In my second playthrough of The Witcher 3, I decided to go off and try a build mostly focused on the Alchemy tree, with some back up abilities from the Combat tree. So far, this is a far more entertaining and hilarious game. You can probably already guess why…
Given that I’m already half way through the playthrough with an Alchemy focused build, it probably matters little at this point exactly what armour and swords you choose to run with. Personally, I am using the Wolf School gear, which is more of a generalist kind of set, with no specific bonuses for any particular fighting style. If you are wondering why I am using this set, it is simply because it looks awesome.
Alternatively, you can pick either the Bear or Feline school gear, and spend some of your skill points in the Combat tree to have a good level of back up damage if you run out of bombs (hint, you should not with this build).
Even if you simply do not care about the sword fighting aspect of Geralt’s skills, you should at least pick up Deflecting Arrows. This will make fighting bandits and the like much easier at all levels.
If you decide to go with either the Bear or Cat school gear, you will also want to pick up the first ten points of the Fast or Heavy attack skills for bonus damage and critical hit chance.
Really, all of the signs in their non-upgraded form are pretty useful. You might wish to add the first tier upgrade of Axii for more conversation options and experience, but really, you will not need anything else.
Interestingly, in my first playthrough, I basically ignored this part of Geralt’s skills for the worse. Because this tree comes with many, many good things. This build focuses primarily on Blade Oils and Bombs, but this tree also gives you bonuses to your potions and how many potions you can take at once.
When you’re just starting out, I especially recommend spending some points in this tree, purely because it allows your potions to run for longer durations. For example, Swallow, your primary healing potion apart from food, grants you thirty seconds of healing. With enough points in Alchemy, this doubles. And of course, you have the Enhanced and Superior versions of Swallow to brew.
Even better, you can increase your tolerance to your own witcher potions, which will allow you to have multiple potions active during combat, including decoctions, some of which are totally overpowered.
Blade Oils is where you can get lots of good damage bonuses against foes. Even going down to tier three, you will ensure that oils will never run out once applied (infinite charges!) and you also increase the chance to poison that particular type of foe with your sword. Once they are poisoned, you literally need to just stand there any watch their health drop like a stone.
Bombs though….this is where the calamity is. Go all the way down to tier four, and you get Cluster Bombs. Not only will you have between seven to nine (depending on level of bomb), they will also shatter into up to six fragments when thrown. Goodbye groups of enemies.