Battlemage Build

Battlemage Build - Dragon Age: Origins (DAO)

By zanuffas
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In this post, I will cover Battlemage Build - for Dragon Age: Origins. This is a variation of Arcane Warrior specialization using staff and fighting on the frontlines with a huge arsenal of spells. Thanks to heavy armor you will be able to take on the strongest enemies head-on.

Battlemage Build

The build utilizes the main aspect of Arcane Warrior - wearing heavy armor and using this to stand strong on the frontlines together with other fighters. This is available due to Combat Magic and its unique effect allowing to wear amors based on Magic instead of Strength.

Now, the next aspect is spellcasting. As a mage, you have access to a wide arsenal of spells - Lightning, Cold, and Fire, all of these are perfect against various enemy types. Moreover, based on your picks you can further enhance with control spells like Mind Blast, Paralyze, Glyph of Paralysis, etc.

There are some caveats, like a huge strain on your mana pool. Constant casting will leave you on low MP very fast. Still, this should not be a huge problem as either the encounter will be close to the end by then or you can use some cheap lyrium potions.

Moreover, if a few good gear picks you will be able to counteract the big fatigue penalty that they bring and enjoy spell costs close to a normal mage. What is left, how well you can cast spells and land your spells.

The build has been played and tested on Nightmare difficulty

Character Creation

If you are into optimizing there are a few things that you can do to optimize your build a bit.

dragon age origins character creation window

Race

There are 2 race options in my opinion:

Attribute Description
Human A little less optimized but can also be a choice for caster build like this.
Elf The go-to choice for this build as it gets the biggest bonus to Magic.

Class

The choice here is obvious:

Class Description
Mage Get access to spells and Arcane Warrior specialization that will be used to wear heavy armor.

Background

Sadly only one choice is possible here:

Background Description
Magi All mages have to start in Circle Tower, no matter the race choice.

Attributes

For the start of the game, all points should be invested - +5 Magic. You will want the mage spells to be effective, especially on Nightmare difficulty. Moreover, this stat will be crucial in becoming a powerful Battlemage.

Need help with level-by-level attribute/talent progression? For my supporters on Ko-Fi or Patreon, I offer attribute picks on each level, for optimal progression.

Skills

I would recommend getting Coercion, this will help with some early-game dialogues and quest options.

Skill Description
Coercion 1 level will help in the early game to unlock some additional dialogue options.

Spells

The build is a pure offensive caster, still one or two spells to help with control are extremely useful.

Spells Description
Winter's Grasp Early game I think this spell is very valuable. You can slow enemies that are running toward you, or freeze weaker ones. It also deals decent damage.
Mind Blast Mind Blast is great, especially early on, as your tank will probably not be able to hold aggro. This will ensure that enemies are stunned and threat levels are reset. This will be one of the core spells later on once you fight more on the frontlines.

Quest Priority and Locations

Once you have finished Ostagar and Lothering, the world will open up and you can visit multiple areas. Below I will cover some progression recommendations, to obtain a few core items needed.

This is an optional progression. If you want to experience the main quests in different sequences, feel free to do that!

If you do not have Specializations unlocked:

  1. Soldier's Peak - obtain Warden Commander Armor Set.
  2. Brecilian Forest (at least until you unlock Arcane Warrior)
  3. Circle Tower - additional attributes for progression. I would make sure to have Mana Clash or be close to getting for this quest.
  4. Your preferred quests

For those that have Specializations:

  1. Soldier's Peak - obtain Warden Commander Armor Set.
  2. Circle Tower - additional attributes for progression. I would make sure to have Mana Clash or be close to getting it, for this quest.
  3. Your preferred quests

Full Build Setup

In this section, I will go with in-depth explanations of each important selection for attributes, talents, and skills. This will give you a better understanding of what role each decision will have on your overall build. The explanations can also be used to better decide your picks for optimizations

Attributes

In this section, I would like to go through the recommended attributes for Battlemage Build. You will be required to pick them every level up, so optimizing and not wasting any of them will prove vital for the build.

Attribute Description
Magic - everything This is the main attribute that the build needs. It improves the core aspects of mage - stronger spells, higher success chance, and better effectiveness of Lyrium potions.

