Creating Your Character
Select the Warrior class. The warrior’s abilities should focus on sword and shield. For the character’s background choose the Martyr default beginning. This will open up the “Last of His Line" quest in Act 1 which will reward you the Handcrafted Dwarven Cuffs (in Act 2) which grant immunity to being stunned. Make sure you actually choose the Nightmare difficulty level at the start too.
Rules for Solo Play
Note: The solo strategies described in this article are based on play after the 1.02/1.01 updates of the game were installed.
- Never take any companions with you.
- If you are forced to take any other companions along, always put them on hold and clear the companion’s tactics. Set them to cautious. This will effectively disable them from attacking. If companions get attacked, there is not much you can do about that. Don’t heal, level-up, equip them or cure their injuries.
- You cannot use other characters to unlock chests or disarm traps. It’s as if they don’t exist.
- Companion quests are allowed as long as the companion is not attacking or helping you in any way.
The “Back and Forth” Technique
The “back and forth" technique simply involves dashing your character towards the enemy, and then hacking at them and backing off before they can hit you. It is useful against multiple types of melee enemies.
- Shield and Sword Enemies – Attack one or two times before backing off
- Dual handed enemies – One attack at a time
- 2 handed weapon enemies – Four attacks at a time
- If there is a mix of different melee types of enemies, adjust accordingly to the situation.
- Generally, for mixes of archer/melee enemies focus on the ranged enemies first.
- For mixes of melee/archer/mage enemies, you will generally take out the mages first and then the archers.
- It is easy to defeat a group of enemies if they all have the same attack speed. Adjust your moves accordingly when there is a mix of melee enemies that have different speeds – such as groups with two-handed swords and dual weapons.
- You can do the “back and forth" technique with archers, but timing is more critical – move next to them and wait until before they swing their bow at you.
Strategies for Other Enemies
Dealing With Big Groups of Enemies
Handling groups of enemies while playing Dragon Age 2 in nightmare mode is a challenge. A good way to deal with these mobs is using the “peeling“ technique. Lure some of the enemies away, so it will give you a “divide and conquer" advantage. Sometimes groups of enemies will get reinforcements. As the battle continues, lure the first wave away and kill them. This will “peel" the first wave away from the second.
To handle assassins, put your back to a wall to keep them from backstabbing you. Good tight corners are best. Assassins don’t go into stealth if their allies are dead. If no wall exists, activate Shield Wall, take a little damage and then throw a grenade to stun the group. Then deactivate the Shield Wall and kill all the others besides the assassin so that the assassin doesn’t go into stealth mode. Use multiple bombs and healing potions to survive.
Handle Commander Archetypes by dealing with their minions first. This is important since the Commander will always try to heal them when they are close by.
- Try to lure the minions away and then kill them off. If the Commander moves close to his minions, use Pummel to stun him and disable his healing Aura. Once he is stunned, continue attacking the minions.
Eliminating the Commander (after minions are dead)
- Do your best to keep your distance from the Commander, since he will always try to stun you. Time your attacks carefully. Run up to him, use Pummel to stun him and attack him a couple of times while he is incapacitated. Then quickly back off. When your Pummel attack becomes available again, continue this method of attack.
- You can also attack the Commander while he is in the process of activating his healing Aura. Even when his minions are dead, he will still go through the motions of this action. Attack him a couple of times, and then back off.
Gaining Experience, Useful Items and Other Helpful Tips
You will always find more potions of what you don’t have – Stamina, Lyrium or Healing. The key is to keep three or less of the potion you need. For instance, if you don’t want Lyrium or Stamina potions, make sure you have four of each of them in your inventory.
- Hawke heals slowly during battle, as well as the creatures. It is based on how much HP they/you have.
- Try to find a helm when you reach level 5 for 26 silver (This is a general type of helm you can get from any merchant in Kirkwall). You should also try to locate a weapon that does 11 points of damage at level 5.
- Get the Scatter ability at level 6 (before going into the Fenris mansion quest). Fight nighttime enemies and even go to Sundermount and fight some spiders to help get you to level 6. Talk to the Elven Keeper for 400 XP and buy the Notched Sword in Lowtown before going to the mansion. You will need 23 Strength to use the sword.
- Using Bolster while running is quicker than using Bolster while standing.
- Get the Kirkwall shield in Lowtown. This shield only requires 18 Strength and 13 Constitution.
- Use forced allies (uncontrolled) to distract enemies while you take care of the others.
Important Talents You Will Need
Note: To effectively follow this Dragon Age 2 nightmare level solo guide, select the following talents as you gain levels.
- Level 1 – Pummel (you get this automatically)
- Level 2 – Shield Bash
- Level 3 – Pummel Blow
- Level 4 – Bolster
- Level 5 – Shield Defense
- Level 6 – Scatter
- Level 7 – Reaver Specialization, Perception and Blood Frenzy. Purchase the Tome of Technique to get an extra talent point.
