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Dragon Age 2 Mage Guide: Introduction
Regarding the healer role, it's important to note that healing is quite different in Dragon Age 2 when compared to Dragon Age: Origins. The reason for this is that there's only one healing spell in the Creation spell tree (minus the Spirit Healer specialisation). This spell has a 40 second cooldown, so it cannot be used often like potions can't. It's still essential though because potions and the Heal spell share different cooldowns. Also, while buffing spells cannot really be classed as healing spells, the Mage does have access to buffing spells in the Creation tree and then there are other spells in the Arcane spell tree.
When it comes to the Mage filling the damage dealer role, there are plenty of spells that you can purchase to help with that. There's the Elemental spell tree and while it's nice, a favorite is the Primal spell tree because lightning magic can stun enemies.
When it comes to crowd control, there are some glyph spells in the Creation spell tree. There are also some spells in the Entropy spell tree and the cold spells in the Elemental tree can freeze enemies.
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Dragon Age 2 Mage Guide: Useful Attributes for the Mage
The Mage does have multiple attributes that are useful to the class. However, the attributes are a bit easier to manage in comparison to Rogues and Warrior. While you have to worry about about critical hit chance, defense, critical damage, damage, stamina and health amongst other thing things for them, you only really have to worry about your mana pool and spell effectiveness with a Mage.
So, why does health and defense not matter much? They don't matter as much because if your tank is doing their job properly, then your Mage shouldn't be getting hit.
When it comes to willpower and magic, I found myself putting a lot of points into them and I was playing on hard (I put most points into magic). I had no problems with the two Mages I had in my party dealing damage, even though I didn't really improve my Mage's critical hit chance and damage. Even so, you may want to do so. Cunning and dexterity are the attributes you'll boost for those statistics.
With the class introduction and useful attributes covered, the spell trees are detailed on the next few pages.
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A Guide to the Mage Class in Dragon Age 2: Elemental Spell Tree
The Elemental spell tree is a very nice tree to invest points into and it is mainly dedicated to dealing damage, though some spells can freeze an enemy. However, I'm partial to the Primal spell tree thanks to the lightning spells in that tree having a chance to stun enemies.
Winter's Grasp: Winter's Grasp is a spell that deals cold damage and also reduces their speed. With an upgrade, it also makes enemies brittle and freezes them. However, while the spell is certainly useful, the main reason to purchase the spell is because it'll give you access to Cone of Cold. It's more useful than Winter's Grasp due to affecting more than one enemy.
Cone of Cold: As mentioned above, Cone of Cold is pretty similar to Winter's Grasp with the exception of the damage it causes and such being different, though it does affect more than one enemy at a time therefore making it quite useful when your mage is swarmed. The freeze chance with the upgrade is not a 100% however.
Fireball: This is an area of effect attack and it's quite useful, though you'll mainly purchase it to get access to Firestorm. The upgrade increases the blast radius and also increases the chance that enemies will be sent flying.
Firestorm: This is highly recommended if you're investing points into the Elemental spell tree. It's high damage and it affects quite a large radius. The upgrade increases the damage done and also the spell's radius.
Elemental Mastery: This passive ability is highly recommended. It increases your cold and fire damage, 'plus' gives mana regeneration boost.
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A Guide to the Mage Class in Dragon Age 2: Primal Spell Tree
Stonefist: Stonefist causes physical damage and also has the ability to knock enemies down. With the upgrade, it causes extra damage against disoriented targets and receives bonuses to damage and physical force. It's not an ability I'd find myself using a lot, unless it's to take advantage of the disorient effect.
Petrify: This is useful if you need to take an enemy out of the equation for a short while as it renders them unable to move and attack attack for a period of time. The downside is it makes them more resistant to damage, though the upgrade negates this somewhat.
Rock Armor: Honestly, mages should not be getting hit if the tank is doing a good job. However, if you do find that mages are getting hit, then do feel free to take this spell as it increases a mage's armor.
Chain Lightning: This spell is pretty useful but again, like with Fireball, you'll want to purchase it so you can access Tempest. The upgrade for this spell makes it more effective, and gives it damage bonuses against staggered targets.
