damage dealer/controller.

Race: Boreal Dwarf. What is an axe without a dwarf? And boreal's bonuses fit here rather nicely – this is another crit-based build and +15 accuracy helps that a lot (when it's active). Orlan will work too.

Stats (the White That Wends bonus included): 

M 11
C 10
D 17
P 19
I 3
R 18

Melee rogue is the assaulting character who cares the least for the high might. For him, it gives nothing but basic melee damage bonus and it's not like he lacks that greatly. Sneak attack, reckless assault, decently enchanted weapon and we're already at 200%. Actually higher because of deathblows & stuff, but still, 230% is not as different from 200% as 130% is from 100%. This is also a high crit build and might doesn't exactly help that too – it's not getting multiplied, you're just getting an extra increase to the basic damage. So, for this build, an average might crit will be 330, a high one – 360%. Now, you probably don't want to minimize the might on the rogue, but average can work out rather nicely. And in return we gain some resolve – doesn't makes us a tank, of course, but meshes in nicely with our general build and low will is no longer our Achilles heel. Also makes this as a leader.

Weapon of Choice: We Toki & small shield – best battle axe in the game and a really great weapon overall. The real golden axe. Fluff aside, you can also excel here with either Resolution or Purgatory sabres (resolution is obviously better as you acquire it much faster). The difference is that, when fully developed, We Toki will deal about 20% less damage than the sabre, but it will prone your foe for 2 seconds with each crit (and you'll have those aplenty). And that's a rather fine trade, no? Besides, much more characters can use Resolution/Purgatory combo whereas only the rogue can go for We Toki. Note that early on you'd rather not stick to the battle axes – all others are really bad, so start with something that ignores damage reduction. Stiletto into Hearth Harvest sounds like a plan.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Crippling Strike – without duals and int, doesn't really matter, though.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield: so this is an oddball rogue who fights with weapon & shield. What's gained from this? First, White March has buffed this combo greatly and how it's no longer that bad offensively. Second, while this build is definitely not a tank, it's not as squishy as your ordinary rogue. It won't pop from a loud sound, so it doesn't require as much attention. And shield + high Dex&Per will give you insane reflexes, making this rogue really strong against damaging spells. Oh, and you want to fight with as little recovery penalty as possible, as all the shield&weapons users do. Early game it's still the plate (nothing beats the plate) but from the mid you'll want to become lighter and lighter until you reach that sweet ability to wear nothing and survive nevertheless.

3rd level: Reckless Assault – 8 accuracy this provides is really crucial for our frequent criticals build so we'll have to stick with the penalty. After all, we don't plan to become an invulnerable tank, we're just a survivable rogue.

4th level: Deflecting Assault – and we can compensate with this, of course. -3 Deflection penalty is not nearly as scary as -8. And, without this, we don't even have that many great choices at level 4.

5th level: Dirty Fighting – that's the engine that makes this build work. We Toki crits are very good so we want as much of them as possible.

6th level: Vicious Fighting. Ditto.

7th level: Deep Wounds – don't like the Finishing Blow for this build. It's only really impactful with either dual sabers or two-handers. For smaller duals or one-handers, it's not as crazy. It's also not that good without upgrading talent and we're somewhat starved here. So let's take deep wounds – Int doesn't really matter for them and give the rogue about 10% increase of the damage dealing capacity.

8th level: Superior Deflection: and skipping past deep wounds allows us to take this much earlier. Cautious attack is still a big no-no, as the attack speed is very important for us.

9th level: Adept Evasion: considering how crazy our reflexes are, this one becomes rather good. We'll have at least 120 reflexes by the end of the game. Even against Adra Dragon's 114 attack, that becomes 44% hits, 17% grazes, 38% misses. And with 140 reflexes (also a rather achievable amount by equipment alone) we're in the 24% hits, 17% grazes, 58% misses realm. It's not as insane as no monster attacks your reflexes alone, but it's still a nice plus.

10th level: Weapon Focus: Knight. Or ruffian if you go with the sabre. We've really delayed this one but that's because of us wanting to switch many weapons in wait for our We Toki. Now we definitely have it so no further delays.

11th level: Deathblows. 

12th level: Vulnerable Attack: just according to your average weapon & shield strat, enchant shield with Durgan Steel and suffer almost no benefits. For average weapons it's not as good as it is for fast so, if you're low on durgan, you might choose to save on this one. If you do, go for the Bloody Slaughter or for the One-Handed style – yeah, it works with the weapon & shield. It's not that great of a talent, only 6% or so damage increase, but it's better than nothing. You can also go into Snake's Reflexes – just become even more well-protected.

13th level: Finishing Blow. Better than Sap and everything else, I guess.

14th level: Lethal Blow or Bloody Slaughter or One-Handed Style or Snake's Reflexes.
9. Rogues - Torquemada
Role: second-line ultra-glass cannon

Race: Moon Godlike.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included): 

M 19 
C 10
D 18
P 18
I 10
R 3

This build plays from Firebrand, i.e. from the Forgemaster's Gloves. While applying the firebrand's huge basic damage to the AoE via barbarian is nice, it also can work rather nicely with rogue's talents. Rogue has the biggest amount of damage bonuses in the game so he squeezes the most out of said damage and he also has frequent criticals while, in addition to everything else, Firebrand sports 0.5 critical damage bonus. So 70 damage hits, 100 damage crits are quite a norm of life for such rogue. The downside, of course, is that you have to cripple your resolve (can't touch Int too much – 30 seconds of Firebrand's duration are fine, but anything below that is a no-no) to get a build like that and that makes rogue incredibly frail in close combat. So, outside of all the rogue builds, this one demands the most support. Have at least 2-3 disablers in your party to play like this.

Weapon of Choice: Forgemaster's Gloves. Hours of st. Rumbalt make a nice side-arm, as well as the Tall Grass plike (if you have no one else to use it).

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Crippling Strike – just to apply the bonus twice to the firebrand. For it, 25% means 10 extra damage per hit.

2nd level: Two-Handed Style: yeah, all damage bonuses are great for that sword.

3rd level: Reckless Assault .

4th level: Weapon Focus: Soldier.

5th level: Dirty Fighting – time to make those 100 damage crits reality. What's best is that it's real easy to buy the gloves at level 5 so you're already rolling.

6th level: Vicious Fighting.

7th level: Finishing Blow – can you even imagine what Firebrand can do with this thing?

8th level: Devastating Blow – I doubt you can get a higher number on a single attack in the game.

9th level: Withering Strike – just as another strike with 25% damage. Deep Wounds are needless as our targets shouldn't even survive that long.

10th level: Shadowing Beyond – we have ok Int and we're so squishy that we don't mind an extra escape.

11th level: Deathblows. 

12th level: Bull's Will – getting mind controlled is a big no-no for this build.

13th level: Sap – 2 more strikes, now with extra 30% damage.

14th level: Mental Fortress.
9. Rogues - Man In Tights
(because wearing tights makes you absolutely stunning)

Previously, there were two gun builds here. Unfortunately, they have absolutely lost their meaning with the introduction of the White March and 2.0. Now that the attack speed tactics work and there is a great amplification to the critical hits. Guns almost don't benefit from the attack speed and their critical damage is horrible. Apart from the earliest moments of the game, the War Bow will always outdamage any sort of gun for the rogue. The Lead Spitter will compete for a bit longer than the rest, but even it will falter eventually. So there's just no reason to stick to your guns anymore.

Role: third-line damage dealer/controller

Race: Hearth Orlan, Wood Elf, Boreal Dwarf – this build really likes having lots of crits and all this races provide that in a different fashion.

Stats (Wood Elf, The White That Wends bonus included):

M 10
C 8
D 19
P 20
I 18
R 3

Not as much damage as from the purely DPS oriented rogue but plenty of little stars circling around the heads of anyone who dares to oppose us. All done from a very safe distance. It's a bit sad to sacrifice our might but Per & Dex provide frequent criticals and intelligence is necessary for the good stun duration.

Oh, and there's no real reason to go full ranged damage dealing rogue anymore - the cipher performs it exactly the same, but better. It's just that no bows etc. really reward frequent crits in an agressive manner.

Weapon of Choice: War Bow – not a lot of options here, we're interested in one and only Borresaine. Which, thankfully, can be bought incredibly early in the game. Copperlane market, that's level 4-5. Pretty much the first stunning weapon you'll get. It costs a steep sum of money but it's worth every copper. There is always a really cool Confusion-applying bow as a reward for defeating the Alpine Dragon but that comes too late in the game to be truly useful.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Blinding Strike. It's once per combat with so it's hardly mind-blowing but hey, sometimes it crits and helps you a lot.

2nd level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer. It's like an animal shelter that helps to find owners for lost puppies etc., only it works for arrows. Doubt their new “masters” will be happy.

3rd level: Dirty Fighting – as you can see, the rogue is incredibly defined by this ability. I mean, you can go without putting much weight on it but it just adds so much power that why would you do that?

4th level: Vicious Fighting.

5th level: Deep Wounds – deep wounds are at their best with the bow. They greatly benefit from its ability to spread the love around. I mean, with close combat weapons you can hit pretty much only your current opponent. With reach weapon you have a couple of foes in your vicinity. With bow, you can shoot pretty much everyone on the battlefield so you have the option to methodically notch the arrow into any enemy you see, bleeding them all in the process. I guess, since your weapon focus gives you access to the wand also, you can even have that handy – the damage is meh but it attacks 33% faster so it's extremely good for this sort of thing. That's not your main tactic but may come in handy, especially against foes who resist crushing but are vulnerable to piercing.

6th level: Marksman – let's get as much accuracy as humanely possible quickly.

7th level: Finishing Blow – while it's not as great as with the dual sabers, it still does a nice amount of damage. And the rest of the options are much, much weaker for us.

8th level: Devastating Blow.

9th level: Adept Evasion – our reflexes are rather good for it. But Escape, Coordinated Positioning or Withering Strike can also work – it doesn't truly matter.

10th level: Shadowing Beyond. It's much better for the ranged rogue than it is for the melee one – if you're assaulted, you can just run across the entire screen, then continue shooting from there on. You can even take this one earlier if you wish to.

11th level: Deathblows.

12th level: Bloody Slaughter, magical defenses, monster slaying – take whatever you like. You may even go for the Gallant's Focus if you lack paladin in your party or for the pseudo-barbarian's rage, extra speed is always good for the bow.

13th level: Sap. Not that useful but everything else seems worse. If you wish – this can always be something like Escape.

14th level: same as 12th.
10. Rangers - Intro & Pets
After the patch 2.0, the rangers became much better. Much doesn't even begin to describe them, really. Whereas previously their pet was cannon fodder on hard and PoTD, now it's sturdy enough. Whereas before it fought like it was made of plush, now it's actually bitey. And the rangers themselves got one of the best attacking talents in the game, late it may come. So now they are potent tank/damage dealing hybrid with some optional control functions.

They're not exactly OP, of course. While pets have gained lots of damage reduction and attack potential, their defenses remained roughly the same. So even a 14 level pet will have Fortitude etc. in range of 50-60, depending on his core stats. Which means that any controlling foes will torture your little friend quite unimaginably - on PoTD, foes of that level have 90-100 accuracy so it's constant hits, frequent crits. Meaning that whenever you're fighting disabling casters, you need to try and flank them somehow, so the pet doesn't get caught in their attack. Or you can always sport a priest in your party - his +50 buffs fix the majority of such problems. Not to mention that the priest's other mass buffs gain another solid target to improve.

