Best Cassandra builds - Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI)

By zanuffas
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Best Cassandra builds

In this post, I will go through in great detail how you should best build Cassandra for Dragon Age Inquisition. I will cover: which skills to pick, tactics and gear options.

Cassandra is the first companion in Dragon Age Inquisition. I think she is quite rejective of the Inquisitor at first. However, during the game, Cassandra opens up and it is interesting to hear her background.

Important! The companion builds are compatible with Nightmare difficulty, however, to pull it off correctly, be sure to have a good Inquisitor build

So let us go through the Cassandra Builds

Cassandra level 1 - 10

I will assume that Cassandra will be your main tank at the beginning of the game. Even though Blackwall may be better, for some players it may take a while to get him. So we will first build Cassandra as a tank.

Order Skill Description
1 shield wall iconShield Wall
Cassandra gets it by default
2 payback strike iconPayback Strike
You get this ability by default, not impressive, but enough for the start of the game.
3 challenge iconChallenge + Call Them Out
Taunts the enemy and generates 10% Guard. With the upgrade, it has no cost.
4 war cry iconWar Cry + Any upgrade
AOE Taunt. I would suggest trying out both of the upgrades. Call to Arms may be better for newer players
5 warriors resolve iconWarrior's Resolve
Gives a stamina boost for lost hp. Good ability especially in the early game
6 trust the steel iconTrust the Steel
Gives a 20% armor bonus
7 bear mauls the wolves iconBear Mauls the Wolves
Cannot be flanked by enemies

Once you reach level 11, specializations will unlock and you can start working on the full Cassandra build

Cassandra Two-Handed templar build

This build mainly concentrates on supporting your party members and dealing damage. Unfortunately, it is mediocre for using Cassandra as a tank.

Remember that you will need to respecialize skills before making this build

Abilities investment - detailed progression

IMPORTANT: Get relevant Amulet of Power for Cassandra to maximize the number of ability points

In this section, I will go through all the skills and talents that need to be picked for this Cassandra Templar build in Dragon Age Inquisition.

Order Skill Description
1 spell purge iconSpell Purge + Spell Shatter Use it to dispel enemy magic. Moreover, you can use it on Veil Tears before enemy spawns to cancel the summoning.

Moreover, it can be used with Wrath of Heaven for a combo but AI may not be able to pull it off.
2 blessed blades iconBlessed Blades We take this mainly for progression
3 makers will iconMaker's Will There is a 5% chance that your attacks will weaken the enemies
4 there is no darkness iconThere Is No Darkness Boots resistance by 10% to elemental and spirit damage
5 wrath of heaven iconWrath of Heaven + Embrace the Light Your signature ability. Deals 1000% of weapon damage, and also stuns enemies in AOE.
6 grappling chain iconGrappling Chain We take this ability for progression
7 crippling blows iconCrippling Blows Weakens enemies with each critical hit
8 combat roll iconCombat Roll + Coming Through Extremely useful and funny ability. Even though AI does not use it perfectly, it has a low stamina cost and deals AOE damage of 500%
9 coup de grace iconCoup de Grace Deals more damage against stunned and knocked down enemies
10 horn of valor iconHorn of Valor + That's the Spirit This ability will boost your group damage, armor, and guard generation.
11 block and slash iconBlock and Slash We take it only for progression
12 flow of battle iconFlow of Battle Each critical hit will reduce your cooldowns by 1 second
13 pommel strike iconPommel Strike + Lightning Jab Strongest two-handed weapon offensive ability. It deals a large amount of damage, has low stamina cost, and knockdowns enemies.
14 hamstring iconHamstring We take it to unlock other abilities
15 deep reserves iconDeep Reserves Boosts stamina regeneration when your stamina is low

With this, the core of the build is finished.

Late game skill investments

These abilities are the ones which I think are useful to have to further improve your build

Order Skill Description
1 might blow iconMighty Blow
We take it to unlock other abilities
2 shield breaker iconShield-Breaker Reduces enemy armor when you hit an enemy with a critical hit
3 whirlwind iconWhirlwind We take it to unlock other abilities
4 clear a path iconClear a Path Restores 10% stamina with each extra hit during your normal attacks.

Abilities investment - short version

This section is a short version of what abilities you should take for Cassandra.

