Cole Builds - Archer and Dual Dagger - Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI)

By zanuffas
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Cole Builds - Archer and Dual Dagger

In this post, I will cover how to best build Cole in Dragon Age Inquisition. This should help you how to allocate your skills, what tactics and gear to use.

Cole is a Spirit that lives between the human world and Fade. Inquisitor will meet him on one of the main quests. After receiving help from him Inquisitor can decide to let him join the Inquisition. He specializes as Assassin.

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

Early game abilities, level 1 - 10

Although you may recruit Cole close to level 10, here is what I recommend. First, get a bow for Cole, early in the game this is the best option. Second, invest in these skills:

Order Skill Description
1 stealth iconStealth + Clinging Shadows Allows Cole to escape from enemies easily
2 poisoned weapons iconPoisoned Weapons + Infected Wound Early ability to increase overall damage you do with skills and auto-attack
3 long shot iconLong Shot Does 600% weapon damage if shot from more than 15 meters
4 first blood iconFirst Blood Passive skill that will increase damage if enemy health is full
5 death from above iconDeath From Above We take it mainly for progression
6 leaping shot iconLeaping Shot + Shot from the Shadows Fire spell is cheap and deals decent damage
7 explosive shot iconExplosive Shot + Shockwave Effective knockback skill to take out a specific target.

This way you ensure that Cole can survive encounters and does not die easily. The problem with dual wielding is that early in the game he may get hit a lot in melee range while not having good equipment

Cole Build - Assassin Archer

This part of the guide will cover how you should build Cole as an Assassin Archer. I personally recommend this build, because it will ensure that Cole can survive more difficult encounters. Moreover, it will remove its weakest weakness: bad AI for Dual daggers.

Cole stats archer build

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

Abilities - detailed progression

Here I will explain how you should prioritize what skills to invest in and when.

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

Order Skill Description
1 throatcutter iconThroatcutter Gives a larger damage bonus the less HP the enemy has.
2 hidden blades iconHidden Blades + Overkill One of the main Assassin abilities. It will hit the enemy with six hits each having 300% weapon damage.
3 i was never here iconI Was Never Here After killing the enemy Cole will enter stealth this ability will synergize well with the next one
4 knife in the shadows iconKnife in the Shadows Attacking from stealth will ensure that Cole deals critical hits
5 mark of death iconMark of Death + Lasting Mark This is an extremely strong ability if used on bosses. I recommend taking the Lasting Mark upgrade for AI to use. THe other upgrade may go to waste if AI does not activate it properly
6 stealth iconStealth + Clinging Shadows A good ability when you need to escape enemies. Moreover, when you attack from stealth you will get guaranteed critical hits due to Kine in the Shadows passive ability.
7 caltrops iconCaltrops We take this mainly for progression
8 looked like it hurt iconLooked Like It Hurt Each critical hit will restore 10 stamina. An essential skill to have the stamina for all the skills
9 long shot iconLong Shot Archer skill to deal additional damage when attacking from long distances with Cole
10 death from above iconDeath from Above We take this mainly for progression
11 leaping shot iconLeaping Shot + Shot from the Shadows With the upgrade, Leaping Shot will ensure that Cole enters stealth. This way you will be able to deal more critical hits.
12 first blood iconFirst Blood Deals 15% more damage to enemies that have HP above 80%
13 Explosive Shot We mainly take this ability for progression.
14 explosive shot iconPincushion Each hit to the same enemy will increase the damage that Cole does
15 poisoned weapons iconPoisoned Weapons + Infected Wounds With this active skill, Cole will coat its weapons with Poison. This will make the bow do more damage.
16 fighting dirty iconFighting Dirty Poison will last 25% longer
17 Explosive Toxin If the enemy is killed while under the effect of poison their bodies will explode releasing a cloud of poison.
18 gaps in the armor iconGaps in the Armor Increases Armor penetration by 25%

If you will have additional points left, feel free to take Toxic Cloud + upgrade for additional AOE damage.

