Dragon Age Nightmare Mode Strat Guide: Rogue Class

This post is a part of an ongoing feature here at Nightmare Mode to  provide you with an expert’s strategy guide on playing Dragon Age.

Rogues are my personal favourite. When developed right they are deadly, and make even a Nightmare Mode play-through run smooth. I would not recommend a rogue for people starting the game for the first time, as  it isn’t as straight-forward as other classes and you will definitely get mixed up. Case in point, during my very first play-through on the game, I used Leliana in my party. She died repeatedly and always needed watching out for. I thought it was just par for the course, until she hit level 20 or so and magically stopped dying all the time.

I didn’t figure out why until I made my own rogue. There’s a few specific things you must do and specific talents you must avoid. Knowing what these are will determine if your rogue is more kickass than James Bond himself or a useless failure. With any class you have to pump cunning until around 22. But for the rogue, you can’t get away with this. Cunning is the second-most important stat to pay attention to.

Let’s get into the basics of statistic guidelines.

Your #1 is Dexterity. Your #2 is Cunning. The guys who made this game aren’t stupid. Think about it: what makes a good, sneaky assassin? Someone who’s quick, good with knives. Very accurate. They know where to strike. This means you’ve got to have high dexterity, skills to use those knives like a pro. You’ve gotta be smart and know where to hit your target since you aren’t very strong and you aren’t wearing armour that makes you invincible. You’ve gotta have a high cunning score.

The cunning stat serves two purposes. Not only does it increase the effectiveness of backstabbing and critical hits, but if the cunning stat is greater than the strength stat, cunning is used in place of strength. This can be used to your advantage, letting you save ability points for other things.

Dexterity is also two-fold, but instead of a relationship with strength, dexterity goes hand-in-hand with constitution. Don’t even bother putting anything into constitution. For a rogue, constitution is as useless as magic. By the end of the game, your dexterity stat will be so high, nothing in the game will be able to hit you anyhow. A high dexterity means enemies have less chance of making contact with you, and also improve defence. Take into account that the Dual Weapon Mastery talent requires you to have at least 36 dexterity. But for a killer rogue, even this isn’t enough. Look to get dexterity to over 60.

Strength is important, but not too important. You need to base what your end strength score will be based on what kind of armour you want to use. The best armour in the game bar none, for the rogue, is Wade’s Superior Drakeskin set. I’ll let you in on a little trick to save points for your dexterity and cunning: the Superior Drakeskin requires the wearer to have 22 strength. Get your strength up to 22 and leave it alone. You can wear a Wade’s Drakeskin set pretty early in the game if you go to the mage’s tower and get dragon scales there, which means you’ll be set up for almost your entire play-through.

Willpower is a minor stat, because you do need some to pull off a handful of key activated moves. Those being Dirty Fighting, Dual Weapon Sweet and Flurry, as well as others if you want them. Plug a point or two into willpower throughout the game as needed. Different playing styles will require different amounts of willpower, obviously.

The two stats to NEVER put points into as a rogue, are magic and constitution. Magic is self explanatory. As I said above with dexterity, your dex essentially becomes your constitution. With the Lifegiver Ring, you’ll get a bonus +10 to constitution plus whatever other jewelry you choose to wear.

How about that talent tree?

Rogues have many talents, the most useful of which being lock picking. There’s a few things you need to know about the talent tree though. Number one rule for playing as a rogue? Do not. Under any circumstances. Get ANY. Archer talents….unless you plan on being an archer. Which I will also have a strat guide for. (Yes, I have beaten the game as an archer and it’s quite fun). Otherwise, ignore the Feign Death talent.

Filling out the Duel Weapon Training tree (which also has DW Finesse, DW Expert and DW Mastery) is an absolute must. At the beginning of the game you’ll most likely be using a sword in your main hand, and a dagger in the other. However after several hours, you’re going to want to switch to a dagger-dagger pairing. Yes, DW Mastery will ignore the penalty for wielding two swords, but the key aspect of the better daggers in the game, is the +10 or +15% backstab critical you can get.

Duel Weapon talents will help you out immensely. Remember my firsthand account of how much rogues can suck, using Leliana as an example in the first paragraph of this strat guide? The reason she all of a sudden got good, is that I (by accident) ended up getting the right DW talents. These are important and will help you out. Things like DW Sweep and Flurry are great for pulling together combos to completely incapacitate your subject.

There are several daggers you want to watch out for or perhaps pursue. Early in the game, I would recommend getting Olaf’s Prized Cheese Knife from the village of Honnleath (Shale DLC). You will invariably notice The Rose’s Thorn on sale in a couple of markets for a ridiculously high amount of gold, which is worth it for it’s +30% Critical towards the end of the game. Duncan’s Daggers (Return to Ostagar DLC) are pretty potent. I recommend leaving these for at least halfway through the game, a little trick in Dragon Age is, the longer you leave something, the better it becomes. In other words, if you went to Ostagar as soon as you could, Duncan’s daggers will be…alright. But if you go to Ostagar after you’ve completed almost the whole game, they’ll be amazingly awesome. Getting Duncan’s Dagger somewhere in the middle of the game will hold you over until you are able to afford a Rose’s Thorn. Additionally, if your Origin was a City Elf, you will have access to Fang, which comes with a bunch of good stat-boosters.

Unfortunately you can’t make a dagger out of the Starmetal piece you can find. No worries, with that you can craft a sword for whichever party members you take with you. At any rate, don’t expect daggers to go over a 6.40 damage score. Again as I’ve said, don’t let this deceive you into thinking if you can get two 15-damage full swords, they would be better. The bonuses to Critical are well worth it.

As far as which party members to take, there are quite a lot of options. I always suggest taking Wynne. She will save your noobish-nightmaremode-ass many times over. I also always suggest taking Morrigan, as she is as sexy as she is powerful. That would leave one more person. Do not take another rogue with you, that’s just asking for trouble. Take your pick of front-line warriors, whichever suits your playing style or personality tastes the best.

To sum up:

Recommended final stats: Strength 22

Dexterity 65

Willpower 20

Magic 14

Cunning 35

Constitution 16

*Note these stats are bare stats, they do not include any bonuses you may receive. I personally had my dex at 75 and constitution at 31 by the end of the game, with all the jewelry and other things I was wearing.

Recommended party: Wynne, Morrigan, and a Warrior (Sten, Alistair, Shale, Ohgren).