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Old 07-18-2012, 06:33 PM   #1
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Dark Mode - Mage Build for abusing the combat mechanic

As this post has gotten longer than I originally though I just started a thread, so it doesn't get lost in the other thread, because, hopefully, it might be helpful to some.

Ar least it helped me a lot, after having a really hard time to get into the game during my first run. I hated the combat system and thought the difficulty was completeley awful and off. Well, I still think it is lackluster, but fortunately in a good way as well.

After setting it down to easy I playing for 10 hours or whatever, I noticed that this game suffers the same problem a lot of action RPGs face: Combat balancing is shit. Since the game thinks you will probably focus on sword fighting the balancing completely breaks once you stop doing so and focus on rage attacks. This is something you can see in a lot of action RPGs, like Divinity 2 for example. It is much easier to program NPCs to dish out a lot of damage in closed combat or block your attacks, than actually forcing them to turn around and follow you when you run away or circle them.

Most enemies are extremely slow and static, so getting distance between you and them, or just hording them on one spot by rolling in a circle is easy pie after you put 1 or 2 points into the improved rolling ability.

There are only two real possibilities to deal a good amount of ranged damage. Bombs and the Igni-spell. Bombs serve as some sort of starting help, because Igni is completely useless before you put enough points into the magic tree and improved vigor regeneration. After that (which is right at the start of chapter 2, after farming some Harpies) you've practically beaten the game.

That's were bombs come into play. They are quite easy to craft, as long as you keep your herbalist gauntlets for double herbs and still extremely strong in Chapter 1. And even if you run out of material you can restock at merchants, because you will get a load of money at the start of Chapter 2 for the remaining sets. So you can spare some coins on bombs if you face a tough situation in Chapter 1. Though you still have to melee here (against weaker stuff) to some extend. Or you'd need hundreds of bombs.

I did this on my 2nd run, on Iorweth's path.

Some recommendations/semi rundown:

- Write down all the materials you need for the Dark Armor sets and check them off while playing.

- Loot everything! No one gives a shit. And don't sell anything you need for the armor sets. Also, store all crafting material you don't need right away in your chest, so that you don't run out of capacity. I actually stored everything I found in the storage chest until I got the barter perk (see below), so I did not sell anything without wanting too, or reached my weight capacity.

- Don't even think about putting points in the magic tree before you take the 40% vigor regeneration from the swords tree. Otherwise the recovery time for signs is just dreadful.

- Improved rolling is the most important ability, your first point (after the stupid starter tree) should get in here and you might put another point there once you've maxed Igni and the damage skills from the first 4 Tiers of the magic tree.

- Do not skill Position for lesser backstab damage at the start of the game, because it even if it sounds nice, you don't need it with this "idea of gameplay" and it takes you longer to get Igni up and running otherwise.

- In the magic tree, put no points into any of the other signs, except one point for quen, which you have to skill unfortunately. You either don't need these signs or they're good enough as they are. Focus to get to Igni and damage improving perks. Intensity has to be at lvl 2 before you can even think about dealing damage with Igni.

- Skilling itself is actually common sence. Vigor regeneration > sign damage > damage reduction > vitality > crit. Personally I put around 10 points in the swords tree up to Invincible until I was lvl 35 (skipped the 2nd point into feet work).

So yeah, basically it's not even a "full magic" build, because you still take a lot of passive stuff from the swords tree to improve damage reudction, vitality and of course your vital Vigor regeneration. Fortunately, focusing on Igni let's you save a lot of points in the magic tree, because you don't have to put them into the useless other signs.

- Once you start using Igni, avoid Quen! It blocks your vigor regeneration when it is up, so it practically ruins your build. Only use it when you're surrounded and don't have adrenaline up. But even then Igni stuns enemies and might be the better choice, because till you've casted Quen by beating the floor you're probably dead.

- I did not use any potions at all, too lazy and they suck anyway imho. the only ones you might actually want to think about are the two that increase sign damage (by 7) and vigor regeneration (20%). Focus on them and sell everything else. No need for them and especially at the beginning you might get some bombs that way.

