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Dragon Age: Origins
- Long story short, there's a reason why, In-Universe, Magic Users ruled the world and tried to take on the Maker.
- The Arcane Warrior is pretty much totally invincible once you have Shimmering Shield. You barely need a party on the hardest difficulty with this spec, even the hardest bosses can be easily worn down by yourself.
- The Mage spell Mana Clash drains enemy demon, abomination, or spellcasters' mana pools, and does Spirit elemental damage (which few enemies have a resistance to) in proportion to the mana it drains. It is entirely possible to one shot even the strongest of enemy mages with this spell, especially when empowered by its prerequisite Spell Might. It can usually take out entire rooms full of opponents in a single shot, which basically allows you to walk through the Circle Tower quest (where about 90% of your opponents will be vulnerable to it). It also does more damage to the victim if they have larger mana reserves, which means it allows you to make mincemeat of magic-wielding bosses (sometimes you can even kill them with a single shot if you use the aforementioned Spell Might). A lot of missions in the game become much, much easier if you bring along a Mage who can cast Mana Clash.
- Crushing Prison stuns enemies while dealing damage (and you're free to deal plenty more from your next attack).
- The room-clearing Storm of the Century (a combination of AOE's Tempest and Blizzard). Combine Tempest, Inferno, Blizzard and Earthquake and you'll see why you are just overdoing it.
- The Blood Magic spell Blood Wound, which boils the blood of all nearby enemies, as well as paralyzing them for the duration of the spell. Yup, another room-clearer, and one that makes all other damage spells parlor tricks in comparison. Some strategy guides actually advise against spells like this, since they turn pretty much every battle into walks in the park. The only limit is that enemies without blood are not affected, but there aren't enough of those to push it out of gamebreaker status. Also? This spell has no friendly fire, and unlike every other high-damage AOE spell, no casting time.
- There's some even more devious spells that the game knows go together in a Game Breaking fashion, and even mention it in the spell descriptions. There's Sleep, Horror and Waking Nightmare, Horror causing damage to enemies if they fail a resistance check, and Waking Nightmare causing, among other things, enemies to stop attacking you at least (whether through a fear effect or a temporary alignment change), and turning on each other at worst, also requiring a resistance check. However, if you successfully cast the Sleep on them first, they automatically fail the resistance check. At this point, your choices are, kill them immediately, or sit back and watch them turn on each other. Pass the Popcorn, please.
- Force Field. Basically you get a tank character (some warrior, Alistair or Shale usually), get them to spam aggro generating abilities (as well as use aggro "aura" effects such as Threaten and Stoneheart) and once they have the unbreakable attention of every enemy on the screen, put Force Field on them to make them invincible. So, while 10 skeletons beat on your invincible tank character, your party is free to proceed as they please with no resistance to speak of.
- Death Hex and Death Cloud, when combined, change from "Critical Hits For Others" or "Damage Over Time" to "Die Bitch".
- Mass Paralysis is a powerful crowd control spell that, unlike Blood Wound, has no restrictions on enemy type, leaving large groups of enemies sitting ducks for the entire party to slaughter. One of its prerequisite spells, Paralyze, is also extremely useful for freezing a powerful single enemy. A mage with high enough spellpower can even paralyze a High Dragon. Mass Paralysis does have the limit of requiring a charge period, but that is easily solved with...
- The Fireball spell. The damage is nice, as is its relatively quick cooldown, but the real power is that it can knock down all but the largest enemies. An enemy that has been knocked down takes just long enough to pull themselves up that the mage can cast a spell with a long charge time, such as Inferno or Mass Paralysis, without having to worry about interruptions.
- Once you have acquired the Dalish Elves' assistance, they ask for you to donate basic crafting ingredients. Like all donations to your forces, you get 10 xp for every item you donate. One of the items you can donate is elfroot, which you should already have plenty of and can get lots of for cheap at many merchants...but what makes this not only useful but ridiculous is the fact that there is a single merchant in the base game that can sell you unlimited amounts of elfroot, in stacks of 99 (990 xp), for a pittance. It's Valathorn, the merchant...in the Dalish Elf camp. "You do not talk about Grey Warden Camp", anyone?
"We were giving the treehumpers' own stinking weeds back to them, and for it they made us gods."
- The ingredients for making Potent Lyrium Potions are much cheaper than what you can sell them for, making this an extremely easy way to make money. Even better is that you can buy infinite amounts of three of the four ingredients from a single vendor. After working up a nice nest egg using this, you can use the above-mentioned elfroot donations...or you can just donate to the Arl's knights directly, saving yourself the trouble of traveling back and forth, which would be the only inconvenience, since money has lost all meaning.
