Dragon Age: Characters, Spells and Strategy

Now that I have the spoilers out of my system, let’s talk about strategy and spell combos. We did touch upon this in the previous thread but it was chock full of spoilers. So now I want to discuss strategy in a spoiler free environment so that the readers who didn’t finish the game yet can join in.

First off, what is your favorite team? I don’t know if this is how everyone plays games like this, but I tend to find a group of characters that work, and then stick with them throughout the game often neglecting others. For example, in Mass Effect I would always take Liara and Tali. In KoTOR2 I walked around with all female Jedi harem consisting of Visas, Handmainden and Kreia. This has some downsides – the neglected characters tend to be ill equipped, and I usually don’t develop strong relationships with them. When I need to take them along with me, they tend to slow me down. Still, I always seem to have a preferred team that I use as much as I’m able to.

My go-to team: Morrigan, Leliana, Wynne

In Dragon Age my go-to team was this:

Morrigan – used as the main offensive mage. I specked her to use dps (primal magic) and crowd control spells (like sleep, force field and paralysis). I actually wanted to get her into blood magic, but I don’t think you can unlock it when you play as a non-mage. I found her shape-shifting spell line to be quite useless and I never invested in it. Instead I spent the points on primal, spirit and entropy lines.

Wynne – was my main healer buff/counter buff specialist. I basically spent most of the points on creation spells, and spirit healer line. She had few crowd control spells as well. I remember giving her Petrify, Paralysis Glyph and etc.. Also she was tasked with casting Spell Bloom on Morrigan when her mana fell below 50%.

Leliana – was my Rogue tasked with pick-pocketing, and opening chests. Since I already had 2 ranged specialists (Morrigan and Wynne) I re-specked Leliana to be dual wielding weapon specialist. I invested in that and in the rogue skills that would give her better dps abilities. Later I made her either an assassin though I considered having her be a ranger to summon a living meat shield in tough battles.

My main character was a tank with a shield specialization. I decked him out with the best one-handed weapon I could find, best armor and etc. Later I invested in the Champion and Berserker specializations to make him even more formidable. Once I got him into Berserking I changed Wynne’s tactics to cast heroics on him all the time, to offset the stamina drain.

This worked extremely well for me, and I would actually get upset when the game would force me to take a specific character along with me. When I had to, I would simply swap out Leliana for whoever needed to be in the party at a given time. Unfortunately this meant I wouldn’t be able to open locked chests, but it was better than fighting without an offensive mage or a healer.

What was your dream team?

Question number two is to give me your top 5 favorite spells/skills in the game. Here are mine:

  1. Force Field – initially I got this spell because I wanted to gain access to Crushing Prison and mostly neglected it. It seemed limited. Making a character invulnerable for a short period was cool, but it essentially froze that character in place, making him useless until the field expired. Halfway through the game though I noticed you can cast it on enemies as well as allies and started experimenting. I quickly discovered that it is possibly the best crowd control spell in the game. It lasts longer than any other paralysis/freeze type spell and has almost no cool-down time. I could easily cast it on enemy mages and keep them in stasis almost indefinitely. And by that I mean that if the field dropped I could almost immediately re-cast it on the same target. Unlike other paralysis/stasis type spells, it is actually impossible to resist Force Field making it a sure thing. That’s not all though.

    Casting it on someone affected by Crushing Prison would create a massive shock wave that could easily wipe out large clusters of lightly armored missile troops. Not to mention that casting it on a taunting ally would temporarily nullify almost all the damage output the enemy could actually dish out as they would fruitlessly slam themselves against the field.

    IMHO it is probably the most flexible spell in the whole game.

  2. Cone of Cold – the only spell from the Cold line that guarantees to freeze a target offering it no chance to resist. Furthermore, it will freeze anything – including the High Dragon, Brood Mother and the Archdemon. Combine this with very short cool down time, and you have an incredibly potent spell. Works wonders in doorways and narrow corridors where you can shoot it off from behind your tanks and freeze everything in front of them.
  3. Fireball – it’s an instant classic. Deals a lot of damage, has big area of effect and it not only sets enemies on fire, but also knocks them down. Perfect spell for dispatching clusters of low level mooks. I personally like to combine it with grease spell. For one, it will slow down the movement of your targets allowing you to aim the Fireball better. Once it hits, it will give you additional DoT effect. By the time the affected enemies get up, and run out of the burning area they are bound to receive some additional damage. I successfully cleared out whole rooms full of enemies this way.
  4. Cleansing Aura – this one is a must have. It removes injuries from all characters in range for free. Once you obtain this spell, you can stop hoarding your injury kits. In fact, you might as well just sell them all. You will never have to use one again.
  5. Sleep – is my favorite opening spell. While it can be resisted by ranked characters, it has a huge area of effect and lasts quite a while. I usually cast it on missile troops at the beginning of a battle and most of the time it keeps them out of my hair long enough for me to take care of any close combat troops on the field. I sometimes follow it up with waking nightmare. Since sleeping targets can’t resist it, it usually causes infighting to break out amongst the enemies.

