Last updated on June 28th, 2019
If you are a new player to Torment: Tides of Numenera, the game can be a bit overwhelming, especially when it comes to Character Creation and Classes, Skills and Abilities. The game doesn’t spend a lot of time explaining how everything works, so I thought I would share some knowledge about the 3 classes (Glaive, Jack and Nano) and show you how to make effective builds for each. We’ll start with a few basics and then we’ll jump into the classes and the kinds of builds you can make for each.
Edge and Effort
Edge and Effort are two of the most important things to understand when it comes to character building. They don’t play a significant role in Character Creation, but they will help shape your character as you progress the game. So what are they? In Torment when you undertake a Skill Check (opportunity with a percentage chance to succeed or fail) or an Attack you can use points from your Stat Pools: Might, Speed or Intellect to increase your chance of success in succeeding the task or attack. These are finite pools, and the more you use the less you will have later, however, these pools will grow as you level up, given you more resources to spend as the game progresses.
Using these Stat Pools is called using Effort. Effort can also increase the damage of your attacks on top of the chance to hit, so it is very useful in combat situations. Having Edge in a particular stat will simply give you “free” Effort for any Skill Checks or attacks using that Stat. This makes you not only more effective with Checks related to that Stat, but also helps to ease the amount of that Stat Pool you burn through as you will be spending less Effort. This makes Edge extremely valuable as it helps keep your Stat Pools full, allowing you attempt more Skill Checks and Crisis before resting.
Must Have Skills
Skills in Torment are a bit confusing as the visual system they use doesn’t really match the description, making it difficult to sort out so I’ll break down a few things you should know about them, as well as fill you in on some crucial Skills everyone should have.
Arguably the two most important Skills that aren’t related to combat are Anamnesis and Concentration. Anamnesis allow you to recover knowledge from the Changing God’s memories and Concentration allows you to use Bonded Items and without penalty. Why are these two so important? Good question, let me explain. Anamnesis will often grant you XP and information you might not otherwise get, but that’s not why it’s so important. The reason it’s important is because while most Skill Checks in the game can be assisted by your Party Members, those that require Anamnesis CANNOT. This makes Anamnesis a valuable Skill, especially to non-Nano players and players with low Intellect.
Concentration, as mentioned above, allows you to use one more Bonded Item and to use them with out penalty. Why is this so important? Bonded Items are rare and extremely powerful granting new Abilities, damage in combat and in many cases increased Training to a variety of Skills. Party Members who have both Bonded Item slots full without penalty will be significantly more capable and powerful than those who do not. For this reason, it is recommended that you take either the Observant or the Strong-willed Descriptors at Character Creation, as both contain Concentration.
Glaives are the only class in the game that allow you to place points in Weapon Skills. Weapon Skills increase your chance to hit with various weapon types, making them miss less often and expend less Effort in combat. Glaives tend to gain abilities that help them in combat while other classes gain more of a mixture of combat and non-combat abilities. If you favor combat as a resolution to quest lines above all else, this may be the class for you.
Assuming you’ve made peace with your violent tendencies there are a couple of ways you can go about making a Glaive. The very first decision that you will need to make is whether you intended to use Speed Weapons (weapons that use Speed for their Effort) or Might Weapons (weapons that use Might for their Effort). This is a huge decision to make at the very start of the game, but making the perfect Glaive requires it to be made now. There are not as many Skill Checks that use Might in the game as there are Speed, so if you plan to fight when you have to and avoid it when you can, going with Speed may be the better choice for you. If you are going for a sheer combat Glaive then Might is the way to go here.
Glaives choosing Might as their primary Stat will want to pick Smashing as their Athletics Skill since it uses the Might Stat Pool for its Effort, or take Endurance for more health. Glaives who take Might don’t necessarily need to increase their Edge in Might, as most Might Weapons don’t gain much damage from increasing effort, and since your hit chance will be higher than other classes, there won’t be a huge need to use much Effort in combat. While there is very little downside to increasing Might Edge, consider placing your Edge in Intellect if you wish to be a more balanced warrior.