Two-Handed Weapon skill tree

We want to get Pommel Strike and if possible Clear a Path once we are 20+ level

Cassandra two-handed skill tree

Battlemaster ability tree

We want to have Horn of Valor, Deep Reserves, and Combat Roll from this tree.

Battlemaster Cassandra templar build

Templar Skill tree

The main aim is to get Wrath of Heaven ability. This is the build's signature ability.

Templar skill tree Cassandra two handed build

Cassandra Stats

In this section, I will cover the best stats that should be prioritized when choosing what equipment to equip. This will ensure that you build the best two-handed Cassandra

  • Raw damage - for this take the best weapon that you can find. Most of your offensive abilities scale of your weapon damage. Due to this, it is important to get the one with the highest raw stats

  • Critical chance – this should be a priority after you get Flow of Battle. Get it to at least 50%

  • Critical Damage – once you have a 50% critical chance this stat is the main one that you should concentrate on

  • Attack – this stat increases all damage that you do

  • Cunning - gives a critical chance boost

  • Dexterity - gives a critical damage bonus

  • Strength - boosts attack indirectly

Best Equipment

In this section, I will go through some decent equipment that you can equip or craft.

It is important to note, generally crafted equipment is better. However, for this you need good Tier 4 or Tier 3 materials.

Weapons - obtainable

Here is a list of great weapons that you can obtain at different levels for Cassandra. Check what you prefer the most, I have listed weapons that have both a high bonus to attack and also a bonus to critical chance or damage.

So for example in the late game if Cassandra has a high critical chance, give her two-handed weapons with a big boost to critical damage. If low, then give items with a large attack boost.

Priority Item Description
1 single incarnation iconSingle Incarnation Available during the Trespasser DLC. It is quite a powerful axe. I suggest trying it out and see, how Cassandra performs with it.
2 demons advocate iconDemon's Advocate Extremely powerful Maul, that makes enemies explode after they are killed. I personally prefer this one compared to the others.
3 chromatic greatsword iconChromatic Greatsword Similar to Prismatic Greataxe, you will randomly deal elemental damage together with physical damage. This weapon can last you until the end of the game. However, have other weapons on hand if you encounter enemies with high elemental resistances
4 certainty iconCertainty The sword gives a +36% Attack boost, this equates to an almost 72 strength bonus. This can be an alternative to the Chromatic Greatsword if you don't prefer its looks
5 prismatic greataxe iconPrismatic Greataxe Due to the weapons mechanics, this weapon deals a bonus of 100% elemental damage. So with a skill like Pommel Strike, you will deal 600% elemental damage and 600% physical damage.

Weapons - craftable

Schematics are usually better than obtainable counterparts. However, you need good materials for that.

Priority Item Description
1 prismatic greataxe scehmatic iconPrismatic Greataxe Schematic One of the more overpowered weapons that deal additional elemental damage together with Physical damage. Expect Casandra skills to deal double damage
2 chromatic greatsword schematic iconChromatic Greatsword Schematic One of the more overpowered weapons. However, the schematic can only be obtained in Trespasser DLC. Similar to Prismatic Greataxe Schematic
3 Axe of the Dragon Hunter Schematic iconAxe of the Dragon Hunter Schematic Has large Leather offensive slots, and can be easily obtained in Black Emporium

Armors - obtainable

Unfortunately, there are not many options for obtainable armors that provide offensive bonuses

Priority Item Description
1 the skin that stalks iconThe Skin That Stalks Obtainable only in the Trespasser DLC. Boosts Critical Damage, Critical Chance, and Attack.
3 revered defender armor iconRevered Defender Armor Abilities cost 10% less stamina with this armor.
4 masterwork battlemaster armor iconMasterwork Battlemaster Armor Gives bonus stamina, which allows using more abilities
5 armor of the knights divine iconArmor of the Knights-Divine Abilities cost 7.5% less stamina. Moreover, gives bonus defensive stats.