- From the Feastday Gifts DLC we have the Qunari Prayers for the Dead: an item that can be used over and over so long as Sten is in your party and conscious. It's effect? Bringing any fallen party members back to life. Very handy in some of the tougher boss fights. The real game breaking element is that you're invincible during the cutscene, and if you watch it all, the party is restored to max health and mana, so as long as Sten is alive, your party is essentially immortal. This can be cheesed to astonishing effect.
- It's quite easy, with the right build, for a Rogue to obtain a 95% chance to dodge. This is just as overpowered as it sounds, and makes most non-Mage enemies a joke.
- With the right equipment and build, mage can obtain both 100% chance to dodge AND 100% magic resistance. You can easily combine it with any spells mentioned above.
- A game breaking bug can be found in the main quest The Broken Circle. At a certain point you come across special objects that you can click to gain a permanent stat point. You can only click on it once and gain a single point; unless you have a slow computer or slow down your computer deliberately with certain programs. This will trick the game into registering multiple clicks and adding the corresponding number of permanent stat points to your character. In a game with only 25 levels (raised to 35 in Awakening) the ability to get three or more stats in one category is amazing.
- There's a game-breaking exploit for the Ranger specialization. When you summon your Wolf (Blight Wolf for a master ranger), click on the Tactics slots notification. Congratulations, you now have a Blight Wolf at 90% of your level that can use Overwhelm, an ability that no humanoid can resist and that renders them completely helpless for the duration. If you feel like breaking it just a little more, you can actually summon two of them for every ranger in your party. This is limited to PC, as the console versions only allow one summoned animal in the party at a time.
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
- In Awakening, peopel can choose a third specialization at level 22. This is unbelievably effective, given the fact that on the second playthrough...you can get two of the new (incredibly effective) specializations. (Even Keeper, which doesn't match up to Battlemage, the other new specialization, isn't bad when a player knows how to use it.)
- If you get through enough of the DLC to get level 33, you get a fourth specialization. If you thought the Arcane Warrior was broken before, imaging an Arcane Warrior/Spirit Healer/ Blood Mage/ Battle Mage.
- The Hand of Winter spell for the Battlemage tree. Imagine Cone of Cold (already useful), except cast in every direction simultaneously, without the friendly fire that made the various AOE spells tricky. The cooldown is small enough that you can open every fight by running headlong into a group of enemies and freezing them solid, turning every battle into wailing on defenseless enemies.
- You can buy a paint job for your shield with the emblem of the Legion of the Dead. Not particularly nice looking, but it gives a whopping +20 to all attributes. (This is apparently a bug that has remained unfixed except by unofficial mods, as every other heraldry adds only +3.) That's even more than it sounds. As a comparison, the Legion of the Dead heraldry adds a total of 120 ability points. If you max out your level at 35, you will get a total of 102 ability points from leveling up.
- Accuracy coupled with Aim, high dexterity and some rapid aim gear turns archery from the inferior rogue build (and rogues aren't that great to begin with) into having a crit rate of over 100% and tripling the damage you did before. What does this mean? You're oneshotting mooks at max attack speed with autoattack and are essentially untouchable. This allows you to even solo the hardest encounter in the game (The Harvester on Nightmare) with minimal difficulty. Which is good considering your allies for that mission are terrible and built wrong.
- Sword and shield is also extremely powerful when stacked with dexterity, dodge + % and defense+ items. Making the tank nearly impossible to hit, add spell resistance from Templar, enchantments, auto-health regeneration as well as awakening's carapace skill (First 15 sec of skill makes you immune to damage, the second half absorbs a percentage of damage that actually manages to land). For even more fun, give the tank a good dagger to take advantage of that high dexterity. Even without maxed out dexterity it's still a massively overpowered build option if you focused on maxing out your armor. It's possible to solo the Harvester on Nightmare difficulty because you're just so tough that it can only inflict Scratch Damage.
Dragon Age II
- The Gravitic Sphere spell is fun to abuse. It will cause all foes within its wide range to move at a snail's pace, allowing you and your companions to pile blow after blow on them without fear of serious retaliation. Foes at the epicenter of the spell are so slow that they might as well be paralyzed. The spell turns almost any boss fight into a Curb-Stomp Battle. For extra fun, you can clump all your foes at the center of Gravitic Sphere using Pull of the Abyss, and take advantage of their inability to spread out from one another by finishing them all off with an area of effect attack, like Firestorm or Cone of Cold.
- Dual Weapon Rogue -> Assassin specialization -> Assassinate -> Overkill -> amped-up Cunning = one-shot just about anything that isn't a full-fledged boss. The Assassin specialization also gets Pinpoint Strikes, which turns every attack into a critical hit, and a passive ability that doubles the critical bonus granted by Cunning. Anything that survives Assassinate can be cut down by Pinpoint Strikes in seconds. And then you can have Anders or Bethany cast Haste, and Hawke will be hitting enemies so fast that their health bar will be glowing white from all the critical hits. Adding to this is the Duelist specialization, which works to essentially make Hawke nearly untouchable in combat and able to tear down single opponents in seconds. Specc'd properly, a Dual Weapon Rogue Hawke with Assassin and Duelist specializations can tank and inflict horrific amounts of damage by him/herself, becoming an almost literal One-Man Army.
