Dragon Age Legends Rogue Guide
Dragon Age Legends Rogue Guide by Da DMG
Hello, my name is Dusty and I am a rogue. In the time I’ve been playing DAL, I’ve come to learn that rogues are an underpowered and horribly nerfed class that is only one step up from useless. Scratch that; that’s only what I’ve gleaned from frequenting these forums. In my experience, playing with a rogue has been a lot of fun and pretty damn effective. Now, before we go any further, a few caveats.
First, and probably most importantly, I am not, as of this writing, an upper-level player (level 14 as of the original posting of this guide on 4/26, level 21 by my May 19 update)…thus the phrase “Young Rogue’s Guide.” I didn’t begin playing the game until April 1 and most days I only fight a few short rounds a day. Part of the reason for the short bursts is that I subscribe to the Poor and Lonely style of play. I don’t want to go into battle with a bunch of high ranked players I don’t personally know, so thus far I’ve been playing with just the NPCs and a real-life friend who had already given up on the game before I started. So, I usually play one round of four fights in the afternoon before I go to work and another round or two late at night, depending on my schedule. Some might call me casual and I really wouldn’t take offense to that, although I do feel I’ve put enough thought and time into this game that I probably wouldn’t define myself as such..
The point of my rambling is that my main caveat is that I do not know how well my tactics will work at higher levels. I can foresee absolutely no reason why they wouldn’t but if you see a reason why you think they wouldn’t, I’d love to hear it. I’m continually refining my tactics and my way of thinking about this game and don’t mind being told that I might be looking at things wrong. So, criticism is very welcome.
Next caveat, this is my guide for creating a top-notch melee-based rogue. While I use archery situationally, there are very few archery talents that seem worthwhile to me, especially for the style I play. My rogue is also not especially hard hitting. If you’re looking for archery-based rogues or someone who is a traditional Dragon Age dual-wield rogue (aka a DPS badass) you’re not going to find that guy here.
Next, before we go any further, these guides are must-reads for anyone thinking of playing this game with any degree of seriousness. If you haven’t, then go read them all now. I’ll be here waiting for you when you get back, I promise.
Data on Gears/Happiness
Controlling the Battlefield
So, if my style of rogue isn’t an archer able to hit multiple targets or a damage dealing powerhouse, what exactly is he/she good for? For me, playing a rogue in DAL is all about controlling the battlefield like no other. My goal is to be the nastiest traffic cop around. For warriors and mages, from what I can gather, the goal is to deal big damage across a large area as quick as possible to wipe out the enemies before they wipe out you. With my style of rogue, the enemies are actually your friends. Or at least they can be for portions of the battle. There are many times in which I avoid wiping enemies out because they’re more useful to me alive.
As you may have guessed from the preceding paragraph, the single most important ability for my style of rogue is Throw Voice. Throw Voice is the lynchpin of all my strategizing, both an offensive and defensive talent balled into one. For those who don’t know, at its base level, Throw Voice causes opponents to target the victim for the next three turns. So, not only will the enemies in the next three turn slots not be targeting your teammates they’ll be working with you to eliminate your desired target. I’ve found for the last six levels or so I rarely even build many health consumables because my team takes so little damage because the enemies spend more time attacking each other than they do me and my teammates. Playing the way I do is more about tactical planning than striking hard and fast. They say the best defense is a good offense; I say the best defense is having the enemy join your side.
The other key abilities for controlling the battlefield that are at the rogue’s disposal are Confuse and Low Blow. Confuse, at base level, cripples an enemy for six turns. This does two things for your rogue. One, it sets up enemies for you or another rogue to land a Coup De Grace. And two, it freezes the target in place for as far ahead as you can see in the turn queue. With three upgrades in Throw Voice and the base level Confuse, you can lock down a target for the next cycle of the turn queue and have all of his friends attacking it. Another nice thing about Confuse is that unlike the other two crippling abilities available to a Rogue (Pinning Shot or Cripple) it doesn’t end your turn, thus allowing you to immediately follow up with a Coup De Grace (and at no additional mana cost, to boot).
