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Warriors Edit

Dragon Age: Origins - General Principles Edit

Optimizing Dual-Wielding Warrior performance follows one of 2 distinct philosophies: A talent-focused philosophy, and an auto-attack-based philosophy. Both paths provide their own advantages and disadvantages, and preference for one or the other boils down to personal taste.

A Talent-focused Dual-Wielding warrior emphasizes the liberal use of talents during combat in order to swing the tide of battle in their favor. They are better suited for short fights (which most encounters probably are), where having higher burst damage is an advantage. Their Area-of-Effect talents also make this better suited against large crowds. The use of weapons with higher base damage is preferred.

An Auto-Attack Dual-Wielding Warrior leverages Momentum (and Precise Striking, to get around the attack speed bug), and On-Hit damage effects in order to boost sustained damage instead of burst-potential. They are typically better suited against longer fights - i.e. Bosses, due to the fact that they require zero stamina expenditure to deal massive amounts of damage once all sustained abilities are active. They also better fit the role of a secondary tank during encounters. Weapons with higher attack speed (i.e. Daggers) are preferred to maximize On-hit damage effects.

Talent-Focused Edit

Talent-focused Warriors use Longswords or Waraxes in both hands. They eschew the use of Sustained Abilities for the most part, instead using every point of Stamina to spam Talents. On-Hit damage effects do not apply to Talents, so runes and party-composition reflect that fact. Death Blow is mandatory, to provide more fuel for the Warrior during more prolonged fights.

Stat Build (Including bonuses from The Fade, but not bonuses from equipment)

  • Strength - Every spare point goes here
  • Dexterity - 36 (for Dual-Weapon Mastery)
  • Willpower - 20-25 (less hard points can be put here if equipment has plenty of attribute bonuses)
  • Magic - Base
  • Cunning - Base or 16 (to access the Master versions of Coercion, Combat Tactics, Stealing and Survival)
  • Constitution - Base

Priority Talents

  • Death Blow - provides valuable stamina regeneration
  • Dual-Weapon Mastery - Allows the use of Main-hand Weapons in the off-hand
  • Dual-Weapon Sweep - Low cost and low cooldown, with decent AoE
  • Riposte - Stun-on-command, provided target fails a physical resistance check; primarily used for utility
  • Whirlwind - Area-of-Effect Talent for dealing with large groups
  • Cripple/Punisher - Critical hits-on-command

Notable Equipment

Specializations

Berserker is practically mandatory for any damage-dealing Warrior, and should be taken as the first specialization. The choice of second specialization for the highest damage output is Reaver; Aura of Pain and Blood Frenzy both provide additional damage output. Templar is also a viable second specialization due to access to Templar armor (Knight Commander's Plate provides a hefty 40% spell resistance and +5 WIL), and a powerful crowd-control ability in Holy Smite. Champion is the utility choice for War Cry, a good defensive AoE de-buff (and crowd-control with Superiority), and Rally.

  • Straightforward Damage: Berserker + Reaver
  • AoE + Mage-killing: Templar + Berserker/Reaver
  • Defense/Utility: Templar + Champion

Auto-Attacker Edit

"Auto-attacker" Warriors value attack speed above all else, to make full use of all On-Hit damage effects like weapon runes and Mage sustained abilities (ex. Frost Weapons). It is for this reason that Daggers are preferred. The signature talent for this build is Momentum, which provides a hefty attack speed boost.

A Note on the Dual Striking Talent

On paper, Dual Striking appears to be all benefit for little drawback for Warriors (since Warriors cannot backstab like Rogues do), and thus losing out on critical hits seems to not matter much, especially with +crit chance gear being rather scarce. However, in reality, there are certain mechanics which hinder the use of the talent:

  1. Each weapon wielded will have it's own hit calculation, meaning it is entirely possible for only one of the weapons to actually hit its target, rather than both weapons hitting all the time like the talent's description may suggest
  2. A bug exists in which one of the three possible attack animations when using this talent does not perform attack rolls. As such, 1/3 of attacks will never connect at all, making your Hit chance effectively capped at 66.67% while Dual Striking is active, regardless of how high your attack score goes. (This bug can be addressed with the use of an unofficial mod in the PC version)

On the flip-side, however, Dual Striking does NOT take the off-hand weapon into account when determining attack speed - it is solely determined by what is equipped in the Main Hand slot. Instead of attack speeds alternating between main and off-hand, Dual Striking effectively "normalizes" attack speeds, allowing main-hand weapons equipped in the off-hand to attack just as fast as your main-hand (which is most often a Dagger, in this context). Assuming that a player does not suffer from a string of unlucky misses, this translates to a DPS gain, even with the detrimental mechanics taken into account.

