Armed with bows and daggers, rogues are the fastest, stealthiest, and flashiest fighters you can make in the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition. If you like dealing long range damage but do not enjoy the stereotypical frailness of mages (with their low armor stats and long cooldowns), and think that toe-to-toe melee is just a little too distasteful for your preferences, then you will certainly enjoy the delicate balance of speed and precisions that rogues offer. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Rogues are both rugged and defined, dealing calculated blows, laying well planned traps, and shooting perfectly aimed arrows –but they are not beyond stabbing enemies from the back and using poison if it will help turn the tides of battle. More often than not, rouge type characters rarely take center stage (that role often goes to the knightly fighter types or the grandiose mage type characters). But when rouges do take the spotlight, they do so with cunning and guile –using fancy moves with precision attacks that deal the perfect amount of damage. While the numbers may not deliver the same overkill values as that of other classes, they are excellent at whittling away at tough armor and dealing with large crowds –perfect for dealing with either tough bosses or unexpected ambushes. Lastly, their swift and deceptive movements not only help avoid the most deadly of strikes (and escaping completely unharmed), but also allows them to stay in the most advantageous position in every battle: the winning side.
Fear No Lock
There is a reason why players who choose fighters and mages always need a rogue in the party, and it is not one based on combat: locks. From chests to doors, the Ferelden is littered with these locked wonders –and since all rogues have the lock-picking ability, you will be able to gain access to these treasures (and whatever danger that also lies behind these locks). Be sure to invest in deft hands as well (by investing four points in the Fine Tools category –and that is done as you level the Inquisition), as this is the only way to open doors or chests that are resistant to regular lock-picking.
Bows or Daggers: The Future of Your Combat Gameplay
Rogues have four basic sets of abilities: double daggers, archery, subterfuge, and sabotage. Since any skill learned in sabotage and subterfuge can be activated with any weapon, the real choice comes down between specializing between daggers and bows. This is because of the fact that you cannot activate dagger or bow abilities unless you have the right weapon equipped, and changing weapons in the middle of a battle is not an option. Of course, you could invest in both sets of abilities either way, but just remember that you can only make full use of one during a battle. The decision here boils down to the type of combat you would prefer to have. Double daggers has a very active combat system, combining the use of evasive maneuvers to quickly avoid getting hit while flanking enemies and landing critical hits and then quickly making use of stealth to lose aggro. Double dagger users combine evasion with countering –and with excellent timing, masterfully use Parry to turn any enemy attack in their favor. Add in the use of poison to deal more damage and your allies’ attacks to distract your enemies and you will find yourself constantly moving from one spot to another in the battlefield –a swirling whirlwind of furious and deadly blades that leaves death in its’ wake.
Archery, as the name implies, is all about mastery with the use of the bow. With your long range and powerful shots, you often get to deal the very first blow of battle –do so with the Full Draw skill, it is likely that your opening shot will also be a killing one. Using bows means that distance is your best friend; and the rogue’s stealth and evasive skills are perfect for taking you as far away from enemy reach as you constantly tear them full of arrow sized holes. Your arrows can either pierce through enemies, knock them down, or even burst in a blazing array of explosions –each arrow you let loose on your bow brings a promise of doom to any recipient you choose.
Abilities: Double Daggers
Players who choose to specialize in Double Daggers need to learn to feel the rhythm of the game –the timing of opponent’s moves, the delay of your own attacks, and everything else that happens in between. Master this and you could literally avoid every single attack that comes your way with careful use of Flank Attack and Parry, while dealing massive damage with skills like Deathblow and Spinning Blades
The most basic starter combo is to launch Flank Attack and then unleash Twin Fangs. This is particularly more powerful if you upgraded both abilities –Flank Attack’s auto stealth will allow you to trigger the flanking bonus for Fangs. Of course, with the huge amount of stamina that pair consumes, you will have to follow this up with a regular combo of normal attacks. Also, be careful of enemies wielding two-handed weapons (like the Darkspawn Alphas) as their massive swings may still hit you during Flank Attack.