Tempest: Instead of hitting one enemy and then having the lightning affect other enemies, this spell allows you to set the spell's radius yourself and it is quite large. It can also stun enemies like Chain Lightning can. With the upgrade, the lightning strikes happen more frequently. It's highly recommended.
Galvanism: This basically boosts the effects of all the spells in the tree, so take it if you're using Primal spells a lot.
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Dragon Age 2 Class Guide: Mage's Spirit Spell Tree
When it comes to the Spirit tree and deciding whether to use any of the spells or not, you need to keep in mind that some Spirit damage will never be mitigated as effectively by enemies as other types of damage. With that in mind, the spells are detailed below.
Spirit Bolt:The spell deals damage to enemies and also hits them with some force. With the upgrade, it costs less to cast and does extra damage against disoriented targets.
Walking Bomb: This is the main reason you'll want to purchase Spirit Bolt. It can deal a lot of damage to enemies, so there is no reason not to take the spell if investing in the Spirit tree. With the upgrades, the spell has the ability to infect other enemies and deal even more damage, making it even better.
Death Syphon: This is a sustained spell that enables you to boost your mana regeneration if there are corpses around.
Spirit Mastery: If you're going to invest in the Spirit tree, you should definitely invest a point in this passive ability.
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Dragon Age 2 Class Guide: Mage's Arcane Spell Tree
Elemental Weapons: Basically, this sustainable spell allows everyone to deal elemental damage based on the caster's staff. It's quite useful.
Mind Blast: You have to take this spell as you start with it, though it is possible to respec. In any case, only use it while enemies are close by to make them attack other characters. With an upgrade, it can also stun enemies, so it's quite helpful.
Arcane Shield: This is a nice sustainable spell that is defensive in nature. It boosts the defense of your mage character, so it's perhaps not that useful without upgrades but with upgrades, it can boost the defense of your entire party. In addition, an upgrade can also give bonuses to elemental resistance. So, it's definitely recommended.
Barrier: This is another nice spell that is again defensive in nature. It helps lessen the damage the character it's cast on takes, though it only lasts for six seconds. With an upgrade, it makes a character invulnerable for the duration, so it's especially handy for protecting your tank when lots of enemies are beating on him or her.
Crushing Prison: This spell is pretty nice, with it dealing physical damage over time and slows an enemy's movement and attack speed. However, it's only a chance to slow enemies. With the upgrade, it can paralyse enemies completely.
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Mage Guide for Dragon Age 2: Entropy Spell Tree
Hex of Torment: This spell makes an enemy more susceptible to damage and the upgrade ensures that each hit will be a critical on a target who is suffering from the effects of the spell.
Horror: This spell stuns enemies for ten seconds, while the upgrade causes damage over time. As it's against a single target, it's not as useful as it could be. However, it does give access to the crowd control spell called Sleep.
Misdirection Hex: Again, this is another spell that debuffs the enemy making them less likely to hit you and it also makes them unable to land critical hits for the duration of the spell. With the upgrade, it also reduces the enemy's attack and movement speed. Again, it's not as useful as it could be though with it only affecting a single target. Still, it is pretty nice.
Sleep: The Sleep spell has a 50% chance of rendering enemies unconscious within six metres. With the upgrade, it can also paralyse them so that any attacks don't wake them. It's pretty handy to use.
Entropic Cloud: This is another debuff spell. It makes an enemy less likely to hit you and also makes them easier to hit. It also has the potential to make enemies go to sleep or to stun them. With the upgrade, it can also paralyse sleeping targets, deal damage over time and basically render the enemy even less effective by lowering their resistance and such. Overall, it's pretty nice but as with any ability that only affects one enemy, it could be better though it would be a bit over-powered.
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Mage Guide for Dragon Age 2: Creation Spell Tree
Glyph of Paralysis: This spell works by putting a glyph on the ground and then trying to lure enemies over it so that they become paralysed for a short while. It can affect a maximum of two enemies. The upgrade increases the amount of enemies that can be affected and increases the length of time they're paralysed for. It can be quite useful, especially when you're fighting in a doorway and the enemies are guaranteed to go on the glyph.