What does this all mean for the Talent, then? Basically, Dual Striking is only worth considering if:

  • Your game is modded to address the attack animation bug (eg. Console players should avoid the talent for the most part)
  • The Warrior has low critical hit chance and/or lacking in +%Backstab/Critical Damage gear (i.e. the early game)
  • The Warrior's attack score is high relative to the target's defense
  • The Warrior will be using a slower Main-hand Weapon in the off-hand slot instead of dual-daggers

Stat Build Variants

Warriors can choose to invest their attribute points in either STR or DEX, as Dagger damage benefits from both stats (Patch 1.02 onwards). Both variant builds are detailed below:

Variant 1: DEX-based Auto-Attack

DEX-based warriors have higher defense and attack scores than their STR-based counterparts, which makes them good secondary tanks. On the flip side, this means that they have no viable weapon options other than dual-daggers, and they will often compete with other dual-wielders in your party for the best dagger/s in the game (i.e. The Rose's Thorn)

Stat Build

  • Strength - 42 (including Fade and Equipment bonuses)
  • Dexterity - Every spare point goes here
  • Willpower - Base
  • Magic - Base
  • Cunning - Base or 16 (including Fade bonus; to access the Master versions of Coercion, Combat Tactics, Stealing and Survival)
  • Constitution - Base or 20-30 (including Fade and Equipment bonuses)

Variant 2: STR-based Auto-Attack

STR-based warriors sacrifice defensive bonuses for better flexibility in gear options. This is especially valuable when one considers that the Warden's party already comprises of 3 Warriors and 2 Rogues, not counting whatever class the Warden will be. While the ability to wear heavy armor provides some survivability, STR warriors make for less viable tanks (if at all).

Stat Build

  • Strength - Every spare point goes here
  • Dexterity - 30 or 36 (including Fade bonus)
  • Willpower - Base
  • Magic - Base
  • Cunning - Base or 16 (including Fade bonus; to access the Master versions of Coercion, Combat Tactics, Stealing and Survival)
  • Constitution - Base or 20-30 (including Fade and Equipment bonuses)

Priority Talents (both Variants)

  • Momentum - Provides a large attack speed bonus (-0.3s). Getting this talent is Priority #1
  • Precise Striking - If not using mods, required to get around the Attack Speed bug with Haste. Still worth using for the damage bonus, even when resorting to mods
  • Passives that give damage bonuses (Bravery, Dual-Weapon Training, etc.)
  • Riposte - Stun-on-command, provided target fails a physical resistance check; primarily used for utility
  • Dual-Weapon Sweep - Low cost and low cooldown; Can be feasibly spammed even with heavy use of sustained abilities
  • Dual Striking - (See note on Dual Striking above)

Notable Equipment (both variants)

Specializations (both variants)

The choice of specializations will depend on how far the Warrior will lean towards off-tanking.

For pure damage dealing, Berserker and Reaver are the clear choices, as they are the only specializations that directly increase damage output.

The tanking-oriented choice would be Templar and Champion. Templar allows the Warrior to achieve 100% spell immunity with Templar Armor, while Champion provides an AoE debuff and a party-wide Attack and Defense buff.

