In this Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire article we’re going to take a look at some Builds that are phenomenal in the new turn-based game mode (that is currently in Beta). Unlike other Build Guides I have made for POE 2, these will be more quick and dirty, as I fully expect some of these to be nerfed by Obsidian before the Beta ends. However, most should still be playable after the Beta ends to varying degrees.
Turn-Based Builds For Pillars of Eternity 2
Since we had no way of knowing that turn-based would later be added to Pillars of Eternity 2, or how it would look when it was, some of the older Builds I created don’t work so well in this game mode. This is mostly because of the change to Recovery Time, and the fact that you can only get one Standard or Cast Action per round. Keeping this in mind, these Guides are aimed only at the turn-based version of the game.
5. Psyblade Tank Build
The Psyblade Tank Build uses the unique ability of the Black Jacket Fighter to swap Weapons as a Free Action. What this allows them to do is use the most defensive setup they can in one Weapon Slot, and the most offensive in another, and switch between these for Free as many times as they wish per turn.
What makes this so powerful is that they can still deal substantial damage on their turn via Two Weapons or Two-Handed, before swapping to a defensive setup that protects them from damage. The heaviest shield you can use provides +12 Deflection and with the Weapon and Shield Style this becomes 18 Deflection. In addition, you can equip a Dagger with the Weapon Modal on (if you are proficient), and gain a further +10 Deflection vs. Melee Attacks.
I like mixing Fighter with Cipher for this Build because many Cipher spells are instant cast, which still allows for swapping back to your shield setup afterwards. In addition, Ciphers give a bonus to Weapon Damage and they have a passive that increases Weapon Penetration by one. Choose Ascendant or Soul Blade. Wizards are also not a bad choice because of the considerable number of Free Action spells they have, that can really buff up your character. I’d take either Enchanter or Blood Mage.
Attribute-wise I would look to add some Might for damage and healing, Constitution for Health and Resolve for even higher Deflection. Intellect and Perception are also nice to have, so you’ll probably have a very rounded Attribute base. Dexterity is not necessary because you will be turtled up on the enemies’ turn anyway, and Fighters have Constant Recovery, so consider dumping a few points.
4. Forbidden Fist Votary Build
The concept of this Build is to use Forbidden Fist every turn if possible, increasing its damage by 50% each time, making you hit harder and harder as combat goes on. Because of the recent change to Forbidden Fist, you will need to use it every single round, or it will drop one tier of its damage buff. The good news is that this also reduces the damage you take, and you’ll need to balance this to stay alive while still hitting like a truck.
Since you need to gain Wounds regularly for this Build to work (something that is hard to do with Forbidden Fist Monks), you will absolutely have to have Dance of Death at the ready, which is your primary method of gaining them. You want to refresh this every round should you get hit, and you want to upgrade this to Enduring Dance as soon as possible.
You can use Xoti’s Lantern to gain 1 Wound and Mortification each time you kill an enemy, which should be often. And, since Forbidden Fist is not classified as a weapon attack, there is almost no reason not to use the Weapon and Shield Style. This will boost your defense without hurting your damage or Accuracy in anyway, as long as Forbidden Fist is your primary means of attack. Note that even though it doesn’t count as a weapon attack, you will still gain extra Accuracy, Damage and Penetration from Transcendent Suffering when using this ability.
Managing the ever increasing Raw Damage you will take is the hard part, and this is where the Paladin comes into play. Using Lay on Hands or Greater Lay on Hands will keep you from dying, and it is a Standard Action, and only costs 1 Zeal. You will generally cap out at +200% damage to this ability before the Raw Damage becomes unmanageable, and from this point you will need to juggle Lay on Hands and Forbidden Fist to stay alive. I’d recommend taking the Shieldbearers of St. Elcga subclass for an extra Engagement with a shield equipped or Darcozzi Paladini to gain a Flame Shield when you use Lay on Hands.
Attribute-wise you want to stay away from pumping Might, as this will increase the Raw Damage you take, but you don’t want to reduce it either or you will gain less healing from Lay on Hands etc. Having high Constitution allows you some cushion for the Raw Damage, so I advise having at least 15, but more is better. Perception is needed to make sure you connect with Forbidden Fist, as it isn’t a weapon attack, and you still get the debuff whether you Miss or not. Some Intellect is also good because it increases the rounds that the Robust Inspiration lasts from Greater Lay on Hands. Note that Moon Godlike is great for the additional healing you get, and that Human will increase the Raw Damage you take when your Health is low, so isn’t recommended.
