Merrill Best builds - Dragon Age 2 (DA2)

By zanuffas
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Merrill Best builds

In this post, I will cover the best builds for Merrill in Dragon Age 2. She is a Dalish Elven Mage who joins Hawke.

She is a blood magic user due, to this, she has a few interesting approaches on how you can maximize her abilities.

So let’s start

Merrill Blood Mage build

The build relies on Blood magic abilities to use HP as the mana pool. This allows increasing the ratio of how much a single hp point provides in terms of mana.

Attributes

This is an important part that you have to think about in advance with Merrill. This build relies on having a sufficient HP pool and also having enough Magic for higher spell damage.

Here are my recommendations for early levels:

  • 2 points of Magic
  • 1 point of the constitution

Once you unlock Blood of the First then put all points into the constitution until you reach about 30 points. I found this to be the sweet spot.

  • Constitution – 30. I do not suggest going lower, because during the longer fights you want her to be able to use spells for a long period of time
  • Magic – the rest of the points.

With this setup, Merrill will have plenty of health to cast spells and also not die from enemies in case they come close.

Abilities

This is an extremely important part and you need to pick them in the correct order. I recommend starting to use the build from about level 10, as then you can have most of the abilities and this enables some strong spell usage.

Merrill abilities blood mage build da2

Here is my recommendation of ability progression:

Order Skill Description
1 Stonefist Good early ability that can knock down enemies
2 Petrify This ability will allow Merril to paralyze enemies.
3 Chain Lightning An extremely powerful ability that hit many enemies. Unfortunately, it generates a large amount of threat. So you need a good tank for that
4 Hex of Torment We only take this single ability from Entropy tree. It reduces enemy damage resistance, very useful on Elite or higher rank enemies.
5 Spirit Bolt A cheap and low cooldown spell
6 Golem's Fist Upgrades Stonefist, by increasing physical force, damage and deals bonus damage to enemies under the effect of DISORIENT
7 Chain Reaction Adds additional lightning arcs and bonus damage against STAGGERED enemies.
8 Desiccate Reduces enemy damage resistance and also applies the BRITTLE status effect.
9 Blood of the First The main ability of the Merril build. It enables her to use health as a spell casting source. At first, she can change 1 point of health to 2 points of mana.
10 Dispel This is a great spell as it can weaken enemy commanders by disabling their Auras
11 Spirit Strike Extremely important upgrade for Spirit Bolt. It greatly increases the spell power by allowing it to make combos on enemies affected with DISORIENT.
12 Wrath of the Elvhen This ability deals bonus damage to enemies that are close to Merril
13 Rock Armor This sustained ability boost Merril Armor. Also because we use blood magic we can take any number of sustained abilities to reserve mana
14 Arlathan's Grace Gives bonus health regeneration for Merril of 1% for each enemy that is close by. This will happen quite often as she will generate a lot of threat.
15 Ensnare This is a situational ability and you can also skip it. It will draw enemies close to Merril activating the Wrath of the Elvhen effect of additional health regernation. However, enemies will probably start attacking her
16 Winter's Grasp A strong ability that will freeze enemies
17 Fireball We mainly take this for progression
18 Winter's Blast Makes Winter's Grasp apply a BRITTLE status effect
19 Tempest A decent ability that hits enemies in a large AOE radius
20 Galvanism Boosts all spells in the Primal tree by increasing their effectiveness
21 Strikes Twice Improvest Tempest by decreasing the duration between lightning strikes.
22 Horror + Despair This will make Merril extremely strong by allowing her to Paralyze a single enemy

However, this is not all. It is extremely important that you get her Solidarity ability by becoming a friend with her. This way Merrill will greatly improve her blood mage capabilities

merrill solidarity ability da2

This will provide her with an additional mana point when using spells while the Blood of the First is active.

Tactics

This is an extremely important part. Here are my general recommendations for how to set Merrill tactics. I suggest adjusting them based on your party.

