The first phase is to clear Redcliffe village of Darkspawn. Most of them are grunt level that fall easily, so prepping for large-scale offensive spells usually isn't necessarily. In fact, Leliana indulges in a fair amount of sniping here.
There is however a very large group at the bottom led by a Genlock Emissary and two Ogres. They will often rush in a swarm if alerted to my presence. As much as possible, I'd like to deprive them of their support and kill them apart from each other. Leliana opens fire in order to tease some of them away, and this includes one of the Ogres. I then lead the second group onwards, and manage to take down the second Ogre quickly. I then end up closing in on the formation of Hurlock Archers that have arrived at the top of the trail, and that means the Genlock Emissary is brought into view. Aldarion tries to use Mana Clash, but it gets resisted. Alistair therefore uses the backup Holy Smite, and closes in on the Emissary. The Emissary stands no chance once Alistair is on top of him.
The initial rush on the Castle is just kind of a free for all, close in on and kill the Darkspawn as quickly as I can. There is the odd Alpha or Emissary that takes a little longer to kill than usually (e.g. Mana Clash, missile fire), but the grunts themselves go down quite quickly. By 11:44, an Ogre Alpha shows up. But standards tactics work easily enough, especially since I'm being supported by the troops at the Castle door.
The last part of the video is simply a war conference.
As an aside, Bodahn and Sandal will set up shop in Castle Redcliffe during this part of the game. I bought a Tome of Physical Skill for Leliana, a Grandmaster Frost Rune (for Sten's Starfang), and a Master Paralyze Rune (for Zevran's Imperial Edge).
The next part of the video is Riordan explaining why only a Grey Warden can permanently kill the Archdemon.
After that, it's Morrigan's famous offer, a pure roleplaying choice. I chose to reject it for a number of reasons, like for example my own suspicions regarding Morrigan's motives, and also because I find the Ultimate Sacrifice ending more emotionally satisfying.
To the City Gates
The first part of the video is a cinematic that signals the start of the war in earnest. At this point, your Grey Warden will be acting independently on his own during an attack to take back the gates. Your NPCs will perform according to whatever scripts you may have set for them. Since the Darkspawn are grunt-level, this part of the game proceeds easily enough. The video ends with the 'good luck's and all that.
Darkspawn in the Market District
I start off by having to fight several Ogres at once. An option that is available to me is to call military units from my war allies to help out. However, the video demonstrates that with the right mix of talents/development, etc., the party on its own can now bring Ogres down rather quickly.
Soon the Hurlock General and another Ogre show up. Leliana and Wynne take aim at the general, while Aldarion, Alistair, and the Blight Wolf take out the Ogre. The Blight Wolf now demonstrates why the Ranger specialization rocks. It uses Overwhelm on the General, cutting it down more than a few pegs. Once the General falls, the two incoming Ogres are easily taken care of.
The General leaves behind a few random items, as well as The Axe of the Vashoth (+1 strength, +2 willpower, +1 damage), and a Dragonbone helm called Corruption (+5 dexterity, +1 armor, +75% spirit resistance). Aldarion finds this a welcome addition, both for his Arcane Warrior abilities, but also because the Archdemon's breath weapon inflicts spirit damage.
Darkspawn in the Alienage
Now it's time to fight the Darkspawn in the Alienage. This is pretty prolonged and comes in waves. So while the Ogre is pounding through the gate, Wynne and Aldarion both grab the chance for storm spells and crowd-control spells. Once the Ogre does break through, I retreat a little in order to lead it back and kill it away from the rest of the Darkspawn. Now I sit back and let my storm spells do their work. Any that make it around the corner are quickly shot down. Once the storm spells elapse, I charge back in. The Horde is led by the other Hurlock General, an Emissary. Aldarion and Alistair are busy chopping down the grunts. Wynne engages in a 'play it by ear sequence'. First, she casts Fireball to both take out several grunts and knock the General down. She then recoups everybody's health with Group Heal. She then holds up the General some more with Petrify. She then uses another Fireball with the same purpose, both to kill several Grunts at once and to delay the General some more. Once the crowd has thinned out temporarily, Alistair and Aldarion seize the opportunity to get on top of the General and kill him. Once the General falls, the only significant opponent left is the Ogre that arrived. Wynne uses more Fireballs to thin out the crowd, allowing the others to take down the Ogre. The General will leave behind the Storm Talons (+20% lightning damage), the Malign Staff (+2 mana regeneration, +5 spellpower, -1 willpower, +10% spirit damage, +20% electrical damage), and the Spiral Band (+5% electrical damage).
Shianni gives me the Dawn Ring (+4 strength, -1 cunning), the other half of the Imperium Rings set.
Now the NPCs I didn't bring along have to hold the gates. I have Shale, with her unique abilities, quarterback the effort here. The Hurlocks here are grunt-level, and often the support troops can keep them occupied. This allows Shale to concentrate on any Emissaries or Ogres that show up. An example is when Shale uses Rock Mastery on an Emissary in order to buy herself enough time to close the distance, and then uses Bellow to both interrupt the Emissary's Fireball and stun a large group of Hurlocks. In the meantime, Oghren, Maximus, Zevran, and Sten are left free to crank out the damage on the other Darkspawn at will.
The Palace District
For reasons I can't put my finger on, the foes on the right side of the district are easier to take out by attrition without the foes on the left side joining, then the other way around. This is easily accomplished with a mixture of 'drawing out' and long-distance sniping. When a group of archers appears at the top of the stairs, Wynne uses an Inferno that wipes most of them out, and leaves the Genlock Alpha much easier to deal with.
Once I finish that, I take out the Archers standing on the central battlements. Then I start work on the left side. Leliana teases the Ogre on the stairs forward, leading to an easy kill. At the top of the next flight of stairs (around 6:40) is a large group of Darkspawn that can prove a handful. Leliana again uses an 'attrition at a distance' approach to thin them out. The Genlock Emissary gets teased forward. Mana Clash gets resisted, but then Spirit Prison plus missile fire gets the job done. Sustained missile fire also takes out the Genlock Alpha. The Ogre then gets shot down without taking a step.
After this, I have to crawl up the stairs and engage in mass combat. These are mostly grunt-level, so a well-placed Fireball followed by auto-pilot melee combat proves sufficient. Incidentally, this was made much easier by Leliana removing the key opponents from their support squad.
At around 11:50, I can't crawl up the stairs without bringing everyone into view. There's also a tripwire. So Leliana simply climbs up and then back downwards to lead them past the tripwire. The archers settle at the top of the stairs, so Wynne simply blows them away with a Fireball. Now Leliana grabs the opportunity to disarm the tripwire. The other darkspawn at the far side don't seem too eager to help out the Hurlock Emissary, so Aldarion engages in an offensive spellcasting barrage against him. Once he's dead, the others come forward. Aldarion and the others have to engage in melee combat, but Wynne seals the deal by using Petrify on the Emissary and then finishing him off.
Now there's a second Emissary. Mana Clash doesn't work, but Alistair's Holy Smite does. This buys Leliana and Wynne the time to finish it off at a distance. The rest is a mop up.
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