As mentioned above, Concentration is vitally important to all players and party members so it is recommended that players take Observant or the Strong-willed descriptors with the one exception in this case. Might Glaives who know that they wish to use Heavy Weapons from the start should seriously consider taking the Wrathful Descriptor since it is extremely powerful for this type of build.
Might Glaives are somewhat limited in their Weapon selection. You are either going to want to take Medium or Heavy Melee weapons. Heavy Melee weapons will do more damage, especially towards the beginning of the game when your Stat Pool is smaller, but takes up both your Weapon and Offhand slot. So you must decide if you want raw power or more of a balance between offense and defense. It is highly recommended that you select Melee Weapons first when placing points into Weapon Skills as these will affect both Medium and Heavy Melee Weapons. This will allow you some flexibility to find your desired Weapon before you have to fully commit to one.
Glaives begin the game being able to wear Medium Armor with no penalty and will gain Heavy Armor with no penalty at Tier 2. Unlike Jack’s who get an increase to Willpower and Evasion for wearing Light Armor, Glaive’s can get this bonus AND wear Medium or Heavy Armor. For this reason Glaive’s should switch from Medium to Heavy Armor upon hitting Tier 2. There is really no downside to doing so.
Glaives who picked Speed as their primary Stat will want to pick Quick Fingers since it uses the Speed Stat Pool for its Effort or Endurance for more Health. Glaives who take Speed will want to increase their Edge in Speed every chance they can. Not only are there many Speed Skill Checks in the game, there are many weapons that increase damage significantly with Effort.
Descriptor-wise you will want to take Descriptors that increase Concentration. Observant or Strong-willed are the best choices here, with Strong-willed probably being the slightly better of the two, since it gives Willpower which will be hard to come by as a Glaive.
It is recommended that you pick Medium Melee Weapons in this case because Glaives have more health than other Classes so it makes more sense for them to be attacked more often, which won’t happen if they are at the back firing a Ranged Weapon. This will also allow you to equip an Offhand, granting more Evasion and other bonuses.
As mentioned above, Glaives begin the game being able to wear Medium Armor with no penalty and will gain access to Heavy Armor with no penalty at Tier 2. For this reason Glaive’s should switch from Medium to Heavy Armor the second they hit Tier 2.
Jacks are hailed as being the middle ground between a Glaive and a Nano in Torment, but the reality is that they lie much closer to a Nano in the combat sense. Jacks excel in and out of combat and are an extremely good choice for players who just don’t know how they will want to play the game and so are perfect for first time players. The only mistake you need to avoid is making a Might/Heavy Weapon Jack.
There are really only two ways to play a Jack and you will need to decide which you would rather play. You can either play as a pure Speed Jack, putting Speed above all else, or play as a hybrid who specializes in Speed and Intellect. First time players might be more inclined to choose the latter of the two, as it increases flexibility in dialogue options. Let’s take a look at these two types of Jack and see what the differences are.
Jacks who pick Speed as their primary Stat will want to take the Trained Without Armor Ability and take either Concentration or Anamnesis as their starting Skill. Since you won’t have as much Intellect as the hybrid version does, and Bonded Items are rare early in the game, it is probably best you take Anamnesis here. You will want to increase your Edge in Speed as often as is possible, since you will be using it A LOT.
Some good Descriptor choices for a Jack are Cautious, Observant, Rugged, and Stealthy are all solid choices. Consider taking Cautious or Stealthy if you wish to play a more “Rogue-like” character. Take Rugged if you wish to play as more of a front lines combat type of Jack. And finally take, Observant if you are just unsure how you’d like to play just yet.
Jacks are limited to their Weapon choice because they have no access to Weapon Skills and cannot effectively use Heavy Weapons. For this reason it is recommended that you use either Light or Medium Weapons, with a slight emphasis on Light. The reason for this is that they convey a +15% hit chance just for using them, which is important early on in the game. Later in the game players will find Weapons that can use large amounts of Effort to increase damage (which also increases hit chance) and this will become less important so Medium Weapons will become more viable as the game progresses.