It is also important to have a Rogue and a Warrior in the party who can apply STAGGER and DISORIENT status effects. They will greatly improve Merrill build damage output

merrill tactics da2

The whole build relies on trying to get the gear that stacks the Blood Magic effect. This way you will use less HP to cast spells.

Equipment

In this section, I will go through some recommended equipment for Merril's build

Staves

Priority Item Description
1 cold blooded icon da2Cold-Blooded This is generally the strongest staff for a mage. However, as this build does not concentrate on Cold damage and doesn't need mana, it could be a waste to spend 100+ Gold.
2 Corrupted Acolyte's Staff icon da2 Corrupted Acolyte's Staff This is an extremely good option for Merrill's build as it gives bonus electricity damage of 16% and improves her Blood Magic.
3 Voracity icon da2 Voracity This is great staff in Act 2 as it gives decent DPS and can be obtained through quests.
4 Sketch's Resplit-Shaft icon da2 Sketch's Resplit-Shaft Early Act 2 staff that improves Merrill's blood magic

Amulets

Priority Item Description
1 Smite icon da2Smite This is an offensive amulet that is a bit better than the one below because it provides bonus electricity damage, which is better for the build
2 Sylaise's Favor icon da2Sylaise's Favor This amulet is restricted to Merrill and provides bonus elemental damage that increases with level.
3 Talisman of Saarebas icon da2Talisman of Saarebas This amulet provides better Blood Magic effectiveness and increases health regeneration for Merrill.

Belts

Priority Item Description
1 Concealer's Sash da2Concealer's Sash I think this is the best option for Merrill as it will boost Spirit Bold damage. It will be used very often for DISORIENT combo.
2 Belt of Vigor da2Belt of Vigor This belt will greatly improve Merrill's health allowing her to cast more spells and her survivability.
3 Enchanted Silverite Chain Belt da2Enchanted Silverite Chain Belt This belt gives +1 to all attributes, making Merrill more effective overall.
4 The Irons da2The Irons This belt is readily available if you have DLCs. It improves health.

Rings

Priority Item Description
1 the inner eye da2The Inner Eye This ring is specifically ready for Merrill as it boosts electricity and nature damage. Moreover, it gives +2 to all attributes and improves Blood Magic.
2 Ring of the Ferryman da2Ring of the Ferryman This is a very good ring as it gives 24% bonus electricity damage and +2 magic. However, it is quite expensive and you can look at the options below in this case.
3 the fallen star da2The Fallen Star Provides increased health and +1 to all attributes.
4 Ring of Ruin da2Ring of Ruin Gives bonus spirit damage and improves Blood Magic. Great for Spirit Bolt combos on DISORIENT targets.
5 Ring of Resilience da2Ring of Resilience The ring provides +1 to all attributes, a great ring early in the game to improve overall Merrill effectiveness.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed reading this Merrill build for Dragon Age 2. She is a wonderful companion that makes the game story much richer.

Feel free to leave any feedback below!

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Discussion

Anonymous

I was sad that you didn't have builds for other characters, but then I saw the date and realised you're actually making them now.

Great work dude, I used your builds on Origins Nightmare difficulty and they were spot on. Keep em' coming!

By the way, is there a chance you can do Rogue Hawke next? Thanks! :^)

Hey! Yeah I currently run a playthrough with Hawke warrior and write guides as I go. Unfortunately, it will be a while till I have a rogue build, but I plan on making Anders build either this weekend or next week.

You can join me on discord for the updates: https://discord.gg/u2WRdeqQkJ

Anonymous

Ah, that's okay!

By the way, do you think it's worth running two mages in this game? Merril and Anders more specifically.

I like Varric but he doesn't seem to do much on Nightmare to be honest.

Yes you can have two mages. For how to best build Varric check my other build guides.

However, if you have Hawke Rogue, then there is not much point in Varric and rather take a tank warrior with you.