On the other hand, if your target isn’t attacking in the near future (and/or you don’t have many Coup De Grace chances coming up), your best friend might be the lower cost Low Blow. Undoubtedly my most frequent battle action is to start a turn by consuming a Greater Mana Potion, Throwing Voice on a target and then hitting said target with a Low Blow. You might as well put a bull’s eye on that target as with defenses reduced by 50% and all enemies and possibly some of your teammates targeting it. In such a situation, health can deteriorate rather quickly. And, unlike the pricier Confuse and Throw Voices, Low Blow is only a one mana expenditure for a six turn effect. Just make sure you don’t hit your Low Blow until you’ve already used your Throw Voice, Confuse or any modes (Stealth/Crits/Evasion), as Low Blow will end your turn.
The most important thing with a battlefield-controlling rogue, as you may have guessed is to plan tactically. Always, ALWAYS be thinking several turns ahead, and not just on your rogue’s turn. A battlefield-control rogue is a mana hog, so you’ll often be wanting to apply mana salves to your rogue on your teammates turns when possible, especially when you consider that salves apply more mana to your character than the corresponding potion (Greater Mana Salves, for instance, apply four mana vs Greater Mana Potions that apply three mana). In the longest and toughest battles you may just be applying almost all of your available mana resources, so you don’t want to get into a situation where all you’re using are potions only to find out you’re out of potions on your rogue’s turn when plenty of mana salves are still unused. That way leads to great frustration. I certainly know the feeling. About the only time I run into real trouble of my team taking heavy damage are when I land on my rogue’s turn and realize I forgot to apply a crucial mana salve on a teammate’s turn.
Once you have Coup De Grace in your arsenal, you’ll also want to plan teammates crippling effects to set you up for a Coup De Grace and not interfere with your larger plans (for instance, crippling an opponent that you plan on having attacking on your side come your rogues turn is a bad idea).
Obviously the planning is greatest, though, on your rogue’s turns. Here is when you decide how you expect the next 6 turns to unfurl. Is an enemy coming up late in the turn queue that you could set your forces (namely his teammates) on to wipe out before that turn comes up? And how much heat can your target withstand? If an enemy has one heart left and the next three turns are enemy attacks, than Throw Voice might actually be a bad idea as the enemy will die too soon freeing up my erstwhile frenemies to target my team again. This can also impact
whether I feel I should give a Low Blow to a Throw Voices target, I always have to ask myself, “How likely is the target to die at a time acceptable to me?” If I think they’re likely to kill or almost kill the target without a Low Blow
(and thus likely to kill him too early with a Low Blow) than I’ll abstain on the Low Blow or pick a different target. ***UPDATE**
The May 4 update to the game brought with it an intriguing new ability for melee rogues, Ambush. Ambush is a stealth-based ability that acts similar to Overrun for warriors, with one key exception: you get to choose which row to target, allowing your rogue to hit squishy back row targets with melee attacks much earlier in the battle.
This ability allows for it a bit of flexibility and customization in our basic command-rogue build, with a chance to branch out and emphasize different areas depending on your preferences.
If you’ve been spending a lot of your ability points on ATK or LCK, then a heavy Ambush investment will likely pay off rather nicely. Upgrades to Ambush increase Crit % by +10%…not as nice as an ATK modifier, but with many back-row enemies low on defense and weak to melee weapons, crits can frequently take out the entire back row.
There are a couple downsides, though, to adding Ambush to this build. One is that, with the heavy emphasis on AGL to keep your turn coming up and controlling the field, you may not have enough ATK to really take advantage of the ability. Also, to really take advantage of this ability, you’ll want heavy Acid Bomb production to lower the defenses of all enemies on the battlefield by 50%, which is always a good idea with multi-target attacks. If your castle is having problems keeping up with the heavy mana demands of this build, you might want to wait on Ambush until you feel you can devote some workers to frequently cranking out tons of Acid Bombs too. Of course, by the time you feel like you can do that, it’s likely that will turn into a boon as by that point you will likely have several teammates with powered-up multi-shot abilities of their own which you’ll also be boosting. You’ll want to be careful, though, if you’re combining it with Throw Voices – if the back row are most of the folks attacking then you don’t want to wipe out your new compatriots.
The other negatives of Ambush are based in skill acquisitons more than in actual battle. To get ambush you’re going to be required to take Disarm first, which seems like an utterly wasted ability. I can’t imagine putting Disarm in my activated list, so Ambush essentially costs 2 talent points. Also, you’ll have to choose an ability to drop from your five activated abilities if you want Ambush.
