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Dragon Age: Inquisition is a hefty game. There's tons of stuff to organize: what characters are you taking? What equipment do you need? These character guides aim to give you a rough idea of how you can build each character, playing to their strengths and giving them a robust set of options in combat, hopefully making your time playing through the game more fun.
Obviously these aren't meant to be "the best" ways to build each character. Leave a comment if you feel a particular strategy has been neglected and we can all benefit from it.
Cassandra is the first character who joins you throughout Dragon Age: Inquisition, so it's rather fitting that she should be geared towards being a tank. Not only is Cassandra a Warrior, her unique, Templar, skill-tree, is geared towards defensive fighting and support, emphasizing her role as the vanguard of your party.
So where do you start? Well, the best option is to head into the Weapon and Shield skill-tree and grab a few key perks. First up, there's Shield Wall, a very classic tank-style ability that lets you build up guard whilst blocking attacks. It does consume stamina, so can't be held up indefinitely, but it will help protect Cassandra.
Weapon and Shield
What's more, there are no healing spells in Dragon Age: Inquisition, instead, each class gets a different way to mitigate damage, and, for Warriors, that's by building up guard. Guard operates as an additional layer of health, that, unlike barriers, the Mage equivalent, don't degrade over time, essentially allowing a skillful tank to operate with almost double their standard health.
Grabbing this also handily puts us in a range of Bear Mauls Wolves, a passive skill that prevents you from being flanked, along with a resistance to being staggered. Cassandra is likely to spend a good amount of time being surrounded, so an ability like this is incredibly useful.
After that, it's time to switch sides and go over and get Payback Strike, a counterattack that also potentially staggers the enemy. Stagger and stun effects are great for defensive fighters, allowing them to mitigate even more damage by simply preventing the enemy from doing anything, even if the tank can't actually kill them. This also allows us to grab Turn the Bolt, a sort of the ranged equivalent of Bear Mauls Wolves, giving us a whopping 50% damage reduction from frontal ranged attacks. Just keep in mind Cassandra's position when fighting plenty of archers/mages, for obvious reasons.
That's the basics from the Weapon and Shield tree. There's plenty more you could pick up later on, however. The upgrades to both Shield Wall and Payback Strike are decent, and the final skill, Turn the Blade, simply provides you with greater defensive power. If I had to choose a path to go down to get Turn the Blade, I'd say the right path, so that you also pick up Lunge and Slash, an ability that allows you to close the gaps to opponents, and keep Cassandra in the centre of the fight.
Vanguard is the other tree geared towards a defensive warrior, and it's here you'll find all the skills needed to maintain enemy aggro. There's nothing worse than having a perfectly kitted out tank who can soak up hits, only to see your Mage get stomped on because all that enemies simply ignored the Warrior.
So, without further ado, make sure to grab Challenge early on, allowing Cassandra to pull the nastiest opponent into combat with her. The upgrade isn't particularly worth it here, as it doesn't improve the taunting aspect in any way, so just grab the basic skill and move on.
You then want to grab War Cry, which is a little weird. The actual rulings state that it doesn't taunt enemies, only improves your guard, but the description also reads that enemies are taunted. I've tested the skill plenty of times, and it does seem to encourage enemies to attack the user (which makes sense) even if it doesn't explicitly taunt them. Don't forget to pick up the upgrade, Call to Arms, either, improving the guard bonus you get from using the ability.
After those it's up to you which way to go. Both wings of the skill-tree offer some good skills. Unbowed offers more defence for Cassandra, whilst Bodyguard provides a greater level of protection to fellow party members. See how your party is doing up until this point, and decide based on that how you want to proceed in this skill tree.
As a general rule of thumb, it's best to base each character build around their unique skill tree. Not only does that give each party member some individuality and unique applications, but the unique skill trees are also by far the strongest in the game.
The primary focus with Cassandra should be to head down the right side of the skill tree, making a bee-line for Wrath of Heaven, an area-of-effect attack that has the benefit of stunning the enemy. Along the way you'll pick up some useful passive skills in There Is No Darkness and The Maker's Will, improving the effectiveness of your team as a whole. Make sure to pick up the Embrace The Light upgrade too.
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With all the skills I've mentioned you'll have a solid crowd-control tank with Cassandra. Whilst Blackwall is perhaps the best de facto tank in the whole game (minus main characters, of course), Cassandra comes equipped with much better utility in my opinion, enabling her to handle both single strong opponents, as well as mobs of weaker enemies, with ease. It goes without saying if you think that you're going to be up against lots of demons, she's easily the best option.
Questions & Answers
Question: Will Cassandra always have the Templar skill tree? Mine does not have it.
Answer: It might because you're early on in the game. If I recall correctly, you have to reach a set point in the story (it doesn't take long) for all your party members to unlock their unique classes.
© 2014 LudoLogic
LudoLogic (author) on August 13, 2019:
Hi Aleksander, you're right, there's no longer a skill called Unbowed as it was changed in an update. The skill is now called Livid.
Aleksander on August 11, 2019:
In case anyone hasn't noticed but there is no skill called unbowed.
Chris B. on January 16, 2019:
I'm usually shit when it comes to choosing skill trees options, but i think i did a pretty good job with Cassandra's. I gave her Shield Bash & Payback Strike from Weapon and Shield & i gave her Grappling Hook & Horn of Valor from Battlemaster, plus all of the abilities from her templar tree. I don't know exactly how, but that turned her into a beast! She almost never dies and when she does, she's the last one in her party to do so, plus she's constantly spaming buffs and debuffs.
Kelly on September 06, 2018:
Thank god for this guide. Along with with all the other skill tree guides. I would be having such a hard time with this game. This really make it easy to utilize all the companions to there fullest. So glade i found this site
Ziraeal on August 06, 2018:
What about the skill called "Bodyguard" ? A good combo to tank is use this skill with "Will be expensive" (I'm not sure about the name in english) Cassandra absorve 50% of damage received by her alies, and reflect 50% to the enemy, it's very strong for a tank.
Cocolamoco on March 19, 2017:
These DA guides have been so damn helpful to me. Not just for creating good builds, but it really helps you not invest in every skill tree just for the sake of being indecisive!
Ashleigh on June 19, 2016:
This guide is probably how I'm going to survive Nightmare. Thanks a bunch!
Artur on March 02, 2016:
Best build guide i've met for DAI. Great job.
Varr-Quo on January 11, 2016:
I read these a lot , invaluable sometimes, great work thank you.
Kristen on April 25, 2015:
I love these guidlibes u set out it a huge help for people like me that have a tough time picking which talents are best, but i just wanted to point out that in cassandra's specialization tree embrace the light is the main skill and wrath of heaven is its upgrade