Dragon Age: Origins – Mastering Combat

Mage

Everyone says this is the best, and although it is really fun to play as mage, it’s also really easy to run out of mana quickly and die. It is more or less unavoidable in some of the harder fights. A mage’s duty is to do as much damage as possible with one or two spells and then run out of mana and die (or just spam the weak auto attack).

If your player is a mage, it’s best to have Alistair, Sten and Leliana in your party. I will explain how to use each of the companions later. Sten can be exchanged for either Morrigan or Wynne. Although having three mages in your party can be really fun, it also slows down combat a lot if you can’t kill everything before running out of mana. 

For specializations, arcane warrior and blood mage are the best. Personally, I only use blood mage for the stats and don’t use any of the spells. For arcane warrior, only learn the first spell which passively allows you the ability to use warrior armors. 

When picking spells start with Winter’s Grasp. It’s the best tier 1 spell in the game. Then neglect the cold line for a while and go to fire to get Fireball. Morrigan will already have Winter’s Grasp and Frost Weapons by the time you get her on your party so she’ll have Cone of Cold before you do. After you have Fireball, get Cone of Cold and Blizzard as soon as you can. After that, you don’t really need Morrigan and can switch her out for Sten or Wynne. 

The two other key spells to learn are Mana Clash and Crushing Prison. I’d go with Crushing Prison first. It can be used once your freeze enemies with Cone of Cold or Winter’s Grasp. If the enemy is of normal rank (white letters), it is almost guarantee to kill them instantly. Your warriors can also instant kill a few more frozen enemies if you’re lucky. 

Mana Clash can be used on other mages and a lot of the time instantly kills him. If they’re of boss rank (orange letters with an orange health bar), they can still cut half their mana. However since most mages are weak, it’s not need to get until a bit later in the game where enemy mages are hidden behind a large number of enemy fodder.

Other strategies I like are to send your warrior into the middle of the field, use a Force Field on them so that they’re immune to all attack, and then just use all your friendly fire spells. If there are multiple strong enemies, you can also use Force Field to deal with them one at a time.

Sword and Shield

So many people say this class is boring, but I had a lot of fun with it surprisingly. It has pretty good DPS and is really hard to kill. I was almost to the Landsmeet before my warrior died for the first time. When using a warrior, it’s still good to have an Alistair on your team, Morrigan and Leliana. Wynne is not needed and will only slow you down with her attack of offensive spells. 

For specialization, champion and Berserker are the best. You want all your talents max for those, but don’t worry about them too much until you’re almost done with the sword and shield talents. For Berserker, the Tier 1 Berserk talent followed by Final Blow does a ton of damage, but usually kills all your stamina. It’s very good in Awakening when you get Second Wind, but in Origins it’s risky. For Champion, Rally gets you good boosts and War Cry knocks everyone down once you get the Superiority passive talent. 

But specializations are honestly just for late game spice. The sword and shield talents are more than enough to carry you through. Shield Bash, Shield Pummel, Overpower and Assault are the ones you want to spam. Also get Shield Wall as quickly as you can and have it on all the time. Put all your stats into Dexterity and Strength, focusing on Strength. If your Dexterity is about 5-10 points less than Strength and you have Shield Wall on, you will be at 75% or above health for the entirety of most fights. 

Learning how to use poisons makes things even easier and by giving you access to bombs when you run out of stamina and giving you damage bonuses with each hit. 

If you come across tough bosses, make your second warrior march ahead while you stay behind with the mage and spam arrows. Have a good bow as your secondary weapon.

Dual Wielding

This is the hardest one to master, but can also be the most fun. For Dual Wielding, you can do away with Leliana since you’ll be able to do her job by yourself. Instead get Alistair, Morrigan and Sten/Wynne. 

For specialization, you can pick just about anything though I like Duelist and Assassin. The Dual Wield rogue has so many skills though, you’ll likely not get a chance to learn specialization skills before the end of the game. Being a warrior dual wielder gets you more DPS, but isn’t as fun without the rogue skills. 

You can start off with giving yourself a point in Lockpicking. Lockpicking get you all the loot up until the Tower of Ishal. If you add a lot of points to Cunning (which you should be doing anyways), you can make the Tier 1 Lockpicking last longer and focus on adding points to combat skills. Get your Strength to about 25. This will help you do good damage and allow you to wear all the armor you might need. At the same time remember to add points to Dexterity and Cunning, keeping Dexterity roughly 10 points higher. 

Risposte, Cripple, Flurry and Punisher do the most instant damage. The Dual Weapon Training line is also good for bonuses. Dual Weapon Sweep and Momentum are both good sustained talents. I personally prefer having Momentum on at all times. Whirlwind is useless. 

If you want your rogue to learn trap making, give them the Stealth skills ASAP. They’ll be able to set up traps all around enemies before the battle begins. If you set enough traps you can kill all your enemies without drawing a blade. You will also need at least one point in Stealth to gain access to Slim Couldry’s quest line which is super fun and gets you a lot of gold. 

If you come across tough bosses, make your warriors march ahead while you stay behind with the mage and spam arrows. Have a good bow as your secondary weapon.

Companions

Only Alistair, Leliana, Morrigan, Sten and Wynne are really worth using. Oghren and Sten are the same except you get Oghren much later and Zeveran can’t Lockpick and requires too much micromanagement for me to like playing with. 

Alistair
Do the same thing as you’d do with your warriors character. Not much to say. Set up his tactics menu right and you can leave him to do his thing. 

Leliana
She’ll do all your Lockpicking. Go to her tactics menu and make sure she’s only using Rapid Shot and Shattering Shot. Everything else is useless. Once you have those two talents, just get her all the passives for bonuses, set her to ranged combat and let her spam in the background. For specializations, max her Ranger talents. Her Spider and Bear will be a very helpful fifth party member. 

Morrigan
Set her to Damager or Debilitator. Get her the Cold and Fire spells. If you don’t already have a mage player, get her Mana Clash and Crushing Prison too. Then max her Hexes. If you have left over points do whatever you want. Specialization is not needed. 

Sten
Just max out his Two-handed talents and warriors talents. Set him to Scrapper. He can only learn one specialization so you should be able to get him all maxed out easy. The only reason to use him is to get another melee hitter if you’re not a warrior yourself. If you have the DLC though he has one more talking point. His Feastday gift automatically revives all your team. Only he can use it so as long you you keep Sten stocked with potions, the rest of your team will be okay.

Wynne
She heals you. Give her all the healing and buff spells and let her do her thing. If you’re desperate, get her to do a Stonefist. I really didn’t end up need her very much. If you build a strong team and spend some gold on potions, you should need anymore healing. She is sort of a double edged blade cause she has no offensive spells. Having Morrigan or your own mage is more than enough.

Inspector Spinda