Another thing is that now rangers are the most talent-starved class in the game. That depends on their approach, of course, but fully unlocking the pet's potential costs 4 talents and that doesn't leave much space for anything else.

Now let's review the pets themselves:

Antelope:
M 10
C 10
D 14
P 15
I 5
R 9
Special: +7 to all defenses.

Good damage dealing focus and probably the best defensive bonus of them all at the moment. Previously, the bear was much better, but now that your pet will have up to 24 DR at the end of the game, the bear's extra DR doesn't look as potent as Antelope's defenses. It just scales better. The only problem is that this pet has 2 less attribute stats than the other ones. It's not that great of a loss but it's still rather unpleasant.

Bear:
M 15
C 12
D 9
P 13
I 5
R 10
Special: +2 DR.

I'm not exactly sure, but it seems like the bear's bonus got nerfed from 3 DR to 2 DR. Not very pleasant. It's still a decent companion, mind you, and it's not that much worse than the Antelope, it's just that it's no longer the best one. Especially since his stat distribution is somewhat mediocre now.

Boar:
M 11
C 16
D 8
P 10
I 5
R 15
Special: +20% damage when below 50% endurance.

A rather bad ability - instead of getting extra basic damage through your level ups, your pet gains percentage bonuses to said damage. So, by the end of the game, it can easily have 300% of damage (which is what creates the ability to make 40-50 damage hits in the late game - that's how potent companions became). And there isn't much differense between 300% and 320%. On the other hand, the boar has the best tanking stats - constitution became much more powerful and these 16 Con, 15 Res feel really solid. So it's a good pet even despite the weak special.

Lion:
M 13
C 13
D 12
P 11
I 5
R 11
Special: 1 AoE Frighten for 11 seconds per encounter.

One of the weakest ones. Stats that are neither here nor there and the ability which is somewhat useful during the first levels, but becomes utterly blank after that. I guess you can take him for the early game convenience, then respec him into a better pet (yeah, ranger can totally respec his pet choice).

Stag:
M 13
C 10
D 12
P 15
I 5
R 10
Special: a really weak carnage ability.

Another weak ability and, at the moment, somewhat bugged. So bugged that, in my games, it absolutely refuses to get activated. At least the stats are nice enough so if you really love stags, he can make for an offensive companion.

Wolf:
M 10
C 10
D 13
P 15
I 5
R 12
Special: 2 more basic damage

Probably the best ability at the moment. Yeah, it's just 2 more basic damage, but add in all the extra bonuses and you're dealing 6 or even 8 more damage per hit because of it. And whereas previously his stats were horribly mixed and pointless, now he has a great offensive potential. Because of the ultra high bonuses, btw, dex & per are much more useful for the companions than might is. 1 extra might point changes that 300% into the 303%, 1 extra perception/dexterity point multiplies that 300% by 2%, being analogous to 306%.

When it comes to the pet choice, apart from abilities, you also focus on how much do you want to invest into the pet talent-wise. If you want to give him a lot, damage oriented pets are the best - basically the wolf, none else are that good offensively. If you want to invest almost nothing, you go for the tanky ones - the antelope, the boar and the bear. It's just that if you're spending a lot, it's wise to take someone with the best offensive potential, and if you're cheapskating, you just want something that doesn't requires too much attention to keep it alive.
10. Rangers - Carebear
Carebear ranger gives it all to his team and to his companion. He doesn't do much damage personally, but he offers a number of valuable controlling options and his pet is a beast.

Role: third-line controller + damage dealer/tank

Race: Wood Elf – since rangers are the kings of the long-distance combat, the elvish racial works best for them. You can try other races too, of course, Hearth Orlans will do fine, Boreal Dwarves also, but Elves are the best.

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 10
C 8
D 20
P 19
I 18
R 3

Lots of intelligence so our stuns last as long as possible, fast and precise attacks so we're giving as much of those stuns as we can. No offensive and staying power, but that's what our wolf is there for – this build totally wants an assault companion. Besides, bows allow us to fight from afar and we can always learn some stealth for the sake of better combat initiation.

Weapon of Choice: arquebus/arbalest early on, War Bow Borresaine in the mid-game, any kind of a Hunting Bow in the late game – guns stop being effective in the mid-game for pretty much everyone, but for rangers there's an even greater incentive to go for the bows. It doesn't appear until late into game, but it's a really strong one so even if you chose some other option, you'll want to respec eventually. BTW, as this ranger is fully support himself, you don't want to spend Durgan Steel on his weapons.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Wounding Shot – previously, rangers tended to go Marked Prey, but that was nerfed into giving just 20% extra damage instead of 40%. It's still not that horrible, but we need Wounding Shots more – even if they don't really do that much damage (their bleeding damage is very strong with the arquebus, true, too bad that the arquebus itself is so weak; for everything else it's rather negligible), they enable the Predator's Sense. Which is very important early on, especially as there won't be much other options of its activation.

2nd level: Resilient Companion – got even better than it were because it began to scale as the game goes. So it starts as extra 3 DR at the level 2, it ends as 7 DR at the level 14. Coupled with your pet's basic DR grow, this is what provides the most of its tankiness. So we grab it as fast as possible – DR 12 wolf at level 2 is not something that early game foes can easily chew through.

3rd level: Predator's Sense – even on high levels, when pet will have 300% or so damage, it's still quite noticeable. 300% to 350% is a 16% of actual damage output increase, that's great anytime. And, of course, it's even better here and now. Activating it is the main issue – Wounding Shots are nice, but that's just 12 seconds in total. So you'll have to ask your casters for help – Priests and Ciphers can't really offer anything on low levels, but Wizards and Druids have some good ones. Druids especially – pretty logical for them to be friends with rangers. Later on, Rogue's Deep Wounds might come in handy – I guess you can even rush them a bit, but that depends on their build, really. If level 5 Dirty Fighting is crucial for them, you don't want to sacrifice that. Also, Goldpact Knight paladins may try to take the Flames of Devotion upgrade, but that's for the stupid builds mostly – for everyone else, Lay on Hands is too important to skip. Eventually, items will provide good opportunities to any party (say, Rotfingers and their AoE damage ability, but ring of Combusting Wounds can be nice too) so it's not that grand of a problem. It's just more pleasant to have an early solution.

4th level: Vicious Companion: we take this over the merciless one because, in the end, 15% damage and 3 DR reduction pretty much equals 30% damage gained, but Vicious is just more reliable. It's not hard to enable sneak attack, but why even bother with enabling? Otherwise, more power to your pet.

5th level: Vicious Aim: we've delayed it to level 5 because there's no much point to our shooting before we gain Borresaine. And that definitely won't happen before this level. Anyways, 10 accuracy is a nice crit booster, and let's not forget the elvish bonus and the high perception we've got. Our shooting speed is mediocre, of course, but at this stage of the game it's the pet who gives the most to the party so it's not that scary.

6th level: Faithful Companion: we'd love to develop our pet's aggressive capabilities further and further, but this takes precedence. We're at the stage of the game where we will encounter charming/confusing foes really often and given our pet's miniscule will, going into those battles without this talent will be annoying as hell. After all you've invested into your critter, you definitely don't want to fight him.

7th level: Stalker's Link: Borresaine loves extra accuracy, hence we get it. Takedown might look solid, but it's done with your pet's 5 Int at the moment so the duration of the prone is only half as long as it seems. But even if it was full, it still would've been rather mediocre. Driving Flight is sorta ok, but not that reliable – this thing has a wonky area of effect so hitting those extra targets takes lots of effort. Other stuff is decent, but not that critical for this build. So we go into something that improves our stunning.

8th level: Merciless Companion: now it's the time for it. Decent damage bonus, of course.

9th level: Binding Roots: while stuck is not the best disable ever, this thing has three things going for it. First, it has five casts and a fast casting rate. Meaning that, should you wish to, you can burn through all five in a very rapid succession. That can be very helpful at the start of the really tough battles. Second, the duration here is rather extreme – not a lot of 42 second disables in the game (and against fully melee enemies it's not that far away from being a full disable – just cast them while they're away from your party). Third, it targets reflexes – that's sorta rare for disables. And reflexes are the easiest defense to bring down. Hobble/Blind are common and easy to inflict, Paralyze/Petrification are rarer but, for the majority of monsters, they simply nullify their reflexes. So it's not only easy to hit with the Roots, it's easy to crit with them too. Leading to one minute disable time. That's way too much utility to ignore.

10th level: Marksman. Weapon Focus is better, but it's just to save you one respec – while at this stage we're still sporting Borresaine...

11th level: Stunning Shots: comes lvl 11 and we switch for the Hunting Bow. Just to allow us to apply more of these shots. Keep in mind that they stun only if your pet also attacks the target – coordinate your efforts properly. But it's all worth it – stay lightly armored and you will attack once every 3 seconds with your hunting bow while having good chance to cause 3 second stun with each hit. It's not exactly a permanent control option, but it's a lot of utility gained. Much better than both Master's Call (that requires tedious micro to set up it properly and the payoff is not that great) and Play Dead (it sounds cute, but you'd rather knock out your foes cold so they don't even have a chance to chew on your pet).

12th level: Weapon Focus: Peasant. Lenas Er is a really good one if you don't mind against lying. If you do – it's either persistence or the soulbound bow. Just attach the soulbound earlier on in this case so you've already unlocked it.
10. Rangers - Carebear continued
13th level: Twinned Arrows: this thing is superb but one very important thing to note is that it doesn't stack with the Vicious/Swift Aim. Meaning That you'll also respec at this level, taking either Arrow Sense or Defensive Bond instead of your Vicious. Arrow Sense helps against the somewhat smarter AI which is much keener to target your squishies (and carebear definitely is one). Defensive Bond helps in the boss fights – sure, many times you will be very far from your pet so it's not frequently useful, but often the fight will start from your entire group being subjected by a couple of potent AoE debuffs. And here the 15 defenses will help immensely. So I think Defensive is the better choice. As for the Twinned – even with the loss of your previous aura and -10 accuracy, it's still superb. That's how the math works – doubling the amount of shots is way cool. Also works nicely with the Stunning Shots – sure, the stuns don't stack, but double shots give double the chance to land those stuns. So the actual amount of stunning time increases greatly. This thing is great and is the final nail into the guns' metaphorical coffin.

14th level: Strengthened Bond: 25 protection is even better than 15, you know. And there are not many better options for you apar from defense boosting anyway. Mb apprentice's sneak attack, that's cute but don't expect it to make that much of a difference.
10. Rangers - Great White Hunter
This is a highly egoistical ranger build – he cares not about his pet and his party, they're mere tools that allow him to do the only thing he truly like: slaughtering things.

Role: third-line damage dealer.

Race: Wood Elf.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 19
C 8
D 19
P 19
I 3
R 10

A pretty standard DD build – as much offensive power as we can pack. In terms of pet, you want something tanky.

Weapon of Choice: Blunderbuss/pistol early on (mostly blunderbuss – pistol is for the rare ultra-high DR target), War Bow in the late game. Thanks to their ability to squeeze out the most of the guns, rangers are the only class who have real reasons to use guns now. And even they will abandon it at level 13 because no gun, no matter how well developed, will match the sheer offensive potential of the Twinned Shots with a Durgan Steel bow. Never waste durgan on guns, btw, it's does almost nothing for them.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Wounding Shot – our Marked Prey doesn't last that long and wounding shot is at its best with the high burst damage of guns. This choice doesn't really matter, though.