Speed Jacks will want to wear Light Armor to get the highest Evasion they can, making the virtually un-hittable by melee attacks. Every 2 points into Speed equals +5% Evasion so you can get your Evasion extremely high on this sort of character. Since you won’t be using an ability point on Heavy Armor, this also frees you up to place it in other things like Infuse Weapon, which is extremely good against Heavily Armored targets. Speed Jacks, will want to keep a close eye on their Resistance stat and make sure it is as high as it can get, since they won’t have the Willpower of a hybrid build.
Speed/Intellect Hybrid Builds
Jacks who split their points between Speed and Intellect will want to take Trained Without Armor and be sure to get Infuse Weapon as it will drastically help your damage output, especially later in the game. Take either Concentration or Anamnesis as your starting skill. You will want to balance your Speed and Intellect Edge with perhaps a slight favor towards Speed, for combat purposes or Intellect for dialogue purposes.
Good choices of Descriptors for this build are: Clever, Rugged, Observant, Strong-willed or even Graceful. Clever will give you some extra Intellect and Willpower, which is good for a new player. Rugged will make you more tanky. Graceful will increase your Speed which is again good for a new player and Observant and Strong-willed are great if you are unsure what to pick.
Speed/Intellect Jacks are limited to their choice of Weapons since Jacks have no access to Weapon Skills. They will mostly use Light early on and Medium as you progress the game. Weapons that use Intellect for their Effort are extremely rare, but one you should definitely consider getting, especially if you lean more towards Intellect than Speed is Whispers. If you plan to play a Counter Attack Jack, then it is advised you use a Ranged Weapon, as this will allow you to attack ANYONE who misses you, not just those in melee range.
Hybrid Jacks have the freedom to choose just about any sort of armor they like since they can have access to all types without penalty at Tier 2, but it’s a decision that will need to be made at the very start of the game. Light Armor hybrid Jacks can get over 150% Evasion and 120% Willpower by endgame, making them nearly un-hittable by ANY attack. If you combine this with the Counter Attack ability, which grants a free attack every time someone misses you, you crank out a LOT of damage per turn as well. Be sure to equip an Offhand, even if you are Ranged and don’t be afraid to to equip Bonded Items, even if you have some penalty as they are generally great.
Nanos are the go to “caster” class in the game and tend to be the best at dialogue. Callestige, if you have her in your party, can pretty much carry you through any dialogue you need, so if you have her in your party you can probably focus on combat. For the purposes of this guide we’ll assume she is not.
You can either play the Nano class as a pure Intellect build or as a hybrid Speed build, similar to the Jack, only with more emphasis on Intellect. The pure intellect build is probably the best build in the game for avoiding combat and getting favorable outcomes in dialogue. Consider the hybrid build if you want a Nano that is also a little more flexible in other tasks.
Intellect Nanos will take Intellect as their primary stat, increasing it at any chance they get. Consider taking Scan Thoughts and either Adaptation or Innervate for your Abilities as they are all extremely good. You’ll only have 3 choices for Skills at Character Creation and it is recommended you take Lore: Machinery as that is used most often near the start of the game. Increase your Edge in Intellect as often as you can.
When it comes to Descriptors, it is advised that you increase your Concentration. However, since you already have it almost maxed, because of a passive ability you can choose other options if you wish. Some good options are Observant, Slick, or Stealthy. Take Slick if you wish to be a bit more flexible at Skill Checks, take Stealthy for Deception and Stealth and take Observant if you are just unsure.
Nanos have the least Weapons available to them of all Classes. While they can still use any type, because they have negative modifiers in both Medium and Heavy Weapons, it is recommended that they use only Light Weapons. The Weapon: Whispers is a Light Weapon that uses Intellect for its Effort and is fantastic for any Nano. Intellect Nanos should not worry too much about their selected weapon however, as they will most likely be casting Abilities every round anyhow.
