Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Witcher - Character Build

Click here for a list of all our walkthrough posts for The Witcher (Enhanced Edition).

In this post, we will give an overview of a Character Build for The Witcher. We will examine the talent trees in separate posts.

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Talent Points
  • Total
    • By level 50, from level progression alone, you get 92 Bronze Talents, 76 Silver Talents, and 23 Gold Talents.
    • An additional 2 Bronze, 3 Silver and 2 Gold Talents can be acquired from Mutagenic Potions. You must kill the Striga in Chapter 5 in order to make one of the potions. This mod lets you buy the required ingredient instead.
    • 1 Silver Talent Point is obtained by completing the Ripples quest.
    • The modified total is therefore 94 / 80 / 25.
  • Selection
    • There are 111 Bronze, 102 Silver and 33 Gold talents to choose from.
    • 11 Bronze talents are free: Level One in the 6 swords styles (you begin with them) and 5 magic signs (you acquire them during the story).
    • 2 Bronze talents (Potion Brewing, Flaying) are given during the Prologue.
    • 1 Bronze talent (Monster Lore) provides bestiary entries that can be acquired during the game by reading books, so there is no point taking it.
    • 4 Bronze talents (True Grit, Moonrise, Mutation, Predator) can only be acquired from Mutagenic potions made using special ingredients. You must kill the Werewolf in Chapter 3 to get the Fur necessary for the Predator potion. This mod lets you buy the required ingredient in Chapter 5, another mod lets you buy it in Chapter 4.
    • The modified total is therefore 93 / 102 / 33.
  • You are therefore short 22 Silver Talents and 8 Gold Talents, IF you reach level 50.
Build Strategy
Your focus should be: Not getting hit, controlling the battlefield, and dealing damage -- In that order. The first two are somewhat interchangeable since controlling how battle is conducted will greatly protect you from taking hits. However, in the worst case, you really want to run and regroup.

In the early game, melee is reasonable as long as you don't get surrounded and stuck in hit reactions because enemies are constantly attacking you. Enemies typically move quite slowly (unless they are specifically fast enemies, like Wraiths or Wyverns), so you can generally get clear and take the initiative again when you attack.

After Chapter 1, however, critical hit special effects start to become more common, and even human opponents can incapacitate you with Pain, Poison, and Stun. Also, you will frequently be outnumbered and cutscenes often start you with weapon sheathed and enemies able to immediately attack.
Even if you are not affected by critical effects all that often, any amount of prolonged melee will eventually wear you down, which may force you to take a healing potion. In short, you don't want to melee anyone if you can help it (except to land a finishing blow on Stunned or Knocked down enemies). Even a 1-on-1 battle can suddenly swing against you if the enemy manages to knock you down with a lucky hit.

Our focus, then is on safe, cheap, kills. And that means spells, because they let you hit at a distance and they work on percentages instead of fixed damage ranges. If you hit the Kikimore Queen with Igni or poison from Yrden, you will see damage in the hundreds. We're talking over 400. As the game progresses and enemies get more Vitality, spells never become obsolete while melee starts to take longer. And the longer you are in combat, the more chances the enemy gets to land an incapacitating hit on you.

After crowd control and enemy incapacitation techniques (which help give you reliable protection against being hit -- after all, a stunned, knocked down, or forced-back opponent can't hit you), your next priority is reducing the opportunity for enemies to hit you, meaning Parry and Dodge. Finally, higher-level fighting styles can be developed since those are your last resort as they put you in harm's way just to score damage.
A combination of spells and tactical positioning means you can get through most of the game without ever using Bombs, Oils, or Potions (other than night-vision Cat, for convenience).

Early Game
Aard is your only spell and it will take care of most of the tough enemies like Ghouls, and even The Beast. For melee you want to get Trip and Knockdown for level one Group styles very early, but the rest you can save for later since Aard lets you instant kill anything Knocked Down or Stunned, no matter how much Vitality they have.
Once you get Igni, get level two range for occasional use and leave it at that because ranged targeting is stupidly bad; but when it works, you can kill things quite safely. You do want to develop Igni to help you weaken enemies that are not susceptible to Aard when their Vitality is high; or when they are essentially immune to Aard (e.g., Wraiths, Ifrits).
For combat styles, fill out level one with all the special effects (Bleeding, Pain, Precise Hit). Anything that is dependent (e.g., enemy must be under Incineration) can be delayed since you are aiming for critical effects to kill faster (Bleeding, which works on a percentage of current Vitality) or buy you time (Pain, Knockdown) instead of going for raw damage, unless you are facing weak opponents.

Middle Game
Igni becomes more important and against large numbers of enemies, you are better off using it instead of Aard since you can get Incineration effects and it always forces enemies back, giving you room to maneuver. You don't have to get every talent for it, but you do want to develop it.
Aard development is still important for cheap kills, especially in 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 fights.
Longer chains in fighting styles mostly help you against fast moving creatures since these tend to dodge back far. A longer chain means they might close on you again only to be hit and forced back by another blow late in your attack chain. But overall, this is still not as useful as Igni and Aard.
Once you get Yrden, do not overlook it. Yrden can let you stand around and rest or do other things while it kills enemies, especially in 1-on-1 fights.
Quen comes late in the game when you probably already have strategies for handling crowds and getting yourself breathing space. It does have interesting peculiarities to its use and we will discuss this in detail in another post.
Axii is extremely powerful IF it works as it can shift the attention of enemies for a while. However it is really too chancy to rely on and doesn't work on critical tougher opponents. I only used it once against The Professor to turn him against Azar Javed. Since you get the Axii Sign right before that fight, it was probably scripted to be possible that way.
In the Swamps, you can use it to fairly good effect on Kikimore Workers since they are fairly hardy. Overall, you will probably have more reliable Signs to use your Endurance on unless you are using Tawny Owl and have Endurance to burn.

Late Game
Anything you get is icing on the cake especially if you haven't relied on Potions, Oils, or Bombs. I recommend topping up Aard, Igni, and Yrden, and anything that gets you Sign Intensity and Sign Duration, as well as anything that adds critical hit effects to Aard, Igni, and Yrden.

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