Regarding other attributes like Constitution or Willpower. I do not think this build needs them. Maybe a few points to Con will help, but it will not be a huge game-changer. Willpower is kind of a trap. It is useful if you are using a lot of sustained abilities. However, this build does not, meaning it's better to improve Magic, to get more value out of Lyrium potions and spells.

Need help with level-by-level attribute/talent progression? For my supporters on Ko-Fi or Patreon, I offer attribute picks on each level, for optimal progression.

Skills

The goal in my opinion is to get Combat Training and Coercion to a maximum. This will cover all the aspects that the main character would need in my opinion.

Skill Level Description
Coercion 4 Allows to overcome various dialogues, finish quests earlier, or avoid unnecessary combat.
Pickpocket 1 Access to one of the most lucrative quests in the game in terms of gold rewards.
Combat Training  4 Improves mana regeneration, and casting while under attack, mainly we want that +2 regeneration.
Tactics 2 Unlocks more slots, for the situations when you are controlling another character.

Specializations

The build core is 1 specialization. Another one is free and generally depends on your preferences. Here is what and why I recommend.

Specialization Description
Arcane Warrior The main specialization gives access to the battlemage playstyle that the build aims for. It will allow you to wear heavy and massive armor using Magic instead of Strength and other defensive bonuses.
Spirit Healer You will not be using any spells from Spirit Healer. However, the +2 Magic will decrease the amount of magic investment you need to wear heavy armor. Moreover, something like Group Heal is also a good addition to have on hand.

Blood Mage can be another choice, but I do not think this would fit the theme that the build is going on. Still, that is a viable choice.

Talents and Spells

The build is a full caster at its core, so you will be slinging spells left and right. Still, the ability to wear heavy armor will allow you to not run away in case enemies start overwhelming you. Moreover, cone-shaped spells will play a very important role.

Need help with level-by-level attribute/talent progression? For my supporters on Ko-Fi or Patreon, I offer attribute picks on each level, for optimal progression.

Arcane Warrior Tree

Get all the talents. They will maximize your resistance, damage, and armor and allow wearing heavy armor.

arcane warrior talents

Spell Description
Combat Magic The core sustained ability that will allow wearing heavy armor. Still, you should not be activating it, as this will put a huge Fatigue strain and improve weapon damage (which Battlemage does not care about)
Aura of Might Additional bonuses to the most important stats for Arcane Warrior.
Shimmering Shield It adds huge bonuses to various magic elemental resistances. I did not use this one, as the mana drain is significant and hampers your ability to cast spells. If you have plenty of Lyrium potions this will be easy to solve.
Fade Shroud A further bonus to improve mana regeneration and a chance to dodge attacks.

Spirit Healer

This is kind of an optional tree, but just taking the specialization will give you +2 Magic and improve spellcasting. I also recommend one spell in the arsenal:

Spell Description
Group Heal An excellent spell to have on the hand so that everyone in the group could be healed.

Mage

This tree has a very low priority and I would delay it once you have everything else covered.

Spell Description
Arcane Bolt Can be used to inflict fast damage when you need to finish off an enemy. Moreover, this is the first spell you obtain, so not many choices to avoid it. Excellent use for the early game.

Primal Tree

These spells are the core of the build and will allow dealing damage effectively to single and multiple targets.

Path of Fire Tree

Spell Description
Flame Blast Releases a cone of flames that deals good damage and can hit multiple targets. Fits well the battlemage playstyle.
Flaming Weapons Can be used as a buff to improve allies' weapon damage.
Fireball Excellent spell, that will knock down foes and deal good damage. It is great for breaking enemy formations, especially at the start of the combat.

Path of Stone Tree

Spell Description
Rock Armor One of the core passives improving the armor value of the build.
Stonefist This spell is great for knocking out foes. Moreover, it can apply the Shatter effect with Petrify or Cone of Cold for the instant kill on weaker enemies.
Earthquake The spell can be used to make targets fall if they do not pass resistance checks. Still, I did not find much use for it, especially as it will affect your allies.
Petrify Excellent control spell, to disable a foe.

