Stab, stab, stabby!

Welcome to the fourth of my character builds for Dragon Age: Inquisition. This time, we’re going to have a look at the Assassin, a classic character in RPGs that needs no real introduction.

Just a note here that this build is based on using double daggers as the weapon of choice. The class works just as well as an archer, as you can get better DPS, but not the kind of spike damage you’d get with twin daggers.

What is an Assassin?

Like the archetype in books, movies and television, the DAI Assassin relies on stealth and surprise to do its job. Because of this, you’re more likely to deal high levels of spike damage (and by high, I mean astronomical) rather than sustained DPS.

Warning though, this class is the ultimate glass cannon of Inquisition, with the philosophy of a strong offence is the best defence. You will die very quickly if you stick around inside busy, messy fights. Leave that stuff to the tank and ranged members of your party.

The Party

This is actually reasonably straightforward. You’ll need a tank, without question, and Cassandra and Blackwall are great for this task. Iron Bull works too, as long as you don’t let him use too many of his Reaver skills.

As an assassin, you’re the party’s rogue class, so the choice of whether to go with two rogues or two mages is completely up to you. I find that two mages specialising in crowd control, ala Dorian and Solas maximises the rogue’s survivability.

If you do go with two rogues in the party, I absolutely suggest equipping the second rogue with a bow rather than daggers, as the AI isn’t very good at flanking and staying out of fights. If you want two dagger rogues, you’ll have to keep chopping and changing between them to make sure everyone survives.

The Build

Subterfuge Tree

You’ll only need two skills from this tree:

  1. Stealth – which is essential for all rogues, and Assassins rely on this skill for most of their damage, and
  2. Easy to Miss – which reduces your threat level against all enemies. Basically, if you can’t get into stealth, you’re still less likely to be attacked.

You don’t really need the upgrade to Stealth, even on harder difficulty levels, because your tank should hold all the attention anyway.

As an option, especially in the early game, you could pick up Knockout Powder and Mercy Killing, which gives you the ability to perform a little crowd control of your own by putting enemies to sleep and having any attacks you make on those targets become automatic critical hits.

Later on, when you get access to the Assassin tree, you won’t need Knockout Powder or Mercy Killing and you will probably want to redistribute those skill points somewhere else.

You might also consider getting the passive Ambush which gives you armour penetration from stealth. This is definitely a waste of skill points, and really, you’re better off getting skills to enhance your chance for critical hits. There are better skills out there anyway.

Sabotage Tree

You’ll spend three points here:

  1. Caltrops – which is useless, but required for the next two passive skills,
  2. Looked Like it Hurt – which gives you stamina for every critical hit you make, and
  3. Cheap Shot – which reduces the armour of your target for six seconds every time you make a critical hit.

Seriously though, don’t use Caltrops.

Assassin Tree

Get everything except for the Focus Ability. I’ve never used it and I doubt it’s all that useful. Perhaps if you’re having a lot of trouble with Hakkon the Dragon or the Hakkonites in Jaws of Hakkon, this might come in handy, but really, you need to do a lot of damage just to get a couple of seconds of stealth.

Essentially, this tree gives you the following:

  • Automatic critical hits from stealth,
  • Wipes the cooldown on Stealth every time you kill an enemy,
  • Damage bonus against enemies with low health,
  • Passive 25 per cent armour penetration against all targets,
  • Fantastic crowd control with Knockout Bomb (and its upgrade), which has an area of effect, rather than single target,
  • Mark of Death (and its upgrade) which adds up damage dealt against a target over some amount of time and then deals it to the target again once the mark is completed, and
  • A great long range attack in Hidden Blades (and its upgrade) for enemies you’re a bit far away from, like archers.

Double Daggers Tree

Take every thing except for the upgrade to Flank Attack, Parry and its upgrade. 

What you’ll have are extremely powerful attacks that are aimed at giving you high critical damage combined with flanking damage bonuses. You’ll get to a stage where you can one shot quite a few of the trash mobs you encounter.

The three primary attacks you can rely on for maximum damage are:

  1. Twin Fangs – which is really your bread and butter,
  2. Spinning Blades – not very effective until you get better critical chance bonuses and its upgrade, and
  3. Death Blow – which is best used on targets that are below forty per cent health for a final hit.

Now, you will also get Flank Attack, which is probably an OK attack in the early stages of the game, but it doesn’t do much damage and once you get access to the Assassin tree, you can reset your Stealth cooldown with every kill, Flank Attack makes no sense.

Sadly, there is a bug with Death Blow and Dance of Death (even on Patch 6). When you kill an enemy, you’re supposed to gain fifty stamina. But when you use Death Blow, it doesn’t work. With this combination, you should be able to essentially chain Death Blow on pretty much eveything, but the bug means you will likely drain all your stamina in one hit.

Use Death Blow with caution, because it can leave you high and dry without enough stamina to even get back into Stealth.

Your Gear

I highly recommend that you craft the best armour you can, including a Fade Touched Obsidian/Silverite in its ingredients to generate guard. The reason is that you’re going to get close and personal, and that extra layer of protection is going to come in handy when the fighting gets busy.

In terms of your weapons, it is entirely up to you whether you prefer daggers or dual blades. Dual blades give you area of effect damage, but daggers don’t. The DPS is the same, until you get to the Hissing Wastes, so there’s no disadvantage either way.

In the same vein, there is a Tier Four dagger found as part of the Jaws of Hakkon DLC, which is superior in damage to the everything else. But it looks like a ridiculous glowing icicle. I’ll leave that up to you.

The major difference is the attack animations and how your character moves across the battlefield with your attacks. Daggers is…well a bunch of stabs, but most importantly, you’ll stand relatively still whilst doing so. Dual blades on the other hand, makes your character dance and twirl across the battlefield (I can’t think of any other way of describing this…), meaning you’ll move somewhat with your targets if they’re retreating.

The good thing about having dual weapons is that you can use three fade touched materials in your arsenal, rather than two, if you use a bow. There are many to choose from, and I would say that it doesn’t matter so much what you use. But if you have the material that gives a chance to proc Hidden Blades, go with that. It’s amazing.

Again, it depends on how you feel when trying out the weapons on your character.

Battle Strategy

The most important thing about being an Assassin is never be the focus of attention. This means that you should never strike first. Leave that to your tank. In fact, don’t let your mages do the first strike either, unless you have Vivienne with you.

The other thing to avoid is getting right into the thick of a battle with multiple enemies. Run around the periphery, taking out archers and mages from Stealth with a well aimed Twin Fangs. Twin Fangs generally knocks down the target if it’s not killed outright, so you can also finish that quickly with a Death Blow.

Speaking of Death Blow, despite the stamina regeneration bug, it is still a very powerful attack. If you don’t kill the target outright, you will knock down the vast majority of humanoid enemies, be it mages or even brutes with two handed weapons. If you’ve got dual blades equipped, it will also do area of effect damage against mobs, so you could use the attack for when you’re in trouble and need to get out fast.

Use Knockout Bomb for crowd control, since it’s a ranged attack. Take out the archers you can’t reach yet with it and finish the job later. It’s also great since you don’t lose stealth by using this.

Hidden Blades is extremely powerful, especially with its upgrade and will will be able to one hit quite a lot of mobs with this attack.

In Closing

This is a really fun build to have, but it needs a lot of micromanagement. It’s the glass cannon build that has that small amount of survivability you need for big end game fights. If you’re a bit sick of playing as a Knight Enchanter or Templar, this might just be the ticket for you.

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