- Level 8 – Safeguard
- Level 9– Shield Wall
- Level 10– Elemental Aegis
- Level 11 – Assault
Before the ogre battle, you will encounter an Arcane Horror along with 8 archers. “Peel" the Arcane Horror away from the archers. After you kill the Arcane Horror, deal with the archers. Shield Bash archers so they will be bunched up together, then attack them all at once.
In the ogre battle, Shield Bash archers into other archers and attack them before going near the ogre. Then try to lure the Ogre to rush directly into his own allies. Quickly dodge out of the way before the ogre starts his rush attack.
Outside the Kirkwall City Entrance
When you are trying to get into the city, choose the Red Iron task. This is the mercenary option. The guy you need to kill has 5 gold sovereigns on him. Lure the enemy to the center of the area so that the guards help in the fight.
Some Tips for Levels 5 and 6
Pick up all codex items you encounter around Kirkwall and do non-combat secondary quests. You can gain a level simply by doing this (and this will help get you to level 5).
- After gaining your fifth level (and leveling up), look for a sword or mace that does 11 points of damage for 25 silver. If you do not find it right away, just keep checking the shops as they will repopulate with different items.
- To get to level 6, try fighting random enemies during the night and any other little fights that you can find. At this point, you will want to avoid assassins until you get the Combustion Grenade.
- At level 5 you should also do the Bait and Switch quest (where you meet Fenris)–up until the mansion quest for the extra experience.
- Begin Merrill’s personal quest (Mirror Image), but don’t finish it until you are at level 6. When fighting the spiders, target the spitting ones first (just like archers). The benefit of this quest is that it provides lots of potion/poison ingredients.
Suggested Order for Completion of Quests in Act 1
A Bitter Pill (Fenris' personal quest) – This quest is ideal early since there are no assassins. You will also find a belt that gives you
more dropped gold (which will help throughout Act 1).
Mirror Image (Merrill’s personal quest) – This Is good since there are no assassins, and a lot of coin and ingredients. After completing Merrill’s personal quest, the Wayward Son quest will open up. This is located in the Gallows. The Viscount’s son mission also becomes available which opens the Wounded Coast and gets you to the Black Powder Promise main plot quest.
Birthright – (helping get the will for your mother) – You can take on assassins in tight corners as well as find lots of money. Tip: There is a very tight spot where the Amel Crest is located. Use that area to fight assassins. Always make sure that you keep your back to a wall so the assassins cannot backstab you.
Black Powder Promise – No assassins and you can get the Combustion Grenade formula. Make sure to collect the 3 gold from the dwarf while talking to the Arishok.
Shepherding Wolves –There are no assassins in this quest. Make sure to ask for coin from Petrice after the completion of her task – You'll earn 7 gold.
Herbalist's Task – Get the iron bark directions from the elf merchant in Sundermount. The iron bark will be in the “iron bark" clearing.
Loose Ends – A good quest to gain experience since there are no assassins. Pull minion enemies away from Commanders so that they will not have a chance to heal.
Tranquility – Take out the archers and then guide the Commander downstairs (by himself). Kill the Commander using the tips described above and then kill the rest of the enemies. Run away from the hunter until all the others are killed.
Fool’s Rush In – This quest has low level assassins, but is otherwise easy to complete.
Random Kunari in the Wounded Coast – These are re-spawned enemies that will reappear after completion of the "Black Powder Promise" quest.
The Unbidden Rescue – Save the Viscount’s son in the Wounded Coast. Tip: Use the “peel technique" before getting the assassin.
Last of His Line – To handle the assassins, the best location is downstairs to the right of the Docks entrance in the corner between the box and wall indention.
Finders Keepers – When in the warehouse, use the narrow area on the second floor by the ramp to protect your back against assassins. You can use the back and forth tactic with some enemies while within the narrow area. When you go to collect the reward, tell the client you won’t tell him where the warehouse is, and then tell him you want more money for a bigger reward.
Wayward Son –Similar to Finders Keepers, when in the warehouse use the narrow area on the second floor by the ramp to protect your back. You can do the back and forth tactic with some enemies while within the narrow area.
Sharp Little Pin Pricks – Use the “General Combat Strategies for Solo Play" section as a guide to completing this quest.
Secret Rendezvous – To handle the assassins, the best location is downstairs to the right of the Docks entrance in the corner between the box and wall indention. Use grenades to help you out.
Magistrate’s Orders – Make sure to have Element Aegis ability to protect you from poison spitting spiders. You get more money if you don’t blackmail the Magister.