2nd level: Resilient Companion – the only bone we'll throw to our pet. It's just that without it it's rather useless and with it it can perform it's functions as the off-tank/flanker.

3rd level: Vicious Aim – Ok, we'll need to explain a lot. Just so you understand, the Blunderbuss' attack animation time is 50 frames, recovery – 76 frames, reload – 192. Yeah, reload is 1.5 as long as attack and recovery combined. Reload modifiers work strangely: the base reload modifier is 1. Once you get some bonuses/penalties, it all of them get multiplied.

So Swift Aim is 1.5 a modifier, Swift Aim + Gunner is 1.5x1.2=1.8. Add in Sure-Handed Ha aura and that's 2.16 already. Then your reload time gets divided on that number. So 192/1.5=128. That's two seconds of 10 second shooting time shaved off. Add in a gunner and 192/1.8=106.6. Another 2/3rds of a second. Add in Ha and 192/2.16=88.8. Another half of the second. Yeah, the growth here is non-linear – the more the bonus, the less effective it becomes. So bows/implements are much better with Ha (for them the growth is actually snowballing the bonus).

The penalties to reload speed are excruciating, though – take Vicious Aim, 192/0,8=240. So it's 254 frames of shooting with swift aim (8.6 seconds) vs 366 frames of shooting with Vicious Aim (12.2 seconds). But! What saves the day is the gunner. Whereas it gives only 21 frames to the Swift Aim, here it shaves an entire 48. The gunner is much more efficient here, though – kicks it back into the normal 318 frame time. Ha, if you have it, also shaves 32 frames instead of 18.

So you either trade 7 accuracy (14% damage multiplier) for a 25% extra shots. Or 15% of shots for 20% of basic damage and 20% accuracy multiplier. So Vicious looks better mathematically and becomes rather great after the Gunner. Sure, you can also improve Swift Aim, but it just won't gain as much as the Vicious will and it starts from behind.

4th level: Gunner: while Penetrating Shot is much better for the blunderbuss, we probably won't have it at this point. Besides, the Blunderbuss begins to be truly powerful once you get the Lead Spitter and that also won't be available until level 6 or so. Therefore, we can afford delaying our Penetrating for the sake of 15% of actual attack speed. And we'll definitely have pistol by now – just reenchant the Disappointer that you can find in the very first location. Even the minor accuracy enchantment will replace its penalty altogether.

5th level: Stalker's Link: time for that pet to start earning its keep. We'll need lots of accuracy to compensate that innate blunderbuss penalty.

6th level: Penetrating Shot: you've seen the breakdown. 20% of extra recovery turns our attack from 318 to 333. A very small price to pay for the extra 5 damage for each of the Blunderbuss' shots.

7th level: Arrow Sense: it's a bit of the metagaming choice. You'll encounter a lot of archers at this point, some really nasty ones. And, of course, you wouldn't want them to focus you down. 15 extra deflection helps a lot against that. If you find that way too specific, go for the Driving Flight instead. But I've found them a lot worse than they seem to be. Pretty disappointing as there aren't much opportunities for those extra hits.

8th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack. Extra damage bonuses work really well with the Blunderbuss.

9th level: Defensive Bond: allows us to use our critter as a walking talisman of +15 defenses. Just so we're not disabled and can keep shooting.

10th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian.

11th level: Stunning Shots: respec time. Yeah, blunderbuss should've been doing fine until now, but this is its limit. Even with 3 intelligence, this ability is too good to pass up. Just go for the high-speed shooting – Rain of Godagh Field bow, durgan steel enhancement, gloves of swift action, swift aim (that's the only thing you change in terms of the class-build). That's 70% attack speed – without armor, you should attack once every 1.8 seconds. That's without accounting the dexterity – it's somewhat hard to count. And you stun for 1.3. That's more than enough.

In terms of talents, it's Resilient Companion>Marksman>Weapon Focus: Adventurer>Apprentice's Sneak Attack>Strengthened Bond.

12th level: Bull's Will.

13th level: Twinned Arrows: respec once again. Swift Aim is awesome, but even with the high speed tactics twinned gives more. The build is the same, it's just that we take predator's sense on the level 3 – not that useful, but it's the best we can get there.

14th level: Mental Fortress – yeah, let's not get disabled at all.
10. Rangers - Powder Ranger
Role: third-line damage dealer.

Race: Island Aumaua.

Skill: Survival.

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included): 

M 20
C 10
D 19
P 18
I 3
R 8

This build tries to mix some of the traditional island obama arms juggling with the 2.0 ego ranger approach and a fresh 3.0 skill. Needless to say, it results in an interesting mix, even if it fully develops in the last third of the game.

Weapon of Choice: pistols, blunderbusses and war bows. The problem of the firearms is that no matter the skill and class setup, they just fall apart in the second part of the game. Once high speed tactics come into play, they can't do much. So we go for a hybrid – our first, reload-free shots will be done with the firearms. Heavy burst damage that way. And our last weapon will be the war bow so, once the free shots are done, we don't need to suffer from the firearms' sluggishness. Let's just take the best of the two worlds.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Wounding Shot – traditionally great with the guns.

2nd level: Quick Switch – without any delay, we enable our switcheroo. Of course, in the early game, we're unlikely to have all the blunderbusses we need, but even lesser stuff will do – the Disappointer in the first slot (once properly re-enchanted), the Fine Arbalest in the second, the War Bow in the third. Easy to assemble and nevertheless quite deadly.

3rd level: Predator's Sense. Our pet has a great offensive potential and taking this talent early will give us more damage output than anything else. Of course, with his low Int, this ranger is not the best enabler of it, but you have 5 persons more in your party – someone will have the appropriate class abilities. Worst case scenario, someone with high Int & Might will rush Envenomed Strike on leve 4.

4th level: Penetrating Shot. Without it, the blunderbuss is quite junky. With it, it provides an incredible damage output. BTW, don't be too hasty and never buy them in the shops – they cost an arm and a leg and, if you're patient enough, you'll scavenge all the enchanted ones you'll ever need. There's quite a bit of them in the White March content.

5th level: Vicious Aim – for the usual ranger build, this talent makes reload time excruciating. But, since our shots are free, we get all the upside here and almost none of the downside. Now, of course, not all of our shots are free, but we have a plan for that too.

6th level: Arms Bearer. The benefits of the island obama trickery pays the most in the early game, so we assemble this combo as fast as we can. Now we have 3 guns and one war bow to juggle.

7th level: Swift Aim. That's the plan I've mentioned. Once we've fired our free shots, let's not only switch to the bow – let's also enable this mode on. Let's have only good tradeoffs.

8th level: Vicious Companion. Let's not neglect our pet. It's another great source of damage (especially if it's a wolf) that we wouldn't mind to tap. I think that, at this stage of the game, this talent gives a bit more than the Merciless Companion (not to mention that it's constantly on) so we take it first.

9th level: Stalker's Link. Worst part of the guns is that they all have a rather unpleasant accuracy penalty. Best part of our pet is that it can somewhat fix that.

10th level: Merciless Companion.

11th level: Stunning Shots: our intelligence is awful, of course, but we will be using high-speed tactics at this point. And, with our high Dexterity, it's gonna be quite realistic to fire our bow once every 1.5 seconds or so. And, well, with that rate of fire, even 1.3 seconds of stun time is enough to keep our target almost constantly down.

12th level: Marksman.

13th level: Powder Burns. Now our initial volley has an even greater payoff. Which is good because otherwise it would've faded into the insignificance. Note that this doesn't make our weapon shoot multiple targets – instead, it adds an additional flamer-like template to our shots. Each shot will do around 50 fire damage in that template. So our juggling now also produces 150 AoE damage – that's nifty.

Once you have this ability, you'll probably want to rotate your blunderbusses out for arquebuses or pistols. It's just that each kind of firearms produces their own template and the blunderbuss one is very unwieldy. Hard to place it without extreme friendly fire – yeah, this ability can harm your friends, so be careful with the positioning. It also doesn't stack with either of Aim skills so you'll respec the Vicious Aim for the Driving Flight skill. More AoE damage for you.

All in all, I wouldn't call this ability superb, but it's not like we have it and it only – we still have our bow shots and our pet is properly developed. So while this skill may not shine as much (outside of blinding us), it's just another good card in our sleeve.

14th level: Scion of Flame – so we turn that 150 into 180. It also works with the Burning Lash on our weapons if we enchant them that way (which is another plus).

15th level: Twinned Arrows. Just like we previously rotated from Vicious into Swift Aim, now we'll do with Powder Burns and this one. Start with cannons, finish with arrows. Great flexibility. And, as it doesn't stack with the Swift Aim, you may respec it into Bond. Defensive Bond.

16th level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer. That's if you use the Rain of Godagh Field. If you go for the Stormcaller, you may take Soldier instead – soulbounds are universal so they get the bonus from any weapon focus you have. And soldier will make your arquebuses much better. Or ruffian if you stick to the pistol & blunderbuss combo.
10. Rangers - Cop Dog
This is a melee ranger. Surprisingly enough, lots of his abilities do work in melee. And whereas previously he suffered from the lack of damage, the 2.0 speedy shield approach gives him the edge he needed. It's a nice option because it gives you 2 frontliners in one slot. On the other hand, keep in mind that some dungeons are real narrow and your front is not exactly finite so, in some parties, that may come as a flaw, not as a boon.

Role: first line tank and damage dealer

Race: anything goes – both offense & defense is good here.

Stats (Boreal Dwarf, the Living Lands bonus included):

M 21
C 16
D 10
P 10
I 3
R 18

This is the reliable build – Con & Res make you a fine tank while Might compensates for the lack of ranger's innate damage bonuses. If you wish, you can go in the more aggressive direction by switching Con with either Per or Dex. You can also go with the 3 Dex, 17 Per – it's a tiny bit of net loss but it makes you a better persuader. In terms of the summon you go for the wolf here.

Weapon of Choice: small shield & any +20% speed one-hander.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Wounding Shots - despite the “Shots”, these are actually perfectly usable with melee weapons. As usual, it's all about Predator's Sense enabling.

2nd level: Resilient Companion – this build is carebear-style, btw.

3rd level: Predator's Sense – boosting our pet at this point will do more than boosting ourselves. This build shines offensively a bit later into the game.

4th level: Weapon and Shield style – well, we will delay the pet's development a bit, simply so our ranger also counts as a tank..

5th level: Swift Aim – the 20% of attack speed here also work for the melee attacks. So once we get some sort of +20% speed weapon (as usual, Sword of Daenisys is already available for sale) and get our armor penalty real low, we'll get a great boost that way.

6th level: Faithful Companion – you really don't want to delay this one.

7th level: Stalkers' Link — great way to compensate for the Swift Aim's penalty.

8th level: Vulnerable Attack – if you go to White March at level 5-6, you should have some durgan steel for your shield at this point, meaning you can now strike both fast & hard.

9th level: Defensive Bond – this build strongly profits from it as this thing is almost always on. And +15 defenses is nothing to sneeze at.

10th level: Strengthened Bond - +25 works even better.

11th level: Arrow Sense – unfortunately, Stunning Shots live up to their name and don't work in melee. It's not the end of the world, of course, and the build is still decent enough, it's just that it's disappointing – it's not like the description of the talent says “ranged only”. But it totally is. So we just take another defensive talent instead.

12th level: Vicious Companion – it got really delayed but what we can do. Lots of higher priority stuff here.