Path of Ice

Spell Description
Winter's Grasp This spell is the bread-and-butter option to slow down foes, especially early in the game. Sadly, it is not able to freeze enemies enough for a Shatter combo with Stonefist.
Frost Weapons An alternative to Flame Weapons allowing to empower melee weapons of allies.
Cone of Cold A very powerful spell, that can freeze multiple enemies in a cone. It deals decent damage and applies solid control.

Path of Storms

Spell Description
Lightning A simple lightning-based spell, I would say this has lower priority than other spells like Winter's Grasp or Arcane Bolt. Mainly due to their lower costs and slightly better spellpower modifiers.
Shock Similar to Flame Blast and Cone of Cold can be used at close range to hit multiple enemies.

Creation Spells

Healing Tree

Spell Description
Heal I think having at least 1 healing spell can be valuable in any encounter. I would avoid heavier investment as this will penalize the offensive spell list.

Glyphs Tree

Spell Description
Glyph of Paralysis A simple yet effective paralysis spell to apply control on enemies like lieutenants or bosses.

Nature Tree

Spell Description
Spell Wisp A very important spell that will improve spellpower for higher damage.

Spirit Spells

Mana Drain Tree

Spell Description
Mana Drain Progression spell
Mana Cleanse Progression spell
Spell Might Very valuable spell, if you have mana capacity as it will improve weapon damage and spell success chance.
Mana Clash One of my favorite spells, that can instantly destroy enemy mages and inflict heavy damage to monsters from the Fade.

Telekinesis

Spell Description
Mind Blast As you will constantly stay on the frontlines this can be used to instantly stun multiple foes. Together with other cone spells, this will make the core of your spell arsenal.

Entropy Spells

Hexes

Spell Description
Vulnerability Hex These are both excellent spells, that I recommend using on bosses. The reduced resistance will greatly improve your magic damage. Both Vulnerability and Affliction hex stack.
Affliction Hex

Equipment

The gear you use with Battlemage Build will play a crucial role in combat. Using good staves will improve spell damage, while robes and accessories will other aspects of the setup.

Below, you will find the gear that should be used with the build. Generally, the lower the item is in the table the lower its priority and the earlier you can get it. So the top ones are the best picks.

So what are my gear recommendations?

Weapons

Item Description
final reason iconFinal Reason Trades blows with Staff of the Magister Lord. This one is much cheaper and can be accessed earlier for this reason.
staff of magister lord iconStaff of the Magister Lord The best staff in terms of overall stat boosts, however, it is quite pricey.
magister's staff iconMagister's Staff I would say these staves are the same. So get the ones that are easier to obtain. Sadly, the spirit damage bonus is not as important and you will not use these spells as much.
Corrupted magisters staff iconCorrupted Magister's Staff
Wilhelm's Magus staff iconWilhelm’s Magus Staff Boosts electricity and fire damage.
Enchanter's staff iconEnchanter’s Staff It gives a bonus to Magic and improves elemental damage from main sources - Ice, Lightning, and Fire

Helm

Item Description
Helm of Honnleath iconHelm of Honnleath One of the best all-around helmets in the game. The +2 to all attributes is a significant boost that increases the core stats of the build.
Executioner's Helm iconExecutioner’s Helm Improves total mana pool available for casting.
first enchanters cowl daoFirst Enchanter's Cowl Significantly increases the chance to dodge attacks. Otherwise, the helmet does not provide significant bonuses.
Free scout arming cap iconLongrunner’s Cap Provides a decent boost to mana regeneration.

Armor

Item Description
Evon's The great mail iconEvon the Great’s Mail The Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale armor set is perfect for caster build as it greatly reduces fatigue. The highlight is Evon the Great’s Mail which can be used instead of Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Armor. Besides that, this set aims to improve defensive and utility stats.
Wade's SUperior heavy dragonscale armor iconWade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Armor
wades superior dragonskin armor daoWade's Superior Dragonskin armor Part of Wade's Superior Dragonskin armor set. This has less armor than Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale armor set, however, you will have much less fatigue resulting in more spells being cast. I am still in favour of the above option.
warden commander armor iconWarden Commander Armor The Warden Commander Armor set gives +50 stamina which is a significant boost, especially in the early game.
The Felon's Coat iconBattledress of the Provocateur Excellent armor for the early game if you can obtain it.

