This isn't a guide, but just my experience with puppetmaster since it was overhauled a year or 2 ago.
Combat rating and skill at 75 cap (no merits):
Evasion: B (250)
Guarding: B- (240)
Hand-to-Hand: C (225)
Dagger: D (210)
Parry: D (210)
Not great combat rating and skills, with evasion being your best skill to work with.
Guarding is your last line of defense when a mob takes a swing at you, so if you dont evade this has a chance of proc'ing. Not something to rely on.
Hand-to-hand is below average for a smooth fight, recommended to merit before leveling.
Dagger and parry i put in for a different option as it can be used, can pair up a Mkirs with a varity of daggers if your just messing around.
You will start with Harlequin.
Harlequin will have basic cures and enfeebles, they will keep themselves in melee range on the mob.
At level 10 you can get the stormwaker, Valoredge and sharpshot head/frame:
Stormwaker will cast blackmagic, enfeebles and cures, it will stay at range if deployed correctly.
If solo during the early levels this would be your choice to keep xp flowing, keeping them focused on healing and enfeebling. Can be used during parties, but wouldnt be my first choice. Can drop decent blm spells and enfeebles and help with cures if pt low. Down side is the low HP, requires a lot of work to keep alive and mp topped up.
Sharpshot is your party Automaton requires very little work and uses melee, ranged attacks and WS. This automaton combined with a "decently" gear puppetmaster can keep up with other party members with DPS. Puppetmaster would rarely take hate due to thier low h2h skill, allowing for other subjobs to be used if the mob allows.
Valoredge is my least used Automaton, uses melee and ws can be used it parties but thier dps is not near what a good sharpshot can be. They are considered as the "tank" automaton but still have not found any use to have him tank, the puppetmaster is a better choice to have tank if needed. Can use shield bash when a mob TP but does not stun mob.
At level 40 you get the questline to unlock Soulsoother and Spiritreaver heads, these will be used on the stormwaker frame.
Spiritreaver is your Black magic Automaton casting nukes upto Blizzard 4 (when meritied)
Like the Stormwaker requires a good bit of work compared to the other to use effectively. But when you combine with the right attachments and your not overloaded can deal some good damage.
Soulsoother is great for solo'ing, focused on curing and enfeebling. Using maneuver's to tell it what enfeeble you want, or if you need a cure is great and works well when learned.
Upto regen 3 is great to keep you topped up, and a big cure V when your in trouble. Cannot cast Haste or Pro/shell.
There are a lot of attachment to collect depending on what setup you are going for, So i will list the ones that had the most impact on my Automatons. Bold attactments and usefull and rare.
Mana Booster: shortens spellcasting time
Loudspeaker 1/2 : MAB
Icemaker: multiplies black magic by how many ice maneuvers you have on. (rare but very good)
Mana Tank 1/2: adds refresh
Mana conserver: conserve MP
Damage Gauge: prioritizes curing (kind of works, but can drink your mp)
Flashbulb: Flashes enemy
Auto-repair kit 1/2: Automaton regen
Eraser: casts erase cost light maneuvers
Drum Magazine: enhances range attack speed
Scope: increases range accuracy
Target maker: enhances accuracy against powerfull enemies
Stealth screen: reduces enmity
Heatsink: reduces overload rate
Shock Absorber: uses stoneskin
Inhibitor: store TP, improves TP usage (will try and skillchain with you)
when you stack a certain type of attachment in your loadout (wind, ice etc) when you use maneuvers you cause "burden" on your automaton causing it to overload when you go above the threshold, which then causes to to be less effective. Finding the balance to get a good result over time is key to being effective. Make sure your corresponding Stat to the maneuver isnt lower than your automaton to start with, use equipsets. And make sure you dont have useless attachments on that will raise your burden. my advise is just put on what you need.
Using ice maneuver for my blackmage automaton is where i would over load the most.
Automaton skills is a must, increasing their by skills 10. unlocking blizzard 4 for spiritweaver and overall att, acc, macc and matt increases for all automatons
Other 5 can put in what you think you want.
Optimization: 5/5 will increase the automation attack and defense by 25% and magic att by 25 - must have
Finetuning: 5/5 will increase acc, racc, eva and meva by 25
I don't do automaton tanking nor do they take hate from me, so this makes sense for me.
It was a fun job to level and i like the idea of it. The AI of the automaton makes smn and bst look simple, it follows commands and can act independently, for example if it has no commands and para is on, it wont recast para just to do something randomly it will look for the next effecient spell needed maybe a slow, blind or a regen. It wont really waste a turn unless you have given it a bad command. It's att and matt seems fairly good when your skills are capped and right for the mob, acc and macc seems a good bit lower and would miss a good bit. They're HP is very squishy requiring you to carry automaton oil, it may cure or drain by itself when in danger but they can do down pretty quick. because of this i found it easier to be the tank when solo'ing, using Eva and /nin to be effective. I already had h2h, evasion and guarding capped and merited which really helped and would recommend it if possible.
When i hit 75 i tested what it might be able to do, so i gathered gear, attachments and merits and started testing. Turns out it wasnt a great deal. H2h skill is just too low for any real dmg in the endgame scene, you can get some acc gear to help this problem but it does not increase the dmg profile of the puppetmaster. Anything above EM becomes a bit of challange for PUP dmg drops off fairly quickly to account for anything.
BCNM/KSNM - there some bcnm where a group of pup would be good fun to use and can work.
Dyna - good luck trying to hit anything even with merited h2h and acc gear was just a waste of a dps. Auto attack and ws damage was very low to account for anything, and the automaton was too slow to really keep up with an alliance.
Sea/Limbus - same as above too inconsistant to account for any real reason to choose this job over other.
Sky - You can have some fun farming, but when it come to sky gods your pretty useless.
HNM - only HNM i would take it too is BD and VOS, but only when your automaton is merited for blizzard 4. It can do decent dmg here when done correctly. Can be used Ok'ish on Roc, Serket, Sim and KA etc.
Its a fun job to mess around on and farming. i enjoyed the solo journey, but on a 2box server its not even close to any meta in the level 75 or endgame scene from that i can see. For it be considered useful at level 75 it would need the h2h rating increased.