Parrying is one of the best skills when dealing with other melee fighters as it allows you to instantly nullify damage. The key here is to remember the timing of the attack. Regardless of your build, as long as you mainly use a dagger, Parrying is a must have.
Spinning Blades and Deathblow are not exactly combo-skills as their stamina costs are pretty high. Spinning works as an opener for regular hits while Deathblow works as a finisher (thanks to its’ detonator ability).
Bows are a great way to control the flow of battle without having to endanger yourself. Long shot and full draw are excellent opening attacks –depending on whether you want to damage several targets lined up or just want to massively damage (maybe even instantly kill, a specific target) before the fight even actually begins. Obviously, the Archery tree will prevent you from using dagger skills –this will not restrict you from accessing any specialization abilities however. Even specializations skills with daggers in the icons work with a bow and arrow.
Since dodging is a key part of a rogue’s abilities (the lack of barrier and guard makes them pretty squishy) abilities such as Leaping Shot and Strafing Shots help you ensure your safety by using your mobility. One thing most people do not realize about Leaping Shot however, is its’ damage potential. It basically hits a single target with 600% damage while taking you to a safer vantage point. Also, the “leap” you take is pretty high and you can use this skill to scale up some cliffs and walls –of course, what can lead you to safety can also send you falling off a cliff or into a deep lake (do try and be aware of your surroundings when using this ability).
Long Shot and Exploding Shot are the most spammable of the archer’s basic skills and they can deal plenty of damage. If you learned the poison skill, both of the two attacks will spread out the status to affected enemies so be sure to learn that. One key thing about long shot that people should never underestimate is the bonus damage you can get from being extremely far from a target.
Full Draw sees the most potential when used as a starting attack and combined with the stealth damage bonus. Since this gets the most damage from an undamaged target, going into stealth automatically tells your party to “fall back”, allowing you to instantly take out a key enemy (if you choose to recruit the mages, this becomes a key strategy when you reach the part where you have to collect 5 red lyrium shards; stealth plus Full Draw will quickly bring down the enemy caster’s life even on Nightmare difficulty).
Unlike Double Daggers and Archery that provide offensive attacks, the skills that rogues acquire from the subterfuge skillset is of a different trade: movement and evasion. These are the skills that complement the use of daggers and bows by allowing the rogue to get to the best vantage points and constantly out of harm’s way. While most of these skills are all about hiding or dodging, one stands out: Shadow Strike is one that can deal a serious amount of damage.
Knowing when to use stealth is a matter of knowing what it does. This ability will keep your rogue hidden from enemy view making it impossible to target your character. Area of effect attacks will still harm you however so be careful when flanking certain enemies. Another bonus this ability gives is the fact that you lose all current aggro (allowing your tanker to do their job). Lastly, when used outside of battle, your party stays behind while you move in stealth –allowing you to approach enemies without the rest of your group giving your position away. As for the bonus that Lost in Shadows provides –it is not all that significant if you are good understanding the flow of battles. However, if the smokescreen animation is giving you a problem, then it might be worth the status point it costs.
Depending on your build, you could either go for Evade or Sleep Powder (or you can get both), either way, you are getting a skill that focuses on helping you not get damaged. Evade is great for maneuvering –you can use it to close in on an enemy or to avoid one. Sleep Powder on the other hand is great for dealing with crowds (and if you have a mage in the party, a great set-up for a powerful AoE spell). One to remember with sleep powder it primes for detonation combos though it will not work on boss type enemies.
In order to increase the rogue’s damage-dealing capabilities, sabotage employs the use of poison and passive bonuses to attacks. Like subterfuge, this skill set is designed to support you main offensive attacks. Poisoned weapons will grant anything you equip with a damage over time attribute while are perfect for controlling the movement of your enemies.
Poisoned Weapons, Fighting Dirty, and Explosive Toxin all go hand in hand for massive damage boosts –just do not forget to activate poisoned weapons whenever you can. The best part is that these will also increase the effectiveness of your special attacks.