- Unleveled magic sucks, so ...

- Use bombs for chapter 1, until you've leveled up your magic at the beginning of Chapter 2. Not only can you easily beat Letho that way, but any another tougher group of enemies. Shouldn't be too hard to craft tons of Bombs, if you keep your herbalist gauntlets till you get the first dark armor. And if you still run out of bombs, you can buy the ingredients at a merchant. I used the garpe bomb from Cedric.

- Get the 10% XP boost by killing the training puppets at the beginning of the game (5), plus another five spread throughout the first city. Two are in the guards barrack at the market place, 2 are at one of the exists and two more are at Loredo's square.

- At he part with the balista in the prologue, look at the big gate behind it and on the right side of it you should see the corpse of a guy with a white dress (go figure...). Run towards him and you'll get a perk for 25% improved backstab damage. Extremely helpful

- Avoid fighting that black haired (tell him to surrender) guy on the tower at the beginning of the prologue. That fight would be pretty hard I think. Additionally, if you save him later on in the prison, you'll get a perk that increases your carrying capacity. which is quite helpful because you should really grab everything lying around in the gameworld.

- Still in the prologue, use the traps and bombs you find in the prologue for the group of enemies at the gate to the temple. It's the only somewhat hard part.

- Get the 10% damage reduction perk by staying under Triss's magical thingy at the beginning of chapter 1
, where you get ambushed by the elfs. It's the first thing that happens in that Chapter.

- Get the 20% ignition perk by burning yourself 15 times, you don't have to do this right away, because you won't use Igni anyway till Chapter 2. Must get it at that point though.

- You can avoid most fighting on Chapter 1. Hell, if you side with Iorveth you can just run off with him right away. With enough bombs though you should be fine with doing the "harder" quests aswell, like killing the Endrega queens.

- Melitele's quest is the single hardest part in the game in this run. I once fought there for almost ten minutes before I died (and it required a shitload of precise rolling), while on my 2nd try it was just over in like 2 minutes. I've no idea how the fuck this quest works but it's not really worth any rage. Got 125 XP and a crappy amulet out of it.

- sure, you can grind out Nekkers in chapter 1, but I found them to be more annoying than Harpies, especially in larger groups. They are one of the faster enemies in the game and if they surround you you're fucked. I was only lvl 13 when I left Chapter 1 and still had no problem with the Harpies, even before I got the 2nd armor set. You level up extremely fast up to 21-22 later on.

- Get the 20% magic damage reduction by refusing Triss's sex offer in the bath in Chapter 1. This one's after you talk to the wounded elf on the prisoner ship and try to get the flower with Triss.

- Get the -20% barter perk by using Axii on the merchant you have to negiotate with before the Kayran fight (use the double payment option). Really helpful perk in order to get all three armor sets.

- There is some debate on whether you should actually buy the first Dark set or skip it, because you only get it pretty late in Chapter 1 and can actually get the 2nd set right at the start of the 2nd chapter (provided you have some money). Personally I think you should get it, because the beginning of Chapter 2 can be somewhat harsh otherwise. And since I highly recommend some Harpie farming after Chapter 1 (that got me around 10k+ orens), you shouldn't have problems with money anyway. I got all 3 sets and still had like 5-10k of orens left at the end of the game. Without further grinding or anything, just picking everything up.

- After you get the barter perk buy a shitload of studded/hardened leather from the merchant at the market, because you cannot buy studded leather onwards! And it's much more expensive to craft it. you can still buy hardened leather in Chapter 2, but the merchants only had it in very limited stock for me, dunno. Didn't see it in Chapter 3 at all!

Spend all you got and buy enough leather for the remaining 2 sets if possible. You'll get enough money at the start of the 2nd chapter. You might as well buy robust cloth while you're at it.

- For the Letho fight, don't fucking bother, just roll around and throw bombs onto him once his Quen is gone. You can throw 2 bombs on him before he recasts it. Takes around 15 bombs and his done for. Didn't use my sword once.