In the end, I chose to drop Confuse. While I used it quite frequently in the early game, Confuse had become a lesser-used niche ability by the time I was wanting to test out Ambush. Frost Bombs duplicate Confuse’s role only more effectively; the only time I find myself missing Confuse is when I want to freeze something and need drink a Mana Potion. In those scenarios, Confuse would still be useful. Still, I’ve found myself preferring the flexibility that Ambush gives me, even if I do sometimes wish I still had confuse.
Right now I tend to use Ambush situationally. I tend to use it more frequently when I’m late in a battle and there are more back row targets I want to take out or when I’m already throwing down Acid Bombs for warrior Overruns or mage Storms, or if I’ve got a Fire Weapons mage in tow. Usually if I’m using Ambush it marks a shift in my battle plans from controlling to a blitzkrieg offense.
So what would an ideal build for this sort of Rogue look like? Well, it does depend on whether you want to respec out of the opening archery talent they give to Rogues, Piercing Shot. I would definitely recommend respeccing out of it eventually as its not a terribly useful talent and at some point you will replace it in the five active talent slots. Some would argue that it is useful because it allows a rogue to attack multiple targets, but the damage done to back row targets is usually minor as they aren’t susceptible to arrow shots anyways. If you want to hit the back row, it’s much better to have the enemy melee fighters turn around and beat the crap out of them with weapons they are weak to. So, for this proposed build we’ll say you respec out of Piercing Shot by level 9. And, as I mentioned, there’s definitely room here to deviate towards more ATK heavy builds by pumping Backstab and Ambush or crit-heavy builds with Combat Training and Bravado. So far, though, this looks like the build route I’d go with and is closest to my current build and future build plans.
Level 1: None
Level 2: Piercing Shot (Archery) “Attack All Enemies in a Row” *for now*
Level 3: Evasion (Deceit) “+50% Dodge for 10 Turns. Does not end turn.” *prereq*
Level 4: Confuse (Deceit) “Disables Character for 6 turns. Costs 2 Mana. Does not end turn.” *Counts as Cripple without ending turn; prereq for Throw Voices*
Level 5: Throw Voices (Deceit) “Causes enemies to attack your target. Costs 2 mana. Does not end turn.” *Your bread and butter ability*
Level 6: Dirty Fighting (Skirmish) “+75% ATK Bonus. Requires melee.” *prereq and occasionally useful damage booster in early game*
Level 7: Low Blow (Skirmish) “-50% DEF penalty for 6 turns. +25% ATK Bonus.” *Best used in combination with Throw Voices, as detailed earlier.*
Level 8: Throw Voices Upgrade #1 “+1 Turn duration” *now lasts 4 turns*
Level 9: Coup De Grace “Requires melee. Requires crippled. Always HIT. Always CRIT” *Your biggest damage dealing ability. Well, at least damage inflicted by you*
RESPEC: Out of Piercing Shot to Throw Voices Upgrade #2 “+1 Turn Duration” *now lasts 5 turns*
Level 10: Stealth (Skirmish) “Does not end turn. +1 Skill Range. -50% chance to Miss” *so you can Low Blow your back row Throw Voices targets. Also allows you to get Backstab and Ambush later on*
Level 11: Backstab (Skirmish) “Requires Stealth. Requires Melee. +150% ATK bonus” *big single target damage dealer. When you don’t want to Low Blow a Throw Voices target, use Backstab to take out another important target.*
Level 12: Coup De Grace Upgrade #1 “+20% ATK Bonus”
Level 13: Coup De Grace Upgrade #2 “+20% ATK Bonus” *ATK now at +40%*
Level 14: Throw Voices Upgrade #3 “+1 Turn Duration” *now at 6 turns, extending as far as you can see in the turn queue.*
Level 15: Combat Training (Training) “Passive Skill. +10% Crit.” *passives are always nice. Also, you’ll likely be adding some more direct offensive abilities in the near future and increasing crit % can only help. Finally, this is the first step towards a weapon mastery which you may eventually want to invest in*
Level 16: Disarm (Skirmish) “Requires Stealth. Requires Melee. -50% ATK Penalty for 12 turns” *meh. If you want to gimp someone’s ability to hurt you, it’s much better to just have him attack his friends. Prereq is the only reason you want this*
Level 17: Ambush (Skirmish) “Requires Stealth. Requires Melee. -50% ATK Penalty for 12 turns” *the only multi-target attack for a strictly melee rogue. Useful at clearing back row threats and exploiting Acid Bombs*
Level 18: Coup De Grace Upgrade #3 “+20% ATK Bonus” *ATK now at +60%*
Level 19: Stealth Upgrade #1 “+1 Turn Duration” *Stealth now lasts 7 turns*
Level 20: Backstab Upgrade #1 “+10% Crit”
Level 21: Ambush Upgrade #1 “+10% Crit”
Level 22: Backstab Upgrade #1 “+10% Crit”
Level 23: Stealth Upgrade #2 “+1 Turn Duration” *Stealth now lasts 8 turns*
Level 24: Coup De Grace Upgrade #4 “+20% ATK Bonus” ” *ATK now at +80%*
Level 25: Coup De Grace Upgrade #5 “+20% ATK Bonus” ” *ATK now at +100%*
*** Entirely Rewritten****
Since I first posted this guide, I’ve been thinking more and more about what would be the best stat distribution for this build, as I wasn’t satisfied that my original build (or even my respec) was distributing stats optimally. Many thanks to those who contributed to the discussion in here, especially Carsomyr, who were key to my re-evaluation.