- One of the most effective ways to neutralize high-powered enemies as a Warrior - invest in the Templar talent that gives a 10% chance to silence them. Whoever Warrior!Hawke is attacking will never be able to use a single ability.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Much like Arcane Warrior before it, the Knight-Enchanter specialization for mages is hilariously useful. Videos of Knight-Enchanters easily solo-ing High Dragons on Nightmare Difficulty with the rest of the party dead appeared very quickly. On their own, the Knight Enchanter's abilities are simply powerful. What really destroys the game's difficulty is the synergy with spells of every other school, with not a single combination precluding another aside from limited skill points. To sum up: when the Inquisitor tells fellow Knight Enchanter Vivienne that they are the finest mages in Thedas, it is Not Hyperbole.
- Some fade-touched materials allow for the masterwork ability "gain X guard on hit". Give this to a dual-wielding Rogue, and you end up with a nigh-invulnerable storm of knives. Fade Touched Silverite for example can be randomly found in Emprise du Lion giving players 5 Guard on hit which the player doesn't have access to until two-thirds of the game. Fade-Touched Obsidian does the same, if a bit less in numbers, and can be found waaay earlier.
- Speaking of Silverite, it's a Tier 3 metal that's special even in common form: armors made of it don't have class restrictions. Want to make that rogue even more powerful? Give him silverite heavy armor with that Guard Gain masterwork bonus. Or better yet, give it to a Knight Enchanter. Combine that with a staff that heals your HP by a fixed % on hit, and you have a tank that gains Health, Guard and Barrier with each hit. Hell, you might just ditch the Health restoration and go for something offensive, it's not like this Magic Knight needs it.
- The Necromancer (both the single-player specialization and the multiplayer character) has a passive ability called Simulacrum, which causes a spirit doppelganger of the Necromancer to rise when the Necromancer is knocked out. Said spirit can be controlled like the character themselves and casts spells without mana cost. The Game Breaker comes when the Necromancer is equipped with a Heal on Hit/Kill passive. The Simulacrum's attacks can trigger these passives, restoring the Necromancer's health even while they are knocked outóresulting in the Necromancer instantly reviving once the Simulacrum ends. A Necromancer can charge into battle, get their head smashed in, nuke everything in ghost form, and then push themselves out from underneath the pile of bodies.
- The Assassin's Mark of Death ability. When it goes off (and can be triggered early for more damage), it deals damage proportional to the amount of damage the target received during its duration. Couple it with massive-damage abilities like Mark of the Rift or the aforementioned Thousand Cuts (or both), and it can tear down dragons in mere seconds.
- Bow wielding Artificers have a particularly potent combination of abilities. The two central abilities are their Focus Ability, Hail of Arrows, and Leaping Shot in the Archery tree. Also necessary are Opportunity Knocks in the Artificer tree and Looked Like It Hurt in the Sabotage tree: Opportunity Knocks reduces all active cooldowns every time the user gets a critical hit, while Looked Like It Hurt restores the user's stamina on every critical hit. For this to reliably work, the Artificer needs a critical hit rate of at least fifty percent. When Leaping Shot is used during Hail of Arrows with the mentioned passive abilities, the shear number of hits can completely negate Leaping Shot's cooldown while fully restoring the Artificer's stamina, making it possible to continuously spam it the entire time Hail of Arrows is active. Against small enemies, Hook and Tackle can be used to make sure that every shot hits. Against large enemies, Hail of Arrows lasts long enough that the Artificer can just run back into position. With this combination, it is possible to take down a High Dragon in a matter of seconds. On Nightmare mode.
- Trespasser introduced a new system, similar to later Mass Effect games, where each active ability has two possible upgrades, only in this case the player can swap between them when not in battle instead of being stuck with just one choice. Some of the new upgrades are very powerful.
- Fortifying Blast, the new upgrade for Horn of Valor, temporarily grants a guard on hit ability to all active party members. The guard on hit masterwork materials that are praised higher up? That can now be granted to every party member, from the beginning of the game, without using up a masterwork slot, although the masterwork versions stack with Fortifying Blast and have the advantage of being permanent. With the right abilities and/or equipment, the downtime on Horn of Valor can be outright negated.
- Lightning Cascade, the new upgrade for Lightning Bolt, turns it into an area of effect stunning spell.