Armors - craftable

Sadly there are not too many armors that you can craft to give a lot of offensive options. Your main priority is to either get Leather or Metal utility slots

Priority Item Description
1  The Skin That Strikes SchematicThe Skin That Strikes Schematic This medium armor can be worn by anyone and it has leather utility slots. This means it can boost either critical chance or critical damage.
2  Revered Defender Armor SchematicRevered Defender Armor Schematic A decent schematic that gives a large metal utility slot. However, you will need some luck to get it in The Descent DLC
3 normal heavy armor schematic DAITemplar Armor Schematic This is the only heavy armor that gives a leather utility slot. This will allow you to either boost Critical Chance or Critical Damage
5 normal heavy armor schematic DAIBattlemaster Armor Schematic Great tier 3 schematic that you can get in Hissing Wastes. It also comes with Upgrade slots.

Helmets - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 stone stalker mask iconStone Stalker Mask One of the best helmets in the game. Gives a decent boost to dexterity and cunning stats.
2 helm of drasca iconHelm of the Drasca The helmet provides fewer offensive stats than the Winter Palace masks, however, it has a much higher armor rating.
3 unique Mask iconAmbassador's Mask This Winter Palace mask provides an 8% boost to critical damage. Equip it if you have a high critical chance of 50%. It can be used until you feel that your armor values are getting low
4 unique Mask iconMask of the Grand Duchess This Winter Palace mask provides a 12% boost to critical chance. It can be used until you feel that your armor values are getting low
5 curse of morrac iconCurse of Morrac Unfortunately not as good a helmet as the Winter Palace masks, but it is a decent alternative if you did not get those.

Helmets - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 Superior helm schematic iconSuperior Skirmisher Hat Schematic This helmet gives Leather utility slots that you can use to increase the critical chance and critical damage. This is the best helmet in terms of DPS and damage and is easy to buy.
2 Revered Defender Helm Schematic iconRevered Defender Helm Schematic Provides a large number of metal utility slots, good for increasing pure attack damage
3 Duke's Mane Schematic iconDuke's Mane Schematic This schematic allows crafting a helmet with 11 metal utility slots. However, it is quite demanding to obtain the schematic as you will need first to finis the Jaws of Hakkon DLC.
4 Superior Venatori Helmet Schematic iconSuperior Venatori Helmet Schematic The helmet can be purchased early in the game if you have The Short List perk. It gives 10 Utility metal slots.

Amulets

The amulets are listed by Tier. Usually, the Best tier can be obtained late in the game, but it provides maximum bonuses.

Priority Item Description
- Amulet of Power Gives Cassandra a single ability point. It is consumed once you use it.
1 Amulet of Death Syphon iconAmulet of Death Syphon This amulet will give stamina and hp regeneration after each enemy that dies nearby. So Cassandra can spam abilities more often.
2 Amulet of Renewal This amulet will increase stamina regeneration allowing the skills to be used more often
3 Superb Stamina Amulet iconMaster Stamina Amulet or Superb Stamina Amulet This amulet will boost Cassandra's overall stamina. She will be able to use more abilities initially when the fight starts
4 Superb Amulet of Dexterity When Cassandra has a comfortable 50% critical chance. Use this amulet to boost her Critical damage
5 Amulet of the Rogue Use this amulet to increase Cassandra's Critical Damage and critical rate in the late game
6 Superb Amulet of Cunning Use this amulet if Cassandra has less than a 50% critical chance.

Belts

Priority Item Description
1 Superb Belt iconThe Bind That Guides Top tier Belt, unfortunately only available in Trespasser DLC. Boosts Critical Chance by 10%
2 Superb Belt iconSuperb Belt of Staggering The belt will give a higher chance to temporarily stun enemies with normal attacks
3 superb belt of sunder iconSuperb Belt of Sunder The belt will give a higher chance to weaken the enemy's armor

Rings

Priority Item Description
1 Superb ring iconThe Hand That Cuts You only obtain this ring in Trespasser DLC. However, it gives a +20% Critical Damage bonus
2 Superb ring iconRing of Slicing The rings boost critical damage by 10% and critical chance by 5%. It is one of the best rings for this build
3 Superb Ring of Critical Damage Gives +20% critical damage, equip it once you have high enough critical rate
4 Superb Ring of Critical Chance Gives a +10% critical chance. Great to boost it, if you have less than 40%
5 Superb Ring of Attack Boosts overall attack damage

Tactics

In this section, I will go what strategy and tactics you should use to fully utilize Cassandra

Cassandra two handed templar tactics

  • Combat Roll - set to preferred. We want that Cassandra to use this ability as often as possible as it is extremely cheap and powerful
  • Wrath of Heaven - you can set it to Preferred. I suggest first try it out.
  • Pommel Strike - stuns and deals a lot of damage.
  • Horn of Valor - set Preferred. We want the Cassandra AI to buff the party constantly
  • Spell Purge - set to Active. We do not want AI to constantly use it.