Light Armor or Medium are are really the only two ways to go as an Intellect Nano, as you don’t want to reduce your Ability hit chance by wearing bulky Armor. Stick with light early on and switch to medium once you hit Tier 2 if you chose the Master of Defense focus in the Labyrinth and received the Armor Expert ability. Be sure to equip an Offhand as soon as you can for the extra Evasion bonus.
Intellect/Speed Hybrid Builds
Intellect/Speed Nanos will be splitting their Stats between both. How much they want to split them will vary from player to player, but I would recommend favoring Intellect in this case. If you plan to melee, Innervate is an excellent Ability and a must have along with Adaptation. Take Lore: Machinery for your Skill and split your Edge in Intellect and Speed, favoring the lower of the two Stat Pools (yes you read that right).
Really the only difference in Descriptor choices here is Graceful which increases Speed and Quick Fingers and Rugged which makes you harder to kill. Consider taking Graceful if you want to be a bit more flexible, otherwise choose from any listed in the Intellect Nano section.
As stated before Nanos have almost no proficiency in Weapons, but because you are splitting your Stat Pools, you can use Light Weapons rather effectively since you will have the Speed necessary to do significant damage. It is recommended you use a Light Melee Weapon and take Abilities that will enhance Melee combat.
As with the Intellect Nano Light Armor is again recommended near the beginning of the game, switching to Medium Armor at Tier 2 if you took the Master of Defense focus in the Labyrinth and received Armor Expert. If not then stick with Light Armor. You should have very good Evasion and Willpower between the two Stat Pools and along with an Offhand and Adaptation you should be able to stand in the thick of combat.
It is highly recommended, no matter which Class you choose, that you split Stats between Might/Speed and Intellect. This means that 2 out of your 3 Stat Pools should be reasonably close to the same value, with Might or Agility (whichever you aren’t using) lagging behind. Unfortunately the way the game was designed, you need to build up your Stat Pools early because you lack Edge and burn through Stats quickly. As the game progresses you gain more and more Edge from reaching higher Tiers, and in some cases, from equipment. This tends to render you high Stat Pool irrelevant the further you are in the game. Stacking one Stat super high is nearly pointless because of this, with perhaps the one exception here is for Caster Nanos, as they tend to burn through Intellect very quickly using Abilities.
Might is the weakest of the 3 Stats not only because it only provides 1 Health per point, but because you are essentially locked to only Heavy Weapons if you decide to use it. There are very few good 1-handed Melee Weapons that scale off of Might and I can’t think of a single Ranged Weapon that does. Because healing consumes your action phase in combat, the only way to survive is to reduce your damage taken each round. If you can’t out heal the damage you take every round, having more health isn’t going to do a lot for you, you’ll simply just delay the inevitable. For this reason it is recommended that you build 1 to 1 Speed/Intelligence for any of the three Classes, always favoring slightly the stat use use for damage. You will find an abundance of free Intellect points in Sagus Cliffs (the first zone), so keep this in mind.
Your Edge should primarily be in the stat that you use for combat, but it’s perfectly fine if you find you aren’t needing to use much Effort in that Stat to place Edge in the opposite of the two later on in the game. If you are playing a Might Glaive, which really is the only Class that should ever play a Might build, you will find that your hit chance will be much higher than that of a Nano or a Jack. Because of this, you won’t need to use much Effort to ensure you hit your enemy and you will find most Might Weapons don’t give as much damage per effort spent when compared with Speed Weapons. Therefore, placing Edge in Might is not as useful as Speed or Intellect and it is suggested that you never go higher than 2 Edge in Might.
Following this guide will give you a rough outline on how to play any of the above Classes. The concepts above are based on having played the game and knowing the loot distribution and what sort of puzzles and checks there are and how often, which is something new players will not be initially aware of. Remember that you can rest often to replenish your Stat Pools, so having higher pools isn’t as important as having high Edge or even some Skills. Furthermore, party members can assist you in most Skill Checks in the game, and can fill in your weaknesses. Because of this, be sure to select party members that compliment your playstyle best.
Thoughts on the guide? Tips of your own? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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