Combat Magic Specialization Guide - Dungeon Siege 2
Combat Mages in Dungeon Siege 2 are the offensive casters of the game. While Nature Magic does have offensive abilities they are often weak in comparison to the Combat Magic ones. Another thing that sets a Combat Mage apart from Nature is their ability to cast Curses (debuffs) onto their enemies. Only one debuff can be active on an enemy at a time, however, so don't try and go overboard with your Curses.
As a Combat Mage you'll be able to specialize into 3 different types of damage, Lightning, Fire and Death. From my own experiences as well as my research, Fire seems to be the best single target DPS and Lightning seems to be the best AoE DPS. Death Magic is often considered the worst of them all because it is too random. Most spells (at the high end) can deal between 300 - 1000 damage which is an insanely large spread of damage. For this reason Death Magic is kind of like gambling and is an un preferred play style.
I've played both a Fire and Lightning Combat Mage and I personally prefer Lightning; there are however enough Skill Points for you to invest into both Fire and Lightning if you'd like. This will make your Combat Mage a bit more versatile when you encounter enemies that are immune to one of your damage types.
Below are the primary differences between each of the different Combat Mages in a more succinct form.
(Best for Mercenary Difficulty) General Combat Mage: Without a doubt the best build you can do in Mercenary is a hybrid between Lightning and Fire. No enemies are immune to both these elements which means you can swap back and forth between them throughout the game.
Lightning Combat Mage: As the name implies this is a build that focuses mostly on Lightning Damage. If you get a lot of gear with +Combat Magic Skills on it you'll still be able to deal two types of damage. However you'll only want to max out your skills in one type and let the +Skills gear carry you in the other type. This will allow you to make your mage into more of a hybrid.
Fire Combat Mage: This mage will be doing mostly Fire Damage. Arguably the best single target build for Combat Mages. Fire also has one of the best Combat Mage spells IMO, Embers. This spells deals good damage and costs very little mana. Otherwise, same thing I said for the Lightning build. Stack lots of +Skills for a lot of versatility.
Death Magic Combat Mage: I don't have much experience with this build but if you're using the Legends of Aranna mod for Dungeon Siege 2, this may be the best build. The main downside with Death Magic is that the spread of damage is too high. What I mean is, most spells deal between like 20 to 150 damage whereas most other spells are 80 to 150. The aforementioned mod fixes this but in the base game Death Magic is often over looked for this reason. Although it is worth mentioning that the Corrosive Eruption Power is one of the best in the game and that goes with Death Magic.
Tip: If you want a really versatile mage items like Keh's Rulership (Ring), Endless Memory (Cestus) and Elven Wedding Ring are very powerful. Both of the Rings come with +2 Skills to both Combat and Nature Skills and the Cestus (Weapon) comes with +3 to both. Stacking items like these will allow you to make an insanely powerful character.
My Combat Mage Spell book.
Lightning Blast is my favorite ability when dealing Lightning Damage with Static Bolt being a good filler when you out level your Lightning Blast. Embers is one of the best spells in the game that I have found because it uses very little mana and does great damage. You'll have a lot of opportunity to experiment with spells while you're leveling since each spell ranks up at different levels.
If you have the Broken World Expansion Pack I strongly recommend Repulsion despite it being for Ranged. It gives you a solid Armor boost along with a knock back for enemies that attack you which is fantastic for Combat Mages. Last but not least, Corpse Transmutation is a must have until you get enough Armor from Reinforced Armor (Melee Skill) and Chant of Stone (Fist of Stone Skill).
With enough armor you could sub out Corpse Explosion at later levels and put in a heal if you wanted or even an Embrace/Wrath buff. Many Combat Mage items give bonus skills to Nature Magic too so it's smart to use an Embrace or Wrath buff on this character if you can.
Below are the Combat Magic spells that I like to use the most and why. I did not get the time to test every spell in the game but I played around with quite a few.
Embers (Fire): Good damage and not too heavy on the mana consumption. This is my preferred Fire spell.
Firebolt (Fire): This ability will fill in the blanks between your next Embers rank. It is also better AoE damage than Embers.
Plasma Globes (Fire): Highest DPS Fire spell in the game but it eats mana like crazy.
Jolt (Lightning): Low mana cost and decent damage ability.
Lightning Blast (Lightning): Probably my favorite Lightning ability since it penetrates all enemies it hits. Good for AoE damage.
Soul Lance (Death Magic): It works similarly to Lightning Blast, basically penetrates all enemies in a line. It was my favorite Death Magic ability that I used while leveling up.
Repulsion (Weapon Enhancement): Broken World ability; it will increase your Armor by 20% and knock back enemies that attack you. Since we won't be using Ranged weapons on our Combat Mage it won't split our EXP either. I strongly recommend you use this ability for the bonus armor.
Drown (Curse): Decreases Ice and Lightning Resistance as well as applying a small DoT to the enemy. Technically you could specialize fully into Lightning and completely ignore Fire since Drown will make enemies who are highly resistant or immune to Lightning more vulnerable. This will free up a lot of Skill Points in the process.