Last edited by Schreckofant; 07-18-2012 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 07-18-2012, 06:34 PM   #2
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- Bring some bombs for the beginning of the 2nd Chapter though, can be quite annoying otherwise because you'll have to do a lot of fighting without pause. I did not use any here and actually survived by a fraction, but I would have really wanted some for the Draugrs. After that Bombs become obsolete.

- At the beginning of Chapter 2 grab a Draugr fragment
after you kill them or you will lose out on the chance to get the 2nd Dark set early on!

- Farm Harpies right from the start of Chapter
2. This gives you a shitload of money (you're gonna need it, believe me) and XP. I did it till lvl 21, even than it only took 10 full runs through (one run = 100+ XP) the canyon (where Elton is, west of Vergen) in Iorweths path for one lvlup. And one run took maybe 2 minutes with meditating for the respawn afterwards.

So yeah, farming is fast and since you get a lot out if it I highly recommend it!

Dunno how well it works on Roche's path though, at the house with the candles. I imagine it can be quite tough because they respawn alle the time, might be faster though.

- On Iorweth's path, after grinding, do the "Where is Triss" quest, till you get the red band from one of the trolls. You get 2.5k XP for an extremely easy quest this way, though Philipa was gone afterwards and I had to do another easy quest for her to come back.

- Obviously get the 2nd set as soon as possible , because it makes harpie farming much easier. I got the 2nd set with lvl 17 I think. It's best advised, that you write down everything you need for the sets (witcher wiki). Don't worry about money, after farming for 4-5 lvls you'l have enough of it.

- At that point, with the 2nd Dark Set, the game becomes a joke. I'm not kidding, it's laughable from than on. Just abuse it with Igni if the situation becomes somehow dangerous for you. I think I didn't die at all in Chapter 2. Why fight honorably?

- And yes, Igni works on fucking everything. Because almost all enemies either move extremely slow or their attacks are slow and static. If you have rolling at lvl 1 or 2, nothing poses a threat. If you really want to be safe, you might now also get the perk that reduces damage from behind in the swords tree. I didn't take it, because you should stay away from the enemies anyway and I think you're better off with more vitality because most, if any hits will be coming upfront.

- The thoughest battle is probably the Draugr in Chapter 2. It actually works fine, because the arrows never hit me, but I dunno how you're supposed to evade his whirlwind attack.

Well, there is still some shit easy way: You can just evade his first attack (he rushes you), put down the trap sign and immediately roll behind him after he walks onto it (immediately! He's only stunned for a sec) and x/igni-him down. He shouldn't even be able to react thanks to the backstab ability from the beginning of the game.

- Common enemies should be absolutely no problem at that point anymore. There is always enough space to roll away from them or circle them and spam Igni onto them. Always! Even if they threat to surround you, IgnI does not only stun them for a second (interrupts their movement/attack) but should also set them on fire quite often now. Which lets humans ignore you completely for example.

- Gargoyles might be somewhat of a pain, because they are fast and deal tons of damage. You will need 9 gargyole dusts for the 3rd set so you should use the slowmo adrenaline skill (which you should have at that point) when fighting them. Makes it a joke. If you run out of adrenaline (it refills by casting Igni) just trigger them to jump down, cast 2-3 Ignis on them and run out of the area. They won't follow you and your adrenaline gauge should be filled after 3 tryes.

- The Dragon at the end is also a joke. You can kill him with around 20+ Igni casts in his face. At the beginning of the fight just stay away and spam Igni. His fire breath is static so you'll know where he'll hit. Easy to avoid.

The only annoying parts are when he circles around the tower or flies off to breath some fire and rush you afterwards. If he hits you, your insta death. You MIGHT want to cast Quen when he flies off, just to be save. But be aware, that you won't regen Vigor till he hits you and Quen is gone. So if you evade any damage you'll be stucked with a 1+ minute Quen timer and no way to cast more Igni spells. Yeah, I hate that sign ...