Gloves

Item Description
Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Gauntlets iconWade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Gauntlets Part of Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale armor set
wades superior dragonskin gloves daoWade's Superior Dragonskin Gloves Part of Wade's Superior Dragonskin armor set.
Warden commander gloves iconWarden Commander Gloves Part of the Warden Commander Armor set.

Boots

Item Description
Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Boots iconWade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Boots Part of Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale armor set
wades superior dragonskin boots daoWade's Superior Dragonskin Boots Part of Wade's Superior Dragonskin armor set. Although the boots can be used, that is an unlikely choice as you would utilize the whole set.
Cailan's Greaves These greaves are very powerful if you are not using a set. The 20% chance to avoid attacks is big.
Warden commander boots iconWarden Commander Boots Part of the Warden Commander Armor set.
Fade striders iconFade Striders Excellent starting boots giving +1 to Magic.

Accessories

Item Description
Andruil's blessing iconAndruil’s Blessing The best belt available all around. The bonuses to stamina regeneration are great to counteract the sustained abilities like Shimmering Shield, Haste, etc.
Sash of forbidden secrets iconSash of Forbidden Secrets Gives a significant boost to the core stats of the build. This is a truly powerful option but requires to finish The Golems of Amgarrak DLC
Cinch of skillful maneuvering iconCinch of Skillful Maneuvering You will need to finish Witch Hunt DLC to unlock this accessory. The chance to dodge is excellent for survivability improvement.
destructionist's belt icon Destructionist's belt A decent belt that boosts spellpower and damage.

Amulets

Item Description
The spellward iconThe Spellward It is one of the best amulets as it increases the mana pool for more sustained abilities, adds a chance to dodge, and has significant spell resistance.
Pearl of Anointed iconPearl of the Anointed The +1 to all attributes is a significant boost, especially at the start of the game.
Heart of Witherfang iconHeart of Witherfang Provides +1 to magic

Rings

Item Description
Key to the city iconKey to the City One of the best rings in the game. It gives +2 to all attributes. It can be obtained in Orzammar
frostshear iconFrostshear +10% boost to cold damage
ring of faith iconRing of Faith +10% boost to fire damage
the lucky stone iconThe Lucky Stone Gives +1 to all attributes
ring of study iconRing of Study A great ring at the beginning of the game that you can obtain if you choose Magi origin

How to use the Build

In this section, I would like to go through some general tips on how to correctly utilize the build.

Main mechanics

In this part, I would like to go through the core mechanics of the build. Using them you can construct your preferred playstyle and utilize everything that the various talent and equipment picks have to offer.

Sustained Spells

As with all caster Builds, this one will utilize them to some degree. The build mainly relies on mana, so generally, I recommend running only a few:

  1. Spell Wisp - a simple and cheap spell that will improve everything for the Battlemage Build.
  2. Rock Armor - Improves armor, this will improve survivability, but I would leave it only if you have mana to spare.
  3. Flame Weapons or Frost Weapons - a good addition if you have 2 melee combatants in the group to improve their damage.

And here are some optional ones, that I might use depending on the situation:

  1. Spell Might - increases spellpower and in turn your hit chance, and damage. I would use this if you have mana to spare, especially in the late game.

Maintaining Mana and Sustained Spells

Although this build skips the huge mana-draining spells like Shimmer Shield, having some regeneration will help immensely to maintain Haste or Spell Might.

  • Andruil’s Blessing - 2 Mana regeneration
  • Improved Combat Training - 0.5 Mana Regeneration
  • Wade's Superior Dragonscale Armor Set - 2 Mana Regeneration
  • Lesser Lyrium Potion - restores 50 mana + 0.5 * spellpower. This is the reason why the build puts everything into magic. They can be easily crafted by buying Lyrium dust from Circle Tower. It's a very cheap option and you will always have mana.

