written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
The mage class was never really my favorite character class in past Dragon Age games. I tried playing a mage in Origins (barely got past the Wilds) and it wasn't until the way they revamped the combat in the sequel that I gave the mage class the good 'ol college try. The mage was infinitely more bad ass in 2, but the way you can unlock the mage's potential come Inquisition made this class (dare I say) one of my favorites to play with. Introduction aside, this is a “Pro-Tips” piece so I'm focusing on one of the specialized sub-classes of mages you can create.
The Knight Enchanter is a subclass you can unlock about half way through the game, in my first playthrough I powered Vivienne as my Knight Enchanter and after a few battles I knew what I'd plan to build my next character as. The Knight Enchanter is very different than your everyday mage, while you can whittle away an enemy's HP with concentrated magic attacks or spam all manner of arcane punishment; mages have always been support from a battlefield's outlier.
The first comparison that comes to mind is like a Dragon Age Jedi Knight. Knight Enchanters can summon a Spirit Blade of solid magical energy to decimate oncoming foes. This attack concentrates pure spirit energy that bypasses an enemy's guard and barriers, whittling away 400% of the equipped weapon's damage while dealing an addition 200% to barriers and 400% to guard. Basically, you will be spamming this attack ALOT. So, let's get into building it. While you can start building your class right when you earn the Knight Enchanter specialization, it's best to start around level 10 but it doesn't truly come into it's own until you reach around level 15.
First... preparation, you want to buy that Tactician's Renewal from the blacksmith, we'll be looking at two sub-classes of mage plus trying to fill up the Knight Enchanter specialization so it's a good idea to have a clean slate when assigning abilities. I'll separate this out with the powers you absolutely have to have then secondary ones you can earn later. If you are looking to build this around level 10, I strongly suggest following this guide to the letter. Since I first unlocked the Knight Enchanter class around level 10, let's divvy this out with the first 10 ability points. All secondary powers/passives you can grab after earning more points.
Spirit Blade: This will be your primary attack, consuming 10 mana for each strike, this one is undoubtedly the best “bang for you buck” ability. You can easily decimate droves of enemies spamming this one attack, and (for our console and controller players especially) it works like your standard attack wherein you can just hold it down and let the cuts fly.
Combat Clarity: One of the most important passives you can get, when near hostile enemies your mana pool regens faster, of course allowing more strikes with your Spirit Blade or utilizing one of the other abilities we'll have you unlock.
Fade Shield: This is the ability that will literally make you damn near unkillable. Fade Shield draws back any attack you deal out to strengthen your barrier... so the harder you hit... the harder your shield becomes. If you continue to attack consecutively your barrier will rarely ever drop in battle.
Winter (is coming... sorry... couldn't resist)
Winter's Grasp: This is an ability you've had from the start, freezing an enemy then striking them with a Spirit Blade attack make for a formidable approach to dealing with large groups of enemies.
Fade Step: This will be your best way to close the gap between your Inquisitor and any unsuspecting foe. Fade Step functions like a quick dash, sending you forward while you ride waves of magic. Especially when you come across a moment where your barrier begins to falter and the best way to juice it is to dash forward and strike a couple times with your Spirit Blade, this move turns the battle into your own personal playground.
Winter Stillness: Very useful in earlier parts of this build, especially if you have less than 10 ability points at your disposal. Winter Stillness allows you to restore your mana and reduce cool down rates when your character stands still. Best tactic is to dash away from battle, recharge a bit... then dash back and unleash all manner of arcane justice.
Mana Surge: This one is useful for the rare occurrence that an enemy hits hard enough to drop your barrier. When your barrier's taken down thanks to a powerful attack from a brute or a well place arrow to the knee, your barrier explodes sending out a blast that freezes all nearby enemies, makes for a good way to recharge with a few well placed Spirit Blade strikes.
Wall of Ice OR Ice Mine: This ability or more so throwaway, but including it in your arsenal wouldn't be a bad idea. Pick Wall of Ice if you want to play more defensively or Ice Mine if you'd rather be more offensively... this mostly leads us to...
Ice Armor: Damage you receive is halved whenever you stand near a frozen enemy or persistent cold spell, so you can lay down ice mines or create a wall of ice and feed off that energy... making you that much more unkillable.
Barrier: Basically allows you to create a barrier, while you will always gain a barrier when a fellow mage casts it on your Inquisitor, the ability to create your own greatly increase your survivability. Plus, while Knight Enchanter's rarely have their barriers dropped, it's always nice to know you have it up.
Those are your 10 most important abilities to crafting a Dragon Age Jedi Knight. Feel free to spend any remaining ability points but I suggest sticking to the Winter and Spirit subclasses and the Knight Enchanter specialization. A few suggest abilities are as follow.
Guardian Spirit: This passive ability has saved my underleveled arse a few times. Since my mage was human, I already had an addition point to give, so I put it here. Guardian Spirit springs a protective barrier whenever you are badly injured, and as long as you can keep your barrier up for 60 seconds, this ability will spring into action again and again and again.
Any Upgrade to Existing Abilities: Strengthen your barriers should be your first priority. Upgrading the Spirit Blade allows you to send projectiles right back at the enemy... like a Jedi would. Also, upgrading Fade Step into Frost Step gives you another way to damage enemies.
Fade Cloak and Decloaking Blast upgrade: The fade cloak allows you to go invisible but unlike cloaking the rogues use, you are invulnerable... the downside is the brief time you spend cloaked. But with Decloaking blast, if you rematerialize INSIDE an enemy, you deal a MASSIVE 1,000% of your weapon damage.
Knight Protector: If you can get further down the Knight Enchanter tree, Knight Protector is a no brainer. This ability slows the decay of your barrier... leaving a little breathing room on having to constantly keep up a barrage of attacks. While this isn't that much of an issue with most enemies, some of the wilier ones like Dragons that fly away or those demon ice magician bastards tend to hop around the battle field quite a bit.
Rejuvinating Barrier: This passive is fairly far down the Spirt class tree, but if you find yourself mixing up combo attacks (Winter's Grasp+Spirit Blade) having an increased mana regen rate is a bloody godsend. As long as you have a barrier active, your mana/stamina for the entire party regenerates at an accelerated rate. Coupled with Winter Stillness, you are armed with two ways to strategically regen your mana.
As I said... the rest are all up to your playstyle. Play around with these three classes and come level 15 you'll have an Kngiht Enchanter that can single handedly take down a dragon when the rest of your party is incapacitated. And so you can see it in action, check out this compilation video below with my Knight Enchanter in action... and in case you were wondering... yes I named her Daenerys and yes I modeled her to look like Emilia Clark.
You can play however you want but here is how I approached every battle with my Knight Enchanter. My party was always set with two mages, a rogue, and a warrior. Picking which among your party is purely optional but your mages should all have barrier unlocked. When you see an enemy in the distance, use your standard attack first to aggro whoever was in your sights. When the battle starts, your mage (not you) should immediately cast barrier on the party. Use Fade Step to close the gap between your party and your target and start slashing away with Spirit Blade. As long as you keep a constant stream of damage, your barrier should stay up the whole fight. If your barrier isn't that strong yet, if you have Mana Surge and Guardian Spirit unlocked you should be well protected against whatever you have to face.
ED NOTE: This build can also be used to make Vivienne an unstoppable force to be reckoned with, imagine two of these cutting and slashing across a battlefield.