Witcher 3 Alchemy Guide by Schwadralla and AONomad
Are you new to the Witcher games, or have you only played sword and sign builds before? Were you hoping to play with a heavy focus on alchemy, but found it confusing, not worth the trouble, or not strong enough for what you expected?
Then this guide is for you. You’ll be able to:
- deal heavy physical damage consistently
- significantly improve your sign intensity
- reduce your sign cooldown to the point where you can all but chain cast
- blow mobs to bits with more bombs than you know what to do with
- have insane amounts of health
- heal yourself extensively
. . . ALL AT THE SAME TIME. That’s right. You can do all of the above, at the same time, in every fight. So what are you waiting for? Respec into Alchemy!
1. The start
Welcome to one of the best experiences you can get from the different builds out there. You can call yourself a “bomb throwing poison junky who has different drugs” machine at the end of the skilltree.
This guide focus on using bombs, oil and potions to do so much damage in a short time that you will start calling this build OP. You will have an answer to every enemy who exists in the world. And if he is still alive after your bombing attack you can fall back to your sword with the applied poison oil and upgrade your damage output heavily with potions.
We have your interest now? Perfect!
1.1 Our experience
We are playing on Death March, the hardest difficult out there. We did a lot of research and brainstorming about how to start and what is the “easiest” way to survive. It’s normal to die a lot at the beginning, because you need to get used to this different playstyle. It is not a hack and slash anymore, it is more about how to think about a good strategy how to beat some bosses or even groups of monsters.
And because we are playing on Death March, we are getting less experience than on other difficulties. Our health will not refill when we meditate and the enemy will be more aggressive.
You need to learn the movements of your foe, reading the bestiary and learning how to dodge (not to roll away!) helps a lot. If you have trouble and get damaged a lot Quen will be your best friend at the beginning.
When you are getting higher in terms of levels and your knowledge about the different monsters out there, you are on a good way to be a real machine later on.
Before we are get into the skilling, a little tip: take every food item you find – don’t leave them (especially on Blood and Broken Bones & Death March). You get health regen for free out of them, use it – Geralt won’t get fat.
2. The potions
One of the core elements are our potions in this guide. You will use them a lot and often different types of them. Another benefit of using them is to get health back with every use. In this chapter, the main benefits of potions are explained.
You have access to attack, defense and utility potions. Thus, any potential enemy or problem is covered with different potions.
You need attack damage? Drink a Thunderbolt!
You are poisoned? Drink a Golden Oriole!
You don’t see anything? Use a Cat!
It is recommended to use them every time if they are needed. You will lose nothing when you are using it but you will lose when you aren’t using them. When you are out of potions, meditate. You need a strong alcohol (like alcoholest) and everything is filled up.
Maybe you are asking yourself how is this manageable to take different potions if you can only quickslot two of them. The answer is really easy but a little bit annoying (hoping for a mod to fix it). While in a fight you can go into your inventory and drink any other available potion. You can change your quickslot while in combat too! The potion will work as intended. If you know what type of enemy you are facing, you can use the potion before the fight starts and quickslot some utility potions (like Swallow or Blizzard). So you are buffed up and have some life insurance in your back pocket.
Swallow will be your best friend at the beginning. The health regen is useful in any way and you are nearly full life all the fight long. It lasts only 20 seconds but that is the time without the + % duration bonus time. This time will be buffed to 80 seconds at the end. And 80 seconds..hell..that is a lot of time for one use!
We mentioned at the beginning that you can get health back with every use. There is a skill called “Refreshment” and his effect is Each potion heals 25% of max Vitality (on level 5/5). 25% instant healing with every use of one potion is OP. When you’re at the point where you have enough potions available, you won’t need any food anymore! Just drink a few potions and you are full life again. When you maxed out this skill you don’t need to fall back on Swallow anymore. Instead use a better fight impact potion like Thunderbolt or Blizzard in your Quickslots.
And the fun part is, that you do not even look at your toxicity bar because of our little skill-friend called “Acquired Tolerance”.On level 3/3 the effect is Every known level 3 alchemical recipe, increases maximum toxicity by 1. With all recipes known it feels like an never ending toxicity bar. In this case -> Potion spamming is possible!
The best at the end: with the skill “Side Effects” on max level (5/5) you have a 100% chance to get another random potion effect without additional toxicity cost when you use a potion. It sounds incredible, right? It is incredible. Your effect bar is filled up in a few seconds with a lot of different effects. You can call yourself a junky at this time.
In summary, you can get so much buffed that you have a high damage output, have a great defense strategy and run nearly full life all the day too. And that is just the beginning.
Decoctions are different to normal potions. They are hard to create (they need special monster mutagens) and have a higher toxicity rate as normal potions. So whats the deal with them? Because they are so hard to get, they have special effects which are active for long time (30 minutes and more with duration time bonus – Skill: Adaptation).
They give you effects like “Provides immunity to “Knockdown, Hypnosis, Stun, and Blindness”, “damage dealt to foes regenerates vitality” or “each enemy killed increases max vitality”.
We do not want to write down the name of the decoctions because they are a little bit spoilerish (they named after the different monster out there).
Because these are so special and add a lot of toxicity you should not spam them and use them wisely. If i know what enemy (especially Boss) i will face and have information about it (like he can stun me) i can use the decoctions to give myself an edge..
Their use is absolutely optional but i recommend it later on, because they have strong and great effects. To get more power out of them you can upgrade the skill “Tissue Transmutation” or “Adaptation”. The first one give you +600 hp for the duration of the effect, and the second one increases the duration time of decoctions – both are maxed out (5/5). So you get more health for a really really long time.
Our main damage source are the bombs. And we need to say it up front..they’re great and make our life easier.