Overall this build should be self-sufficient and you should not micromanage Cassandra too often. however, if you see that she uses some abilities too often, when it is not necessary, feel free to either lower them to Active or Disable.

Cassandra Tank build

This build is for those that want to have Cassandra as their main tank in the group. Although she may be a bit weaker than Blackwall, she can definitely do the same job.

Remember that you will need to respecialize skills before making this build

Abilities investment - long version

In this section, I will go through all the skills and talents that need to be picked for this Cassandra Tank build in Dragon Age Inquisition. Feel free to adjust your abilities based on preference. This is just a recommendation

IMPORTANT: Get relevant Amulet of Power for Cassandra to maximize the number of ability points

Important note: I personally recommend using a Two-Handed sword for a tank build. Even though you would think sword and shield is more "logical", the two-hander has better crowd control skills, and some of the talents from Weapon and Shield tree work without a shield equipped.

However, you are free to use Sword and Shield if you prefer, just do not invest anything into Two-Handed weapons and swap those skill points for Weapon and Shield tree abilities.

Order Skill Description
1 spell purge iconSpell Purge
Even though this one is not mandatory it allows you to clear spawning monsters from Veil Tears
2 blessed blades iconBlessed Blades
We take this ability for progression
3 makers will iconMaker's Will There is a 5% chance that your attacks will weaken the enemies
4 there is no darkness iconThere Is No Darkness Boots resistance by 10% to elemental and spirit damage
5 wrath of heaven iconWrath of Heaven + Embrace the Light Your signature ability. Deals 1000% of weapon damage, and also stuns enemies in AOE.
6 challenge iconChallenge + Call Them Out With the upgrade, your tank can constantly taunt any enemy that is attacking your mages or rogues without any stamina cost
7 war cry iconWarcry
Will Taunt enemies in AOE, it is a decent ability, but this build already has a free Taunt so we do not take the upgrade
8 trust the steel iconTrust The Steel Increases armor by 20% when you have active Guard
9 grappling chain iconGrappling Chain
We take this ability to unlock the next ones
10 crippling blows iconCrippling Blows Enemies are weakened with each critical hit you do
11 coup de grace iconCoup de Grace We take it only for progression, but still increase your damage against stunned enemies
12 horn of valor iconHorn of Valor + Fortifying Blast Cassandra is a weaker tank compared to Blackwall. For this reason, we take Horn of Valor to increase Guard generation for her and other group members
13 block and slash iconBlock and Slash
We take it to unlock other abilities
14 flow of battle iconFlow of Battle
Each critical hit reduces cooldowns, we mainly take this for progression
15 pommel strike iconPommel Strike + Lightning Jab
This ability is extremely strong and also cheap to use. There is no way to not recommend it.
16 shield wall iconShield Wall
We take this for progression
17 bear mauls the wolves iconBear Mauls the Wolves
This passive skill will reduce damage taken from the flanks
18 untouchable defense iconUntouchable Defense
In this late stage of the game increasing the maximum guard will be beneficial
19 itll cost you iconIt'll Cost You
Returns 50% of damage to the enemies
20 livid iconLivid
Reduces damage taken and increases your damage for each enemy near you.

With these abilities, the core of the build is done, and you should have no problems finishing the game.

However, you can still get these skills if you have free skill points:

  • Still Standing - livid upgrade, boosts Guard amount
  • Hamstring + Deep Reserves - increases stamina regeneration when it is low
  • Warrior's resolve - gain additional stamina every time you lose HP

Abilities investment - short version

This section will shortly cover what abilities should be picked in what tree for Cassandra Tank build.

Templar tree

Our goal is to have Wrath of Heaven, to stun groups of enemies.