Bombs did not damage him btw. For the circling part, just always circle towards the other side of the tower. You can see where he is via the yellow shield icon on the minimap. It's not really hard.

- I let Letho live of course ... why bother yet again. He did you some favors as well.


Yeah, rolling around spamming Igni is the "cowardly" way to play. Everyone should be able to pull it off because rolling....seriously, you should just be able to hit LT and roll around the enemies. They are slow as fuck. It is really thought for people who absolutely hate the combat in this game but still don't want to miss out on the 1k.

But if you know the drill you can also bash onto the enemies and deal some serious damage with a combination of sword attacks and igni casts. I highly doubt there is a way to kill faster in this game than with a combination of maxed out Igni and melee attacks. Just for fun, I farmed the temerien quarter at the end of the game for about 5-10 minutes, killing hundreds of them.

Maxed out adrenaline ability + igni + severall enemies = lots of fun, because you can practically recast adrenaline (slowmo) every few seconds. Besides that I didn't really use adrenaline that much, but it is practically a life saver in situations where you get surrounded, because it let's you stun the enemies with an Igni-cast and roll out easily. So keep the procc till you get to a situation where you need it. It's completely imbalanced and refills pretty fast when maxed.

I did not die more than 10 times during my whole run this way and most deaths were kinda random, because I got stuck somewehre while rolling (fuck those fat dwarves in the mine) or played too agressively against larger enemy groups. Other than that it was really easy right from start to finish. And I also had huge problems during the beginning of my first run ...

Credit to...well, the internet?

Last edited by Schreckofant; 07-18-2012 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 08-13-2012, 08:46 PM   #3
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Just started getting into the game. I'm doing my first (easy) playthrough and have a have questions. I'm sure I'll have more later too

1. It sounds like you're the only one saying to do Ioveth's path second. Is there a reason for that? I assume you didn't kill the troll's though.

2. Would it be worth putting a point or two into alchemy to increase bomb damage for Chapter 1 or is it not that important?

3.) I assume you can stop "looting everything" once you start harpy farming since that'll get you plenty of orens right?

4.) Did you find any good places to farm grapeshot components in chapter 1?

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Old 08-14-2012, 01:46 AM   #4
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I'll let the OP answer, but here's my input on a couple of your questions (spoiler free):

Originally Posted by Method View Post
1. It sounds like you're the only one saying to do Ioveth's path second. Is there a reason for that? I assume you didn't kill the troll's though.
I did my first playthrough with Iorveth and I'm glad I did. From a story perspective, it fills in a lot of backstory that you don't even see/hear when you do Roche's path. From a gameplay perspective, I found Iorveth's path to be longer and more involving, which was a great for a first playthrough to get me into that world. Roche's path was shorter and had less depth, imo, which was a great for second playthrough cuz I really just wanted to finish up while still doing all the side quests.

That's just my opinion. I'm sure the OP has a good reason.

Originally Posted by Method View Post
4.) Did you find any good places to farm grapeshot components in chapter 1?
Not really a helpful answer, but I got more than enough to build grapeshots just by looting and randomly pressing A to pick herbs when outdoors. Also keep in mind the bombs take up inventory space even when equipped so you might want the enhanced capacity perks if you plan to go crazy with the bombs.

I mentioned it in another thread, but I personally did not find Igni to be all that great in Dark Mode. I maxed out everything as he suggested here. In the end, sword and rolling was more effective for me.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:27 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by fastNcurious View Post
I mentioned it in another thread, but I personally did not find Igni to be all that great in Dark Mode. I maxed out everything as he suggested here. In the end, sword and rolling was more effective for me.
I used this process for maxing out Igni for both the Arena and Dark mode. Nothing stood a chance. It was much easier than spamming the sword and roll buttons.

I used to be more of a soldier/melee kind of gamer. Then I replayed Mass Effect 1 and 2 before 3 came out. I went with an Adept just to see how it was. When I got to ME2, I started it on Insanity difficulty and breezed through it. I did the same when ME3 came out and breezed though it as well. I've read many stories of how ME3 on Insanity was extremely difficult. That wasn't my experience and I get owned more often than not on games like BF and COD. My reflexes are average at best.

