Dragon Age combat tips, no spoilers.

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#1 Posted by snide (2394 posts) -

  Some general tips for for people finding the game difficult. 

  • If you don't have a healer in your party, you'll probably want to make your way to The Circle as soon as it's available.
  • More often then not you'll be outnumbered so CC abilities like cone of cold and sleep are extremely important to have.
  • Make sure one of your fighters focuses purely on defense and carries a shield. While it's tempting to go for damage, this game really rewards Tank-based WoW gameplay.
  • Debuffs can be devestating in certain fights. Going up the hex line will eventually reward you with an always crit ability that is pretty potent.
  • Focus fire when fighting groups. Take the weakest enemy down first and move your way up the chain.
  • In general if you're not gonna pause a lot than try to always stay in control of the mage you've decided will be your healer. Letting the AI control your mage will often result in lost mana.
  • When the boss fights get long, use your mana pots as soon as it's prudent rather than waiting till you're completely empty. Most of the later game fights will have you chugging a whole lot of pots, so it's better to have that cooldown ready for the second gulp rather than trying to be overly efficient.
  • While it's tempting to shift into animal form as Morrigan, she's much more powerful as a mage. Only shift forms when the fights are easy or you need a second tank.
  • In general I found archers to be fairly week and stamina inefficient. If you've got a rogue in your party I'd let them move up another tree if you're looking for damage.
  • Rangers in DAO are not archers, but a class that can summon pets. Having a pet around, if only to act as a secondary tank makes things a little easier.
  • If you find yourself casting AOE spells alot make sure you have your party out of free-roam mode. More often then not they'll charge straight into a blizzard or earthquake.
  • If you're playing with two mages, it's more important to have the spell combos work between the two rather than singularly focused. Doing so allows you to cast freeze spells with shatter spells like rock hand (whatever it's called) at the same time.
  • I forget the name, but the subclass for mages that allows you to equip armor was pretty worthless for me. Yes, it allows you to wear lots of stuff, but your fatigue penalty means you'll only be able to cast one or two spells. That makes you essentially a default attack only warrior. That's not a good trade.
  • If you have two mages, make sure they equip staves that do different types of damage, just in case you run into resist problems.
  • Use the weapon-switch as much as possible. For warriors you'll want a sword in one equip and a blunt weapon in the other. You do significantly more damage on armored bad guys if you're using a mace. Since there's no weapon specialization in DAO, there's no reason not to use multiple weapon types when you can.
 
This was the first tactics RPG I've played where I didn't focus on evocation-style fireball spells. My mages were pretty much focused on CC and healing abilities. It meant for longer fights, but it was pretty rewarding going through the entire game without evening learning fireball. 
#2 Posted by Captain_Insano (1514 posts) -

cheers Dave, am just starting the game now and am already loving it. Am sure this will help me on my travels.

#3 Posted by Chaser324 (5966 posts) -

Some good advice. I'll definitely have to take it into consideration as I progress further through the game.

Moderator
#4 Posted by rargy (434 posts) -

I chose casual difficulty and am murdering everything in my path without any trouble.  Still fun!

#5 Posted by Nick (622 posts) -

Question: Did you try playing with a dog in your party? And if so how viable is it?
#6 Posted by Scigrex14 (83 posts) -

Those are some good tips, thanks, those will definitely help in the coming fights.

#7 Posted by punkxblaze (2877 posts) -

Thank you, Dave. I just stopped playing for a bit because I'm frustrated with the bunch of Skeletons and Revenant in the Redcliffe Castle courtyard. So, now that I've read this, I may try to employ some of these tips and go at it again. I'm really bad at strategy and multitasking, so I'm pretty crap at figuring out the tactical stuff on my own.

#8 Posted by snide (2394 posts) -
@punkxblaze: That revanant is the first difficult fight I had in the game. One thing to check is to make sure your mage doesn't have the acid damage (or whatever those revanent are immune to) staves equipped. I ended up having to run out to buy a different staff because mine just wasn't hitting.
#9 Edited by Phonics (327 posts) -

Did you play the PC or console version?
 
Just curious since PC has more enemies per fight from what I've heard

#10 Edited by boj4ngles (287 posts) -

I've been playing XBOX version and I've managed to get through the game on normal without a healer so far (mostly).  If you exploit the herbalism talent to it's fullest (buying supplies and maximizing your cache of elfroot), and get clever with your tactics settings, you can get through encounters pretty easily w/o deaths.  The only fights where I've needed a dedicated healer have been the really long ones.
 