- Ring of Ice, the new upgrade for Wall of Ice, can temporarily shut a human sized enemy out of the battle regardless of resistances.
- Terror, the new upgrade for Horror, completely immobilizes any enemy that does not resist panic and lasts until the duration runs out or the target takes enough damage.
- Breath of Light, the new upgrade for Wrath of Heaven, heals the user by ten percent per enemy hit. In a game built around the idea of not being able to heal with normal abilities, this is an incredible boon to a Templar's survivability regardless of fighting style.
- Leaching Poison, the new upgrade for Poisoned Weapons, heals the user by five percent every time they hit the enemy. This is every bit as powerful as Breath of Light and a huge benefit to a melee rogue.
- Clear the Board, the new upgrade for Fallback Plan, resets all of the Artificer's active cooldowns.
- Coming Through, the new upgrade for Combat Roll, does 250% weapon damage to anyone the warrior passes through, turning a handy mobility talent into a hard-hitting, relentlessly spammable Area of Effect attack...that is also a handy mobility talent. Even better, there appears to be a Good Bad Bug where its damage is actually 500%; twice the listed 250%.
- Consuming Fire, the new upgrade for Immolate, allows the user to cast Immolate repeatedly with no cooldown, but with the cost increasing by ten with each use. Normally, the escalating mana cost keeps it in check, but it can be used by a Rift Mage with the Restorative Veil and Clean Burn abilities. When the target is weakened by one of the Rift Mage's unique spells, Restorative Veil allows the caster to continuously spam Immolate with no concern for the escalating mana cost, allowing the Rift Mage to spam Clean Burn in much the same way a Knight Enchanter can with Spirit Blade.
- Lifeblood, the new upgrade for Devour, doubles the damage healed by Devour, making Reavers much easier to keep alive. Leashed Fury, the new upgrade for Dragon Rage, removes the damage done to yourself, but gives the ability a 10-second cooldown. This is especially handy for Iron Bull, as the AI tends to overuse the ability otherwise.
- Flaming Array and Chilling Array, upgrading Fire Mine and Ice Mine, respectively. These upgrades let the caster create three mines directly in front of them, which arm instantaneously. These mines form an excellent line of defense against melee attackers but can also be used for offense by Knight-Enchanters. Chilling Array has the added benefit of triggering Ice Armor (50% damage reduction), while Flaming Array summons three mines that inflict 1,600% weapon damage... each.
- Lasting Mark removes Mark of Death's ability to be detonated early, in exchange for a longer duration. Considering that Mo D was already a game breaker, this allows for more ridiculous detonations.
- Annulment, the upgrade for Spell Purge, causes all Templar skills to damage magic-using enemies as well. Considering the number of mages in this game, the Templar once again takes its rightful place as the counter to mages everywhere.
- Eagle Eye, for Long Shot, boosts damage proportionate to the distance from your target, up to 900% at 25 meters. For comparison, Full Draw at a target with less than full HP deals 800% damage, making Eagle Eye a weaker, but cheaper, much easier to acquire version (You only need 1 skill point, seeing as Long Shot is the first skill you get for Archers) of Full Draw.
- Winter's Ruin, for Winter's Grasp, causes the skill to deal 1000% weapon damage on any target suffering from a frost-based debuff (Chilled, Frozen). Useful for the same reason as Eagle Eye, albeit requiring 2 skill points instead of just 1.
- Everlasting Barricade, for Line in the Sand, removes cooldown and cost for the skill, and allows you to keep in on INDEFINITELY. Placed on a choke point, Everlasting Barricade will guarantee complete safety for the backlines.
- Some of the DLC accessories are extremely powerful, either negating the weaknesses of certain builds or strengthening the stronger builds. Here are a few examples.
- The Amulet of Death Syphon (Emprise) for Warriors and Rogues, which heals the wearer and restores stamina whenever something dies in the immediate vicinity. To repeat, dies in the immediate vicinity; you don't even need to lay a finger on it, if it dies and you're near, you heal. On Reavers or Dagger Rogues, it allows them to pick fights with reckless abandon.
- Andraste's Sacrifice (Villa Maurel, Emerald Graves) for Mages and Rogues grants an on-hit chance effect to taunt nearby enemies. That is usually the opposite of what you want, unless that Mage is a Knight-Enchanter. This allows Knight-Enchanters to divert aggro even better, making a normal sword-and-board warrior moot, all while their mana and spells recharge even faster than normal.
- The Belt of Urgency when used by a Reaver. Since Reavers can reduce their own health at will, they can sit comfortably below the 50% marker and gain a noticeable increase to their attack speed. This boost stacks with the attack speed bonus of Rampage, and can be combined with Rampage's free Dragon Rage spam and a Mighty Offense Potion to get results not far behind the Artificer's Rain of Arrows and Leaping Shot combination.