- See also: [[: Specializations, Spells, Mage, Arcane Warrior Spellcasting| Specializations, Spells, Mage, Arcane Warrior Spellcasting]]
Arcane Warriors in Thedas
The Arcane Warriors once widely existed amongst the ancient Elves. However, after their fall, the art of the Arcane Warriors is seemingly all but lost.
Arcane Warrior Spells
| Combat Magic|| Sustained |
|While this mode is active, the arcane warrior channels magic inward, trading increased fatigue for an attack bonus and the ability to use Spellpower to determine combat damage. Aura of Might and Fade Shroud improve the effects. Additionally, regardless of whether the mode is active, an arcane warrior who has learned this spell may use the magic attribute to satisfy the strength requirement to equip higher-level weapons or armor.|
| Aura of Might|| Passive |
Requires: Level 12
|The arcane warrior's prowess with Combat Magic grows, granting additional bonuses to attack, defense, and damage while in that mode.|
| Shimmering Shield|| Sustained |
Requires: Level 14
|The arcane warrior is surrounded by a shimmering shield of energy that blocks most damage and grants large bonuses to armor and all resistances. When active, however, the Shimmering Shield consumes mana rapidly.|
| Fade Shroud|| Passive |
Requires: Level 16
|The arcane warrior now only partly exists in the physical realm while Combat Magic is active. Spanning the gap between the real world and the Fade grants a bonus to mana regeneration and a chance to avoid attacks.|
Unlocking the Arcane Warrior Specialization
Mechanics and Tactics
In all cases having an Arcane Warrior in your group gives you a lot of added flexibility, and removes to a certain extent the need to have a second warrior character with you for the purposes of soaking damage when fighting large groups of enemies. The key to Arcane Warrior mechanics lies in two trade offs, one defensive between armor and fatigue, the other offensive between sword or staff, and mana managing.
For the first, having the ability to wear the armor, which you acquire as soon as you get the Combat Magic ability, does not remove the associated fatigue increases on the mana cost of spells, and so heavy armor limits how many spells your character can use. Note that fatigue penalties also cause potions to become less useful, and you will lose significant amounts of combat time and damage output by relying on them.
The second tradeoff is offensive, between sword, the preferred weapon for close-up combat, and staff; this affects which spells you can cast. Going the sword route is possible, but if you try to cast spells for which the sword must be sheathed, your character will sheathe the sword, then cast. This causes a mid-combat delay which can cause a significant amount of trouble. By pausing the game and using the weapon-switch ability you can avoid the time penalty (weapon switch becomes instant in this case) and so micromanage your way around this. You can also add the weapon set to a hot key and swap your weapon set that way. That is also instant and has the added benefit that you can map you spells to the weapons you have in hand. So with your sword and shield, you will have drawn spells in your quick keys, but with your staff you will have your empty hand spells. This give you a total of 10 spells across both weapons slots. However that requires a significant amount of player involvement if you use the radial dial. See Arcane Warrior Spellcasting for a complete list of spells that can be cast with a sword in hand.
Sustained Abilities and Mana
Arcane Warriors can use their sustained abilities to get very high levels of defense/armor/spell resistance. This can be powerful, but can limit what the Arcane Warrior can do to basically being an auto-attacking machine with decent damage and great defense. The various sustained Arcane Warrior abilities tend to have very heavy mana cost, and so a common tactic is to leave them off until you are low on mana. This allows you to open a fight with heavy area damage like Fireball and expensive crowd-control spells, and since casting a sustained ability does not cost you mana if your max mana is low enough, it is essentially free. At what point you switch is down to personal preference - the longer you leave it, the more flexible your casting options are. Nevertheless the Arcane Warrior as melee-fighter is a good way to extend a fight, giving you a little extra durability when you need it (much like Shapeshifting's Bear form ability). The small delay while you turn on your abilities does not usually matter much.