Templar skill tree Cassandra tank build

Vanguard Tree

We want to have both Taunting abilities and late in the game Livid

Vanguard skill tree Cassandra tank build

Battlemaster tree

Getting Horn of Valor will ensure that Cassandra and party members constantly have Guard on themselves.

Battlemaster Cassandra tank build

Two-Handed Weapon

Getting Pommel Strike ensures that we have cheap offensive skill to knock out enemies.

Cassandra Two-Handed Weapon tank build

Weapon and Shield

Only get the passive ability to increase survivability of Cassandra

Cassandra Weapon and shield tank build skills

Cassandra Tank Stats

These are the stats that I recommend prioritizing when choosing the equipment

  • Constitution – increases base health and melee defense

  • Willpower – increases the damage and provides magic defense

  • On hit gain * guard – you will get more Guard on each hit. You can obtain this stat from Masterwork materials when they are used in crafting.

  • Ranged defense – bigger defense from ranged attacks

  • Magic defense – overall more magic defense, better than specific element defense

  • Melee Defense – more defense from melee attacks

  • Attack – overall increase to damage

  • Strength – provides damage boost and some Guard damage boost

With these stats high enough Cassandra should have no problem taking groups of enemies on herself. Moreover, as long as she generates enough Guard she can keep aggro on bosses.

Cassandra suggested equipment

In this section, I will go through some decent equipment that you can equip or craft.

Weapons - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 edgewise iconEdgewise This is the best defensive sword. It gives constitution, bonus armor rating, and chance to taunt enemies
2 demons advocate iconDemon's Advocate This Maul gives +19 Constitution and provides the effect of exploding bodies when an enemy is killed.
3 chromatic greatsword iconChromatic Greatsword Not only it gives a large boost to damage but also raises elemental resistances
4 prismatic greataxe iconPrismatic Greataxe The weapon gives a large boost to damage and +15% elemental resistances.

Weapons - craftable

Schematics are usually better than obtainable counterparts. However, you need good materials for that.

Priority Item Description
1 dai masterwork brute hammer iconMasterwork Brute Hammer Schematic Due to a large number of metal utility slots, this Maul is perfect for a tank.
2 Masterwork Serrated Greatsword Schematic iconMasterwork Serrated Greatsword Schematic This blade provides both offensive and utility metal slots. So you can equip it if you decide that Cassandra can deal a bit more damage.
3 prismatic greataxe scehmatic iconPrismatic Greataxe Schematic The schematic comes both with offensive and defensive slots. Moreover, the weapon effect doubles the damage dealt. Use it if you wish to deal increased damage
4 chromatic greatsword schematic iconChromatic Greatsword Schematic The schematic comes both with offensive and defensive slots. Moreover, the weapon effect doubles the damage dealt. Use it if you wish to deal increased damage

Armors - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 the divine armor iconThe Divine Extremely strong armor if Cassandra was elected as a Divine during the Trespasser DLC. Grants guard on hit and bonus willpower
2 revered defender armor iconRevered Defender Armor This armor trades blow with The Divine. Personally, I prefer this one due to the decreased stamina consumption.
3 masterwork battlemaster armor iconMasterwork Battlemaster Armor Increases base stamina and provides decent defensive stats bonus

Armors - craftable

Tier Item Description
1  Revered Defender Armor SchematicRevered Defender Armor Schematic This schematic has the most metal utility slots in the game. Makes a perfect armor for Tank Cassandra
2  Superior Battlemaster Armor SchematicSuperior Battlemaster Armor Schematic More expensive alternative to Battlemaster Armor Schematic. Although it has worse slots, the armor value is higher. Moreover, comes with upgrade slots.
3 normal heavy armor schematic DAIBattlemaster Armor Schematic Has the most utility slots if includes the upgrades. Perfect for maximising Cassandra's defensive options and constitution

Helmets - obtainable

Level Item Description
1 the divine helmet iconThe Divine Cassandra gets this helmet in The Trespasser DLC if she has become the Divine. Has optimal defensive stats boost
2 revered defender helmet iconRevered Defender Helm The Helmet can be obtained in The Descent DLC. Provides very good defensive bonuses: constitution, melee defense, etc.
3 dukes mane iconDuke's Mane A decent helmet that gives a bonus  +8 Strength and +8% Melee Defense

Helmets - craftable

Tier Item Description
1 Revered Defender Helm Schematic iconRevered Defender Helm Schematic Gives very good utility slots that you can use to increase constitution or strength
2 Duke's Mane Schematic iconDuke's Mane Schematic Provides 11 utility metal slots to increase constitution.
3 helm of the Inquisitor Schematic iconHelm of the Inquisitor Schematic The schematic is quite cheap and provides 10 metal utility slots.

