The Best Party Setup

What is the best party setup?” I’ve been getting this question a lot so I figured I’d made a post. This is long overdue but later is better than never! 

Before I go into the details, keep in mind that you don’t have to use the following party setup to beat the game on any difficulty. However, I do think this is the most effective party setup available in DA: Inquisition.

The Short Answer


Tank (Blackwall) + Archer Rogue (Cole OR Sera) + Support Mage (Any mage companion) + 2nd DPS (Iron Bull/Vivienne/Dual Wield Cole or Sera)

Your Inquisitor character can go into any one of those slots depending on your class/spec. So, for example, I played a Tempest Archer on my first playthrough, so that filled the Archer Rogue position.

You have multiple choices for your non-tank slots which you can choose based on your personal preference. For example, I like Iron Bull so I chose him as my 2nd DPS, but the other companions work well too.

The Long Answer

The tank/support/dps trifecta is our basic starting point. This is the core of pretty much any RPG game that involves multiple characters. Since we have an additional 4th slot, the obvious choice is to add a 2nd DPS character. Now let’s talk about every one of these roles in detail.

tank Tank

For the tank slot, nothing works better than a Champion spec warrior – this is why we choose Blackwall (or your Inquisitor character, if you are one of the few people that actually LIKE tanking). The champion spec gives you multiple tools to keep enemies focused on you and improve your survivability – the 2 main concerns of any tank.

ranged DPS #1

For your first DPS, a ranged (archer) rogue is a no-brainer choice. Archer rogues survive MUCH better than melee dual-wield rogues, especially if you are using AI to control them, and have very high DPS. For this role, I would choose either an Assassin or a Tempest-specced rogue (Cole or Sera), because Artificer requires manual control to do comparable damage.

support Support

The support mage fills a dual role in Dragon Age Inquisition – keeping your party alive with Barrier and Revival, and helping with Crowd Control and setting up Combos. You can get away with using a standard DPS mage and adding Barrier/Revival to his skills, but I recommend having a dedicated support mage.

You can use any mage companion for this role – you don’t need any specialization skills. Another reason I really like this role is that it works surprisingly well on AI.

dps DPS #2

For your 2nd DPS character, you have many options. You can grab a Reaver warrior (Iron Bull), a Knight-Enchanter mage (Vivienne),  or a Dual-wield rogue (Cole or Sera). The choice depends on your personal preference – I wouldn’t say any one of these is “better” than the other. I personally prefer Iron Bull because Reavers have high single-target DPS, and with 2 Guard on Hit Masterwork items, Iron Bull can stay alive even on AI control.

Ideal Party Setup Builds

If you’re looking for specific builds to use for this party setup, check out the builds section. I especially recommend the Ultimate Tank build, and the Support/ Combo mage build.

Manual Control vs. AI

Manually controlling characters is always better, but most of us don’t want to pause the game every 2 seconds to issue new commands to every party member. AI refers to letting the game control a character, instead of having you issue all of the commands. In my own experience, I spend about 90% of the time controlling my Inquisitor character, so the other 3 party members are mostly controlled by AI.

AI is an important consideration when setting up a party because some specializations/builds work a lot better than others on AI. For example, the Artificer spec works poorly on AI because it requires you to go in and out of melee range constantly to make effective use of your skills.

As a final note, if you’re having trouble with your AI characters dealing low damage or being stupid, try changing their skill and target preferences. For example, setting certain skills to preferred (like Spirit Blade and Fade Cloak for Vivienne) and even disabling other skills can be helpful.

“Weak” Specializations

As you may have noticed there are several specializations/characters missing from this list. Here’s why:


The reason why I don’t recommend Artificer is that this spec requires manual control to work well – so you should only use it if you’re playing an Artificer as your Inquisitor, or are willing to constantly micro-manage Varric. Artificer can be played as either ranged or melee.

Rift Mage

Rift mage is an effective spec for fighting multiple enemies, but is weak against bosses, because they are immune to the weakness debuff and the Rift mage’s CC effects.


Necromancer is also a fun spec, but its damage output is noticeably lower than Knight-Enchanter, or even a non-specialized mage.