The one thing that’s stayed constant is the importance of AGL. I firmly believe that, with this build, it should be your highest stat. The reasoning is simple – if your rogue’s turn never comes up, he/she has no control over the battlefield. Thus, the more frequently you pop up in the queue, the better you can manage the ongoing battle as it plays out. AGL also adds dodge benefit which is nice because the one stat you’re most likely to neglect here is DEF (If one stat’s going to get the shaft in a build based around not getting hit, then it’s going to be the one that minimizes damage from getting hit), so that add a minor benefit.
Your next most important stat should be ATK. A few things have changed my thinking on this. One was the addition of Ambush which changed the way a melee rogue could be built and opened up new avenues of destruction. Prior to this, I’d emphasized LCK more than ATK, but that really doesn’t make a ton of sense unless you go into an extremely heavy crit variant of this build. Even then, you’ll want to keep ATK high enough that your base damage is still decent. But in a build in which a key ability is an auto-crit (Coup-De-Grace) and several skills have ATK % based bonuses (Coup-De-Grace, Ambush, Backstab….even Low Blow), ATK makes much more sense to be your second priority.
Not that you entirely want to abandon LCK, though. Several skills upgrade in Crit % and when you’re in damage-dealing mode, crits are always a welcome bonus. It should be noted, though, that when you’re in traffic cop mode, an accidental crit on a low blow can screw up your best laid plans. But the main reason not to abandon LCK is that if you don’t have sufficient luck, enemies will dodge. This became very apparent as the forums were flooded the week I was writing this over all the Glancing Blows people were landing due to a combination of the recalculating of bonuses and the addition of higher AGI foes in the Waking Seas. I found it a bit funny that, after seeing a lot of people in the last month talk about how it was OK to neglect luck that suddenly people were complaining that there were too many Glancing Blows in the game now. If you want to hit your target, you need a little luck. Also, it doesn’t hurt to gain more money, which luck also boosts, especially if you’re like me and go the Poor and Lonely route. And given the mana requirements of this build, you’re going to need that cash for castle infrastructure. Which brings us to…..
Here’s one area in which my build tends to veer quite heavily from the prevailing orthodoxy. Most suggestions I’ve seen suggest to get an Alchemy Lab up as soon as possible, sometimes suggesting getting two up in short order. For this mana-heavy build, though, mana is far for important than bombs. Your first priority should either be an Apothecary or an Infirmary, with the other soon to follow. By level 14, I have two Infirmaries, one Apothecary, an Alchemy Lab (just recently built), and three Level 3 furnaces (built before the Throne Room requirement.) One infirmary is capable of building either Greater Mana Salves (which it does most of the time) or Team Injury Kits (which it does when I get low). Truthfully it’s much cheaper and more efficient to go with individual infirmaries set to specific tasks then my initial dual-purpose infirmary. The other Infirmary is dedicated to Team Mana Salves. Similarly, the Apothecary builds Greater Mana Potions most of the time, only switching to Health Potions when I run low. Because my team takes so little damage most of the time thanks to the style of this build, I’ve had no need yet to even upgrade to Greater Health Potions, which also makes it quicker to crank out a whole bunch real quick when my supplies do finally run low.