Players have adopted three main styles for Arcane Warriors: Mage, Tank, & Hybrid.
The Mage-style Arcane Warrior remains primarily a ranged attacker with a decent mana pool; they rely primarily on lighter armor (fatigue < 15%) for defense and a staff as a weapon. Since they are more robust than standard mages, they can lead from the front or double as an alternate tank; however, they are not meant to be a warrior replacement. Since Shimmering Shield does not require Combat Magic to be active, they can stick with standard Mage Armor, along with mana regen gear, and use Shimmering Shield for the resistances and armor bonus. (Reminder: be careful not to boost resistances unnecessarily high: elemental resistances cap at 75%; spell resistance caps at 100%, while mental & physical resistances have no cap.)
Arcane Warriors can be setup to tank every bit as well as a warrior, if not better. The ability to wear heavy armor and manage fatigue makes this caster extremely tough, at the expense of a weaker mana pool. This also makes it tougher to maintain aggro on opponents, as it's hard to keep dealing damage after when mana runs out in 4-5 spells. With the Combat Magic spell active, melee weapons use Magic instead of Strength to determine damage, so hits can pack some real punch. The downside is that a typical Mage character usually has an undeveloped Constitution and can not take a whole lot of damage. One remedy would be to take advantage of the specialization's strong defensive spells in conjunction with regular defensive mage spells. By activating shimmering shield, rock armor, combat magic, arcane shield, miasma and other buffs, the character can be made almost invincible. However, there are two noticeable disadvantages with this method: First, the character will be essentially limited only to basic attacks, with the slight possibility of casting a low level spell depending on willpower. Secondly, the vast amount of buffs used in unison can make the game very prone to crashing, even on a console.
The hybrid style attempts to combine the best of the Mage and Tank styles. The Arcane Warrior primarily relies on getting close to the enemy and using short-range spells to help manage opponents, especially Cone of Cold and other snares. The primary weapon is a sword; keep in mind which spells work best with this type of weapon and swap in a staff during combat when sensible.
With Other Specializations
This is a popular second specialization choice for an Arcane Warrior because it can help to offset the disadvantages of a low mana pool at the cost of health by allowing the Arcane Warrior to cast Blood Magic spells using health as mana. Presumably the heavy armor will give the Arcane Warrior enough headroom on health to do this, although a reasonable constitution would be highly recommended. The effective Blood Wound spell can also be acquired, which is an ideal choice for a more offensive Arcane Warrior. This would be the recommended combination for the 'gish' build mentioned above.
The other main choice, producing a mixed character with offensive and defensive magic and good durability. This combination works best with no more than medium armor, since a decent amount of mana is needed to power the high-level healing spells. Also worth noting is that Cleansing Aura can draw as much aggro as a Warrior with Threaten.
An interesting combination but unpopular choice with Arcane Warrior. There is a fair bit of redundant overlap between the two, as they both offer exclusive options in melee, but a foremost Shapeshifter with Secondary Arcane Warrior can use massive armor and Bear Shape and be incredibly hard to kill with weapons. The main problem with this is the fact that Shapeshifter overall does very poor damage because of the fact that, unlike what the tooltip for Shapeshifting says, it does not actually use magic to calculate damage.
Arcane Warrior: Equipping
Currently there is only one Arcane Warrior Specialization specific item in the game:
Carefully kit your Arcane Warrior with appropriate bonuses, especially mana and/or stamina regeneration.
- Stamina: Executioner's Helm, Eamon's Shield
- It is possible to completely offset Shimmering Shield's -10 penalty to Combat Mana Regeneration if you choose the correct equipment. Combine any of Wade's Superior Dragon Armor Sets (+2 regen) and Andruil's Blessing (+2 regen) with Cailan's Arms (+5.5). On Xbox and PS3, you have more weapon/shield options, as the regen amounts are higher on each piece.
Dragon Age: Origins - PRIMA Official Strategy Guide.