Using correct spells

So the main aspect of the build and to use correctly spells like Flame Blast, Winter's Grasp, etc. is to know to what the enemies are weak. here are some main foes, and which type of magic you should use against them:

  • Darkspawn - Fire
  • Undead - Fire
  • Ogre - Fire, Nature, Electricity
  • Revenant - Fire, Spirit, Electricity
  • Spider - Fire

So as you can see Fire Element is excellent against almost all monster types. Still, you should avoid using it against enemies that are resistant to it - Golems and Dragons.

Freezing and Shattering

This is one of the most fun combos to use with the build. You will have two spells that allow you to Paralyze enemies - Petrify and Winter's Grasp.

If you follow up with Stonefist or an ally lands a critical hit, and the enemy is normal type they will instantly shatter. This does not work as effectively against Lieutenants and is useless against bosses. Still, you should try to paralyze these foes.

Arsenal of Control Spells

So as a mage, you do have plenty of spells that apply some kind of control. Let's go through a few of them:

  • Mind Blast - excellent spell to stun most targets in close range. This will also improve your survivability as a Battle Mage.
  • Winter's Grasp - can freeze or slow down a single enemy.
  • Cone of Cold - freezes multiple enemies and makes the targets prone to shattering. This should be one of the core spells that you use, due to its effectiveness.
  • Petrify - paralyzes an enemy and makes them prone to shattering.
  • Stonefist - knockbacks a foe.
  • Earthquake - a great spell to slow down enemies or even knock them down. Sadly, I did not use it as much as it does not deal any damage.
  • Fireball - deals a good amount of damage, but most importantly it can knock down most of the targets that it hits.

Hexes and Elemental spells

If you are fighting a boss enemy I recommend utilizing Affliction Hex and Vulnerability Hex. These can weaken them and improve the damage of all elemental spells - lightning, spirit, fire, etc. I would avoid using it on Lieutenant or weaker enemies as usually, they will be dying too fast unless it is something like an Ogre or Golem, which are very sturdy opponents.

Enemy Mages

One of the main and most destructive enemies in the game (besides Templars) is Mages. They can cast Fireball, apply Hexes, or freeze you or your allies. For this reason, I recommend taking Mana Clash.

In most cases, it will instantly destroy enemy casters if they have full mana. So use it the moment you see a caster enemy. It also works on enemies that might have mana, like Fade creatures, even though many of them don't use spells.

Early Game Combat

For the early game, you will be playing a normal mage. I recommend pushing through with the spells available

  • If enemies come close, you should be using Mind Blast to stun them and reset your threat level.
  • Use Winter's Grasp to slow down enemies that are coming in contact with you.
  • Fireball is an excellent spell to knock back multiple foes and deal a good amount of damage.
  • Cone of Cold can be used to freeze multiple targets.

Other spells will depend on what you pick, but I think just these few can win most of the early-game encounters with a good group setup.

Late Game Combat

You will have a huge arsenal of spells, for different situations, I will try to cover some of them, but I will leave it to you to find the perfect combos for your playstyle.

  • If you need to control an enemy like a boss or Lietuenants use - Glyph of Paralysis, Petrify, Stonefist, Cone of Cold, or Mind Blast. This will make the fight much easier and one of them is sure to work.
  • Mana Clash must be used against mages or the Fade creatures. This will instantly kill or weaken them making the encounters easier.
  • I recommend using Fireball when combat initiates so that you would not hit allies. After that, you can follow up with a few single-target spells.
  • When amid combat, use your cone spells - Shock, Cone of Cold, and Flame Blast to hit multiple targets and kill them one by one.
  • I think Cone of Cold is one of the main spells that should be used the most. Not only does it freeze the foes but also deals decent damage.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading the Battlemage Build post for Dragon Age: Origins. If you enjoy a playstyle of the caster that stands on the frontlines with heavy armor, this is for you. Not only are you a sturdy combatant but you also have an array of spells to destroy your enemies.

Feel free to leave feedback below

Discussion

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Post author zanuffas avatar zanuffas
Gamestegy Founder. I have been writing game guides and builds for 4 years. I like to push myself to create something wonderful for the readers!