Spoilers: 
My normal party has been Warrior, Alistair, Dog/Zevran, and Morrigan.  Obviously I used a healer on the Circle Tower because Wynne is critical to the mage story, but other than that I've only had to use her on a Dragon fight.  So far I've finished the main quests for Redcliffe, Elven Forests and the Mages.  I just managed to kill the Dragon above Haven as well (it was the longest fight I've gone through so far).  I'm going to use a healer when killing Flemeth as well.  That witch is tough.
 
 
It might just be that the XBOX version is easier though, as several people on this forum have claimed that.  On the other hand, micromanaging a party is tougher XBOX if for no other reason then your camera angle is more restricted, let alone an absence of mouse control.  Also I wonder if the PC version's merchants have less crafting materials available? 
 
P.S. - Dog is a beast.  He has an aoe stun with a short cooldown, he can close distances and disable elite mobs very quicky, and he develops great immunities.  Dog is awesome. 
 
Edited:  My tactic on Revenant fights (there are alot of them all over the place).  Have a fighter tank the Revenant while the rest of your party kills its minions.  Revenants always come with minions and they will surround and kill your party if you don't deal with them.  The good news is they are all fairly weak skeletons and you can aoe them with mages but use fire or electric.  A single Revenant by itself is not much trouble.  Make sure your mage is not the one who initiates combat however, as Revenants will pull their targets too them (and possibly into a surround situation).
#11 Posted by Vecta (167 posts) -
@punkxblaze said:
" Thank you, Dave. I just stopped playing for a bit because I'm frustrated with the bunch of Skeletons and Revenant in the Redcliffe Castle courtyard. So, now that I've read this, I may try to employ some of these tips and go at it again. I'm really bad at strategy and multitasking, so I'm pretty crap at figuring out the tactical stuff on my own. "
Did you open the gate before you fought them? The 4 guys that rush in make that fight a lot easier.
#12 Posted by punkxblaze (2877 posts) -
@Vecta: Actually, I had no idea you could do that... I have to go kill some shit now, thanks for the tip.
#13 Posted by Buscemi (1106 posts) -
@Vecta said:
" @punkxblaze said:
" Thank you, Dave. I just stopped playing for a bit because I'm frustrated with the bunch of Skeletons and Revenant in the Redcliffe Castle courtyard. So, now that I've read this, I may try to employ some of these tips and go at it again. I'm really bad at strategy and multitasking, so I'm pretty crap at figuring out the tactical stuff on my own. "
Did you open the gate before you fought them? The 4 guys that rush in make that fight a lot easier. "
Oh, shit. That's some good advice! I'm stuck at that Revenant too, must try to open gate. Now!
#14 Posted by ArchScabby (5809 posts) -

Thanks for the tips Dave.  I'm playing on medium and bearly making it through so far.  I might have to move down to easy for some tougher parts, but I hope these tips will help out.

#15 Posted by Rhaknar (5940 posts) -

 Make sure one of your fighters focuses purely on defense and carries a shield. While it's tempting to go for damage, this game really rewards Tank-based WoW gameplay.
 
one question, you can "spec" out all your party members, or just your main character? this makes it sound like you can spec one of your party members as a pure tank, and I was under the (wrong?) impression that only the main character had spec trees and whatnot

#16 Posted by NoXious (1335 posts) -

Playing on Hard, and the Tower you showed in your Quick Look is mad hard. They gave me some wimpy Circle Mage (instead of the awesome Tower Guard! T_T) without a bloody heal.
Besides that Dave, is it possible to change Morrigan into a healer? I can simply invest the coming points into Creation and then wait till 14 to start really making her a healer, right? 
I realize she wont be a Spirit Healer till 14 where I get my second Specialization point - but I like having her around and my own mage is going to be a Shifter/Arcane Warrior.

#17 Posted by Binman88 (3679 posts) -
@snide: @Nick said:
" Question: Did you try playing with a dog in your party? And if so how viable is it? "
I'd also be interested to know if you played using the dog, Dave. I'm a good few hours in now, playing as a Human Noble warrior, and have included the Mabari in my party all the time.
#18 Posted by raddevon (437 posts) -

Thanks for the tips. I did alright until I got to that Ogre. Then, I died about four times in a row before finally beating him. I suck at this game.