Because we are facing a lot of groups of enemies, especially in the wild, the bombs are our way to go and make our life easy. You throw a few of them at the beginning into a group of 5 drowners after the detonations are all dead or one of them is playing Last Man Standing.
It is the same as the potions, there a lot of different bombs in the game available. Some of them are for damaging, disablingor anti-transforming. So is every different potential case covered.
You are against a group of humans? Let the Dancing Star out!
There are too many enemies at one time attacking you? Freeze them with the Northern Wind!
You are facing a werewolf? Stop the healing with Moon Dust!
If you are facing a mob group of three or more start throwing your bombs! The best time is at the beginning when they are not in front of your face. Show them that you have so much power in your pocket that you only in the worst case scenario need a few sword attacks to destroy them completely.
When you meditate, the bombs will be refilled too.
When you are surrounded of enemies try to go out there (roll out) and throw a few bombs, if you can’t go out and you have a quen sign currently active, throw a bomb in front of you. You take no damage and the enemies are stunned for a short time.
A neat skill helps us a lot to aim and throw into the right direction. It is called “Steady Aim” and its effect is “Time is slowed a further 45% while aiming bombs”. It is obvious why we are learning this skill. More time to throw means it’s easier to land a perfect hit – the best result is always great to have!
We mentioned the disabling and anti-transforming bombs. These types of bombs usually do no damage. Their effect is great and have a huge impact already, but we want to have damage out of every source available. For this purpose, the skill named“Pyrotechnics” helps us. It adds at max level (5/5) 150 damage to bombs that usually do no damage. I know, 150 damage is nothing later on, but a nice to have, especially at the low level section.
How can we throw bombs so often are you asking? We know, there are only two slots for them in the quickmenu and only 2 bombs of each available at the beginning. To fix this issue we need to upgrade our bombs into better versions (we need to find or buy the recipes) or we learn the skill called “Efficiency” which increases the maximum number of Bombs in each slot by 5 (on maxed level 5/5). So we have at least a minimum of seven bombs available. Thats enough to damage anything considerably.
Attention: We take no responsibility for any damage that happens to you!
Last but not least the ultimative psycho skill who is available to us. Did you ever want to see some arms, legs or even heads flying towards your screen? Yes? In that case the skill “Cluster Bombs” is your choice for sure. The name says everything, your bomb will transform into a cluster bomb and upon detonation it separate into explosive fragments. On max level (5/5) you have six fragments who are flying through your foes. You can experience some traumatic events because of this spectacle. On a serious note, this skill is great. It is doing additional area damage to the surrounding enemies and it looks really cool!
Just watch this .gif – Example
To sum up, bombs are your main damage source. You will have enough power to kill a group of enemies without your sword or reduce their health by a lot. Later on you can see some body parts flying around. The number of each bomb is enough to do anything you want.
If we really need our swords (especially at boss fights) we can boost our damage against special types of monsters with oil.
Every enemy is sorted into different types of creatures in the bestiary. There can you gain information about your foe and what the best oil to face him. If you apply the oil on your sword you will do more damage against this special type of monster.
The skill “Poisoned Blades” has the effect on max level (5/5) that “Oil applied to the blades gives a 25% chance of poisoning the target on each hit.” And because poison is doing a specific %-damage of the max health of the enemy is this skill amazing. If the foe got poisoned you can watch how fast the health bar is shrinking.
Another good skill to learn would be* “Fixative”. On max level (3/3) *you have a 100% doubled charges for your oils. so you have a good amount of time with a buffed damage output.
Oil gives you a nice cheap and fast damage output against a specific monster type. Against boss monsters or just strong monsters, this effect always nice to have.
5. Skilling order
When you are going a full alchemy build you have 12 alchemy skills active at the same time. When you are not going with the decoctions or oil and don’t want to buff them, you will have at least 9 skills active at the same time.
To unlock the second tier you need 8 points in the alchemy tree.
For the third tier 20 points.
And for the last tier you need 28 points.
When are you playing on Blood and Broken Bones or Death March it is a great advice to put your first skill point into Sun and Stars. It regenerates 10 health points every 10 seconds when not in combat (during the day). The night effect is not effective for our build. You won’t be available to heal yourself with popping potions yet and food is always really rare. [If you are not playing on these difficulties you can skip this and start with level 2].
I mentioned it before, the early levels are tough but beatable. Learn to dodge and how your enemy moves.
The second available skillpoint goes directly into our alchemy tree. For the better overview i do just an enumeration what to level up on what skillpoint
|2-6||Poisoned Blades (1/5) up to (5/5)|
|7||Steady Aim (1/3)|
|8||Acquired Tolerance (1/3)|
|9||Steady Aim (2/3)|
|Unlocked Tier 2 – 10-14||Refreshment (1/5) up to (5/5)|
|15-19||Endure Pain (1/5) up to (5/5)|
|20-21||Acquired Tolerance (2/3) up to (3/3)|
|Unlocked Tier 3 – 22-26||Delayed Recovery (1/5) up to (5/5)|
|27-31||Efficiency (1/5) up to (5/5)|
|Unlocked Tier 4 – 32-36||Side Effects (1/5) up to (5/5)|
|37-41||Cluster Bombs (1/5) up to (5/5)|
In conclusion we have a build like this: Build
It needs 9 skill slots and have a additional duration bonus time for potions at +195%. You boost your health with large green mutagens up to +1200 HP.
The last three skills are your decision. You can focus a little bit more on decoctions or the oil for your swords.
This combination worked great for us and we are having not really much trouble anymore.
We both hope that this little guide helps you and that somebody is now thinking about an alchemy build!Other Witcher 3 Articles
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Witcher 3 Alchemy Guide
Witcher 3 Inventory Management Guide
Witcher 3 Tips and Tricks
Witcher 3 Combat and Gameplay Tips