The Templar spec suffers from the fact that it doesn’t fit any of our 3 roles very well – it doesn’t tank well and is split between support and DPS. The only exception I would make to this rule is if you’re manually controlling a Two-handed Templar, which can fill the 2nd DPS spot.

Changing Party Members

To conclude, I’d suggest trying out different party members as you play through the game, because it gives you a better idea of what works, what you prefer more, and simply because its more fun. You can try out many different companions while still sticking to the above formula.

I went through many personnel changes before settling with my final group: Archer Inquisitor, Blackwall, Iron Bull, and Solas:


As always, this is all my personal opinion and I’m sure some will have their own idea of the best party setup. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

29 thoughts on “The Best Party Setup”

  1. I have never found a reaver did all that well on AI. Even with 7 points of Guard on Hit they need too much nursemaiding on hardcore. I tend to prefer a two-mage setup. I also don’t agree completely about an artificer but that is influenced by very much preferring Verrick to having to have put up with either of the other two in a group for any length of time. If you stick with Opportunity Knocks (the best ability in artificer anyway imo and don’t get or turn off any others) and get Looks Like It Hurt from subterfuge and a full range of archer & poison abilities he more than justifies his place in the group. I use Dorian as a support mage most of the time since he annoys me less than Solis. With a full range of tank abilities and no Reaver drawing too much aggro, Blackwall can easily hold the aggro for most fights.

  2. As for me i use KE (me) – cassandra (tank utility) – cole ( with high dps and guards per hit masterwork on one weapon) – vivianne ( Another KE)

    With this i can burst dps any boss while keeping my party alive with barrier and guard. Cole doesn’t worry much on being taken out since we are all basically on melee so i can easily give barrier on him plus i gave him guard per hit enchantment and he actually hits fast, if he did die KE is still a mage so reviving him is easy. Cassandra focuses on tauntings and guarding. Me is on burst dmg. With cooldown reduction or reset passives. And vivianne is on a balance if crowd control and burst dmg. With cooldown reduction or reset.

  3. hi
    unfortunately you dont answer to people

    in my game my black wall dot attack to enemy automatically i dont know why
    i must peres y then he act
    do you know why?
    sorry my English language so bad

  4. I know I am a little late, but KE + tank ( Blackwall/Cassandra) is definitely a no-brainer for the best set-up. I usually go for Cassandra if I am not playing as a KE as Vivienne and Blackwall bickering can get a little annoying after a while. Playing as a Tempest is fun though as they’re probably the most flexible of the rogue specializations. Although, an artificer archer inquisitor does deal a ton of damage, I usually just
    use elemental mine, throwing blades, leaping shots, toxic cloud (rinse and repeat) so it got boring real quick. So for me, the best set-up for making nightmare difficulty relatively easy is:

    DD Tempest Inquisitor (DPS #1)
    Vivienne (DPS#2/ Tank#2)
    Blackwall (Tank#1)
    Dorian ( Support)

  5. I agree on everything except DPS 1. What is so special about the archer that mage can’t fill that role? My current setup has me as RM, then DW Cole, Dorian as support, and of course Blackwall tanking.

  6. Call me weird, but I’ve had great success with a triple warrior + KE inquisitor setup. We’re all more or less melee, so it’s very easy to land barriers and dispels on my entire party without having to re-position too much. But I spread us out a bit vs heavy aoe of course. I have 1 instance of +5 Guard on Hit on every hero, and with Fortifying Blast from Cassandra, our guard generation is ridiculous. I’ve even tried double Fortyifying Blast, but it was a bit overkill.

    I’m playing on Nightmare, with Even Ground, Walk Softly, Rub Some Dirt on It, Travel Light, Take It Slow and Grizzly End.
    I more or less have the best gear possible, but with trials, it’s still fun and challenging.

    I’m running Blackwall as a pure tank, maxing out Vanguard (except for Charging Bull) and Champion.

    Then I’m having Iron Bull, going down the right side of Battlemaster for War Horn and Break their Spirit. Then the rest spread between Reaver and Two-Handed. Reaver is incredibly powerful, but only when I control him myself.. The AI have no idea how to play Reaver, sadly. :P So I mostly spec deep into Two-Handed instead.