Tactics and Behaviours

For tactics, my recommendation is to have them set up like this:

Cole archer build tactics

  • Disable - Caltrops and Explosive Shot (if you are playing with Friendly Fire on)
  • Set Preferred Poisoned Weapons. This way you ensure that Cole's poison explosion will activate after each enemy's death.
  • All others can be set to Active
  • You can also set Leaping Shot to Preferred. However, I have found that this way Cole leaves the battlefield too far. However, pick it if it works well for you.

With these in mind here are some Behaviour recommendations:

  • Mana and Stamina reserve should be set to 0%
  • Targeting behavior - follow your tank.

Stats

Here is what Stats I recommend to best maximize Cole:

  • Critical Chance - 40%+. Due to Stealth and Knife in the Shadows synergy Cole will do many critical hits already
  • Critical Damage - once you have reached the Critical chance threshold of 40%, concentrate on increasing this stat as it will scale your damage well.
  • Cunning - boosts critical chance (until 40% critical chance)
  • Dexterity - boosts critical damage
  • Attack - overall boost to damage

Items and Equipment

This section will cover some item recommendations for Cole

Masterwork crafting materials

If you want to take Cole damage to the next level I recommend this:

  • Hidden Blades - will enable making additional DPS when this procs. These materials will activate it: Fade-Touched Ring Velvet, Fade-Touched Velveteen, Fade-Touched Plush Fustian Velvet
  • Abilities cost *% less Mana/Stamina -will reduce the cost of using active abilities. Materials: Fade-Touched Velveteen, Fade-Touched Ring Velvet, Fade-Touched Fustian Velvet

Weapons - obtainable

Unfortunately, there are no exceptional options for the bows. If you want to maximize Cole's DPS, you should invest in getting a crafted version.

Priority Item Description
1 tezpadams bane iconTezpadam's Bane Extraordinary bow, that provides 41 dexterity resulting in 41% critical damage increase. Moreover, gives an effect that makes enemy bodies explode on kill
2 arrowwood iconArrowwood This bow is available during the Trespasser DLC. Gives 95% armor penetration. I think it is an interesting bow to try but you get it quite late in the game.
3 heartstring bow iconHeartstring Bow Obtained in Frostback Basin and provides adequate stats.

Weapons - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 elgarnan Enaste schematic iconElgar'nan Enaste Schematic Obtained with Trespasser DLC. Has adequate slots and most importantly explosive arrow effect.
2 Grunsmann's Bow Schematic iconGrunsmann's Bow Schematic Provides 3 offensive leather slots excellent to maximize either critical chance or critical damage
3 Bow of the Beresaad Schematic iconBow of the Beresaad Schematic Provides leather slots for maximizing critical chance and critical damage.

Armors - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 stone stalker coat iconStone Stalker Coat This armor is a perfect match for this build as it provides a large boost to of 45 Cunning resulting in a much higher critical chance
2 the skin that stalks iconThe Skin That Stalks Obtainable only in the Trespasser DLC. Boosts Critical Damage, Critical Chance, and Attack.
3 Masterwork Prowler Armor iconMasterwork Prowler Armor This armor reduces ability stamina cost by 20% if not attacked for 5 seconds. This should be easy for Cole as he will be avoiding enemies most of the time.

Armors - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 superior prowler armor schematic iconSuperior Prowler Armor Schematic This armor has 23 utility leather slots if you include upgrades. Feel free to increase either dexterity or cunning based on what Cole needs more.
2 Sturdy Prowler Armor Schematic iconSturdy Prowler Armor Schematic This is a cheaper alternative to Superior Prowler Armor Schematic. It also gives less defense and 22 utility leather slots.
3 Stone Stalker Coat Schematic iconStone Stalker Coat Schematic Can be obtained from The Descent DLC. Has decent slots, but is worse compared to the options above.