  • Straightforward Damage: Berserker + Reaver
  • Mage-Killing: Templar + Any
  • Tanking: Templar + Champion

Adapting Warriors in Awakening Edit

Whether the Warrior chooses to focus on spamming talents or auto-attacking, adapting a Dual-Wielding Warrior to DA:O - Awakening involves the use of the Spirit Warrior specialization. Getting all 4 talents in the tree (requires Level 28) should be the first priority. With all talents in the tree unlocked, the Warrior receives the following bonuses when Beyond the Veil is active:

  • +50% chance to dodge attacks
  • Undocumented immunity to knockdown, stun, and slip effects
  • All damage dealt is converted to Spirit damage (therefore bypassing armor)
  • +45% spell resistance
  • +20% Melee attack speed
  • +15% Spirit Damage

The above bonuses are already significant on their own. However, to fully maximize the specialization, the warrior will also need to achieve the following:

  • Get bonus spirit damage as close to the cap (+50%) as possible
  • Get critical chance as close to 100% as possible
  • Get critical damage bonus as close to the cap (+200%) as possible
  • Cast Affliction Hex or Vulnerability Hex from a Mage with high spellpower on the target

Bonus spirit damage comes from the following sources:

Note: Find Vitals is bugged and gives +5% spirit damage instead of its documented effects. If leaving the game un-modded, it will allow the Warrior to achieve the +50% spirit damage bonus cap. However, its documented benefits are arguably better than the extra +5%. An unofficial fix can be found here.

Getting close to 100% critical chance is arguably easier, as Warriors have the following options:

From talents and runes alone, Warriors already have +56% on top of their weapons' base critical hit chance. The rest can be covered through equipment (like Talon of the Skies) and through having 2 rogues in the group buff-stacking Song of Courage.

Intensifying runes also have the added benefit of providing +20% critical damage for each rune, meaning slotting both weapons with 3 runes each already provide +120% critical damage, with only +80% remaining needed to reach the full +200% cap. Notably, wearing Voice of Velvet provides a huge +100% critical damage, bringing the warrior well over the critical damage cap when coupled with the runes.

New Warrior Talents Worth Getting

  • Second Wind - Excellent for any dual-wielding warrior, as Beyond the Veil continually drains Stamina. Talent-focused warriors will especially benefit from this
  • Twin Strikes - Automatic Critical hit. Applies bleed when combined with Find Vitals. Auto-crits are always welcome.
  • Find Vitals - In its bugged form, provides a passive +5% spirit damage. In its fixed form, provides +10% melee critical chance and +20% critical damage when dual-wielding. Even when bugged, passive damage increases are always welcome
  • Massacre - Practically insta-kills large groups of normal-ranked mobs with high +critical damage bonuses. Especially good when using two main-hand weapons. Very high stamina cost.

Situational Talents

  • Grievous Insult - A taunt-like effect that pulls enemies towards the warrior. Great for tanking or as a way to setup AoE effects. Stamina cost and cooldown is too restrictive to be used liberally, though.
  • Low Blow - Another AoE talent. Costs more stamina than Whirlwind for about the same damage. Useful only when enemies survive the initial AoE burst, or when setting up for Unending Flurry.
  • Unending Flurry - While active, allows the warrior to continuously attack at speeds faster than even dual-daggers with maximum attack speed. Great against Boss-rank enemies, especially when wielding at least one main-hand weapon, but its high stamina usage limits its use to boss encounters. Combine with Twin Strikes and Low Blow for best results
  • Fade Burst - Incredible AoE damage potential, with the drawback of friendly-fire and requiring investment in a less-than-ideal attribute (Willpower) to achieve maximum effect. Great for tanking and dealing with large groups, but can potentially one-shot your less-durable party members, making it difficult to use properly. Solo runners will love it, though

Talents to avoid (take only as a pre-requisite if needed)

  • Peon's Plight - A properly set-up warrior will not need an auto-kill ability against normal ranked enemies. Costs more stamina and has a longer cooldown than other auto-crit abilities against Elites. Useless against bosses
  • Guardian specialization - Best suited for dedicated tank builds

Recommended Specialization Combinations

  • Pure Damage: Berserker + Spirit Warrior + Any
    • Reaver is best for pure damage output
    • Templar is taken solely for Holy Smite, and possibly Cleanse Area
    • Champion is taken for Rally, though only if running mostly physical attackers in the party, and is better suited for auto-attacking Warriors due to its upkeep cost
  • Off-tanking/Utility: Spirit Warrior + Champion + Templar/Reaver

Rogues Edit

Dragon Age: Origins - General Principles Edit

Optimizing Dual-Wielding Rogues requires leaning heavily on the backstab mechanic.  While an argument can be made that having access to the same Dual-Wielding talents as the Warrior makes talent-spamming a viable option, unfortunately, in practice, this is not the case due to the following reasons:

  • Rogues do not have access to Death Blow, therefore, spamming talents with a Rogue is not as sustainable.  The closest equivalent, Feast of the Fallen, requires the killing blow to be a backstab in order to replenish Stamina, which is counter-productive to the talent-spam strategy
  • Warriors, having access to heavy armor, are durable enough to survive accidentally pulling too much aggro in AoE encounters (arguably, the best argument for favoring talent-spamming)

Given the above, Dual-Wielding Rogues are best suited using backstabs with high attack speed, and using talents sparingly either for utility (i.e. Stuns), or for additional burst damage.

One notable exception to the above would be for evasion-tanking. Getting into backstab position can sometimes take too long, so the use of some talents to build threat would be preferred.

In addition, unlike Warriors who can work around the Haste attack speed bug through the use of Precise Striking, Rogues cannot use Momentum and Haste simultaneously without requiring the game to be modded first.  This emphasizes the need to use 2 daggers instead of main-hand weapons due to their faster base attack speed.

Dual-Wielding Rogues have 2 distinct variations: Dexterity Rogue and Cunning Rogue.

Dexterity Rogue Edit

Dexterity Rogues, as the name implies, focus their attributes on Dexterity to boost dagger damage. This variant boasts a better attack score, as well as more defense than its Cunning-based contemporary. Going this route allows the Rogue to become a potential evasion-tank when combined with the Evasion talent.

The main drawback for Dexterity Rogues is that because they keep their Cunning stat relatively low (usually no more than 30 CUN), their abilities that require the Cunning stat are less effective relative to the Cunning Rogue's.  Also, since Cunning contributes to Armor Penetration, Cunning Rogues have a higher damage potential overall.

Stat Build

  • Strength - 20 or 22 (including Fade and Equipment bonuses, depending if Cadash Stompers will be used)
  • Dexterity - All spare points go here
  • Willpower - Base
  • Magic - Base
  • Cunning - 30 (16 hard points for access to Mastery skills; 30 total points + 4 skills in Deft Hands tree for lockpicking/disarming traps)
  • Constitution - Base

Priority Talents

  • Momentum - Increases attack speed.  Note that this should not be used in conjunction with Haste without modding the game first
  • Combat Movement - Widens flanking angle, making backstabs easier
  • Coup de Grace - Automatically backstab on any hit against a stunned or paralyzed target.  Excellent with talents that stun on command
  • Lethality - If the Rogue's CUN is higher than his STR, then CUN will be used as a damage modifier instead of STR. Also comes with +% Critical chance. Even with a Dexterity focus, it's unlikely that the Rogue will have a higher STR score than CUN, so it is recommended to pick up anyway
  • Passives that provide a damage bonus (Dual-Weapon Expert, etc.)
  • Deft Hands Tree
  • Dirty Fighting / Riposte - Stun-on-demand for utility purposes
  • Dual-Weapon Sweep - Cheap, spammable talent with a low cooldown.  Useful for moments of quick burst damage

Notable Equipment

Specializations

Assassin directly synergizes with the backstab mechanic, and will be the first specialization for damage-dealing Rogues. Bard would not be an optimal choice due to the Dexterity Rogue's low CUN score, but its songs are still quite useful even with low CUN, and would be the ideal choice when running a party with 3 physical attackers. Duelist gives access a hefty +10 attack from Dueling (which is equivalent to the attack gain from 20 points in STR/DEX), +10 defense from Keen Defense, and Pinpoint Strike, which is great for moments when getting into a flanking position is difficult, albeit with a very long cooldown. Ranger is not generally recommended, as it can make maneuvering into backstab position more difficult due to blocking concerns, and is usually better suited for ranged builds. One caveat would be when running with Blood mages in the party, as summons make excellent targets for Blood Sacrifice.

An evasion-tank's first choice of specialization would be Duelist, for the defense bonus from Keen Defense. Bard would be the second choice, despite having relatively low CUN, due to the fact that the other specializations do not really help with tanking.