13th level: Play Dead – or maybe Mark? Not a lot of difference.

14th level: Merciless Companion .
11. Fighters - Nature Boy
Fighters have been nerfed rather severely in 2.0. And it's not about defender – tbh, defender doesn't really mean much, if anything at all. The fighter was nigh-immortal before, even without defender he is extremely well-protected. The real nerf was done to the tanking role – with smarter AI who's no longer content with focusing your tanks only, you can't really afford a party member who can only tank and that's that. You need a tank who provides at least something more to the party. Like the paladin, barbarian, chanter and monk tanks do. And while, theoretically, the fighter has some active skills, sad truth is they're all horrible. Mediocre, at best.

That doesn't mean they've became useless, of course. It's just that no longer they are pure tanks – now all fighters need to be built as damage dealers because that's what their best talents are focused on. And while the fighter will never reach the heights of a rogue damage dealing, he always remains a partial tank. He's always the mix of the two.


Role: DD/tank

Race: Anything can go. Let's try out Nature Godlike for a change – the fighters can stay on the low HP for quite a time so they may work here.

Stats (the Ixamitl Plains included):

M 18
C 18
D 10
P 10
I 4
R 18

This is the tankiest fighter build – maxed out defensive stats plus might for healing and attack damage. Intelligence takes the cut as we need to have a dump stat to make the fighter worth it and most of the int-dependent abilities are meh anyway.

Weapon of Choice: sabre/stiletto & shield. If you have some Durgan steel to spare, you may go for the vulnerable attack + swift weapon combo.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Disciplined Barrage – Knockdown is useless without Int (even with it, it becomes negligible rather quickly) so we take this one. Doesn't last for long, but still helps us a bit. The best part here is the instant cast speed so it doesn't really cost us anything.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield Style – since fighters have very high basic accuracy, barrage & some graze negation, I think they always go for the kite shield (which is why the background here really helps – you start the game with one). Lots of deflection gained and the downside is not that crucial for us.

3rd level: Confident Aim – defender got nerfed into oblivion, guardian stance has a miserable range even with 18 Intelligence (it could've been good with the higher one), so we don't exactly have any choice here. Thankfully, Aim is rather decent – it can easily result in 16-17% damage increase overall. For a single talent, that's rather decent.

4th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack – we want to increase our DD potential as fast as possible so we're actually useful to the party.

5th level: Weapon Specialization: Ruffian - both sabres & stilettos are really nice if you don't have any access to the turbo-high weapon speeds, so we go for those. Everything else either demands intelligence or is pretty weak.

6th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian.

7th level: Armored Grace – attack speed penalties are awful for weapon & shield so let's reduce it at least a bit. This allows us to wear robes with no penalty and padded armour with negligible penalty, meaning we can use Gwisk Glas or Vengiatta Rugia freely.

8th level: Weapon Mastery: Ruffian. Not the best gain per talent spent, but we want to have all the damage we can scramble.

9th level: Critical Defense or Unbending – Unbending is horribly worded. In reality, it heals you by a percentage of endurance you're currently missing. The lower you are, the better in heals. Even without a high Int, it's quite a life-saver. Not that great for the Nature's passive, though. 10% of hit to graze conversion from Defense is also rather good, though, especially when combined with a durgan enhanced shield. So both of these are very fine defensive choices – we've ran out of offensive, unfortunately.

10th level: If you have the Durgan Steel to spend, Vulnerable attack. Gives a lot of damage output. You may even save on the weapon for the fighter (he'll never reach the crazy speed), but his shield is a must. Otherwise – One-Handed Style. Yeah, it works with the shield. Doesn't give too much damage but it's still about 5% increase.

11th level: Unbroken – that one is so good, especially with lots of health from 18 constitution. We can play really risky while paying no real price for it. As for the new Take the Hit... It would've been great if not for the basic 2 meter radius of the aura. Even with the high int, that's just way, way too small. I guess you can look at the low radius as a boon – that way you're protecting the person you want to protect, without taking some extra damage. That might work for some rogue of yours. But even then you'd rather have the unbroken first, just in case you're focused too fast (I'm speaking from PoTD perspective).

12th level: Savage-Attack – generally, I don't like this one, but with One-Handed style we already have 50% graze conversion so we don't suffer from its penalty that much. And once that's out of the picture, the bonus becomes really nice.

13th level: Take the Hit or Sundering Blow: so these both seem like a good reward for having some int... But I dunno, take the hit also requires lots of endurance. You take 18 Con, you take 18 int, you say good-bye to offense. And while taking the hit is nice, you can do the same with the paladin's healing, more or less. Sundering Blow, on the other hand, is really good on paper. But it still doesn't merit putting that much points into intelligence. Too much offensive power lost so it becomes counter-productive. So you just take one of these and use them in their unrefined form, that's how it is here.

14th level: Superior Deflection. If you've taken Vulnerable Attack on level 10, you go for One-Handed Style here.
11. Fighters - Lady of Pain
Role: DD/tank

Race: Fire Godlike.

Stats (the Living Lands included):

M 19
C 16
D 19
P 10
I 4
R 10

This is the middle of the road fighter build. Enough sturdiness to gain the maximum output from the fire godlike's passive mixed with good offensive potential.


Weapon of Choice: dual sabres. You don't really have anything to maximize gains from the Resolution/Purgatory combo so, if there's some competition in the party, you can easily use some hand-crafted basic ones (the ideal would be superb+lash+kith-slaying, of course).

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Disciplined Barrage – I must tell you that all 3 builds here are rather similar. It's just that you need to go offensive and the fighters are not exactly diverse when doing that.

2nd level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack – fighters love sabres as they profit a lot from such percentage bonuses.

3rd level: Confident Aim.

4th level: Vulnerable Attack – this thing is so good that even for the sabre's considerable basic damage and with all possible fighter's increases it's still a net gain. Besides, you can always switch to stilettos/clubs against certain foes – lots of high slashing resistances in the game.

5th level: Weapon Specialization: Ruffian.

6th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian.

7th level: Unbending – for the fire Godlike, there is a merit in earlier Unbending. It can allow you to survive while suffering through heavy focus, thus doing plenty of fire damage in the process.

8th level: Two-Weapon Fighting.

9th level: Armored Grace – now it's time for the armored grace. We're developing into a greater attack potential here so we skip over the Critical Defense.

10th level: Weapon Mastery: Ruffian – we delay this a bit because two-weapon fighting just gave better benefits at that point.

11th level: Unbroken.

12th level: Savage-Attack – we don't have as much graze conversion as the previous build but we still have some from the Confident Aim so why not? Besides, it seems like they're not planning to fix this also boosting the Battle-Forged.

13th level: Take the Hit: I think take is the better choice here because it can be used to enable the battle-forged quickly. And, considering that now battle-forged does quite a bit of damage, that's a welcome option.

14th level: Scion of Flame: for the battle-forged alone, taking the scion is a bit disappointing, so you'll probably want to have fire lashes on your sabres. Then it's definitely worth it. Otherwise, you can always take something like Bull's Will or Superior Deflection.
11. Fighters - Sailor Senshi
Role: damage dealer/tank

Race: Moon Godlike – this is the least protected fighter build so we love to compensate for that (relatively speaking, they're still sturdy) with the godlike's healing waves.

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 18
C 8
D 20
P 18
I 4
R 10

Pretty basic dd stats.

Weapon of Choice: Weapon School: Adventurer. Specifically – estocs & poleaxes. The most interesting part about the latter is that you can acquire the Spectacular Spetum one rather early. And it has marking - +10 accuracy to the rest of the party against that foe. In the early and mid-game, that's really potent. And fighter is sturdy enough to wield a two-hander & tank at the same time. Past that point, you'll want to use the Grey Sleeper – a soulbound estoc. That's why we max out dexterity – it profits the most from that one. If you don't want to give that to your fighter, Drake's Bell into Blade of the Endless Paths (or maybe simply the Bell – Blade is only good if you expend Durgan steel and fighter is not the best char for these tactics) will make for a nice alternative.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Disciplined Barrage.

2nd level: Two-Handed Style.

3rd level: Confident Aim – not much comments here because the build is pretty basic.

4th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack.

5th level: Weapon Specialization: Adventurer.

6th level: Savage Attack – let's take this one early so we can squeeze the most damage out of our two-hander.

7th level: Armored Grace – I think that moon's healing waves somewhat obsolete the unbending so we'll take the grace first, it is very good for the two-handers.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer .

9th level: Critical Defense.

10th level: Weapon Mastery: Adventurer. Keep in mind that almost all of your bonuses do apply to the war bow also, so you can have that handy too in case you need some shooting.

11th level: Unbroken.

12th level: Interrupting Blows: you should fight in the robe at this point and your attack, with the dexterity bonuses included, should occur once every 2 seconds or so. With 0.75 interrupt time, that's 33% timewasting efficiency – good enough.

13th level: Unbending: we're not tanky enough to go into the Take the Hit mode and sundering blows just don't last long enough. So why not take some extra healing here?

14th level: Bull's Will – as we're out of offensive talents, let's fix our mental problems somewhat.
11. Fighters - The French Connection
Role: tank

Race: Wild Orlan – they always fare well as the pure tanks. Anything defensive can succeed too, though.

Skills: Survival – mostly for the healing bonus.

Stats (Hearth Orlan, the Aedyr bonus included): 

M 10
C 10
D 3
P 17
I 18
R 20

This build thrives on the thing that has previously devastated tanks, making us rethink the role of the class entirely. Since 2.0, enemies got much smarter – now instead of just swarming around your tank, they break the engagement and rush towards the squishier targets. Yeah, they get the punishing disengagement attack, but it's not big enough to kill them or even to seriously harm them. Not big enough to prevent them from ripping apart our squishies. However, now the fighter has a true way of punishing the disengagement. Hence, the full tanky build returns in style.

BTW, an obvious boon here is that this build is very talky.

Weapon of Choice: Shatterstar & shield. Or any other one-hander that gives you extra engagements.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Knock Down – just a bit of utility for the early game. Later on, it will become insignificant so you can respec it for the Disciplined Barrage.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield Style – you can never have enough deflection.

3rd level: Defender – It's all about having extra engagements here. This build profits immensely from having as much of them as humanely possible. BTW, you won't need this immediately, of course – turn it on only after you gain level 7.

4th level: Wary Defender – because we can't stay connected if we're under any kind of disable. Spell defenses are great.

5th level: Vigorous Defense – needless to say, the fighter tank is a nigh-unkillable being. With some adequate gear, you'll have around a hundred deflection at this point. Yeah, 100 deflection, that's just insane when it's this early. And other saves are great too.

6th level: Hold the Line – look into paragraph below and you'll see the reason for this.

7th level: Overbearing Guard – this is what makes this build work. Previously, we couldn't really do anything to punish the disengagement. But now, with this thing online? Every attempt to reach our squishies will most likely result in the seven seconds of prone time. Which will give your squishies more than enough time to reposition themselves. Or brace for the impact somehow. This thing turns the main vulnerability of pure tanks into a great strength – quite a fine trade, I must say. And now you understand why we're collecting those engagement bonuses – the more enemies we tie-in, the more will facedive the ground.

8th level: Superior Deflection – and if enemies choose to hang on our tank, it's also a great thing for us. With defenses this big, he's not easy to bring down.

9th level: Into the Fray – even if they manage to get away from us, we can always bring them back. Keep in mind that there should be no obstacles between you and your target, else it'll get stuck around them.