Additional Act 1 Quests
For the following, use the “General Combat Strategies for Solo Play" section (from page 1 of this Dragon Age 2 nightmare guide) to help you complete these quests.
- Herbalist’s Tasks
- Enemies among Us
- The First Sacrifice
- Act of Mercy
- Pier Pressure
- Just Skip Night Lies
The Deep Roads Expedition
Before going into the Deep Roads, Buy Surface Stone Boots (located in Hightown) with one free slot and put a protection from electricity rune on it. Get the formula for the electricity protection rune in the Gallows. Also, put a protection from electricity rune on your Banng Backhouse Door shield. Coupled with Elemental Aegis, this will give you 100% electricity protection. Note: If you are playing the game after installing the 1.02/1.01 updates, your maximum electricity resistance is only 95 percent.
- The Dragon in the Deep Roads can’t fit through doorways – use this to your advantage. Lure the dragon back to a previous doorway and attack from there.
- Attacking giant spiders in the Deep Roads can be a challenge. However, you can back your character up the stairs with the wooden rails to keep from getting overwhelmed. The huge spider cannot get past the rails.
- Sandal gives you a blue rune of cold. Equip it to the Thunderpuck Fist Mace. This will be useful against the Ancient Rock Wraith boss fight.
The Rock Wraith Boss Fight
It is important to note that the Rock Wraith is immune to poison and weak to cold.
You will need:
- 16 Elfroot potions and 3 Fire Bombs
- Surface Stone Boots
- Thunderpuck Fist Mace
- Winter Weight Shield
- Boots of the Fallen
- 2 Lightning protection runes for use on your boots and shield
- Cold Rune
Before the boss fight begins, activate the Elemental Aegis and make sure you have the Surface Stone Boots and Backhouse Door shield equipped.
To start, the Ancient Rock Wraith will use lighting attacks and his Rock Stab ability. You will need to taunt him by moving in close enough for him to activate the Rock Stab. Watch carefully. When he is about to rock stab, quickly back off (The Wraith’s Rock Stab ability has a cool down period). Then move in and start attacking him. The Wraith will then shoot lightning at you. At this point continue attacking him with regular attacks and your Assault ability. After the Wraith shoots four lighting attacks at you, back off. Repeat the actions above and continuously taunt the Wraith until he uses the Rock Stab ability again. This phase will continue for a while.
Phase 2 – Arcane Blasts and Rock Roll Attacks
When the Wraith has taken enough damage, he will then use the Arcane Blast attack. This is a large energy blast that can cause a lot of damage. Before he activates this ability, move behind a pillar. Use this opportunity to boost up your stamina with the Bolster ability.
After the Wraith finishes the Arcane Blast attack, he will collapse into a pile of rubble (which is his weakest state). The Wraith will then summon Profane minions. Ignore them and focus on attacking the Wraith.
At some point the Wraith will then change into a rock form that includes a shield and melee weapon. When this happens, focus your attention on the Profane minions and avoid the Wraith. After the minions are dead, you will need to change your equipment to better protect yourself from physical damage. Equip the Winter Weight Shield and the Boots of the Fallen. Deactivate the Elemental Aegis and activate the Shield Wall ability.
Now you will be going toe-to-toe with the Wraith. The best strategic position is next to a pillar. The reason for doing this is that the Wraith will now use the Rock Roll ability. The pillar helps to prevent the Wraith from rolling past you, keeping him in a good spot where you can attack him. Use Assault and regular attacks to cause the Wraith damage.
When you have caused the Wraith enough damage, he will go back into the Arcane Blast phase. Immediately move back behind a pillar. Equip the Surface Stone Boots and Backhouse Door shield. Deactivate the Shield Wall and reactivate the Elemental Aegis. After the Wraith completes his blast, he will turn into a pile of rubble and summon Profane minions. Focus your attention on the Wraith and attack him.
The Final Boss Phase – This is Not My True Form
After some time, the Wraith will go into another phase where he will begin to switch quickly between different forms. Mainly, this will be between the Shield and Weapon form and the regular form where he shoots a lightning attack at you. In addition, he will also turn into a Dust Storm form that is similar to the Arcane Blast phase.
At this point, focus your attacks on the minions. Once they are dead, switch your attention to the Wraith. Adjust your attack strategy depending upon the shape the Wraith is in. However, don’t worry about switching any equipment. Only turn off the Elemental Aegis and switch to the Shield Wall during the times when the Wraith is in the Shield and Weapon form. When facing the Dust Storm form, follow the strategy as if it were the Arcane Blast. Move behind a pillar and use Bolster to boost up your stamina. Keep attacking the Wraith in these different forms until dead.
To see the strategies described above in action, watch our Ancient Rock Wraith boss battle videos.
Strategy based on game play by Christopher F. Robinson.
Screenshots created by Sheila Robinson.