    Cassandra is mostly there for utility, maxing out Templar, and the left side of Battlemaster for Horn of Valor and Fortifying Blast. Then the rest in Sword&Board, just to squeeze some more damage out of her. I realize giving her a 2H aswell would probably be best, but I wanted to try if Sword&Board could DPS. It’s not exactly devastating damage, but the faster attack speed gives more CD reduction for the WoH/SP combo. Besides, S&B fits her more aesthetically.

    Then there’s me as a Knight-Enchanter. I change my build constantly, and I’ve usually focused on staying up close with Spirit Blade with the rest of my mass melee brawler party. But now I’m running a fire/lightning oriented build focused around Energy Barrage (fire). I put 1 point in spirit just to have Barrier for the party, and 3 in KE to get Fade Shield. Then I basically spam Energy Barrage and Immolate, with constant resets from Flashpoint, and massive damage boost from Chaotic Focus and my insane passive barrier generation. And with Amulet of Renewal, Winter’s Stillness and 10% mana cost reduction on my robe, I have almost no mana issues.

    So yea, my setup may lack some solid single-target DPS like a Rogue, but we’re completely immortal, and we have some powerful buffs and debuffs. I have Crippling Blows on Cassandra and Bull, which stacks for even more damage reduction. Especially with Bull’s ridiculous 69% crit chance, Crippling Blows gets pretty crazy. These crits also fuel Flow of Battle and Shield-Breaker, which coupled with Break their Spirit just destroys enemy armor. We can also deplete absolutely any Guard in 1 second, with Break their Spirit and Guard-Smasher on Bull and Ring the Bell on Cassandra.

    Bull still occasionally dies like an idiot if I’m too lazy to control him, but that’s just part of his charm.

    • But I think absolutely any setup which has Blackwall works. Blackwall can solo the game. It will take years, but he can do it. :P
      He just stands there and doesn’t die. That’s basically all he does, but he’s extremely good at it.

  7. Some good posts and interesting ideas here, but party composition is largely irrelevant to my play style. I hate micromanaging my companions, and they aren’t smart enough to set up good combos on their own (or move out of the damn fire that they’re standing in!!!), so I don’t bother. I build an inquisitor that is capable of soloing the game, then bring along companions based solely on the banter I want to hear. They occasionally act as canon fodder in some of the more difficult encounters as well, but don’t tell them that.

  8. I really like my party formation with the following:

    Any Tank [weapon/shield + vanguard + champion]
    Varric (for the free weapon crafting)[archery + subterfuge (evade) + sabotage(poison) + artificer
    Dorian [spirit + storm(stormbringer) + winter(winter stillness) + necromancer
    Inquisitor [spirit (revival) + inferno + winter]

  9. Hello,
    I’d like to give you my 2 cents about the optimal party.
    Notice that I played this on nightmare while using the tactic pause thing a lot. I love how CC and combos work in this game, so setting them up myself is incredibly rewarding for me. Feels like a singleplayer version of WoW arena matches.

    Dorian – Fire / Necromancy
    Cassandra – Tank / Templar
    Solas – Lightning / Spirit support (switch with Vivienne – Knight enchanter / Spirit support for dragons)
    Inquisitor – Dual blade rogue

    Even on Nightmare, I felt that Blackwall’s tanking abilities were a little defensive overkill, so I went for Cassandra instead for access to the buffs.

    I liked playing with 2 mages for the double barrier and dispel for protection.

    The basic absurd combo in this setup is this:

    Dorian’s panic CC
    Rogue’s talents “Mercy killing” (always crit on sleeping / paniced targets)
    “Looked like it hurt” (regenerate 10 stamina when you crit)
    Solas’ Static cage to prevent enemies to run away from the rogue too much in panic

    For CC there is sleeping powder, knockout bomb, variety of panic spells, and double winter’s grasp. The rogue will tear apart anything in one of those conditions, continously critting and regenerating all the stamina in the process.

    Rogue will also need less stats in cunning and critical chance because of this, so you can focus on dexterity and increased crit damage when crafting your gear to further improve the damage.

    I finished at level 23, with complete Tier 3 schematics armor and purple accessories on all party members. Shadow strike now crits for about 4000 damage on random storm coast enemies.

    Try it and have fun.