Depending on your build, learning Caltrops, Throwing Blades, and Hook and Tackle will be matters of preference. Hook and Tackle, despite providing a great way for dagger builds to close in on a target, is redundant to Flank Attack. Throwing Blades is a great way to bring down armored enemies, but like Hook and Tackle, does little for bow builds. Lastly, using Caltrops is very situation-dependent in use. Specializations
Aside from the 4 basic rogue skill sets, players can also choose one specialization upon reaching the Skyhold –Heir offers Assassin, Three-Eyes offers Artificer, and Kihm offers Tempest. Also, each of these sets unlocks a focus ability as well. Since players can only choose one, it is best to know a little about these skills before making a decision. Specialization: Assassin
Heavily focused on increasing the Double Daggers abilities (but also works with bows), the Assassin skill set is full of damage increasing and death dealing blows. With I Was Never Here and Knife in Shadows, using stealth becomes even more effective while abilities like Hidden Blades and Mark of Doom spell instant death for weaker foes. With this specialization, your rogue will be literally all over the battlefield. The fancy approach of this set makes it quite fun to watch in real time as opposed to the slower and more deliberate pace of tactical view.
First up, the big one: Mark of Death –plenty of folks take the Assassin tree just for this. What it does is start an 8 second countdown on a target before dealing damage. The damage it will do is equivalent to all the damage that the target takes during the countdown. As you would expect, this is a combo-ending ability that must be set-up at the start of the combo. The best part is that since this is not a focus skill, you are free to activate another party member’s specialization ability (we wholeheartedly recommend Sera’s Thousand Cuts) during the countdown.
This specialization makes Hook and Tackle a bit irrelevant for Rogues as Hidden Blades which will instantly keep you out of danger and into a pretty flashy long-distance-targeting, melee attack (a massive upgrade of Flank Attack). All the passive abilities here will either help you stay in stealth or increase your damage bonus from using stealthed attacks. As for the focus ability, Cloak of Shadows, most people use the 9 second stealth bonus for doing damage –but it also works great for giving your entire party a bit of breathing room during tough fights (which happens often in the Nightmare difficulty). This specialization is a great safe choice for folks who find Artificer and Tempest a little too restrictive. With flashy moves and the Mark’s powerful damage potential, it is easy to see why plenty of rogues choose this over the others. Specialization: Artificer
Using traps in the middle of battle may not sound that exciting, but it is certainly effective when it comes to dealing with plenty of enemies. Spike Trap is fun since you can use it while in stealth though it is hardly the most powerful thing in the arsenal. Elemental Mines is a great way to fill up an entire stage with random traps –and is one of the best skills to start with when dealing with large scale battles. Artificers also have a great support skill in the form of Fallback Plan which instantly resets any damage you might take. Lastly, most of the Artificers passive abilities grants the entire party combat bonuses.
There is a randomness to the use of an Artificer –especially with Elemental Mines. This can be used to your advantage in most cases by making full use of Tactical View to control the flow of battle. Have your party hold position far away from your opponents while long range characters pull enemies into disadvantageous positions. Unlike the other specializations, this one has a focus ability that is very bow-oriented. Hail of Arrows doubles the effectiveness of all bow-based attacks (which means that Full Draw can potentially do 3,200% damage). The catch is that dagger build rogues will not benefit from this at all. Overall, this is not a simple skill-tree to take. Players who choose artificers should be well-practiced in controlling the literal flow of the battlefield –like commanding your party members to stand in the right place in order to lure your enemies towards mines. It also turns your character into a bit of a support unit –though as with most bow-build users, that should already be a given. Specialization: Tempest
Utilizing elemental flasks, the Tempest is able to wreak havoc on the battlefield through item effects and passive bonuses. The Flask of Fire unleashes chains of abilities, the Flask of Frost freezes all attackers, and the Flask of Lightning gives an ungodly speed to the rogue. While no more than one flask can be active at any given time, their effect on flow of battle is certainly undeniable.