How about you? What are your favorite spells? What is your usual opening move? Let me know in the comments.

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9 Responses to Dragon Age: Characters, Spells and Strategy

  1. At first i played the Game as Warrior, mostly taking Wynne (for healing) with me and everything else was pretty flexible.

    Now in my second attempt i play as pretty offensive Mage, mostly taking Leliana and/or Morrigan/Wynne with me.

    I don’t really rely on one or two Characters. One of the best parts of this Game is imho that inactive Chars still Level up and you have allways enough Equipment for everyone. Thus you never really need to decide who you need and who not.

    Most time my Team-Selection is by far more plot-based then speciality-based. At least i allways select one or two Chars based on the current Quest or Area and the last one is reserved for balance.

    Morrigans Shapeshifting-Spell is indeed usefull.. at least if you reach the last level of it. Then She bekommes someone who can be adapted to nearly every task, be it healing, crowd-control or even directly attacking as a swarm of bees.

    As far as i know there is only one Way to get to the Bloodmage-Specialisation, this is by entering the Fade in Redclive and to barter with the Deamon.
    I think this should be possible with every Specialisation, as long as you’ve got any Mage in your team at this point. (in my first run i didn’t, so i don’t really know)

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  2. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Locked chests aren’t that appealing in DA:O. Read somewhere that there really weren’t any “awesome”-level items in locked chests, just the usual pots, mats and trash.

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Dr. Azrael Tod wrote:

    As far as i know there is only one Way to get to the Bloodmage-Specialisation, this is by entering the Fade in Redclive and to barter with the Deamon.

    That’s what I read too. But I also read you can only do it when you play a mage. Then again, I haven’t tried it – I just killed the demon on my first playthrough.

    Mart wrote:

    Locked chests aren’t that appealing in DA:O. Read somewhere that there really weren’t any “awesome”-level items in locked chests, just the usual pots, mats and trash.

    That’s actually very true. There are few chests here and there which may have some decent stuff inside, but they are rare.

    I guess it is more about my CRPG-OCD – anything that shines, glimmers or has an icon must be clicked and picked up. I swear, that DLC guy in the camp was mighty annoying. I really wished I could get that exclamation mark from above of his head.

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  4. Luke Maciak wrote:

    I really wished I could get that exclamation mark from above of his head.

    same here… This bastard is more annoying then any kind of enemy to me… -.-

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  5. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Luke Maciak wrote:

    I guess it is more about my CRPG-OCD – anything that shines, glimmers or has an icon must be clicked and picked up. I swear, that DLC guy in the camp was mighty annoying. I really wished I could get that exclamation mark from above of his head.

    I also got that bad habit, but not only does it extend to CRPGs, but most games in general. Strategy, simulation, sports, puzzle games: I must be able to find and complete everything. Feels incomplete otherwise.

    That DLC guy is really dick move. I blame the suits at EA for that! Money-grubbing asses.

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  6. Mart wrote:

    That DLC guy is really dick move. I blame the suits at EA for that! Money-grubbing asses.

    I think a part of the Problem is that it constantly reminds one that this game is just a way for some Persons to get your money. Dont get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting your money, but you want to play a game… you want to feel a world with dwarfes, elves and dragons and you don’t want to read “by XYZ now and pay via VISA or Paypal”. It just doesn’t belong there!
    It’s just as if EA would drop some CocaCola-Ads on the Dungeon-Walls. :-/

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  7. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Dr. Azrael Tod:
    I don’t mind paying for a game if it’s good. But that is just bait. EA/Bioware knows that. Advertising DLC outside the game makes the DLC seem like an addition, but advertising in the game makes one’s perception of the game incomplete, clearly targetting the completion-OCD gamers. It’s just too shrewd.

    I just put EA suits in there cos it’s so easy to blame them sometimes. :P I do concede that I may not be correct on that.

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  8. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    There are mods that can remove the DLC guy if you didn’t buy it. If you consider a second playthrough, I’d also recommand the Detailed Tooltips mod to have a better idea at what spell and abilities do.

    My party was Sten (or Alistair or Oghren, but I prefer Sten), Zevran, Wynne and my character.

    My strategy for every single fight in the game :
    1) Gather the enemies around the warrior
    2) Use Taunt
    3) Force Field the warrior
    4) Kill the enemies using any means in complete safety, renewing Force Field on the warrior when it wears off

    Taunt locks the enemies on the character using it, and they won’t change target until they die. Force Field makes a character invulnerable. Combine the two, and there goes game balance. Having two mages give access to permanent Force Field with no down time as long as mages have Mana, and Lyrium is available in infinite quantities to make potions.

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  9. Kayako NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Mmmmh, read your little experience and I’m not agrreing with you about the force field spell. The repulsion glyph spell is a better crod control spell, the better of the game. With paralyzie explosion force field is just a perk, who allow you to make only ONE enemy paralyzed. And you can’t even attack him when is paralyzed. When you have nine enemies paralyzed and you just see them die under your two tempest, you don’t really see force field to be “possibly the best crowd control spell”.

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