Glyph of Repulsion: The Gylph of Repulsion works the same as the Glyph of Paralysis, but it has the effect of pushing enemies back instead of paralysing them. There's no limit to how many enemies can be affected either. The upgrade simply makes it more likely to push enemies back. It's useful when used on spellcaster party members, so that melee enemies are kept off them.
Heal: This is an essential spell. As the name suggests, it heals party members and the upgrade improves said healing. The cooldown is quite long though, but it's not shared with the potion cooldown.
Heroic Aura: This sustainable spell boosts your party's damage dealing and defensive capabilities. The upgrade improves your damage and critical hit chance. It's a highly recommended spell.
Haste: Again, this is another buff spell and it improves your party's attack speed. The upgrade increases the duration it lasts for. This is also a highly recommended spell. It'll especially help you take out weak enemies quickly.
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Dragon Age 2 Mage Specializations Guide: Force Mage Specialization Spell Tree
This specialisation basically enables you to control crowds of enemies more effectively with the area of effect spells that can slow enemies down and knock them off their feet. It's probably best taken with Spirit Healer if you don't use Anders, though I partly suggest this because I don't tend to have healers use damage dealing spells.
Fist of the Maker:This spell hits enemies within a radius and deals damage, while destroying their armor completely and having a chance to stun them. The upgrades make it deal extra damage to staggered targets and reduce the spell's cooldown, while increasing the spell's radius.
Telekenetic Burst: This is another spell that has a radius (AoE attack) and it has the ability to knock enemies down. The upgrade increases the chance that enemies will be knocked down.
Unshakable: This passive ability increases your character's fortitude. It's handy for when you find your spellcasting interrupted a lot by being knocked down.
Pull of the Abyss: This spell also has the ability to knock enemies down within a radius, while reducing their attack and movement speed. With an upgrade, the radius is increased and it's a nice spell for crowd control.
Gravitic Ring: To use this spell, choose the area you want it to affect. When that's done, enemies will have their attack and movement speed reduced, with the reduction being better the closer they are to the centre. The upgrade simply increases the spell's radius.
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Dragon Age 2 Mage Specializations Guide: Spirit Healer Specialization Spell Tree
This spell tree turns Hawke into a more effective healer. Take this specialisation if you don't use Anders much at all and to go with it, you may want to consider Force Mage for the crowd control spells.
Healing Aura: This sustainable ability increases your party's health regeneration rate, but it only affects allies close by. In addition, no combat spells can be cast while it's active. The upgrades increase the spell's radius and the health regeneration rate.
Group Heal: This spell heals all party members. The upgrade simply increases the spell's effect.
Revival: This spell enables you to revive fallen party members and makes them regain some health and mana/stamina. The upgrades make revived allies come back with more health etc. and decrease the spell's cooldown.
Second Chance: This passive ability makes everyon immune to injuries. This is probably more handy on the hard difficulty and up.
Vitality: This passive ability gives you more health and doubles your health regeneration rate.
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Dragon Age 2 Mage Specializations Guide: Blood Mage Specialization Spell Tree
This spell tree has spells that allow you to use your health to cast spells instead of your mana. In addition, it enables you to heal yourself while taking life from your allies or enemies. If you use Anders, you'll probably want to take this specialisation along with Force Mage.
Blood Magic: This sustainable spell allows you to use your health pool to cast spells instead of your mana pool. It does make you immune to healing though. The upgrade basically allows you to cast more spells because each health point gives 1 mana, rather than 2.
Sacrifice: This is a self-heal that drains the health of an ally in order to heal Hawke. The upgrade simply makes Hawke gain more health from the spell, especially if an ally falls when the spell's used.
Hemorrhage: This spell is an area of effect attack and deals damage over time to enemies, while reducing their damage mitigation to zero. With the upgrade, it deals more damage especially against staggered foes, plus it has a chance to paralyse enemies.
Grave Robber: This spell allows your character to gain health back from any corpses that litter the battlefield within a certain radius. In addition, the upgrade allows you to drain some life from living enemies and it reduces their damage mitigation temporarily, while dealing spirit damage.
Blood Slave: This spell allows you to force an enemy to fight with you for a short while, though it only works on creatures with blood. It only works on normal enemies however. The upgrade enables the spell to cause the enslaved target to damage nearby enemies upon their death as well.