Dragon Age 2 - Catch All

Sonicator wrote:
That quests you do for Anders just before that:

No, no, no, they forgot Show Don't Tell. They should have showed Anders telling you what was happening.

Ok, I think I need some help. Still playing on hard mode, and handling all normal encounters with no problem, but sub-bosses, especially mages are giving me fits, and can insta-kill 3/4 of my party with one spell it seems. I'm currently winless in six tries against the Tal-vashok (sp) encounter

My tactics setup is pretty poor, I think. Also, I know LarryC said to get the runes in order, but hell, even at level 9 I've not seen but a couple of minor items drop that even have rune slots. Same with vendors.

Here is a list of my current party, and their skills. Any tips/suggestions on a good tactics setup would be appreciated. Also, any info on how to increase resistances (get proper gear, runes etc). I am doing fine against standard ranged/melee, but it's the mages that are decimating me.

Jeff-66 wrote:

Here is a list of my current party, and their skills. Any tips/suggestions on a good tactics setup would be appreciated. Also, any info on how to increase resistances (get proper gear, runes etc). I am doing fine against standard ranged/melee, but it's the mages that are decimating me.

Well instead of the fire spells on your mage, you could have Arcane Shield and the upgrade Wall. That's sustained defense/resistance for all the party.

Or you could add Bravery to Aveline, which with an upgrade has a taunt aura. Or Battle Synergy, which gives defense to all the party, and the upgrade is another taunt aura. With either of those you can count on Aveline getting most of the aggro all the time and just focus on healing her while everyone else can freely attack. Also Rally shares other auras like Elemental Aegis with the party.

Ouch. Squishy party.

Don't need mind blast on either Hawke or Anders. If you can't manage the Aggro with Taunt or Isabela's Armistice, then do it with damage. Mind Blast is bad.

Isabela does not have the killing power she ought to have. Respec her to get Explosive Strike/Merciless Strike so as to deal massive damage to Aveline's Shield Bash/Pummel target. She also ideally ought to have Twin Fangs/Backstab. Then you can Tactics her to apply that to the nearest Elite she can find. She'll always attract a lot of fire this way, but Aveline should have Taunt to help out.

Aveline does not need Safeguard, Perception, or Elemental Aegis (yet). Equip her with the Lion of Orlais and put some Runes in there. If she's getting surrounded, move her a bit to get the mobs to trail behind her, and then lock them down with Fist of the Maker. Then turn Aveline back and allow her to get all Assaulty on their behinds. She needs more ways to generate Staggers. Recommend speccing her to take Pommel Strike/Pommel Blow.

Anders should not be going down the Cold Elemental line since neither Aveline nor Isabela can capitalize on Brittle. For that matter, Hawke shouldn't be, either, except that you need Elemental Mastery. Since you've already gone down Greater Heal and Heroic Aura, get Anders some Haste and Glyph of Paralysis/Glyph of Binding. Then you can Tactics him to lock down the Mages as soon as he sees them, ask Aveline to Shield Bash the Mages as soon as she sees them, and then ask Isabela to Explosive Strike whoever's Staggered and Elite or higher. This should deal with your Mage problem.

I don't know if any of the level 1 Armors of the Companions have Rune Slots, but Vestments of the Mystic definitely does, and Boots of the North as well. Put some Runes in there. In any case, Anders' armors are all in Acts 2 and 3, so you'll have to deal with him being squishy for a good while.

Hope this helps!

PS: If you're open to respeccing Hawke, I really highly recommend getting Rock Armor/Chain Reaction instead of upgrading Winter's Blast and the Mind Blast/Stunning picks. You need to see how much damage a mass Shield Pummel/Chain Reaction does.

Could you be more specific to which encounter you are having trouble with? There are a few that are particularly tough. Sometimes you just need to spam fire and tar bombs. Also make sure that you have party members drinking health and elfroot potions when they are down to 25% health. I also have my my mages and fighters using lyrium and stamina drought automatically when needed. It seems like the game likes to drop what you use allot of.

Edit: I think I figured out the encounter your talking about on the Black Powder quest line. The one in the caves right? If so, that is the first time I became stuck too. I had to focus on taking out the mage first, if not his electrical blast is just too tough to counter with its area of effect. You will probably want to have Aveline give it a shield bash right from the get go or change her tactics to focus on the mage for that battle.