My advice would be to lead off with the Apothecary and the upgrade to mana potions. Then get a worker room up so you can work both seats and get the upgrade for Greater Mana Potions, which are so vital to this build; you will likely drink them like water. Next, I would focus on getting an Infirmary up and another worker to staff it. Depending on how your game is going, you can either beeline for Team Injury Kits or Team Mana Salves. I personally would recommend the Team Mana Salves, but if you find your teammates are taking a beating go the other route. Follow up with another Infirmary and worker, beelining for your other Target. I would then likely look to get one more Infirmary up and able to at least create Greater Mana Salves (later this will be upgraded to a Team Mana Salve station as well). Once those are in place, your next priority will be furnaces to upgrade your production capabilities to keep the mana flowing. With the new Throne Room costs, this may well be a pain in the ass, but getting top production out of your facilities is vital. Getting these rooms up to 5, 7 and 10 gears can make a world of difference.
If you are finding yourself running out of potions and salves, I’ve found that taking a day off from battle, just to produce potions, does wonders. When Portal 2 was released, I took a couple days off from DAL, just popping back to keep potions in production at all times. When I came back I was actually dealing with the problem of being overstocked and worrying about inventory space, which was a welcome worry. So, if you’re feeling a bit drained, just sit tight for a day and keep those workers busy.
Once you feel like you’re producing enough mana to keep up with your consumption, it’s time to begin building those Alchemy Labs. I didn’t build my first Alchemy Lab until I was level 15 and already had two Apothecaries, three Infirmaries and lots of furnace infrastructure – your mileage may vary. Once I did, my first Alchemy Lab was upgraded to first include Frost Bombs, then Shock Bombs. Frost Bombs are very nice for our build as they provide a long-lasting cripple to set up Coup De Graces. They’re especially useful for those times when you reach the final enemy of a wave that can still inflict heavy damage. Usually the Frost Bomb/Coup De Grace combo will one-shot those guys before they can do any damage. Frost bombs are also very nice for bosses like Tianne. Just keep those guys on ice and they’ll never have a chance to unleash their powerful attacks, especially if you’re using a Throw Voices in their direction. Tianne was the first person I killed in her wave and I did it without a single attack by just locking her down with a Frost Bomb or two. Shock Bombs are nice for fighting waves of lightning-weak enemies. Bringing along Derandt (or another Storm-equipped mage) and Shock Bombs and you’ll have an easy time against these groups.
For the second lab, you’ll want to upgrade to Acid Bombs and Poison. Acid Bombs act just like your Low Blow, dropping enemies to -50% defense, only the bomb hits every enemy, which is great for multi-hit attacks like your Ambush (or a warrior’s Overrun, a mage’s Storm, or an archer rogue’s Mass Volley). Poison can be useful to whittle down the health of a high-health enemy (especially a boss) especially if you’re keeping them busy with Throw Voices, although I personally don’t like it as much as the other bombs. The one’s I use, in order of frequency are probably Acid Bomb, Frost Bomb, Fire Bomb, Shock Bomb, Shard Bomb and finally Poison. Poison does more damage than Shard Bombs but Shard Bombs do all of their damage immediately and are ultra-quick to produce and restock.
Once you get up to the point where you have Coup De Grace (usually around level 8 or 9), you’ll find that you can create some great synergy with teammates with crippling abilities. For the NPCs, I love taking a team of Bavain and Joslin out with me, where Bavain uses Shield Bash to cripple and Joslin and I tee off with Coup De Graces. Joslin also gets Cripple for herself out of Stealth. Other crippling abilities are Pinning Shot (Antor has this for quite a while, although sadly the comp takes it out of his active abilities around the time you hit level 13, only to upgrade it and bring it back a few levels later) and Frostbite for mages, which Derandt gets pretty early. If you’re using non-NPCs, Paralyze and Mass Paralyze would be great setups for Coup De Graces as well.
At the time of finishing this second version of the guide (5/19/11), I’m currently at level 21. For those who are curious, here are a few pictures of my current situation.
Thanks to my (exceptionally poor) MS Paint skills, you can see what upgrades I’ve applied to my castle. There’s always a cost-benefit analysis that goes on with creating furnaces. You’re weighing total gears vs costs vs needs. I tend to prefer to start off creating lots of low-level furnaces. Level 2 furnaces provide the best bang for your buck, but the weight of benefits from well-placed L3 and L4 furnaces can sometimes outweigh the costs, especially if it gets key rooms up to important gear plateaus (always reference markov80’s production thread. When I’m trying to make a tough building decision, I always have it up in another tab).