Helmets - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 stone stalker mask iconStone Stalker Mask Has both good bonus stats and armor rating. Can be obtained in The Descent DLC
2 helm of drasca iconHelm of the Drasca A decent mid-game option that gives a good boost to critical damage by increasing Dexterity.
3 unique Mask iconAmbassador's Mask Alternative to Mask of the Grand Duchess if you have a high critical chance (50%+)
4 unique Mask iconMask of the Grand Duchess Alternative to Ambassador's Mask if you have a low critical chance

Helmets - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 Superior helm schematic iconSuperior Skirmisher Hat Schematic The best craftable helmet that gives 10 leather utility slots and is easy to obtain
2 skirmisher hat schematic iconSkirmisher Hat Schematic A cheaper alternative of the Superior Skirmisher Hat Schematic. Has only 8 leather utility slots
3 Superior Adventurer Hat Schematic iconSuperior Adventurer Hat Schematic Costs only 182 Sovereigns and gives 7 leather utility slots. Get it if you are short on money.

Amulets

Priority Item Description
- Amulet of Power Gives Cole a single ability point. It is consumed once you use it.
1 Malika's Guard iconMalika's Guard As Cole will not concentrate on flanking damage this amulet will greatly increase the overall attack power.
2 Superb Amulet of Dexterity This amulet will increase dexterity resulting in higher critical damage.
3 Amulet of the Rogue This amulet will increase both critical chance and critical damage
4 Superb Amulet of Cunning The amulet will increase the critical chance, allowing to reduce ability cooldowns.

Belts

Priority Item Description
1 Superb Belt iconThe Bind That Guides This belt boosts the critical chance. Only obtainable in the Trespasser DLC.
2 Superb Belt iconSuperb Belt of Staggering This belt will allow Cole to stagger enemies
3 superb belt of sunder iconSuperb Belt of Sunder Gives a chance to decrease 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 Ring 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 Chance
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

Cole Build - Dual Dagger Assassin

This build is for those that wish to still use Cole as Dual Wielding assassin. As you know AI is quite bad at handling Dual Wielding Rogue.

However, with this build, you should mitigate many of these effects allowing you to shred enemies from the back with Cole.

Cole dual daggers stats

This build will rely on constantly entering stealth and hitting with critical hits from it. Moreover, Your weapons will be constantly releasing poison clouds to ensure that you can avoid their attacks and deal damage over time.

So let's go through the details.

Abilities - detailed progression

Here I will explain how you should prioritize what skills to invest in and when.

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

Order Skill Description
1 throatcutter iconThroatcutter Gives a larger damage bonus the less HP the enemy has.
2 hidden blades iconHidden Blades + Overkill One of the main Assassin abilities. It will hit the enemy with six hits each having 300% weapon damage.
3 i was never here iconI Was Never Here After killing the enemy Cole will enter stealth this ability will synergize well with the next one
4 knife in the shadows iconKnife in the Shadows Attacking from stealth will ensure that Cole deals critical hits
5 mark of death iconMark of Death This ability will work extremely well on strong enemies. I do not recommend taking the upgrade as the additional skill point can be spent elsewhere.
6 poisoned weapons iconPoisoned Weapons + Infected Wounds With this active skill, Cole will coat its weapons with Poison. This will his daggers deal larger damage
7 fighting dirty iconFighting Dirty The poison effect will last 25% longer
8 explosive toxin iconExplosive Toxin If the enemy is killed while under the effect of poison their bodies will explode releasing a cloud of poison. This will synergize with Toxic Cloud
9 toxic cloud iconToxic Cloud + Lost in the Mist  This is the main ability that will ensure the survivability of Cole and also party members. Every few seconds party members will gain a stack of Elusive if they stand in the cloud. This will negate a single hit from the enemy on the party member. The effect can stack up to 3 times.
15 stealth iconStealth + Clinging Shadows A good ability when you need to escape enemies. Moreover, when you attack from stealth you will get guaranteed critical hits due to Kine in the Shadows passive ability.
16 caltrops iconCaltrops We take this mainly for progression
17 looked like it hurt iconLooked Like It Hurt Each critical hit will restore 10 stamina. An essential skill to have the stamina for all the skills
13 flank attack iconFlank Attack + Skirmisher Allows to deal decent damage and enter stealth if the attack was used from the front of the enemy.
14 first blood iconFirst Blood We take this mainly for progression
15 explosive shot iconExplosive Shot We take this mainly for progression
16 pincushion iconPincushion Although this ability is in the Archery tree it also works for dual daggers.
17 gaps in the armor iconGaps in the Armor Increases Armor penetration by 25%