#19 Posted by mm665 (407 posts) -

Pro tips from rpg guru Snide ! I'm going to try them now !


#20 Posted by CriPPleR (63 posts) -

Great info, Dave. Playing on PC at normal difficulty as a Mage and I have not run into any problems yet. Lighting is awesome. This game is a blast!

#21 Posted by SuperBuster (175 posts) -

I respectfully disagree about the usefulness of the arcane warrior. Granted, I'm not very far into the game and I don't know how well my AW will fare in the end game but so far he makes my party a lot more adaptable. If I encounter a large group of enemies I can have my AW become another tank with rock armor and arcane shield and use some CC spells like cone of cold, glyph of paralysis etc to better manage the damage. If I encounter a single, very tough enemy I can turn off combat magic, switch to a staff and become another healer to help out the tank and cast some hexes. I can become whatever the situation calls for (except a lockpicker).

#22 Posted by Adamantium (885 posts) -
@snide - Good tips, Dave. Can't wait to get back to the game and employ them! Certain spots in DA:O have been kicking my ass and I prefer to have a viable strategy rather than waste my time with trial and error gameplay. Kudos.
#23 Posted by kamolahy (117 posts) -

Just gonna confirm the importance of a healer. It will also help you split your potion usage between mana and healing... that became much more manageable for me. Morrigan is such a good DD, that you can count on her and have a much more focused healer.

#24 Posted by Jimbo (9709 posts) -

There's a (PC) patch out which makes Easy and Normal easier, this might give you a little more freedom to form your party to your liking.
 
Any idea which difficulty level is 'as intended' - Normal apparently gimps the traps and FF, but iirc Hard says the enemies 'hit harder'.  It almost sounds like there should be another difficulty level between the two.
 
My copy still hasn't arrived :'(

#25 Posted by SuperBuster (175 posts) -

By the way, even though I disagree about the arcane warrior the rest of your tips are pretty much spot on as far as I can tell. I'm still trying to use Leliana as an archer despite your suggestion though. 
 
While I'm talking about Leliana and archers, does anyone know a way to get your archer to not switch to melee weapons when they are being attacked by a melee attack? I looked at her tactics and none of them tell her to switch to melee weapons ever. Do I have to remove the weapons?

#26 Posted by Galbrezu (126 posts) -
@SuperBuster said:
" I respectfully disagree about the usefulness of the arcane warrior. Granted, I'm not very far into the game and I don't know how well my AW will fare in the end game but so far he makes my party a lot more adaptable. If I encounter a large group of enemies I can have my AW become another tank with rock armor and arcane shield and use some CC spells like cone of cold, glyph of paralysis etc to better manage the damage. If I encounter a single, very tough enemy I can turn off combat magic, switch to a staff and become another healer to help out the tank and cast some hexes. I can become whatever the situation calls for (except a lockpicker). "
This is part of what makes the character development so awesome in this game, you can find awesome skillsets that mesh very well with your play style. Being a mage with a lot of high mana cost spells that i like to use as often as possible i've found Blood Magic to be incredibly useful for keeping me casting those spells after i've run out (it lets me use health to cast spells instead of mana). That combined with the Power of Blood skill I got from Warden's Keep (Health for Mana skill) keep me casting constantly throughout the fight.
#27 Posted by SuperBuster (175 posts) -
@Galbrezu: That's cool. I was thinking of picking Blood Magic as my second spec to overcome the Arcane Warrior's poor mana pool by using my health. I have to know though, does fatigue effect the amount of health you use up in spells?
#28 Edited by Lowbrow (840 posts) -
@Rhaknar said:

"  Make sure one of your fighters focuses purely on defense and carries a shield. While it's tempting to go for damage, this game really rewards Tank-based WoW gameplay.  one question, you can "spec" out all your party members, or just your main character? this makes it sound like you can spec one of your party members as a pure tank, and I was under the (wrong?) impression that only the main character had spec trees and whatnot "

You have the choice of modifying everyones' talent and skill trees - the only thing you cannot choose is what default class they start out as, as well as, at least in the few characters I have picked up,  they might have a specialization that you can't remove.
#29 Posted by Galbrezu (126 posts) -
@SuperBuster said:
" @Galbrezu: That's cool. I was thinking of picking Blood Magic as my second spec to overcome the Arcane Warrior's poor mana pool by using my health. I have to know though, does fatigue effect the amount of health you use up in spells? "
You know I haven't actually noticed, I should probably check that out. I've only been using robes on my mage so fatigue isn't the biggest of issues for me.
#30 Posted by SuperBuster (175 posts) -
@Lowbrow said:
" @Rhaknar said:

"  Make sure one of your fighters focuses purely on defense and carries a shield. While it's tempting to go for damage, this game really rewards Tank-based WoW gameplay.  one question, you can "spec" out all your party members, or just your main character? this makes it sound like you can spec one of your party members as a pure tank, and I was under the (wrong?) impression that only the main character had spec trees and whatnot "

You have the choice of modifying everyones' talent and skill trees - the only thing you cannot choose is what default class they start out as, as well as, at least in the few characters I have picked up,  they might have a specialization that you can't remove. "
Maybe someone can confirm this but it seems to me that every member you get starts off one level higher than me and has already chosen their talents/spells up to that level. Additionally, I think maybe your members automatically lvl themselves if you don't have them in your party. I haven't really confirmed either of these though.
#31 Posted by fynne (303 posts) -

Good tips.  Thanks.

#32 Posted by kidko (85 posts) -

Awesome tips! Thanks for the no-spoilers. Just got Morrigan though... not sure how taking her to the Circle will turn out :P

#33 Posted by End_Boss (3220 posts) -

That was a pretty thorough rundown, Snide. Not sure that I'll be picking Dragon Age up, but I can certainly appreciate the thought behind them there bullet points.

#34 Posted by Ineedaname (4319 posts) -

Will Alistair always be in the party?
 
I don't want to invest into him if he's not.

#35 Posted by Nate (680 posts) -

Wonderful advice. I haven't really started the game yet -- waiting for my new video card, but this site has been bookmarked and I will definitely refer back to it.

#36 Posted by SJSchmidt93 (4874 posts) -

Dave knows his shit.
 
Listen to the man.
 
Bow to the man.
 
Make a sacrifice for the man.

#37 Posted by AlKusanagi (851 posts) -

Always, always, ALWAYS kill enemy casters first! I can handle hordes of melee enemies no problem, but those damn emissaries ruin my day every time I don't get the drop on them.

#38 Posted by rohn (1 posts) -

A few more tips I have noticed that help me playin it on hard (PC)...
 
Positioning- get your melee behind them, and make sure they don't get behind you. I'm not sure if its an auto crit for backstabs, but it at least makes it crit a lot more. I'll have my tank gather 3-4 and back to a wall so he can't get surrounded.
 
I messed up my tank by thinking I should put most of my points in con. Get Str up for the better armor.
 
Tough groups you can sometimes cheese through em by pulling with your rogue. I did this with the reavant before i realized ser whatshismane was sitting at the gate lol. You'll usually only get a couple of the group and you can pull them around a corner, through your traps ect where they are easy to deal with.

#39 Posted by Teran (877 posts) -

Taking out the weakest opponents first isn't always the best strategy.  I aim to take out the targets that are the biggest thread which for me is almost always mages and usually archers because it is harder to get them tanked.  If the "boss" of the encounter is melee based I'll save him for last and then kill the weakest first. 
 
Also, something I didn't see above... I recommend carrying around a second set of armor for your tank that maximizes spell resistance.

#40 Posted by Rio (591 posts) -

Great tips Dave.  I broke down after killing theRevanant (sp?) and lowered to easy difficulty, I'm actually enjoying the game alot more now, I'm just not in the mood for an overly difficult game atm.  I may break down and put the difficulty back up after I get a bit more of a handle on the game (or get my guy to Reaver spec).

#41 Posted by MysteryFoodX (26 posts) -

Hope I'm not repeating too much of what has already been said. I guess the biggest difference in making the combat easier is just to play like an mmo and manage threat vs dps and so on.
 
Random stuff:
Heavier armor generates more aggro.

If you want to know how much money an item is worth or what kind of set bonus it gives, just right click and choose inspect.

You can heal friendly characters that are not in your party.

#42 Edited by Tharcide (1 posts) -

@SuperBuster said:

" By the way, even though I disagree about the arcane warrior the rest of your tips are pretty much spot on as far as I can tell. I'm still trying to use Leliana as an archer despite your suggestion though.  While I'm talking about Leliana and archers, does anyone know a way to get your archer to not switch to melee weapons when they are being attacked by a melee attack? I looked at her tactics and none of them tell her to switch to melee weapons ever. Do I have to remove the weapons? "

 
For people searching with google and what not and for your benefit if you haven't figured it out:
There is another list menu where you choose if the character is passive, aggressive, archer, and whatnot. Set mages and archers to "archer" stance and the tank to "aggressive"
#43 Posted by boj4ngles (287 posts) -
@Ineedaname:
Yes you can certainly keep him in your party for the entire game if you choose.
#44 Posted by addictedtopinescent (3645 posts) -

Thanks for the advice Dave, I'll be playing this pretty soon, any indication of how long it is, roughly?