  10. Personally, my setup is my DW Assassin Inquisitor, a Spirit/Knight-Enchanter (Viv), a tank (either Cass or Blackwall), and either a Tempest Archer (Sera) or another supporting mage (Solas or Dorian). Sometimes I might use a Reaver (Iron Bull) for my fourth slot, depending on the situation. I always take Vivienne because… well, she’s basically invincible. With the barriers and spirit blade, she’s unstoppable. I usually control her as she usually oversees the whole battle. And with the tank (Cass or Blackwall) they can draw attention away from her as she’s tearing up the battlefield, and her Mind Blast ability helps keep them off her as well. I generally take my Tempest Archer (Sera) because she and my DW Assassin Inquisitor make a great tag-team. Otherwise, I’ll take another supporting mage (Solas or Dorian) to keep the barriers going strong, especially on Vivienne. Some days I’ll decide to take my Reaver (Iron Bull) to deal loads of damage. So honestly, as long as I have a tank and a Spirit/Knight-Enchanter, the last slot doesn’t really matter to me.

    • I also use DW Assassin, Vivienne, Iron Bull and Cassandra. The party is nigh invincible with guard generation and everyone being in range of barrier. Hakkon Wintersbreath was a joke compared to a more ranged party I ran before.

      Primarily control Viv, but switch to rogue briefly for big fights in order to trigger a 20k+ dmg mark of death.

      …and Iron Bull still manages to die

  11. For me !! the best party is:
    Inquisitor as “Bowssassin” I find it very strong agains bosses and singe target.
    Cole as DW with Dual-Curved Blades for the aoe dmg, bought schematic from Suledin Keep.And to make him resist better i put on one of them masterwork Fade-Touched Silverite(+5 on hit) and “voilà” from that squishy target how can die from one hit he now can take some damage and beeing stil alive…
    Cassandra as main tank even Blackwall is better at tanking… just tanking, I like Cassandra over Blackwall cuz she boost my party damage and resistance.I didn’t encounter a fight were she could not resist at tanking and kepping aggro and sometimes an enemy think he can avoid Cassandra I just switch to Cole if I can kill it quickly or to Cassandra to taunt him back.
    And as my last slot obviously it’s a mage, support mage Solas, just because he’s bald, neah just kidding.I’m using it especially for Pull of the Abyss combo + blizzard + cole basic attack.On top of that using typically support thinks from Spirit tree all skills form left side and revival but now seems useless cuz after I get a good variety of tier 2 and 3 of gear my character don’t die anymore.
    So yea… that’s my opinion and that is the best party that work out for me.
    I want to mention that i’ve tried and other party combos but this was “the best” for me.
    I had no troubles until now.But I didn’t finish the main story line yet, because after I finish it I will start not playing so much…Now I’ve got around 132 power points :)) and lv 17 at Inquisitor.So I don’t know if the main story line will challenge my party comp but I’l see, Insted I’ve killed the 4 first daragons using fire resistance gear for 1 and 4 and lightning resistance for 2 and 3 around 50% from gear + 10% Cassandra There Is No Darkness passive + 40% from tonic.When I’m going to beat something I’m going fully loaded and prepared.And yea I’m using tactical camera 20-30% time from the fight and usually using my stealth burst from the Inquisitor Mark + Long Shot + Hidden Blades and detonate the Mark, then swich to Cole to make the same but for dw Mark + Shadow Strike + Hidden Blades and detonate the Mark.(using Clinging Shadow from Stealth)
    I play the game on Nightmare and still need something more to blow my mind… :)).I hope that the fight with “The Elder One” will be harder.
    Have a nice day.
    From the bushes prowling you.

    • For needing a fight to blow your mind, fighting the Highland Ravager at level 23 is extremely hard. It will be even harder with your party setup, as Cole’s dual blade daggers are ineffectual and Cassandra’s WoH+ Spell Purge combo no longer works.

  12. Through furious testing, I think I may have discovered the ultimate party setup, but it requires the use of tactical camera to be successful. The setup is a Rift Mage, a Tank Templar, any class and a Dual Daggers Assassin. When you go into battle, have the Rift Mage cast Pull of the Abyss (with Devouring Veil upgrade) and then Static Cage (with Lightning Cage upgrade). Then you have the Dual Daggers Assassin throw a Knockout Bomb at the group of enemies. Then the Tank Templar casts Spell Purge, dealing massive combo damage. This combo damage will panic them, causing them to run into the outside of the cage and become paralyzed. Here’s where the Dual Daggers Assassin charges in and uses Deathblow as much as possible to eliminate the remaining enemies. If there are any enemies remaining after this, the Templar can use War Cry while the Assassin and Rift Mage both use their arsenal of DpS spells to clear the rest of them out.