Here are some other considerations and tips regarding abilities

  • Evade - I suggest avoiding it, it does not really work well with how AI handles it in my opinion.
  • Bloodied Prey - passive ability that gives additional damage if enemy hp is lower than Cole's
  • Easy to Miss - reduces threat generation, making enemies less likely to target Cole

Tactics and Behaviours

For this build here are my Tactics recommendations:

Cole rogue assassin tactics

  • Set to Preferred - Toxic Cloud. We want Cole to use it as often as possible. This way he and party members can easily avoid enemy attacks increasing survivability
  • Disable - Caltrops and Explosive Shot
  • All others should be set to Active

For behaviors here is what I recommend:

  • Mana/Stamina % reserve - 0%
  • Targeting Behavior - follow the tank

I think with these settings Cole will be extremely powerful. However, have in mind that he is still glass cannon. Cole will manage to take on a few hits and for all of this to work a good tank is essential.

Stats and attributes

Here is what Stats I recommend to best maximize Cole:

  • Critical Chance - 40%+. Due to constantly being in stealth and Knife in the Shadows synergy Cole will do many critical hits already
  • Critical Damage - once you have reached the Critical chance threshold of 40%, concentrate on increasing this stat as it will scale your damage well.
  • Cunning - boosts critical chance (until 40% critical chance)
  • Dexterity - boosts critical damage
  • Attack - overall boost to damage

Items and Equipment

This section will cover some item recommendations for Cole

Masterwork crafting materials

If you want to take Cole damage to the next level I recommend this:

  • Hidden Blades - this is a strong effect to boost DPS. It will give a chance that Hidden Blades are activated after each hit. These materials will active it: Fade-Touched Ring Velvet, Fade-Touched Velveteen, Fade-Touched Plush Fustian Velvet
  • Guard on Hit - not personally a fan of it, but it increases the survivability of Cole. Materials:  Fade-Touched Obsidian, Fade-Touched Silverite
  • Abilities cost *% less Mana/Stamina -will reduce the cost of using active abilities. Materials: Fade-Touched Velveteen, Fade-Touched Ring Velvet, Fade-Touched Fustian Velvet

Weapons - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 Stone Stalker Blade Schematic iconStone Stalker Blade Schematic Gives decent slots, large damage, but can be hard to obtain. It has the highest base damage out of all daggers.
2 Blade of Red Birth Schematic iconBlade of Red Birth Schematic Alternative to the first option, and can be acquired much easier. Gives 11 Leather offensive slots for bonus flanking damage
3 Coiled Strike Schematic iconCoiled Strike Schematic Single target dagger that has excellent leather slots. Can be bought in Black Emporium. Also comes with a grip slot
4 Barbarian Rock-Crasher Schematic iconBarbarian Rock Crasher Schematic Provides better slots than Coiled Strike Schematic even with a grip, but loses on DPS.

Weapons - obtainable

There are plentiful dagger options to choose for Cole.