3. Berserking Warlock Build
This Build uses the Berserker Subclass of the Barbarian and mixes it with the Blood Mage of the Wizard to create a potent fighting force with some spell casting potential. Wizards can cast Infuse With Vital Essence at level 4, which is a Free Action, and negates the Confused status of the Berserker. The Warlock will take Raw Damage over time when using Frenzy, and can also deal damage to itself via Blood Sacrifice. These two things allow you to take advantage of Blooded and the Fighting Spirit passive of the Human race.
In addition, the Wizard allows many Free Action buffs that offset some of the negatives of Frenzy, allowing for a very balanced fighting style with excellent damage. At further levels the Warlock will gain a Flame Shield that deals damage when struck as well as reflect spells back at casters. Eldritch Aim is particularly good for this Build, because it helps to ensure Hits, increasing your damage.
The hardest part of this Build is managing your Health since you cannot see it, but luckily both Blooded and Fighting Spirit will tip you off when you are below 50%. You have almost no healing with this sort of setup so you will need to rely on Second Wind, as well as healing from your Priest or Paladin if you get into a bad spot. Or you can use Savage Defiance if you really need to, though it’s better to save your Rage for Barbaric Blow/Smash.
Attribute-wise you want Might, Constitution, some Perception and some Intellect, and you can dump Dexterity and Resolve if you wish. Barbarian’s get reduced Initiative when killing an enemy, and later on in the game they will have 0 Initiative every round they down an enemy.
2. Skirmishing Scout Build
This Build combines the abilities of the Rogue to deal damage and debuff enemies (at range) with the bonuses Rangers get to Accuracy, and their fearsome Companions. Since Companions typically had garbage AI in the standard version of the game many players didn’t use them, but in the turn-based version they can be used with much more success.
With this Build we focus on the synergy between the Ranger and its Companion and use it to the fullest. This means that you want to take abilities that upgrade your Companion, and there are a few that require some specific scenarios to gain benefits. For example, Merciless Companion requires the target to be vulnerable to Sneak Attacks. This means you need to hit the enemy with an Affliction or Flank it to get this bonus damage. Crippling Strike or Hobbling Shot can do this, but you want to make sure the Ranger goes before the Companion to get this extra damage on its attack.
Predator Sense requires a damage over time effect on the enemy, and again you want to go before your Companion to set this up. The best way to get this is by using Hobbling Shot, but after you gain the Deep Wounds Rogue passive then you can use whatever you want.
For Subclasses I recommend no Subclass for Ranger, since you don’t want the Initiative penalty from Sharpshooter. You could take Arcane Archer if you really want, but just be careful not to Fireball your Companion, though you will go before it so that shouldn’t be an issue. For Rogue, I suggest No Subclass or Trickster for some protective spells that are Free Actions that can put your Guile to use when you don’t need it.
Attribute-wise you want to make sure that you have some Might to increase your own damage, and the healing you do to your Companion. A good amount of Dexterity is needed to stay ahead of your Companion in the turn order, but this will depend a bit on which Companion you choose, but the Wolf does the most damage (and is recommended). Just make sure you have enough to attack before it. Some Perception is good, but you won’t need much, and a bit of Intellect doesn’t hurt. You won’t need Constitution or Resolve, so you can dump these if you wish.
1. Elemental Shifter Build
This Build takes advantage of the Druid’s ability to Shift into various Spirit forms, and allows for some crazy damage by taking advantage of the Monk’s Lighting Strikes and Turning Wheel. When fully buffed you can do +45% damage as Fire and +15% as Shock. Since these buffs both are calculated at the end of all factors, this is an insane amount of damage. In addition, in turn-based players dual wielding attack with both weapons by default, which makes up for the lack of a damage increasing Full Attack ability when Spiritshifted.
During combat you will buff with any Druid spells you wish, and then Spiritshift and go to town on the enemy. As you are hit you will gain more and more damage bonuses because of Turning Wheel and because you are a Helwalker Monk. Fighting this way you don’t want to spend Wounds if you can help it, however, Thunderous Blows is a great use of Wounds because it will increase your damage more than what you lose from holding the Wounds. Be sure to use Dance of Death for increased Accuracy and Wound generation.
Attribute-wise you will want high Might for increased healing and damage. You will need a decent amount of Dexterity because ideally you want to attack quickly and then move away after so that you don’t get hit anymore than necessary. You need Wounds for this Build to be effective, but Dance of Death is a better means of getting them and +50% damage (at max wounds) will hurt like hell if struck. Constitution is also good because it gives you a cushion should you get hit too much. You can dump Resolve.
Stay tuned as we have more Builds coming next week as we explore what else you can do in Pillars of Eternity 2’s new Turn-Based Combat Mode!