I'm very short on time right this instant, but did want to say thanks for the replies, and to tell LarryC, that yes, I'm definitely open to respeccing Hawke. In fact, I felt pretty lost playing this to begin with, so I made a lot of poor choices with my ability selections all around, I think, thus I'm not even opposed to starting over.

I'll expound a bit more later, but thanks to all for the help.

This isn't available on steam anymore?

NathanialG wrote:
This isn't available on steam anymore?

Nope, it's a casualty of EA and Valve's feud.

Tanglebones wrote:
NathanialG wrote:
This isn't available on steam anymore?

Nope, it's a casualty of EA and Valve's feud.


I suppose I could consider getting it on Amazon.

It was just $12 on D2D a couple weekends ago. Wait for sale.

EvilDead wrote:

Edit: I think I figured out the encounter your talking about on the Black Powder quest line. The one in the caves right? If so, that is the first time I became stuck too. I had to focus on taking out the mage first, if not his electrical blast is just too tough to counter with its area of effect. You will probably want to have Aveline give it a shield bash right from the get go or change her tactics to focus on the mage for that battle.

Yep, that's the one. The mage's name is Seraabaas, or some such. He does a lightning based AoE that just vaporizes everyone but Aveline.

Here's what I've decided to do... I found the build & tactics guide by SuicidalBaby on the bioware forum, and I'm studying that, along with everything posted here (since about page 88 or so at least), and I think I'm going to restart and create much better builds, and a far better tactics setup. I'm enjoying the game immensely, and so a restart is not a problem for me at all. I can skip cutscenes and dialogue and probably be back to my current spot before long.

Stele wrote:
It was just $12 on D2D a couple weekends ago. Wait for sale.

Better yet, don't buy it.

DA II wasn't just a sequel, it really was an entirely different game. As I'm invested in Bioware products and I bought the game on release, I'll finish it one day, if for the achievements than anything else. But compared to the first one, it sucks in many, many ways. I'm very disappointed in Bioware - a company I honestly thought could do no wrong. It's just a shame is all - DA II could have been *SO* much more than it is.

RB, did Isabela spurn your advances?

Does even Isabella know how to spurn advances?

Wow. WTF. End Act 1 spoilers

Spoiler:
Rock Wraith just completely kicked my ass. Never had more than one person die the whole act. Barely ever had to turn spirit healer on my Hawke or Panacea on Anders. Usually flip it on for a quick group heal or for a rez those few times someone died, and then turn it back off.

Got completely destroyed in this fight in about a minute. The rock went into some charge up lightning crap, then rolled over my whole team. After rezzing, he rolled some more and then everyone was dead.

Flipped Panacea on Anders and tried that for the 2nd attempt. He had so much mana from his other toggles though that I don't think he ever healed anyone. Team wiped in like 20 seconds this time.

Changed Anders tactics to healer only, so Panacea was his only toggle. Still after a min of the fight someone died, so I switched Hawke to just spirit healer mode. Then the fight was a joke. No one ever went below 50% health. But we just stood around auto-attacking for 10 minutes until the boss died. So, easy, but boring as hell.

Not sure what they intended for this fight, but if this is how all the boss fights go I'm not going to be enjoying this.

The boss fights aren't the strongest feature of the game.

Stele wrote:
Wow. WTF. End Act 1 spoilers
Spoiler:
Rock Wraith just completely kicked my ass. Never had more than one person die the whole act. Barely ever had to turn spirit healer on my Hawke or Panacea on Anders. Usually flip it on for a quick group heal or for a rez those few times someone died, and then turn it back off.

Got completely destroyed in this fight in about a minute. The rock went into some charge up lightning crap, then rolled over my whole team. After rezzing, he rolled some more and then everyone was dead.

Flipped Panacea on Anders and tried that for the 2nd attempt. He had so much mana from his other toggles though that I don't think he ever healed anyone. Team wiped in like 20 seconds this time.

Changed Anders tactics to healer only, so Panacea was his only toggle. Still after a min of the fight someone died, so I switched Hawke to just spirit healer mode. Then the fight was a joke. No one ever went below 50% health. But we just stood around auto-attacking for 10 minutes until the boss died. So, easy, but boring as hell.