10th level: Weapon Focus: Soldier. That's if you're using Shatterstar. If something else – just pick up the proper school.

11th level: Take the Hit - with deflection that high, your fighter won't be receiving that much damage. So we can put some extra weight on his shoulders with this ability. It's not that easy to use as the range is somewhat narrow, but it gives some interesting tactical options.

12th level: Wound Binding - take the hit is great, but in some harsh situations (versus enemy AoE nukes, for example) it can drain the fighter's health pool rather quickly. And we can afford only the average constitution score. This choice negates such problems.

13th level: Unbending – just another thing to negate the possible Take the Hit sudden health drain. I mean, you shouldn't have much problems if you're shielding just one party member that way, but what if you'll want to shield half of your crew from some pesky nukes?

14th level: Bear's Fortitude – just working on our weaker spell defenses.

15th level: Triggered Immunity – makes our tank even more undefeatable than it was before. A very potent skill.

16th level: Body Control – so we care even less about disables.
11. Fighters - Nerdy Cutthroat
Role: DD/tank

Race: Humans or Boreal Dwarves. We like accuracy bonuses here.

Skill: Survival.

Stats (Human, the Aedyr bonus included): 

M 17
C 10
D 10
P 3
I 18
R 20

That's a lateral thinking approach to the fighter. Yeah, sure, perception seems uber-important for the damage dealer. Generally, it is. But to profit the most out of it, you really need to do something with your criticals. Extra damage, stun on crit, anything. And the fighter isn't that keen on this stuff. He has enough means to land average hits reliably, though, even despite burning his sight down on all those books. And the fighter has quite an amount of good uses for his Intelligence stat. It's just that your straightforward build can't really afford any investments into it. And this build can stay mighty, tanky and smart at the same time.

Weapon of Choice: +20% speed enhanced weapon & shield.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Disciplined Barrage – allows us to forget that we're actually nearsighted for, like, half of the average combat duration. That's one of the things that makes this build viable, actually.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield Style – the more deflection we have, the more efficient it becomes. That's why we take Resolve instead of the Constitution as our tankiness booster, btw. We'd want to stick to the light shields, though – we already have enough accuracy penalties.

3rd level: Confident Aim – best part is that not only it boosts our damage, it also converts some eventual (and unwanted) grazes into hits. So our low Per means even less and less.

4th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian – it's a temporary choice. Unfortunately, there are no speed enchanted sabers, but until you start getting such stuff, they and stilettos remain the best weapon choice. So you'll be using them in the first third of the game. Then you'll respec into something else. Whatever you find first.

5th level: Vigorous Defense - another boon of our great int. Long time of excellent protection.

6th level: One-Handed Style - it fully works with the shield so that's just more accuracy for us. If you have some strong accuracy buffers in the team, you may go for the Envenomed Strikes instead.

7th level: Weapon Specialization: whatever you use.

8th level: Weapon Mastery: Anything You Synthesize.

9th level: Armored Grace – this build has one specific suit of armor in mind. Angio's Gambeson. Once per rest, it gives a free Deleterious Alacrity of Motion use (which is really good). For average users, that's downsided by the fact that this suit itself gives a 20% recovery time penalty, meaning those 50% turn into 30%. With this skill, however, we unlock its full potential. And with our Int, we have the max duration of Alacrity, of course.

10th level: Vulnerable attack. Just the traditional shield speed tactics – enhance your shield with the Durgan Steel and you negate the most of penalty here. And, when you strike every second or so, these 5 points of DR penetration turn into ridiculous amounts of damage.

11th level: Unbroken – just as a safety valve. It's especially great when the bonuses last for the full 40 seconds. You can go Unbending too – they serve the similar function.

12th level: Outlander's Frenzy – while you can't activate Angio's Gambeson in every battle, you can do that with this talent. And it still provides a great amount of speed. And only with the high Int you can rage properly (which probably makes some sense on a philosophical level).

13th level: Charge – helps us to get into position and just provides a solid amount of area of effect damage. Simple and efficient.

14th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack.

15th level: Triggered Immunity. Being immune is fun (maybe not so much to our foes). And that's another intelligence payoff.

16th level: Superior Deflection.
12. Wizards - Intro & Spell Review
In 2.0, the wizards became a bit strange. While they still remain quite a powerful class, one aspect of theirs that got somewhat downplayed is their damage dealing spells. Early game, you just don't have enough spells to blast away, so you're sticking to your controls/debuffs as they last longer and, generally, give more impact through the battle. Mid-game, combat magic is somewhat nice but is rather harmed by the wizards lacking any good 4th level spells (which comes at the level 7 – that's the heart of the mid-game). And their 3rd level damage spells, to be honest, are absolutely outshone by the Kalakoths. And, once the level 5 and 6 magic comes, same happens for the Citzal's Lance. It's just that, with a couple of self-buffs, these mega-powerful summoned weapons can do much more damage that the traditional wizard nuking would do. And whereas the nuking doesn't exactly scale to the monsters (i.e., PoTD lvl 14 Alghoul is 600 endurance – think it cares all that much about the piddly ~35 damage fireball? Even the lvl 7 delayed one is a joke to it), lance with it's easily achievable 30 damage per second output certainly does. Same goes for the early game, only with Wand and the Blast talent or with the Concelhaut's staff. It just so happens that, in terms of the optimal aggressive builds, wizard is more like a spellblade than the actual mage. Well, at least the control wizards are pretty wizard-like and, thanks to the strength of their debuff/disables, they scale rather well through the game.

Like all other casters, their 1st and 2nd spells become per encounter at levels 9 and 11. In white march, 3rd become per encounter at 13.

The spell selection is very important but, if you made a mistake, you can always rectify it by learning the spell from a looted grimoire (note that during respec you forget all those learned spells – thankfully, they don't vanish from your grimoire; you can still respec as a wizard, it's not a problem, it's just that respecs cost more money for this class). Hence, I'll write this section in a different manner. First we'll review the spells (and top level-up choices), then we'll move on to the builds. After all, good wizard build doesn't matter much if you're using all the wrong spells.

I'll categorize spells as core (you really want them in your grimoire), sideboard (you need them later than they become available or you want them in a secondary grimoire) and junk.

1st level:
Core stuff:

Chill Fog – good cast range, good AoE, long duration, does damage every couple of seconds (it can easily add up to 100 damage against the average early foe), blinds foes for a significant duration and it's a strong debuff... As long as your tanks keep your foes inside the area, it'll slaughter the opposition. Oh, and there's another great part about such multi-part damage spells – since your initial accuracy is rather bad, one-hit spells are absolutely hit or miss. They can either do a lot or fumble pathetically. Composite spells, on the other hand, provide a much more reliable effect.

Concelhaut's Parasitic Staff – all the casters in this games are beefcakes and mages are no exception. So putting those muscles to action is a fine choice. This thing is insane - +8 accuracy (fixing our initially low stat) and ~30 damage dealt (before DR). And 20% of that damage goes to our endurance. And it lasts for a minute. And it's a reach weapon so we can use it from behind the backs of our tanks (but even if someone gets to us, it's not as scary because of endurance leech). Time to crush some skulls, baby.

Fleet Feet – this spell is the wizard's analogue for the last bullet that is left for yourself, only it's not as lethal. Instead, it just lets him get out of trouble fast. And fast running is the best kind of martial art, y'know.

Slicken – prone is a good debuff and it lasts long enough for an early spell. Good crowd control.

Spirit Shield - +3 DR doesn't suddenly make us a tank, but 30 concentration is invaluable in 2.0 – Resolve became the universal dump stat so we have to fix that somehow. You probably won't have the slots to cast it early on, but it becomes a mainstay once the mid-game begins.

Sideboard:

Fan of Flames – hard to land properly, a bit short-ranged and you need some lucky hits. For some reason, it got rather unpleasantly nerfed and now it's not half as shiny as it was. Can still be used to certain effect, though.

Eldritch Aim – can be useful later on if we have a spare moment to cast it before unleashing a powerful combo.

Ghost Blades – good if you have some rogues in party (enables sneak attacks). Worse damage than the fan but it's foe only, that's good.

Wizard's Double – just 1 attack, but the bonus is huge. Decent after level 9 where it's free

Minoletta's Minor Missiles – it's quite forgettable early on but it becomes rather useful after level 9. We have 4-6 level 1 slots to burn each combat (depending on our items and talents choices) and while these don't do as much as the other useful 1st level casts, they're fast. You can burn though them very quickly. And, while they're horrible against any high DR, crush & corrode are the least resisted sources of damage in the game. So there will be monsters against whom this'll mean 50 fast damage. Which is rather nice.

Junk:

Arkemyr's Dazzling Lights – bad range and Daze is much better applied by our basic, fast and two times per each encounter Arcane Assault.

Jolting Touch – the “touch” part kills it. We don't want to go to melee range voluntarily. At least, not for the sake of some mediocre damage being dealt. If you want some good melee damage – go Concelhaut.

Kalakoth's Sunless Grasp – same as above.

Thrust of Tattered Veils – low damage and interrupt chance is meh. I mean, it's functional, but that doesn't really come into play until somewhat later into the game and then there are better ways of disrupting the enemy casters.

2nd level spells:

Core stuff:

Miasma of Dull-Mindedness – gives enemies -10 deflection, -10 Accuracy, -20 reflex, -40 will, -30 concentration. Any kind of a group can abuse that much debuffs strongly.

Bewildering Spectacle – it's not that strong of a control spell but wizard's 2nd level is rather weak so even mediocrity is appreciated. At least this is your foes not hitting you for 7 seconds.

Concelhaut's Corrosive Siphon – 77 AoE damage sounds like a fine plan for a level 2 spell. Of course, that's damage over time so, in the end, it's gonna be less than that because of DR getting applied multiple times, but even then corrode damage is rarely resisted so the end result will be decent. And it even restores some endurance to you (though it rarely matters).

Sideboard:
Curse of Blackened Sight – the Blind is a very nice disable and helps to focus down foes rather nicely, not to mention that the duration here is rather big. The only problem is that level 1 Chill Fog also gives lots of blindness to your foes, only with some damage and in a bigger area. So this one is decent, but not a must.

Binding Web – rather good if you have rogues, otherwise not as great until the later levels. Once you can expend the 2nd spell slot freely, you can use it to augment all of your reflex-targeting spells (you have aplenty). As a simple debuff, it's not that great, even if it lasts long.

Bulwark Against The Elements – wizards can rack up their deflection scores rather high but they do have a problem with spell saves. So elemental damage might prose a trouble – well, it would if you didn't had access to this spell.

Fetid Caress – 11 seconds of paralyze is nice, but the secondary AoE effect is weak and you don't fight the singular foes that much. Great in certain occasions, but not everywhere.
12. Wizards - Spell Review Continued
Infuse With Vital Essence – once you have lvl 2 slots to spare, this becomes rather good. 50 endurance is always a significant boost, especially when coupled with other protective effects. At times, you'll have to cast protective effect after effect until they can't hurt you anymore and only them will you have the chance to kill your foes with whatever spells that remain in your arsenal.

Merciless Gaze – once again, becomes decent when you can freely spare low spell slots. But here it's for the prolonged boss fights instead of dire survival.

Mirrored Image – there will be better options later on but, in some situations, you need to stack as much deflection as possible (versus the gunners, for example). Then, every long-lasting source is welcome.