What makes this specialization so special however, is the focus ability: Thousand Cuts. Even at the lowest tier, this skill will hit enemies with 12 attacks at 300% weapon damage –at the highest tier, it will do 38 hits -potentially the strongest damage that a single character ability can do in the game. The weakness of Tempest comes from the fact that it relies on Flasks –which means that once you are out, you will have to refill them at a camp or if you are in a quest dungeon, hope that you find a supply crate along the way. This is made to balance the incredible boosts that the flasks provide when they are available –so best save them for dangerous encounters if you can. If you take up tempest, expect to use your specializations skills a lot less often than any others (even in other classes). But putting aside the flask limitations, this nets players an absurdly powerful set of buffs. You will have to rely on your existing skills as well as item crafting (for better weapons) to carry you through regular battles. Rogue Builds
While there are no definitive ways to build a rogue, here are a few combinations that players should consider when creating a character. Dagger: Perfect Parrying
Parry (with Effortless Riposte), Flank Attack (with Skirmisher), Dance of Death, Sneak Attack Poisoned Weapons (with Infected Wounds)
Stealth, Evasion, Evade, and Ambush I Was Never Here, Knife in the Shadows, Gaps in the Armor, Mark of Death (with Mark of Doom) This build relies heavily on one factor: your ability to be patient enough to master Parry. In any Double Dagger build, learning to use Parry is going to be useful, but this build practically revolves around being able to time it right. Combine this with poisoned weapons plus infected wounds and then make use of Stealth in order to keep moving around the battle poisoning each target and parrying whoever actually manages to strike you. If you can do parry perfectly, then using Evade with Hidden Step is sure to round up your countering abilities nicely. With the Assassination specialization class, this build becomes deadlier with the use of Knife in the Shadows, I Was Never Here, and Mark of Death plus Mark of Doom. Gaps in the Armor will help increase your overall damage while the Mark can make short work of bosses. Dagger: Fire and Lightning Tempest
Twin Fangs (with Ripping Fangs), Flank Attack (with Skirmisher), Spinning Blades, Deathblow, and Dance of Death Poisoned Weapons (with Infected Wounds) Stealth, Evasion, Evade, and Ambush Thousand Cuts, Flask of Fire (with Unquenchable Flames), Flask of Lightning (with Quicksilver), Fury of the Storm, Killer’s Alchemy
One of the most powerful flasks that a Tempest has is Fire –it will instantly turn all stamina costs to zero and if you took the bonus, it will also nullify all cooldowns while active. This means that for 5 seconds, you can unleash a ridiculous amount of damage. Now, before we start, yes, there is a bug in the game that allows you to cast Thousand Cuts right after using the Flask of Fire which will not consume the Focus bar. For this bug to work, you would need to use Thousand Cut right after the flask. That said, this build is not based on that bug.
The key here is Flank Attack, Twin Fangs, Spinning Blades, then Deathblow –without cooldowns and stamina costs, you can probably pull off a cycles and a half before the 5 seconds ends (you will be using stamina to end the second set). Or, if you are not using a flask –just use Flank Attack and Twin Fangs to quickly deal damage then use Stealth or Evade to get to safety. Getting Flask of Lightning is an important thing when you need to deal with enemies that tend to keep their distance (such as casters or other rogue-types). Despite the mobility that Flank Attack provides, it will not be enough for dealing with multiple casters. Bow: Fall Back Elemental Artificer
Long Shot, Leaping Shot (with Rolling Draw), Death from Above, First Blood, Explosive Shot (with Chain Reaction), Pin Cushion, Strafing Shot, Full Draw
Poisoned Weapons (with Infected Wounds) Caltrops, Looked Like it Hurt
Hail of Arrows, Spike Trap, Set Them Up, Elemental Mines, And Take Them Down, Opportunity Knocks, Tricks of the Trade, Fallback Plan
One of the things about this build is that it has to be re-specced; the lack of stealth is compensated for by Fallback Plan, but until you can learn that skill, better have Stealth available.
If you are wondering, Caltrops will not do much for this build (in fact, the slow effect is counter-productive to getting enemies to step on the mines). This is simply needed in order to get the benefit of Looked Like it Hurt (which regenerates much Stamina for every critical hit you perform).