Amulets

The amulets are listed by Tier. Usually, the Best tier can be obtained late in the game, but it provides maximum bonuses.

Priority Item Description
- Amulet of Power Gives Cassandra a single ability point. It is consumed once you use it.
1 master cooldown amulet iconMaster Cooldown Amulet or Superb Cooldown Amulet Reduces the cooldown for skills. This way Cassandra can better handle aggro throughout the combat
2 Superb Stamina Amulet iconMaster Stamina Amulet or Superb Stamina Amulet Increases the pool of stamina. Great for using abilities early in the fight
3 Superb Amulet of Constitution iconSuperb Amulet of Constitution Increases Consitution that results in higher melee defense and HP pool

Belts

Priority Item Description
1 Master Guard Belt iconMaster Guard Belt of Superior Guard Belt Increases the Maximum Guard for Cassandra. This way she can take more damage before HP will be affected.
2 Superb Belt of health iconSuperb Belt of Health Increases Health pool, allowing to soak more damage
3 belt of life iconBelt of Life Increases Health pool, allowing to soak more damage

Rings

If you see that Cassandra can handle enemies well: maintains guard, does not die or use potions, feel free to use rings from the offensive build

Priority Item Description
1 Superb Ring of Life-Drain iconSuperb Ring of Life-Drain This ring will drain HP from dying enemies. However, look for other options if Cassandra always has her get Guard full.
2 Superb Ring of Staggering iconSuperb Ring of Staggering Increases the chance to interrupt enemy attacks and stagger them
3 enhanced horn of valor ring iconEnhanced Horn of Valor Ring Boosts your main supporting ability by extending its duration. Especially valuable early to mid-game.

Tactics

Here is what tactics I recommend to use with Cassandra:

  • Challenge - Active, we do not want Cassandra to always spam it. Just enough to keep aggro
  • Warcry - Active. similar to Challenge this ability should be used occasionally to get enemy attention on the initial encounter
  • Horn of Valor - Preferred. This ability should be active at all times. it ensures both your and party members' survivability and increases in damage.
  • Wrath of Heaven - Active. For best usage, I recommend using it manually at the start of the combat to stun groups of enemies.
  • Livid - Active. Let Cassandra AI decide when this should be used
  • Pommel Strike - we want Cassandra to use this ability, it can easily stun enemies

Cassandra AI tactics tank build

All other abilities should be disabled. Important note: use Spellpurge manually when enemies are spawning from the Veil Tears. This way you will lower the number of demons spawned.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this guide. I hope it will help you to fully understand how to best build Cassandra in Dragon Age Inquisition. The post goes into great detail on her skills and tactics that should be used

if I have missed anything, feel free to leave a comment below

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Discussion

Anonymous

Thanks for another good class write-up! I've used Cassandra as the party tank a couple of times, and she can be quite good at it. When I put Cassandra in the tank role, I usually go the sword & board route. Having an extra masterwork slot from the shield can be useful. Greatest Hits is a fun one-handed weapon for tanking, and Bolt can let your tank do relatively good electrical damage, which is very good for quick takedowns as long as the enemy isn't resistant to electricity. :)

Anonymous

Cass isn't meant to be a Frontline tank like blackwall or a dps reaver like bull.

She is a magic stopping support system for what ever mage is in your party. Her whole roll as a templar is to stop magic. You wanna maximize her build that not a dps tank which is counter productive to being a tank

I agree with you! Sadly, some people want to have Cassandra as a Tank in the party (and the only warrior at that).

So I want to offer them what I think is the best option. I may revisit the build later on to see what can be done better :)

Cheers!

Hey!

Would love to hear your feedback if there is any information lacking or if there are too much info.

Cheers!

Anonymous

2h tank is very hard. If u play with all trials especially Rub Some Dirt on It. Anyway - thank you.