Necrotic Lance – the damage looks good (and it is good), but it's a single damage instance spell. On one target. So, as I've said, if it does nothing it can easily lead to you reloading the tough combat. And it will.

Ray of Flame – works like the Cipher's antipathetic field, only the range is shorter and the damage is lower. Deals damage to the primary target too. And the line stretches, so even if you ran farther than the initial 5 meter range, it'll hold. Has a very strong damage potential yet can be tricky to use, hence the sideboard placement..


Junk:

Combusting Wounds – looks like a nice combo piece but really isn't. It's sorta the rogue's Deep Wounds problem – instead of adding straight 5 damage, it gives funky 5 damage DoT, thus not giving any sort of a meaningful combo potential. There are better damaging spells. Even if you want this, you'll often find rings that give this spell in a 3 casts per rest form.

Rolling Flame – would've been core if it actually did the damage it promises. The actual damage output is lower than is written (bug?) and, because the game is isometric, it's not that easy to bounce the flame back on the foes. It's simply too hard to control.

3rd level spells:

Core stuff:

Deleterious Alacrity of Motion – one of the things that makes wizards better warriors than casters. 50% attack speed is not a joke, even if it costs some minor endurance. And parasitic Staff is already solid but there's even something better than that – read below.

Kalakoth's Minor Blights – superb. For a proper wizard, one blight will do about 30 damage per hit. It will also cause small AoE blast, touching 2-3-4 foes and dealing some nice (though smaller) damage to them. Blights change in a cycle, so you'll scroll through all kinds of elemental damage. And, most important, blights are actually wands. Weird, enchanted, one-use wands. So the talents that work with wands (blast, penetrating blast, dangerous implement, weapon focus: adventurer) totally work with blights. And they're powerful enough to merit their own build. And they last long. And under deleterious alacrity...

Llengrath's Displaced Image – now that's a deflection buff! Long duration and no strings attached. And even gives us lots of reflexes as a bonus – that's always welcome. And an insane hit to graze conversion - iddqd!

Sideboard:

Arcane Dampener – very good against supportive casters that you encounters. But that's why it is sideboard – you don't meet them in every combat.

Arduous Delay of Motion – it's very good for the ranged parties (and wizard can be a part of that). Otherwise, it reduces their damage by 30%, pretty much, and while that is not bad, that's also nothing insane. I guess it can be very good against full plate and other heavy armor users as the armor penalties will stack nicely (for you).

Crackling Bolt – pretty good damage and, most importantly, fast cast rate. Fast cast means you can spam ridiculously (once you'll have the slots for it). It has the same mechanic as the Rolling Boulder, though, so be wary not to reflect it across your party – that will sting a bit. And, before you have lots of spare slots, Kalakoth's provide much better damage output for the spell slot investment.

Expose Vulnerabilities – against most foes, blindness is preferable as -20 deflection leads to lots of criticals (and that's a level 2 spell). However, if that's not enough or if you have some ways to abuse the DR loss (and you do), this can work rather well. Not to mention that you can use both.

Fireball – fast cast time is nice but the damage is just not there. Usually, crackling bolt is the better option. Still, against certain kinds of foes this will be better, not to mention that it's much easier to aim so it's useful to keep this in mind.

Minoletta's Bounding Missiles – not that bad of a damage potential, but it's quite bad against any sort of even medium DR and that's everywhere. Not a commonly useful spell.



Junk:

Concelhaut's Draining Touch – no touching!

Noxious Burst – nice AoE and a slight debuff in addition to damage, but the damage itself is average.

Rymgrin's Repulsive Image – it works only when you're standing near the foes and you'd want to avoid that situation absolutely. And the reward is just not there – the debuff here is mild.


4th level spells:

Core stuff:

Confusion – great AoE, decent enough duration. I find it to be not as great as some of the other core spells are, but 4th level spells are also shallow so the plank here is hardly high.

Essential Phantom – quite essential indeed. Despite the word “duplicate”, it has barely anything common with you – actually, it's very sturdy, has great defenses, is always armed with wand, deals about 30 basic electrical damage and half of that in the AoE. Summons are rare in this game and this is a great summon.

Dimensional Shift – it's a good escape spell but it's hard to actually disable someone with this. The positioning requirements are just too annoying. This can be very good if you have some summons (and, obviously, you'll have your phantom – that's why this spell is core), especially throwaway ones.

Wall of Flame – one of the changes of 2.0 is that now half of the wizards go for the high Perception and this thing is great if only for the sake of interrupts. It attacks once each seconds and interrupts them for 0.5 seconds – 50% time wasting rate, quite a potent one! Also, it has a huge basic accuracy so it crits often which really helps it to frequently penetrate the opposing DR, racking up some considerable damage output.

Sideboard:

Ironskin – generally, you want to build up deflection sky-high but there are times when that's not enough (gunners, for example). For such occasions, ironskin is the best answer.

Minor Arcane Reflection – a potent tool but very obvious sideboard.

Junk:

Flame Shield – wizard can rack up quite a bit of defenses but what's the point? The reward here is too laughable – just 10 damage per hit. Fire godlike tanks are much better at this.

Minoletta's Concussive Missiles – can you do anything right, Minoletta? Stop spamming us with your pointless spells!

Minor Grimoire Imprint – you don't fight wizards in each battle and even then it's way too random.
12. Wizards - Lots of Spells in this One
5th level spells:

Core stuff:

Citzal's Spirit Lance – after the buff in 1.05 it summons the most damaging weapon in the game. Insane primary target damage and ridiculous AoE damage. You become an engine of destruction with this one (well, this and a couple of buffs). One of defining wizard spells atm.

Llengrath's Safeguard – after the buff, became another potent defensive spell. Since the Citzal's usage might put you into some risky situations, this can be quite a lifesaver in tough combats.

Malignant Cloud – the damage is decent and it's raw. As long as the enemies stay in the area, that's a whole world of pain. And, at this stage, it shouldn't be that hard to glue them. The real boon, however, is for the low-might wizard. Generally, his spells are devastated by the enemy DR – it's one thing to have 12 damage against DR 8 and completely another to have 8 vs 8 (that's roughly the difference between might 3 and 18). 4 damage vs 1.6 (20% of damage goes in anyway,don't forget), two and a half times. Since raw ignores the DR, the difference is not as significant – only the actual 12 vs 8, 50%. That's still a lot but that's not 250%. Control Freak wizards love this one.


Ryngrim's Enervating Terror – it's not flashy but it works much better than it looks. Terrify is a very strong disable and Weaken helps a lot of your other spells (or spells of the other caster members). And huge radius/foe only combo allow to apply it to the entire enemy encounters easily.

Sideboard:

Blast of Frost – the damage is quite ok, but nothing really impressive. It shines if you're level 9 at level 7-8 locations, but against the high level content of the white march (if you go into the scaled version of it which is probably the better choice – otherwise it makes the rest of the game too easy) it's quite mediocre.

Ninagauth's Bitter Mooring – a greatly upgraded ray of flame. Longer range (not as long as the cipher's toys, though), good damage, good duration. Stuck effects galore for the foes. As all such spells, can be a bit tricky to use but the potential reward is certainly there.

Torrent of Flame – the greatest part of this is fast cast time. So, whereas early on you were afraid of getting surrounded by the foes, now you almost welcome it. Let's see what remains of them after a couple of these. The sideboard placement is because it affects your friends to so it's often not that easy to cast.

Wall of Force – tbh, it's not even about the damage and the hobble, it's all about interrupts. It's a worse Wall of Fire, yeah, but when you're out of lvl 4 slots and need to interrup someone, this might do the trick.

Junk:

Arkemyr's Wondrous Torment – would've been better if Miasma of Dull-Mindedness didn't exist. As it is, it's a 5th level spell that is worse than a 2nd level spell. Not good at all.

Call to Slumber – it's not bad per se but at character level 9 you want something a bit flashier than this one.

6th level spells:

Core stuff:

Citzal's Martial Power – it's good to be a 'roid abusing wizard. Why even bother to cast spells when you can crush their faces with your fist? Well, you do need to cast spells a bit – the proper combo is as much defenses as you have free time + Kalakoth's Minor Blights/Citzal's Spirit Lance + Deleterious Alacrity of Motion + this. All Fast spells so it's not that long of a combo, btw. So it's not even a fist you'll be using, but some faces are certain to get smashed. Can use this with a decently enchanted war bow too (if you're too lazy to cast that much – alacrity + citzal+ durgan steel Godagh Fields + gloves of swift action is 1-1.3 seconds per attack). Lots of DPS in any case.

Gaze of the Adragan – petrified is the supreme disable. -40 deflection, nullified reflexes and you deal double the damage with everything. Even after duration was nerfed, it s till is top-notch.

Minoletta's Precisely Piercing Burst – you know, once she stops pumping out those crap missiles of hers, Minoletta actually becomes good at what she does. This is a hugely upgraded Torrent of Flame – bigger AoE, foes only, better damage. Foes only is the most important stuff here. The description is a bit bold – it bypasses 10 DR, not all of it. Even then, it's a great spell.

Ninagauth's Freezing Pillar – an evolution of Chill Fog. The debuff somehow got weaker, but the damage is more or less fine and is foe only. It's not that strong, to be honest, but it's very convenient to use. Just throw it in the middle of foes without caring that much and it's bound to deal some good damage.

Sideboard:

Arcane Reflection – incredibly good, actually, yet a clear sideboard option.

Arcemyr's Capricious Hex – it's a save/load spell, pretty much. The effects are just too unbalanced – the paralyze part means “win target combat”, the other two do almost nothing. So it's absolutely random and the only way to control that is save/scumming (which, with PoE's long loading times, is quite annoying). If you're not against that, however, it can be really strong.

Junk:

Chain Lightning – despite the respectful name, the damage here is quite disappointing. Same as the Crackling Bolt, actually, only 3 levels higher. Yeah, this is kinda auto-tracking, but come on!

Death Ring – redundant. Yeah, it finishes up weak foes nicely but, well, that's why they're weak. And against strong ones, the damage is bad. Foe only is nice but other spells are just better.


7th level spells:

Core Stuff:

Substantial Phantom: the wizard's 7th level stuff is a real disappointment. I mean, the Phantom is rather fine – a decent upgrade over the Essential one, better stats + some casting available. The problem is, that's the only really good spell here and the rest are very mediocre (more so when compared to what Priests & Druids get).

Sideboard:

Delayed Fireball: fast casting time and good damage help a lot. It's just that at level 13 these 50-65 basic damage (delay time is 3 seconds, btw) stop being that noticeable. It's 10% or so percents of enemy health pool and that's before the chance to get graze and the quite high damage reduction.

Llengrath's Warding Staff: in comparison to Citzal's Pike – utter junk. It's not even that greater than the Concelhaut's Staff (which is level 1, you know). Push effect is not that strong, the damage is meh, I guess +25 deflection is nice. Weapon enhancements stack with the similar ones from other sources, that's why it's good – it'll sum with the other similar buffs. So it's more of a “+25 deflection for 42 seconds” spell than anything else. Good for pure casters/control freaks. Otherwise, it would've been junk.

Wall of Draining: good against strongly buffed foes, blank vs everyone else. Doesn't even interrupt. Obvious sideboard.

Junk:

Tayn's Chaotic Orb: damage is pathetic, jumps are random (and, as usual, first jump misses – they all do), disables are random and the good ones don't last too long. I mean, Capricious Hex is also lolrandom, but at least when it's good it's totally devastating. This one is just unredeemable mediocrity.