A good general rule of thumb when spending Skill Points is to figure out which Powers you want to use the most and unlock the highest ranks of them first. Once you do this you can branch out and start buying other support skills that will help your build. For my Combat Mage I like to use Detonation (Fire), Chain Lightning (Lightning) and Energy Orb. An honorable mention is Corrosive Eruption which is one of the most powerful Powers in the entire game.
Detonation and Energy Orb are good for bosses since they deal good single target damage. Detonation and Chain Lightning are good for packs of enemies since they both deal AoE damage. After you figure out which Power you wish to use and max it out you'll want to start dumping points into Melee and Ranged for their survivability bonuses. A list of the abilities you'll want to buy for this purpose can be found below.
This next part is subjective since everyone is different; looking at my Skill Point distribution above keep in mind that I really hate glass cannon characters. Combat Mages are typically glass cannons but I have my Finala built in such a way that she has more Armor than my tank when she's fully buffed. This makes it so enemies almost never focus on her and when they do she doesn't drop in just a few hits.
Once you feel comfortable with your survivability you can get a pet if you'd like to boost your damage that way. You could also put points into Debilitation which will increase the effectiveness of your Curses as well as the Embrace/Wrath Nature Skills if you're going to buff on this character. Of course you could always max out your main skills in Combat Magic too if you want to boost your main damage.
I like having a team of characters that are tanky enough to basically play themselves. If I can get up and go AFK for a cup of coffee and come back to my group defeating an entire pack of enemies I am happy. Therefore I go for a well rounded very durable character, you may feel differently and want a glass cannon. My job is to give you the information you need to make the choices that best suit you.
Last but not least you'll find a list of all the skills I find useful for almost every character. These skills are spread out amongst all of the talent trees and you'll need to use each weapon a little bit to unlock them all. Don't worry about the game encouraging you not to multiclass, in fact if you don't multiclass you'll have a lot of wasted EXP.
General Purpose Skills:
Fortitude (Melee Skill): Increases your total health. This is a must have for basically all characters, it also leads to an important skill too.
Toughness (Melee Skill): Decreases Physical Damage taken. Equally important for casters and tanks as it'll make everyone in your group less squishy.
Reinforced Armor (Melee Skill): The more armor you have the more you'll benefit, definitely a useful skill for everyone though. Getting this skill requires you to get Barricade which will allow every character in your group to use a shield if you'd like to. Some 2h weapons grant a lot of damage boosts to casters but using a shield and a 1h for defensive purposes will allow you to spend more points on DPS Skills, if you want that trade off.
Dodge (Ranged Skill): Gives you a flat chance to dodge melee and ranged attacks. I usually put about 5 points into this skill on each character by the end of Mercenary difficulty; I am someone who really likes tanky characters and this ability is a great boost to survivability.
Survival (Ranged Skill): Increases your Fire, Ice and Lightning Resistances as well as gives you the ability to harvest Health Potions. Much like with Dodge I find the survivability this grants to be very important and put at least 5 points into it by the end of Mercenary.
Brilliance (Combat Magic Skill): Flat % increase to your mana pool. Both DPS casters and healers will want to invest points into this
Natural Bond (Nature Magic Skill): Decreases the mana cost of spells by a flat % as well as letting you harvest Mana Potions from bushes. Again, both DPS and healers are going to want to invest into this since it works for all spells.
Chant of Stone (Fist of Stone Skill): This ability will give you a boost to Armor and Health depending on how much Intelligence you have. You'll find this skill most useful for casters because they stack Intelligence. I have more Armor on Finala (my Combat Mage) than on my tank because of this ability as well as Corpse Transmutation and Repulsion.
Barricade (Melee Skill): Allows you to equip a shield. You only need a single point into this skill and it is useful on all different builds (except Ranged) if you want to boost your survivability.
Quickened Casting (Combat Magic Skill): Increases your Cast Speed. Not the best, not the worst either.
Arcane Fury (Combat Magic Skill): Boosts the damage of both Combat and Nature Magic Powers.
If you decide to use a pet:
Summon Fortitude (Nature Magic Skill): Increases the health of your Summoned Pets. Usually I put 3 - 5 points into this skill and that's it. Diminishing returns start to kick in the higher you go.
Summon Might (Nature Magic Skill): Increases the damage of your Summoned Pets. This skill is very important for increasing your pet's damage I put about 10 points into it (to give 100% bonus damage).
Summon Bond (Nature Magic Skill): Shares incoming damage with your Summoned Pets. As a caster I typically put 5 - 10 points into this ability to boost my survivability. Melee, Fist of Stone or a Tank I often put 1 or 2 points into it and that's it.
Summon Alacrity (Combat Magic Skill): Will increase the attack speed of Summoned Pets, giving you a minor DPS boost.
If this character is using a Wrath/Embrace buff:
Enveloping Embrace (Nature Magic Skill): Will increase the power of any Embrace buffs that this character is using. You can use 1 Embrace and 1 Wrath spell on your group; only get these skills on the characters who are using the buff. They're a complete waste on any of your other characters.
Feral Wrath (Nature Magic Skill): Will increase the power of any Wrath buffs that this character is using. You can use 1 Embrace and 1 Wrath spell on your group; only get these skills on the characters who are using the buff. They're a complete waste on any of your other characters.