Priority Item Description
1 bosun's blade iconBosun’s Blade Deals huge damage when attacking from the back
2 bloody bargain iconBloody Bargain The dagger provides a unique ability that increases movement and attack speed after each kills. Only obtained in the Trespasser DLC.
3 silencer iconSilencer Obtained with The Descent DLC. Gives a large boost to dexterity resulting in higher critical damage
4 cordovas smile iconCordova’s Smile The dagger provides a large boost to Flanking damage and a 20% bonus Focus Gain.
5 gift of the talons iconGift of the Talons The dagger is extremely powerful and hard to obtain early in the game. However, if you manage it, your DPS will skyrocket due Hidden Blades effect

Armors - obtainable

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.
2 stone stalker coat iconStone Stalker Coat Gives 45 points boost to Cunning and +5 to Dexterity. Moreover, increases movement speed during stealth
3 Masterwork Prowler Armor iconMasterwork Prowler Armor This armor reduces ability stamina cost by 20% if not attacked for 5 seconds.

Armors - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 superior prowler armor schematic iconSuperior Prowler Armor Schematic This armor has 23 utility leather slots if you include upgrades. Feel free to increase either dexterity or cunning based on what the Cole build needs more.
2 Sturdy Prowler Armor Schematic iconSturdy Prowler Armor Schematic This is a cheaper alternative to Superior Prowler Armor Schematic. It also gives less defense and 22 utility leather slots.
3 Stone Stalker Coat Schematic iconStone Stalker Coat Schematic Can be obtained from The Descent DLC. Has decent slots, but is worse compared to the options above.

Helmets - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 stone stalker mask iconStone Stalker Mask The best obtainable helmet for this Cole build. It provides both dexterity and cunning.
2 helm of drasca iconHelm of the Drasca This is a high-level helmet. Although it does not provide the best offensive stats it has fairly high armor.
3 unique Mask iconAmbassador's Mask Perfect helmet before you can get Stone Stalker Mask or better crafting materials

Helmets - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 Superior helm schematic iconSuperior Skirmisher Hat Schematic This helmet is perfect for Cole as it can  increase offensive stats like flanking and critical damage
2 Helmet schematics iconSkirmisher Hat Schematic Mid game crafting schematic that has good leather slots for Cole

Amulets

Priority Item Description
- Amulet of Power Gives Cassandra a single ability point. It is consumed once you use it.
1 Enhanced amulet iconEnhanced Amulet of Barrier Will generate barrier on each hit so that Cole would not die easily when fighting close to the enemies.
2 the eye that weeps iconThe Eye That Weeps Provides +10% Attack. This is the best compared to other amulets as none of them provide bonus flanking damage
3 Superb Amulet iconMaster Cooldown Amulet to Superb Cooldown Amulet The cooldown amulets will allow using of abilities like Hidden Blades more often. This will result in overall higher DPS
4 Superb Amulet iconSuperb Amulet of Dexterity Boosts dexterity, which increases your critical damage

Belts:

Priority Item Description
1 Superb Belt iconThe Bind That Guides Available only in the Trespasser DLC. Gives bonus critical chance
2 Superb Belt iconMaster Belt of Focus More Focus results in more often Mark of the Rift if you are the Inquisitor
3 Superb Belt iconSuperb Belt of Staggering The belt will give a higher chance to temporarily stun enemies with normal attacks
4 Superb Belt iconSuperior Belt of Focus A weaker version of the above belt.

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 Ring 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 Chance
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

Conclusion

I hope these builds for Cole in Dragon Age Inquisition will help you. They concentrate on different playstyles: melee and ranged, however, they are sufficient to make Cole an extremely strong group member.

Feel free to share your feedback in the comments

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Discussion

Anonymous

I think the dual wield assassin tactics image may have been switched with the other build's tactics! Otherwise awesome guide

Anonymous

You need another progression step before Gaps in the Armor.

Hey, I do not know if this is a bug, but you can get Gaps in The Armor from Mark of Death. There is no need for Knockout Bomb. Test it out :)

Anonymous

I needed a rogue and had already used varic on my DA2 team, and I really don't like Sera's personality. Thank you so much for this Cole guide Zanuffas. <3