For the most part, this build relies on starting up with Elemental Mines, not getting the upgrade means that you get to save your stamina and if you make good use of proper positioning, you can maximize the enemy’s exposure to the mines. It has been suggested several times that Leaping Shot’s 12 hit attack is perfect for triggering Masterwork skills (the ones that activate at a certain percentage), while effective, you would need to be doing a bit of crafting for that. For the most part, Leaping Shot is used to constantly keep your rogue on the move and hard to hit while still dealing plenty of damage.
As the build name suggests, the Fall Back Plan ability is the cornerstone of the build –just remember to keep track of the 15 seconds so that you can make full use of it (this is critical when dealing with bosses and dragons –especially on Nightmare). The best way to use this skill is to keep attacking while it is active –ignore any damage you take as it will be reset when you trigger it again (dodging and evading will be a waste of your 15 seconds). In some occasions, you can use it to deal with really big enemy attacks (which are pretty easy to predict like in the case of dragons) –big attacks tend to have long animations, so instead of using the time moving to safe location, you can take advantage of the opening to deal as much damage as possible. When the attack hits, simply trigger Fallback again to regain any HP you lose (just do not forget to prepare it beforehand).
Tips on Playing Nightmare as a Rogue
Now for the hard part: how to play Nightmare. This is undoubtedly one of the hardest Dragon Age titles ever to be released and that is mostly due to the way the stages are designed; the “open world” approach lacks the important feature of scaling enemy levels –which means it is entirely possible to find yourself stumbling into battles against targets with levels way above yours. As implied, this difficulty is hard at the very start of the game –later parts will see you with more skills and better equipment allowing you to deal with the harder battles. On your first few levels however, success in battle relies solely on your ability to maximize your team’s combat abilities. Once you get Inquisition perks, get the learning skills that increases the amount of experience points gained per lore (100 exp per lore is a massive boost); this will allow you to gain levels faster than having to go through combat.
One thing that Rogues have over other classes is mobility. Unlike the reliance of Barrier or Guard, a Rogue only has its’ HP and nothing more (well, occasionally, some help from your party Mage proves critical). So you will want to be constantly moving around and avoiding getting hit. This is great for all those many times when you just need to run away (like when you step into a swamp and aggro zombies). Getting into fights should be strategic –your party only carries 8 health flasks and dealing with tough opponents should be worth your while. As we mentioned the undead in the swamps are better off being ignored as they are pretty tough but they yield an extremely low amount of HP. Keep note of this when deciding if an encounter is worth the effort.
As for enemy encounters that cannot be avoided (such as rifts and quest battles), make use of the stage to your advantage. The enemy AI tends to not cooperate with each other when they are split apart. Have your party pull away to one end of the map and deal with the enemies as they slowly approach you. If you are a bow user, this is made even easier as you can manage to slowly pull enemies away from their clustered formations. For rifts, make use of stealth in order to be able to disrupt the rift whenever possible (whenever a rift is disrupted, all enemies will be stunned and take a lot of damage); note that your stealth will be removed when you disrupt the rift.
Lastly, run away from tough battles. Experience points are awarded per enemy killed (except with rifts), so if you manage to bring down a few targets, you can use stealth to get out of the area and still gain something from it. Any party members who die will be magically teleported near you when you get far enough (and will be instantly revived if the combat is no longer in play). There’s a certain distance that allows you to pull away and port your entire party but still ensure that whatever damage you dealt stays on your enemies making it easier to defeat them (go too far and the enemies will regenerate HP). There are even points where the enemy AI will just stand around and do nothing while you shoot them from afar –be sure to use this to your advantage by commanding your party to hold their ground.
A Stealthy Kind of Herald
If you have chosen the rogue as your main class, expect your gameplay to feel quite dynamic –rogues walk the line between the warrior’s close-combat tactics and the mage’s long-distance assaults. With its preference for flanking, hiding, and mobility, this nimble character types it makes for an interesting choice of playstyle during combat. So regardless of how you build your rogue, expect your impact on battles to be one that brings victory from the shadows.