Not sure what they intended for this fight, but if this is how all the boss fights go I'm not going to be enjoying this. :?

The boss fights in this are a lot closer to those in WoW or even a platfromer than they are to those in the original Dragon Age. For that boss:

Spoiler:
Hide behind the pillars during the chargeup/lightning thingy where he does huge aoe. Once you break line of sight, your characters won't take any damage. When he does the rolling charge, dodge your characters to one side: he continues travelling in the same direction, so if you smack pause as soon as he starts to roll you should be able to get out of the way. When he does the fall apart thing he becomes more vulnerable to damage, so blow all of your cooldowns then.

I thought it was a pretty decent fight once you work out the mechanics, but they're not very obvious.

So I restarted, to hopefully improve my main's build, as well as my NPC party members. This time, instead of fire mage, I am going Spirit Healer for my main, with a heavy emphasis on the Primal tree as well.

I'm not quite pulling my hair out with tactics yet, but I'm close. All the advice and guides in the world don't seem to help me due to the very large, complex number of combinations possible between party members. This based on which party members you select, and then which skills you select for them. So for now, I'm applying general advice, but choosing the people & skills I want, and do the best I can with the tactics screen.

So far, for my main, I'm level 7, spirit healer, with the following:

Primal: Rock Armor, Chain Lightning/Reaction, Stonefist, Petrify (working towards Galvanism)
Creation: Heal
Arcane: Mind Blast (pre-selected by the game)
Spirit Healer: tree chosen, but no skills in it yet

I'm learning now how to generate Staggers with the tank, and to use Chain Reaction on them. I definitely see the power in that now, and the benefit of Rock Armor.

I want my mid-game party to be: Aveline (tank), Isabela (DPS rogue), then ... not sure Fenris? Merrill? I'm not sure how to build Merrill, and also not sure I want/need another chain lightning/rock armor mage if that's how she's supposed to go.

I've had some questions pop up:

a) how/where do I get the specialized armor for companions?

b) I've found some slotted items now, but still finding precious few runes (and the ones I've found are weak). Where can I get some decent runes?

c) can you replace runes in a socket with a different rune later?

d) when you have something with a resistance that says "+154 cold resistance", what does that mean? 154 out of what? and why didn't they list it as a percentage?

Jeff-66 wrote:
b) I've found some slotted items now, but still finding precious few runes (and the ones I've found are weak). Where can I get some decent runes?

c) can you replace runes in a socket with a different rune later?


How many recipes did you find? After finding a recipe and the prerequisite resources, you can just buy them.

If I remember correctly, you can just overwrite runes.

Change difficulty

4xis.black wrote:
a) Armor updates for companions can be found either by completing their associated quests, purchasing the stuff from merchants, or sometimes finding it as loot in specific encounters. There is a list here that I would recommend using just to save yourself the headache.

Thanks, yeah that list is just what I was looking for. So, they don't actually change armor, they just upgrade their current armor?

If you do choose go with Fenris, you might consider investing some points into Hawke's creation/spirit healer path. Remember also that fighter skills take advantage of the 'brittle' status effect, which can be caused by ice magic and a few other things. As LarryC will tell you, abusing the combo system is the way to go when dealing with difficult opponents in DA2.

Yes, I've gone the spirit healer route for Hawke. I'll try Aveline, Fenris, Merrill as companions, but may trade out Merrill for a rogue, not sure yet.

Jeff-66 wrote:
4xis.black wrote:
a) Armor updates for companions can be found either by completing their associated quests, purchasing the stuff from merchants, or sometimes finding it as loot in specific encounters. There is a list here that I would recommend using just to save yourself the headache.

Thanks, yeah that list is just what I was looking for. So, they don't actually change armor, they just upgrade their current armor?

Whoever you romance gets a new armor afterwards.

a) Armor updates for companions can be found either by completing their associated quests, purchasing the stuff from merchants, or sometimes finding it as loot in specific encounters. There is a list here that I would recommend using just to save yourself the headache.

I played a 2h fighter Hawke, and my rule of thumb was 'two squishy characters and two hard ones', squishy characters being mages/rogues and hard characters being tanks/2h fighters. Having one healer helps, and having a rogue is good for looting especially. If you were to follow these guidelines, I think Fenris is the only thing that would fit. Isabella could then act as a sort of 'swing' character, replaceable in a pinch by Varric, Anders, Merrill, etc....