  • Max Damage: Assassin + Bard
  • Evasion Tanking: Duelist + Bard
  • Zookeeper (for Blood Mage-heavy Party): Ranger + Any

Cunning Rogue Edit

Cunning Rogues sacrifice attack and defense for higher armor penetration, and in turn, higher damage potential. Unlike Dexterity Rogues, who have more flexible specialization options, Cunning Rogues are required to take either Bard or Duelist as one of their specializations in order to make-up the attack score deficit (via Song of Courage or Dueling, respectively).  Cunning also boosts the performance of all Bard sustained abilities, specifically Song of Courage, which further adds to the Cunning Rogue's damage.

The biggest drawbacks to using a Cunning Rogue are, 1) they have less survivability that their Dexterity counterpart, and, 2) that their attacks can miss more often.

Stat Build

  • Strength - 20 or 22 (including Fade and Equipment bonuses, depending if Cadash Stompers will be used)
  • Dexterity - 30 (including Fade and Equipment bonuses)
  • Willpower - Base
  • Magic - Base
  • Cunning - All spare points go here
  • Constitution - Base

Priority Talents

  • Lethality - If the Rogue's CUN is higher than his STR, then CUN will be used as a damage modifier instead of STR. Also comes with +% Critical chance. This is the Cunning Rogue's primary damage-boosting talent, and should be taken as early as possible
  • Song of Courage (if Bard is taken as a specialization) - Provides bonuses to Attack, Damage and Crit Chance for all party members based on the Rogue's CUN score.  Mitigates some loss of attack due to having lower DEX, and provides a significant damage boost for physical attackers in the party. Synergizes very well with the CUN Rogue build.
  • Dueling (if Duelist is taken as a specialization) - Provides a boost to the Rogue's attack score.  Mitigates some loss of attack due to having lower DEX
  • Momentum - Increases attack speed.  Note that this should not be used in conjunction with Haste without modding the game first
  • Combat Movement - Widens flanking angle, making backstabs easier
  • Coup de Grace - Automatically backstab on any hit against a stunned or paralyzed target.  Excellent with talents that stun on command
  • Passives that provide a damage bonus (Dual-Weapon Expert, etc.)
  • Dirty Fighting / Riposte - Stun-on-demand for utility purposes
  • Dual-Weapon Sweep - Cheap, spammable talent with a low cooldown.  Useful for moments of quick burst damage

Notable Equipment

Specializations

Bard is the clear choice for Cunning Rogues, as their Songs synergize with the build's high CUN. This becomes especially favored as long as the party comprises of at least 2 physical attackers. The choice of second specialization is between Assassin and Duelist.

Assassin synergizes with both the backstab mechanic, and the build's high cunning, which makes it the choice for better damage output.

Duelist provides additional attack, and provides access to Pinpoint Strike, a useful talent for tight encounters.

As with the Dexterity Rogue, Ranger is generally not advised except when running Blood mages in the party.

  • Max Damage: Bard + Assassin
  • Max Attack Score: Bard + Duelist
  • Zookeeper (for Blood Mage-heavy party): Ranger + Any

Adapting Rogues to Awakening Edit

Rogues in Awakening still rely on backstabs for maximum damage output. There are a few things of note, however:

  1. All classes have had their damage output increased significantly in Awakening. It is fairly common for encounters where a Warrior or Mage's AoE abilities would instantaneously dispatch several enemies in the blink of an eye, even before a Rogue can get into a flanking position. Not to mention the massive Archery buffs which allow Archers to eliminate normal mobs in only a few shots, before melee classes can get into range
  2. The advent of Intensifying Runes, which provide hefty bonuses to backstab/critical damage, also provide melee critical chance. With a maximum of 6 runes in both weapons, this gives any dual-wielder up to +30% melee critical chance and +120% backstab/critical damage, which means dual-wielders have a naturally high melee critical chance. It takes little effort for a Rogue to achieve 100% critical chance, given their use of dual-daggers, and their talents and specializations that provide bonuses to critical chance

So while backstabs are still optimal whenever possible (i.e. against high-health targets like Elites and Bosses, and through activated stuns like Riposte), regular critical hits would be a significant part of the Rogue's repertoire, so achieving 100% critical chance is a requirement for an optimal rogue. For reference, backstabs have the following advantages versus regular criticals:

Achieving 100% Critical Hits

Rogues get the following bonuses from talents and specializations:

Adding the +30% critical chance from Intensifying Runes, Rogues can easily achieve upwards of +50-60% critical hit chance. The remaining critical hit chance can be made up by utilizing Song of Courage stacking with Nathaniel and Sigrun, and other equipment bonuses.

