This is the perfect class if you are as infatuated with explosions as the guys on Mythbusters

So I figured that I should try to have a go at writing about just what my builds and battle strategies are for some of the classes I’ve played in Dragon Age Inquisition. First up, is the Artificer Archer, which has to be one of my favourites of the nine specialisations on offer.

So, first thing’s first, what is the Artificer, and what does it do?

Well, the class can work as a dual dagger rogue, but archery really works well, especially with the focus ability Hail of Arrows. It also gives general buffs to your party, particularly in relation to critical hit chance and status and damage over time effects. Oh, and you can also litter the battlefield with elemental mines, which is great for your framerates.*

* No, actually, it’s not, but you won’t care, because you’ll get lots of critical hits.

Now, this guide is written with the difficulty level turned up to Hard, but I don’t see how it would be much different in Nightmare difficulty.

The Party

I’ve found that you only need one tank to hold aggro. You can pick either Cassandra or Blackwall for this with confidence, since their abilities make them pretty much immune to damage. Blackwall’s more survivable, but Cassandra can buff the party. She can also use Spell Purge, which helps when you’re taking down Fade Rifts.

You can pick between two mages or an additional rogue to fill the other two part slots. I tend to use Vivienne, as she’s really good at supporting the melee tank and also the rest of the party if need be. I tend to pick Solas over Dorian most of the time, simply because Solas does more damage overall, and his constant weakening of enemies is more useful.

You could go for a second archer, but be warned that rogues are no good at crowd control. Mages are better at crowd control and better at setting up combos with spells that you can then trigger with your attacks. The additional barrier is also much more useful than another archer’s pure DPS.

The build

Archery Tree – Put a point into every base skill and passive. The upgrades for Explosive Shot and Long Shot are optional. Archer’s Lance is limited since most enemies tend to spread out, and Explosive Shot is really only used to knock down opponents. On the other hand, the upgrade for Full Draw is very useful, since it can take one very special enemy out of play for twenty seconds (or kill them outright in one hit). Of course, there are those annoying ones that are immune to status effects, but taking an archer out of the fight can really help.

It doesn’t really matter which order you do this in, though I find that Leaping Shot is better for damage overall, so I tend to go for this side of the tree first, on the way to Full Draw.

Double Daggers (optional) – I’m not absolutely certain whether the passives between the archery and dagger work, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t. Anyway, this is optional, as you could use a few points to grab Sneak Attack, which gives you additional chance to score a critical hit when flanking. This might be useful before you arrive at Skyhold, but I find that in the mid to late game, you will do plenty of damage, whether it’s critical or not.

Subterfuge – You start off with stealth, and it’s up to you whether you keep it or not. It’s not absolutely essential, but I do find it useful when deploying mines. You could also pick up Easy to Miss, which gives you passive threat reduction, which is more useful in the early game.

Sabotage – Looked Like It Hurt is a great passive that will really help with ensuring that you can launch as many attacks as often as possible. Every time you critically hit, you get stamina. Enough said. Optional is whether you also pick up Cheap Shot, which lowers armour for six seconds after a critical hit. Useful, but not essential.

Artificer – All the base skills are essential here, and the only upgrade I’ve taken is Throw Everything for Elemental Mines, which can essentially double the number of mines you chuck in your enemy’s face. Lots of explosions and fun.

Your Gear

I can say one thing, the toughest suit of armour is not essential. However, if you want to save your potions and add some survivability, I would absolutely suggest using a Fade Touched Silverite or Obsidian in the masterwork slot of your armour set. Giving you guard on hit means your health stays at maximum.

This will save your money for the toughest armour for your tanks, which is much more useful. It will also allow you to give your tanks dragonbone armour, giving them that much more survivalibility.

In terms of your bow, the Spiked Longbow from Val Royeaux in the early game, and the Masterwork Spiked Longbow from the Hissing Wastes are absolutely fine. Whatever masterwork material you choose to include in the Hissing Wastes bow, is of course, up to you. Some materials reduce stamina costs, which is good if you plan on using Throw Everything a lot.

The bows don’t have many addon bits and bobs like the swords and axes do, but it’s essential that whatever grip you can get your hands on gives additional bonuses to either dexterity, cunning, attack or critical chance. This is essentially how you get synergy with this build.

Your Battle Strategy

Against mobs, there really isn’t much to it. You have two options to open the fight.

The first is start with a Full Draw against an archer or a mage. These guys tend to have less armour anyway, so a critical hit will likely take them out of the fight permanently. Otherwise, twenty seconds of stun gives your party the time it needs to assert themselves.

You could also go into stealth and then release all of your elemental mines. This will of course draw aggro, so either you release the mines after your tank appears, or you run away very quickly. Hopefully, the mobs running over the mines will give you stamina and reduce your cooldowns enough so you can Leaping Shot away.

Leaping Shot is your mainstay here. Twelve shots at fifty per cent weapon damage per hit is awesome, and each arrow you fire has its own critical chance. This is how you sustain your DPS, by relying on high critical chance per shot to regain stamina and reduce cooldowns.

I find that Long Shot becomes less useful for this build as you level up, as does Full Draw in a pitched battle. The issue is that they’re only one shot abilities, and therefore can’t give you as much cooldown reduction and stamina as Leaping Shot can.

In terms of disabling annoying mobs, you have some limited single target capability. Elemental Mines don’t cause knockdown, but they can chill, burn and shock. Personally, I loathe the Terror and Despair Demons, and I save Explosive Shot for them, and targets with shields exclusively. This is to keep them on the ground so they can’t move around as much. Spike Trap is useful too, and Leaping Shot’s upgrade gives you a one time knockdown arrow as well. Again, these are situational attacks, but useful in a pinch.

Minor issues

I’m not absolutely sure if this is a bug, or I’m just doing it wrong, but when using Elemental Mines against multisection targets like giants and dragons in my game, they don’t always go off, even if the target is right over them. Because of this, I would caution the use of Elemental Mines around big targets because if they don’t go off, you could be left very vulnerable without any stamina for Stealth or Leaping Shot to get away!

Enjoy your demolitions expert

So, there you have it, a build for an Artificer Archer. This really is a fun class to play, and does not get put to shame by the Tempest or Assassin in terms of damage. I managed to defeat the Highland Ravager (the toughest dragon in the game) in sixty seconds, without any additional buffs from potions. This build is insane.

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