If you do choose go with Fenris, you might consider investing some points into Hawke's creation/spirit healer path. Remember also that fighter skills take advantage of the 'brittle' status effect, which can be caused by ice magic and a few other things. As LarryC will tell you, abusing the combo system is the way to go when dealing with difficult opponents in DA2.

It's so weird, I'm doing almost exactly the opposite of what Larry is saying and still having great success, except for that previously mentioned rock wraith, which was easy in a different way.

I love mind blast, my Hawke mage is always close, but not too close, so I can pop in and mind blast to mitigate a bunch of damage on the melee fighters for a few seconds. Aveline's taunt + basura means most enemies rarely attack anyone but her. Sometimes a new wave will pop up and might agro on me (or Varric or Anders, depending on who else is doing damage), but only for a few seconds. Isabela backstabs like a beast all day long and never pulls agro. I do have that threat reduction skill on her though.

And regular heal seemed basically worthless with such a long recharge time for a chunk of the game. Granted, once you have Aveline skilled up enough that she holds agro, then it becomes very useful, as she's the only person you ever heal. It's like MMO raid style fights. But then the spirit healer aura was the only thing that got me through that rock wraith fight because of the aoe and the fight kept moving around, it seemed like agro was crazy and it was just a mess.

Still haven't touched force mage at all because I love freezing everything, just like mind blast, so they don't fight back for a few seconds.

I'll confirm 4xis's assessment: abusing the combo system is definitely the way you need to go for Hard. I completed my first Hard playthrough without the benefit of any Runes (I decided to ignore that part of the game entirely for the first playthrough) simply by assembling my Party around combos and respeccing aggressively if they didn't fit what I needed.

Jeff-66:

You will want to respec Hawke and the others at least once to get that extra ability point back. Hawke's preselected point in Mind Blast is counterproductive, and Merrill's points in Willpower are useless as she does not use Mana.

If you're selecting Isabella and Healer Hawke, then you probably want either Merrill (tank) or Fenris (off-tank). You want two "setups" and two "exploiters." You only have Aveline setting up the Staggers now. Getting Fenris to generate more Staggers (through Cleave/Claymore on the Vanguard line and Sunder on the THF line) will benefit your party, since Isabela also wants Staggers to exploit. The ultimate combo you want is Whirlwind/Tornado+Sunder+CleaveClaymore), then exploit with Chain Reaction. For Isabela, the money combo is Explosive/Merciless Strike, then Backstab, then Twin Fangs. That should nuke most of the tougher targets.

The chief problem with Aveline/Fenris/Isabella is that Isabella really likes spending a lot of time on her back. She's fragile and she does a lot of damage, so the mobs like attacking her, and she likes to oblige by taking it all, slut that she is. Aveline's Taunt is one of the ways you can mitigate that, though you can also supplement with Glyph of Paralysis on the Creation line (which you will want to take early).

If you go this route, make sure you romance Isabella heavily and make sure you keep her around. She and Aveline have marvelous interactions.

If you go with Fenris, you may want to invest in a little minor in Elemental later on purely for the Cold spells (for Fenris' benefit). You're not pure Elemental so your Brittle percentage will be low, but it's better than nothing, and Cold spells are great for nuke support.

If you go with Merrill, make sure she goes into Blood of the First early and then respec her so that that she has NO points in Willpower. Put everything that you would have put into Willpower into Constitution instead. Merrill will never have Blood of the First off. Ever. Put some Rock Armor on her for extra toughness. Shower her with Bloodmage items to improve her conversion factor. Her money trees are Arcane and Primal. Lack of reliance on Willpower means that she can go a little heavier on Magic, which will boost her damage. Go heavy on Primal first, but take Elemental Weapons (on Arcane) early for the party-wide damage boost.

I don't like going Spirit Healer right away. You have enough healing in Creation in Greater Heal. Force Mage's Gravitic Ring/Gravitic Sphere is so good, it'll love you long time. Makes a joke of fights that ought to be much tougher.

PS: Clarification. I misspoke before. Every mage needs Magic. It's Willpower that Merrill does not need (and does not have, apparently - narrative dig at Merrill).