#45 Posted by Teran (877 posts) -
@Ineedaname: The only temporary characters in the game are very obviously temporary often not having names.  The only way I've seen that you can permanently lose someone from your party is if you tell them to leave in camp.
#46 Posted by KimChi4U (368 posts) -

A tip that has been working really well for me is adding poison-making to my rogue and always having deathroot extract on for more challenging fights. For some reason, it seems if I use the dirty-fighting talent to stun someone, the poison will keep them stunned...sometimes right up until they die.

As, well, it's important to learn the combination attacks. The easiest one to use near the start of the game is vunerability hex followed by life drain. When Morrigan uses this, a mob's life is usually cut it half. A lighting bolt or a winter's grasp and a regular attack after the life drain will kill a guy outright.  I can usually kill off one guy this way before anyone gets into melee range. 
  
Oh yeah, the most important thing that has helped me through fights without using a single health potion and only Morrigan on healing duty (I gave her the heal spell) is to "pull" monsters to you...especially when opening doors that have a ton of dudes behind them. Have your party on "hold position" away from the door you are going to open (around a corner is even better). Have the member of your party that you want the monsters to go after (eg Alistair the wonder tank) open the door and then run back to the party. The enemy melee will follow you but the ranged quite often don't. I usually have Alistair run past my group and have Morrigan cold of cold them as they are approaching. Have Alistair pop taunt and voila, the fight is much more managable. Just remember toggle hold position off again once the battle starts again or you'll have guys just standing around doing nothing.

#47 Posted by Alphiehyr (1083 posts) -
@boj4ngles said:
"
I've been playing XBOX version and I've managed to get through the game on normal without a healer so far (mostly).  If you exploit the herbalism talent to it's fullest (buying supplies and maximizing your cache of elfroot), and get clever with your tactics settings, you can get through encounters pretty easily w/o deaths.  The only fights where I've needed a dedicated healer have been the really long ones.
 
Spoilers: 
  It might just be that the XBOX version is easier though, as several people on this forum have claimed that.  On the other hand, micromanaging a party is tougher XBOX if for no other reason then your camera angle is more restricted, let alone an absence of mouse control.  Also I wonder if the PC version's merchants have less crafting materials available?  P.S. - Dog is a beast.  He has an aoe stun with a short cooldown, he can close distances and disable elite mobs very quicky, and he develops great immunities.  Dog is awesome.  Edited:  My tactic on Revenant fights (there are alot of them all over the place).  Have a fighter tank the Revenant while the rest of your party kills its minions.  Revenants always come with minions and they will surround and kill your party if you don't deal with them.  The good news is they are all fairly weak skeletons and you can aoe them with mages but use fire or electric.  A single Revenant by itself is not much trouble.  Make sure your mage is not the one who initiates combat however, as Revenants will pull their targets too them (and possibly into a surround situation). "
Your spoilers killed the game for me. *cancels shipment*. The spoilers you wrote was automatically opened.
#48 Posted by snide (2394 posts) -
@addictedtopinescent: 50 hours if you skip a lot of side quests.
#49 Posted by Teran (877 posts) -
@SuperBuster: The people you leave in camp will level up to your level minus one.  So if you leave someone in camp at level 7 and don't bring them back out until you're level 13, as soon as you select them and go onto the world map when you reach your destination their level will change to 12 and you can assign stats/talents/skills the same way you would if anyone in your party leveled up (though you'd be doing it for 5 levels instead of just one). 
 
I don't know about them starting at your level +1 when you recruit them though.
#50 Posted by heylookitsrobin (5 posts) -
@SuperBuster:
I've had the same thing happening where all the new members are a level higher than me as well. I have the PS3 version, and the people that aren't in my party are levelling up, but they aren't picking their own stat points/skills. Basically, if you go to your camp and switch through them, their level will be increasing and you'll have a backlog of points and skills to select. I just paid attention to Morrigan for the first time in a while and had about 12 stat points to catch her up with.

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