Ninagauth's Killing Bolt: horrible casting time, weak damage and, if it kills (which is hard to time out because of the casting time) it gives you a rather mediocre summon. I mean, the summon would've been awesome at level 7, but for lvl 13 its stats are way too small, it'll miss often and die quickly.
12. Wizards - Rune Soldier Louie
Role: 3rd line damage dealer

Race: this is a staff/pike build so anything offensive. Let's go with the coastal aumaua so we're less afraid of disables.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 21
C 10
D 16
P 10
I 18
R 3

or

(The White That Wends bonus included)
M 18
C 10
D 10
P 19
I 18
R 3

For all offensive wizards, now there's this choice between Dexterity and Perception. Both are fine, just in the different ways – Perception greatly amplifies your controlling powers and gives you some great interrupt potential. Dexterity, on the other hand, gives you better response time, hastens your combos and provides slightly bigger damage output. Both are valid but, personally, I like dex more for the close combat builds and per more for the ranged ones. Also, if you're looking for a main character, Perception gives more dialogue options. Low Resolve sucks, of course, but thanks to the Spirit Shield its loss is not nearly as crippling – the gains in Dex/Per are much more valuable.

Weapon of Choice: Concelhaut's Staff/ Citzal's Lance.

Talents and ability choices:

2nd level: Arcane Veil – doesn't last that long but it's the key to the early Concelhaut's Staff usage. Summon the staff, get into the close quarters, use the veil and you're virtually immortal. Whatever few damage points you'll take, you'll quickly heal them back. And your damage output is so big that even the short veil's duration is enough. In tougher combats, you just burn through both uses.

4th level: Two-Handed Fighting – the basic damage of the staff is huge so 15% actually means 5 damage per hit. That's solid.

6th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack – same as above.

8th level: Hardened Veil – at this point, the ordinary veil might not be enough so we dial it up to eleven.

10th level: Weapon Focus: Soldier. Just to make our pike a bit better.

12th level: Superior Deflection. The more deflection you have, the better it becomes so this is never redundant.

14th level: Bull's Will or Bear's Fortitude. Simply because we're out of useful talents.
12. Wizards - Moon Prism
Role: 3rd line damage dealer

Race: Moon Goodlike – hard to make sailor moon jokes about anyone else in this game, right? Moons make potent wizards as they compensate their frailty. Stat bonuses are good too. And this particular build can be quite self-harmful so healing waves are quite helpful.

Stats (The White That Wends bonus included):

M 18
C 10
D 10
P 19
I 18
R 3


Once again, you can go for the high-Dex one, but perception has a better synergy here.

Weapon of Choice: Wand.

Talents and ability choices:

2nd level: Blast – while it doesn't look flashy, the blast has one of the best damage outputs in the early game. It's not much individually, but sum it all up and it becomes quite a considerable amount. Great with the interrupts too – the interrupt time is only 0.5 seconds, but it can be applied to 3-4 foes at once. And it will be applied quite often once you get the combo going.

4th level: Interrupting Blows – at the level 5, we will be able to perform our basic “Deleterious Alacrity + Kalakoth's” combo and in the unarmored state that means attacking a group of foes once every two seconds with 0.5 interrupt time. That's 25% time wasting rate – generally, that's what I consider the start of a good interrupt rate. With some extra gear/buffs (Moon Prisms adore any extra speed buffs – Sure-Handed Ha, Hastening Exhortation, Gloves of Swift Action) it might rise even further. And you'll always have your Wall of Fire once you reach level 7. Interrupts are nice for the wizard. BTW, previously, there was a Silencer build dedicated to that – it pretty much got merged into this one after 2.0, now that high-perception became mainstream for wizards.

6th level: Dangerous Implement – 25% to the considerable Minor Blight damage. That's a very big damage output increase. And being moon godlike solves the problem of self-draining nicely – otherwise, with you swinging every 2 seconds, you lose 60 endurance in half a minute. That can be a bit suicidal.

8th level: Scion of Flame: makes our Wall of Flame (which we will cast frequently) much more powerful. Allso applies to the fire blights – all these talents apply to their corresponding blights, it's just that we no longer can afford to take as much of them as we were able to. If you feel like you're lacking survivability, you can always go for the Arcane Veil instead.

10th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack – just an extra damage bonus for the blights.

12th level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer – blights count as normal wands so they also get bonus from this and 6 accuracy is a lot.

14th level: Marksman.
12. Wizards - Control Freak
Role: 3rd line controller

Race: Wild Orlan: our Fortitude is rathe bad so we're never against some extra saving throws. Coastal Aumaua helps here too but it has worse stat bonuses.

Stats (the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 2
C 10
D 18
P 20
I 18
R 10

There's also such variation available:
(the Old Vailia bonus included)

M 2
C 10
D 10
P 20
I 18
R 18

The Dex-Per-Int build excels in combat – you have incredibly fast, precise and long-lasting disables. Sure, you can't do any damage, but you have 5 more party members for that. And, with wizard's damage dealing spells not really scaling into the endgame (apart from the weapon ones), who even cares about them? Even as a pure casting wizards, you'll be casting mostly control stuff anyways. So why not perform the same with more speed and less of the interruptions? Resolve build is not as good in the combat – extra defenses and concentration are welcome, but they're not worth the Dex loss. It's more about being a leader – this is the only non-tank build who can allow to have three mental stats maxed out. That surely counts for something.

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet & Shield. You're not a tank but you gotta use those hands somehow, right?

Talents and ability choices:

2nd level: Arcane Veil – we tend to stay in the depth of the party, but who knows what might happen?

4th level: Hardened Veil – let's give them zero chances to make something happen. If you wish, you can also take Aspirant's Mark + Enigma's Charm on these early levels – just to be more active in combat. Then, once you have enough spell casts on higher levels, respec into these ones.

6th level: Weapon and Shield style – even more defenses .

8th level: Cautious Attack – we're almost a magical tank.

10th level: Superior Deflection – not really a tank but we'll have enough time to control any situation.

12th level: Bear's Endurance – let's fix that fortitude score at least somehow.

14th level: Body Control – let's fix the Fortitude issue even further.
13. Druids - Short Intro
Druid is not a difficult character to understand. To be honest, he's one of the easiest characters in the game to use – in the early game, his animal form forgives lots of mistakes. In the late game, so does the ability to spam 1st level spells and 2nd and 3rd level spells per encounter (with those spells being really good). That happens exactly like with the priest – at levels 9 and 11 and 13. Considering that even unfocused form remains good until the level 6 or so, that leaves him with a very small gap where he potentially feels even a bit weak (and even that's hardly the danger as his level 3 spells are real good).

Now, about a form lasting – previously, it was an early game-only choice as it didn't progress that well. Now, it got much better – the late game damage becomes huge, with easy 40-50 hp swings. Lucky criticals can even reach 100 mark. And while the duration is still annoyingly short, with the overall acceleration of combat it's not as crippling as it was. So furry druid is now a valid choice, though you need to build around it. That's why we'll have two primary builds - the caster & the shapeshifter.
13. Druids - Atomine Elektrine
Role: 3rd line damage dealer/controller/debuffer/buffer

Race: anything goes - as usual, wood elves are good to boost ranged spells, moon godlikes provide survivability, but pretty much everything can be decent. I guess only island aumaua is bad – you really have no use for the spare weapon slot.

Just like the Priest, the Druid can start in the energy saving mode. It doesn't hurt the beast form that much and it makes your spells much, much more efficient.

Stats (Wood Elf, the Old Vailia bonus included): 

M 18 
C 10
D 4
P 17
I 19
R 10

Of course, once you're out of the early game, you respec into this:

Stats (Wood Elf, the Old Vailia bonus included): 

M 18 
C 9
D 10
P 19
I 19
R 3


Generally, I prefer Perception on my druids – you have a lot of potent disables so it's good to have them in the ultra-precise mode. On the other hand, you have lots of the fast spells too so switching the Per for Dex can work too – just drown them in the sheer volume of magic. Some important slow casts (the Returning Storm being the quintessential one) also benefit greatly from high dexterity. Unlike the priest or the wizard, you don't have any innate Resolve/Concentration buffs so don't forget to drink the Potion of Spirit Shield in tough battles

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet & Shield. You're not a tank – you just don't have any usages for your attacks (outside of the beast from) and extra protection can never hurt you.

Talents and ability choices for the energy saving mode:

1st level: Animal Form: Cat. Simply the best for the sake of damage dealing..

2nd level: Wildstrike Corrode: corrode is the least resistant damage so this talent is the most reliable one.

4th level: Vulnerable Attack. Your claws are pretty much duals so you take the best option for duals possible.

6th level: Greater Wildstrike, Two-Weapon Fighting, Apprentice's Sneak Attack, Weapon Focus: Peasant (claws count as fists) – doesn't really metter as you either have respecced already or will be respeccing at level 7.

Now for the proper development:

1st level: Animal Form: Wolf. Doesn't matter that much but wolf has a very good running speed so you can use it to retreat swiftly.
2nd level: Weapon and Shield Style: just an extra bit of safety. See, the druid doesn't really want to be in melee but his storms might cause him to be a bit closer to the edge of the battle than he would loved to. Hence we invest into defenses.

4th level: Heart of the Storm: our two most-important spells are both lightning bases and this adds a considerable amount of damage to them.

6th level: Superior Deflection.

8th level: Cautious Attack: you probably don't want to have it constantly on as it slows the spells too. Use it when you're under attack.

10th level: Bonus 1st level spell – they're all real spammy and good.

12th level: Bonus 2nd level spell.

14th level: Bonus 3rd level spell. You may skip some of these for the sake of Bull's Will etc if you wish to.
13. Druids - Tiger's Claw (everything else too)
Role: 2nd line damage dealer. That's the most important thing about this build – while you can cast, you no longer occupy the caster slot. For the large part of battle, you play a rogue's role, causing lots and lots of physical damage. Your downside is that you're even squishier than the rogue so you require more support from your party – specifically, you want to have 2 extra controllers and a priest in your party. Paladin will help too. One thing that build hates the most are the disables – see, none of the items work in the beast mode. The only exception is wildstrike belt but that's it. So you'll be losing all your enchantments for that period – meaning your spell defenses are going to be pretty low. And you hate wasting the time of your form on disables – especially on the long 20 seconds ones which pretty much cancel your form. That's why these two – priests can give you +50 to all defenses via spells and paladins have Liberating Exhortation to make all your troubles go away.

Your upside is that the damage output is really strong (especially on the later levels – it calms down in the midgame, but it gets murderous past lvl 11) and, well, you bring some of that control yourself. And, if things just don't go well for you, you can still fall back and cast as good as the average druid does.

Race: Moon Godlike. This build is powerful yet squishy and moon waves work while shapechanged, somewhat fixing that problem.

Stats (Moon Godlike, the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 18
C 9
D 19
P 10
I 19
R 3

Dex over Per as it gives more physical damage (which you're very interested in) and provides for a faster combo setup. In many cases, you don't just shapeshift and charge into battle – you cast a couple of preparational spells, then you go in. High Dex just shortens this set up time. And you plan to hit mostly disabled foes anyways so you don't need that high of basic accuracy.

Weapon of Choice: Claws. But do have hatchet & shielding for the cases where the form's duration won't be enough.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Animal Form: Cat. In terms of damage output (and that's the only thing you're interested in), nothing competes with the cat. It's the only valid choice here.