Thanks for the writeups. Larry, you mentioned respeccing Merrill. I was under the assumption that only Hawke could be respecced. So companions can be respecced? If so, that's a hell of a lot easier than restarting the whole game

I'm also glad to hear you say you went runeless, at least now I won't feel so bad about not finding any, save for a few minor ones, nor have I come across but just a few recipes.

I'm finally starting to get my head around some of the concepts, but one of my goals is the "well oiled machine" tactics setup. I achieved this in DAO, and had it so my party would do everything I wanted as I controlled only my main (about 95% of the time). The big differences are that in DAO, my main was a DPS rogue, and DA2 has these synergies and much more complex tactics options.

It seems that setting up tactics for a rogue in DA2 is more difficult. Example: unforgiving chain (UC), explosive strike (ES)... how do you set up ES to maximize UC? Isn't ES maximized when UC is maximized? in other words, UC stacks up to 10 hits, and ES adds +50% dmg for each hit stacked in UC. How would I trigger (via tactics) ES at the right time? It's stuff like that that has me befuddled.

Yeah those potions from the Black Emporium work on everyone. Just f2/f3/f4 to select the party member, and then double click the potion in inventory. When you close inventory, they will have all their points reset.

I'd agree with Larry's advice on Merrill, dumping everything into constitution instead of willpower.

It seems almost everyone you pick up has skill points in odd places. Much better to focus them. I think I respecced everyone once. Had to respec Isabela twice because of a costume bug.

Well, the easy answer is that you don't. UC's max chain is +500% damage, which requires Isabella to hit on 10 consecutive attacks on the same target, which themselves will do considerable damage. At that point, do you still need Explosive Strike? You won't.

Aveline's Shield Bash Stagger hits for 100% Stagger against all enemies. Assign Isabella to Explosive/Merciless Strike that target, which will immediately add +400% damage, without the need for a setup of 10 attacks. Between this, Backstab, and Twin Fangs, you won't miss the added damage you could have set up and it goes faster (so Isabella will be less vulnerable).

UC's passive is mainly to boost Isabella's plain attacks against Normal foes. Any effect it has with ES will be incidental unless you want to control both the Rogue and the Fighter manually, which doesn't yield that much more of a bonus, really.

On that note, I found the Scoundrel tree easier to Tactics than the Subterfuge tree. Armistice and Goad are awesome for automatic Threat Management (in association with Taunt), and Follow-Through is nice for stamina regeneration so you can nuke more frequently.

Caution: I think getting Isabella to Friendship status triggers a bug that will kill your game (basically it imposes a cumulative -attack speed to Hawke as the game progresses). There are ways around that, but you'll want to sidestep the issue rather than have to manage it once it becomes an issue. It's nothing more complicated than avoiding certain activities.

Stele:

The game is easy enough that there's a bunch of ways to go around playing it on Hard and have a breeze. Like I said, I went through the first time without using any Runes whatsoever and I pretty much killed everything easy.

Mind Blast is useful, but I begrudge it the AP and the mana it takes from Hawke, when I could be blasting everything to smithereens with Fire Storm, or locking down the entire encounter with Gravitic Sphere. There are entire encounters you can kill outright with just the judicious application of these powers:

1. Gravitic Sphere to lock everything down
2. Firestorm (full Elemental) on all the enemies locked down
3. Tempest (full Primal) on all the same enemies
4. Hail of Arrows on all those enemies

They'll typically all die before the Sphere wears out, and you can still use incidentals like Burst Arrow and Fireball for the odd spawn group before the main spells cool down.

I mean, compared to that kind of nuke, what's Mind Blast? A few seconds of damage mitigation? Arcane's an amazing tree, but it is so for its power spells - Elemental Weapons, Barrier, Arcane Shield. Taunt + Goad + Armistice + Barrier is practically broken.

Getting the one Mind Blast and nothing else on the tree is a little like getting Cone of Cold for 1 AP in Elemental. That one AP could be going into Crushing Prison or Dessicate!

It came as something of a surprise when EA pulled the game off of steam. Since Impulse is a no-go. What would be the least evil method of purchasing the game?

And am I going to have to load up Origin or another dead weight program to patch and get the DLC and everything.

Retail?