It makes me wonder if some game makers give you a bigger advantage if you use more strategy from fighting with powers rather than brute strength/firepower.

Last edited by charincol; 01-07-2013 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:13 AM   #6
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Tip for Melitele s quest

I tried Melitele s quest in dark mode and found an easy way to master it without killing anything by myself. Just concentrate on axii to charm one wraith and just run or roll to evade the third one. if the third on comes too close just charm it with axii. Repete till end. After 8-10 min the fight is over.
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:23 AM   #7
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I went one run with the Stun spell instead of Igni. If it is maxed out, you can pretty much stun all enemies, then just walk up to them and one-hit kill every one, also the stronger ones.
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Old 07-23-2013, 01:41 AM   #8
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Didn't read the questions sry ~ But I guess it's already resolved.

I actually played through it just for fun a couple of months back and tried it in a more "normal" way... and it was just much much harder than abusing the game mechanics, bc you really can't take a lot of punishment in this game.

Of course you can just dodge around and use your sword, but it is much more demanding than the Igni strat in my opinion. As stated here, I was basically facerolling my way through the game (besides the start maybe...). When you're rolling you're almost invincible and since you can cast so fast and does so much damage ... it is a fucking joke, it breaks the whole game. Maybe the stun does it as well, dunno, but if you start playing your Dark Run in the future I'd still recommend using Igni and being a pussy because it works in almost every situation.
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Old 08-03-2013, 10:18 AM   #9
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I was looking through this list and noticed the Summer's Crown Ability statue is missing, was it cut from the Xbox 360 version?

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Old 01-21-2014, 04:04 AM   #10
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Very beautiful guide. I've been struggling through almost all of chapter 1 but now I am getting ready to farm harpies and make the second set immediately!
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:23 PM   #11
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this guide is a life saver! thanks!
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Old 02-04-2014, 11:42 AM   #12
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+1 I did a lot of Igni, and mixed in a little sword as well. Those dark armours add a lot of +Sign.

I didn't bother with the first one though, I just stayed with the Blue Stripe and Alchemy Gloves that you start with from Enhanced Edition. And then got the Oathbreaker as soon as I could in Act 2.

I found the Draug fight at the end of Act 2 a bit cheap though, as I found that half the time the cut scene would end, and he was already swinging at me, and ended up with a chunk of health missing. So this is what I did:

After the cutscene when you regain Geralt as your character, you have to kill the Standard Bearer. Don't Move. As long as you don't move, neither will the enemy. I had about 30 Snare traps that I just picked up randomly outside of Flotsam.

Lay them all down on top of each other. Make sure you roll AWAY from the pile (The first time I clipped the edge and had to reset a load of them and nearly died).

Kill the standard bearer - 1 Quen and 2 Igni should do. The cutscene will play and the Draug will attack. Roll over to your pile of traps, and put them between you and the Draug. He will charge, and die instantly from the Pile of traps.
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Old 03-04-2014, 03:42 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the great advice in here, doing Dark mode now and it's really not that hard if you get the armor sets and some key character abilities.
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Old 03-04-2014, 03:44 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by ShawnSig View Post
I was looking through this list and noticed the Summer's Crown Ability statue is missing, was it cut from the Xbox 360 version?
It's a Steam exclusive.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:52 PM   #15
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Great post thanks for all the tips for my dark run that im doing atm !!

Just a small note tho , atm im in chapter 2 roches path and the harpys do spawn with no problems but i get 0 XP . Im lvl 16 atm so i should get some xp right? o.0

I when to empty my bags to get some more room and killed some rotten on the way and got xp there no problems , but at the harpy area near 0 XP sadly ...

Anyone got any idea why?

Edit : The harpys near the house with the candles don't give xp ;/ , atleast thats wat the wiki said ... aw well

Last edited by Rainleaf; 04-18-2014 at 04:44 PM.
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