2nd level: Wildstrike Corrode or Wildstrike Shock. As I've mentioned before, corrode is the least resisted one, that's always good for the lash damage. Lightning, on the other hand, allows you to take Heart of the Storm later on – once you get them, you will be casting Returning/Relentless Storms at the start of each combos so you'll add both casting & melee damage with that choice. This talent works like a Lash, btw, so it's a damage multiplier – meaning that the more damage your attack does, the more you're gaining out of these. Now, the druid won't have that many innate bonuses, but that's what your party is for (specifically the priest) – he's one of the best characters to utilize any +damage bonuses.

4th level: Vulnerable Attack – really potent at this stage of the game. At level 11, it begins to take out as much as it gives, so you respec it away later on.

6th level: Apprentice's Sneak Attack or Heart of the Storm – depends on our leve 2 choice. Both give a lot of damage output to their corresponding builds.

8th level: Greater Wildstrike: more damage output. BTW, this build want to buy the Wildstrike Belt from Cartugo in Ondra's gift ASAP. It's another nice increase and it's not that expensive.

10th level: Weapon Focus: Peasant – gives 6 accuracy to your claws.

11th level: respec Vulnerable Attack into Two-Weapon Fighting – claws are fully counted as duals, yes.

12th level: Savage Attack or Apprentice's Sneak Attack – depends on your elemental choice. The savage attack is generally mediocre but the druid has almost no other innate bonus so for him the increase actually gives positive gains.

14th level: Spirit of Decay or Savage Attack. Even for the corrode claws, the upgrade is still good. It's just that it's not as swiftly needed as the lightning one.
13. Druids - Most Notable Spells
1st level:

Charm Beast – makes most encounters against beasts very easy. Note that this definition might be a bit broad in this game. Spiders, beetles, dragons & drakes – all are quite beastly here.

Nature's Mark – while it's not the strongest debuff ever, it's one of the very few ones which has the Fast casting rate. And a huge radius in addition to that. Foe only. It's way to easy to apply therefore you'll use it from level 1 to 14.

Nature's Vigor – this is more of a buff than a heal, to be honest. Meaning that you don't apply it when you're already in the red zone – you cast it at the start of the combat and, once you lost some endurance, it begins to slowly regenerate it back. The 15% buff is also quite potent in the late game, the spell scales really well. The buff is applied to the basic hit point amount, though – i.e., it doesn't multiply whatever extra you have from your constitution.

Sunbeam – this thing is ridiculous. Decent damage and 21 second of blind in the AoE. Blind is extremely good debuff so this thing is your early game bread and butter spell.

Talon's Reach – looks mediocre, but actually becomes good at level 9. It's one of the few druidic offensive spells that has the fast cast time. So you can spam it in rapid succession should the need arise. That can be useful occasionally.

Tanglefoot – good with the rogues or later on when you can spare a spell just to give them -20 reflex and augment the further spells of your party. And it's also a fast cast – druid has a lot of utility quick casts. That's not exactly noticeable by just looking at spells, but that's a great helper when it comes to actually using them.


2nd level spells:

Autumn's Decay – one of your main lvl 2 nukes. Placing the template without harming your crew might be tricky, but otherwise it's rather decent.

Conjure Lesser Blight – the only thing you need to know about druid's summons is that they're horrible. Slow summoning speed doesn't exactly help your combat tempo and the summons themselves have awful stats, meaning that even if they can potentially do decent damage, they can't quite hit anyone with it.

Firebrand – it's a great spell but the druid is a horrible wielder of it. Just use the forgemaster gloves build given to some proper character. And, if you wish to go melee druid, there's a shapeshift build for that.

Hold Beasts – ridiculously good against any beast in the game. As if the charm spell wasn't enough. Second-best disable in the game, good AoE, fast casting rate. Wow.

Insect Swarm – another really good nuke here. AoE is not that great, but it's foe only so it's actually much easier to use than the Autumn's Decay. And with lots of your builds now having high Perception that concentration penalty becomes valuable too.

Woodskin – decent buff. Not exactly universal but when it can be applied, it helps a lot. And, well, who could've guessed – another fast cast.

3rd level spells:

Beetle Shell – good tool to save your teammates. Now, it's not useful for that long (the shell has no armor so high level foes break it too quickly), but in the mid-game it is decent enough to help character last until you get him out of trouble somehow.

Infestation of Maggots – can be quite potent against stuff like 300 endurance Ogres. You won't use it often but it has its times.

Nature's Balm – really inferior to the Nature's Vigor. Don't waste your 3rd slots on this..

Purge Toxins – note that poisons & diseases are quite a broad term in this game. At times, they apply damage, at times, they cause disables. Some forms of spiders can paralyze their target on each hit. And such situations are generally the best use for this spell. Your damage dealer gets perma-locked? No more. A niche spell, of course, but can be useful in such conditions.

Returning Storm – makes all other combat spells and debuffs at this level obsolete. Secondary at most. Lasts for a long time, does 14 or so procs and each is a decent chunk of damage plus a 4.4 second stun. Great, more so against singular targets where the lighting hits the same spot twice and thrice and as much as it takes. Especially good for the shapeshifters – solves their frailty rather easily.

Spreading Plague – Weakened debuff is quite a valuable one and it's one of the few relatively early spells that apply it.


4th level spells:

Calling the World's Maw – probably the most used spell here. Big, easy to apply template, ok damage and a very decent disabling time. What's not to like?

Moonwell – great buff, great healing. That it lasts so long is actually a great boon – even easier to cast it at the start of combat to benefit in the process. The only downside is that, while this spell is good, the scroll version of it is even better so, in the really tough fights, you'll be using it instead.

Overwhelming Wave – much better disable than that of the World's Maw but it's more difficult to apply because of its template. So it's good but not nearly as frequently used.

Wicked Briars – doesn't look that much strong but it deals quite an ok amount of damage through the full course of its duration and that's another fast cast. Fast casting speed is the main advantage here.



5th level spells:

Embrace the Earth-talon – so it does as much petrification time as the wizard's Gaze of the Adragan, only at level 5 and with some damage included. Hmm, what's not to like?

Nature's Terror – doesn't look that great, but guess what it is? Fast cast. If you're surrounded and need to give that -20 accuracy to your foes here and now, it's a really good emergency choice. Also a nice one for the shapeshifters – fast casts are great for them as they want to get combat-ready ASAP.

Plague of Insects – 150 Raw damage is 25% of the total health pool for even the strongest foes in the game. Huge area of effect, foe only. Plus a hefty -20 concentration penalty – your interrupters will love this. One of the best damage dealing spells in the game.

Relentless Storm - Returning Storm 2.0. Less damage and stun duration but affects everyone in its radius with each tick. All but the most fortuitous foes are reduced to nothing through this one. So this is the spell you'll cast most often at level 5.

6th level spells:

Garden of Life – great heal in the long, massive combats. Heals everyone in the area 25 endurance for every corpse in the area. Fight ten enemies, kill 5 – heal everyone for 125. Such good instant healing is rare. But, ofc, there are occasion where it will be useless – single dragon combat, for example.

Rot Skulls – works a bit like Kalakoth's Minor Blights. The skull this summons is actually a wand. It shoots for 27-40 crushing damage (with 18 might build) and does 70 corruption damage in small AoE. But that damage is not instant – it's over time with 13 seconds duration. So it's probably the best druidic offensive spell at this level. Doesn't worth taking the dangerous implement or building around – druid has nothing like Deleterious Alacrity of Motion or Citzal's Martial Power, after all.


Venombloom – similar to the Plague of Insects, only doesn't last as long and the mechanic is a bit different. Anyways, cast this on the boss and, if things go your way, you can deal 80-100 raw damage to it. That's ok.

7th level:

Call to Primordials: just to remind you that druid summons are bad and this one is no exception.

Nature's Bounty: one of the best spells in the game. So, essentially, it gives each member of the party +5 might, + 5 perception and 20% attack speed. Oh, and some healing over time. Lots of damage and, in the speed-focused party, even crazier amounts of damage. So good.

Weather the Storm: would've been ok if not for the awful duration. Because of it, this one is very mediocre. Can help you in the Concelhaut's tower, though, where elemental assault is really harsh.
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520 Comments
One Man Army May 13 @ 10:06am 
In the White March updates, they changed the AI behaviour to be more aggresive and break engagement more often to attack low armor/DR hitting targets with high damage like your backline mages.

Is it still worth having pure tanks like a paladin or a fighters with very low dex/pers.(low accuracy/slow hits) when he can't hold aggro / engagement?

In PotD difficulty I find that the only way for pure tanks to keeps targets is by blocking the enemies at small chokes or entrances, which feels like cheesing.
Of course that doesn't stop the enemies that teleport.
Sgt. Kittens Apr 23 @ 3:30am 
These are the best build names ever. Thank you for this.
Shadeslayer Oct 16, 2018 @ 1:07pm 
This guide is way outdated, especially for casters, as the commenter below said. Also didn't take into account some huge spell nerfs like Miasma of Dull Mindedness which now has like 50% of the effect described here. :(
Overwatch Oct 6, 2018 @ 7:15pm 
[CONTINUED]
Each stack exists on it's own. They don't extend or refresh each other. Only the oldest stack is shown as an icon. Once the current stack ends, you will see the next one (Which has been ticking in the background).
The duration of the overall debuff, AND the stack duration are affected by INT.
Damage over time effects only apply a stack on the initial damage tick.
BUT PERIODIC damage gets a stack EVERY time it deals damage.
^this is why it is abusable.

With a 20 INT, each stack lasts 7.5 seconds.
5 damage every 3 seconds for 7.5 seconds = 12.5 damage

You can see how this would REALLY start to add up if you are tossing around aoe effects (Like Blast).

Further, The 5 damage is only reduced by 1/4 of the normal DR, like most other add-on effects.
Overwatch Oct 6, 2018 @ 7:15pm 
All the caster sections are invalidated by the "Spell Mastery" change. You no longer get your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level spells as encounters. You have to choose specific ones now.

That's a big change.

Also Spell considerations. You rated the Wizard 2 spell Combusting Wounds as a poor choice. I respectfully disagree. While I nearly ALWAYS choose utility over damage, this spell just does SO much damage, and is SO abusable, that it really shouldn't be overlooked. The only reason I can see to rate it poorly is if you misunderstand how it works. But that can be remedied.

The spell puts an effect on enemies.
When that enemy takes damage, a stack of burn starts on that enemy. This stack will graze/hit/crit based on what the initial source of damage for the stack is.
A stack lasts 5 seconds, and they EACH do 5 damage every 3 seconds.
This means that a stack will do 8.3 damage over 5 seconds, with an INT of 10.
[CONTINUED]
Ratch Oct 2, 2018 @ 10:11am 
Only issue I see is that with my Wizard options, you skipped Level 1/Character Creation outside of starting stats... I may just be overlooking something or that much of a novice that I don't realize the obvious.
Vamrem Sep 27, 2018 @ 10:32pm 
I've started reading only to know a bit more about my class and ended up reading almost all, it is a great job. Thanks for this comprehensive guide.
nerdcommando.gamestudios  [author] Jun 19, 2018 @ 12:12am 
It does.
(RTQC)Kcina May 28, 2018 @ 6:44am 
You thinbk all this still goes for 3.0,Just bought PoE2 and wanted to do the 1 first.
Pentrago May 26, 2018 @ 9:57am 
Thank you for all the work you put into this extensive guide!