Optimizing for Pure Damage

The new Shadow specialization is the clear choice for maximum damage output, specifically from the Shadow Striking talent. The +50% backstab damage is huge, especially since this bonus is different from +x% critical/backstab damage (aka CriticalDamageModifier). This bonus multiplies TOTAL backstab damage by 1.5 and is not counted towards the 350% critical damage cap, making it one of the most powerful damage modifiers for Rogues. This also makes it naturally synergize with the Exploit Weakness talent from the Assassin specialization, which would be the 2nd recommended specialization to take. Feast of the Fallen is now more attractive as well, due to the fact that Shadow Form continuously drains stamina. Bard would be the 3rd specialization, due to Song of Courage providing a significant bonus to critical hit chance, particularly with high Cunning.

Speaking of attributes, Cunning Rogues have the clear advantage over Dexterity Rogues in terms of damage output. With more available attribute points, and given that the best talents require a sizeable amount of Dexterity to unlock, having a lower attack score is no longer an issue as with Origins. Coupled with the synergy with Exploit Weakness and Song of Courage, Cunning now becomes the choice attribute for damage.

Optimizing for Evasion

Legionnaire Scout provides Evasion Rogues with new survivability tools for tanking. Strength of Stone makes the Rogue immortal for 15 seconds, while Blessing of the Ancestors provide total spell immunity during its duration. Mark of the Legion provides a total of 20 free attribute points (+10 to both Strength and Constitution), which is excellent value for a first-tier talent. Bard is the choice for the 2nd specialization for its overall damage output. The choice of 3rd specialization will depend on how close or far from the 100% critical chance goal the Rogue is with current equipment and stats - Assassin provides an extra +2.5% critical chance and access to Mark of Death for Boss encounters; Shadow provides +5% critical chance from Shadow Striking, which is active even with Shadow Form turned off; If the Rogue is already at 100% critical chance, then Duelist is the ideal specialization for its bonus to Defense.

Evasion Rogues deal significantly more damage in Awakening, given the ability to reach 100% critical chance easily when dual-wielding. Dexterity remains the primary attribute for its contribution to Defense. The "free" attribute points from Mark of the Legion gives evasion rogues more attributes to work with. Once the Rogue reaches a healthy 160-170+ defense, more points can be invested in Cunning for damage and Song of Courage synergy.

New Rogue Talents Worth Getting

  • Flicker - Easily the best Rogue talent in Awakening. Inflicts an automatic backstab to all enemies in the targeted area. Shadow rogues make best use of the talent, but even Evasion tanks will welcome an incredible AoE damage talent for building threat
  • Weak Points - Increases ALL damage that the target will receive. More damage is never a bad thing
  • Find Vitals (Fixed version) - In its fixed form, provides +10% melee critical chance and +20% critical damage when dual-wielding. Currently bugged. An unofficial fix for PC can be found here

Worthwhile Talents for Pure Damage

  • Shadow Striking - A massive +50% damage to backstabs while Shadow Form is active. As mentioned above, multiplies total backstab damage

Worthwhile Talents for Evasion Tanking

Situational Talents

  • Unending Flurry - While it allows Rogues to attack even faster, it's high stamina cost and cooldown restricts its use to boss encounters for Evasion Rogues. Backstab Rogues will find even less use of this talent, if any
  • Ghost - Automatically dodge all attacks for 15 seconds. Useful when surrounded, but is often a crutch that most encounters will not need
  • Decoy - A situational talent that is useful for when the Rogue is surrounded. Another crutch talent that most encounters will not need, but useful when needed.

Talents to Avoid (take only as a pre-requisite as needed)

  • Heartseeker - Guaranteed critical skills that don't provide bonus damage have little use in a 100% critical build. The single-target "instant-kill" effect to Elites or lower is not at all needed given the incredible damage output of all classes in Awakening
  • Twin Strikes - As above, guaranteed critical skills are no longer attractive with a 100% critical build. Only used to "pre-buff" Unending Flurry, but otherwise avoid.
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