  13. Hey, I personally like to have Cassandra in my party, I like her because of her Rally ability. Is that ok or not? Also I make her DMG with a two-handed weapon and blackwall my mage… But anyways is that ok? I personally love it.

  14. I àgreed with you at first about the templar but guard for the party is awesome. Cass has negatives like the AI not using her çombo but only Dorian can punish enemies in death better. Iron bull lost his spot to Cass for suicidal tendencies…

  15. I made a new mage build that I think you might want to test on NM (I’ve only used it on hard). The actives are Barrier, Revival, Immolate, Fire Mine, Chain Lightning, Static Cage, Fade Step and Ice Mine. The required passives are Elegant Defense, Flaming Array, Chilling Array, Desperation, Strength of Spirits, Rejuvenating Barrier and Energizing Step. The optional passives are Clean Burn, Wildfire, Arcing Surge, Tethering Cage, Stormbringer, Clean Burn, Ice Armor and Chaotic Focus.

    • Cool, this looks like another good build that doesn’t require any specializations. I’ll write this up soon. Let me know if you think of a name for the build, or any preferences for which skills/trees to level first.

      • I also have a Rogue build designed for the AI, because the AI isn’t very good with this class.
        For Tempest Archer, I’ve been using this build: Abilities are Stealth, Full Draw, Long Shot, Poisoned Weapons, Thousand Cuts, Flask of Lightning, Flask of Fire and Flask of Frost. Mandatory passives are Death From Above, Unquenchable Flames upgrade, Thunderstruck upgrade, Eagle Eye upgrade, Infected Wounds upgrade and Fighting Dirty. Optionals are Caltrops, Looked Like it Hurt, Cheap Shot, Clinging Shadows upgrade and Frostbite upgrade. I prefer this build to your Tempest Archer for AI because the AI can’t use combos like Flask of Fire+Leaping Shot.
        I also have an anti-magic/demons tank that works well for closing rifts and fighting venatori: Abilities are Challenge, War Cry, Livid, Bodyguard, Blessed Blades, Rally/Mark of the Rift, Spell Purge and Wrath of Heaven. Mandatory passives are Annulment upgrade, Breath of Light upgrade, Still Standing upgrade, Battle Roar upgrade and Over Here upgrade. Optional passives are Throw the Gauntlet upgrade, Lights in the Shadow upgrade and the entire right side of the sword and shield tree. I call it the “Tanklar”.

        • I agree with you, I’ve watched Sara as AI and have noticed even when the only abilities I set to Preferred are; Leaping Shot, Flask of Fire and Flask of Lightning, she has a tendency to Leaping Shot a lot and sometimes (not always) follow up with Flask of Lightning with no use of Flask of Fire. If your build is better then I shall try it. Also has anyone found better AI builds for the following:
          Archer Assassin.
          Two Handed Reaver. (I find that even with this sites Reaver build Ironbull, dies a lot).

  16. I am playing a Duel Wield Assassin (bnbs: Stealth, Flank Attack, Shadow Strike, and Hidden Blades. Secondary commands: Death Blow, Twin Fangs, Cloak of Shadows, and Mark of the Rift). I am of the opinion that there is no class/specialization more powerful than a Duel Wield Assassin. Stealth is insanely powerful, and with the top tier weapon (which has a higher DPS than ANY other weapon, plus you get two of them) you could be hitting for close to 2000 damage with Hidden Blades and Shadow Strike. Stealth has also allowed me to beat a dragon much earlier than I should have been able to (My party would die, I would go into stealth run away from the dragon until my party respawned and went back to fight the dragon).

    I think you are right about the mages: Knight-Enchanter (Vivienne) is the only way to go. And I use Two Handed Reaver (Iron Bull) as both a DPS 2 and Tank (I just adjust his stats and armor so that he can handle a TON of damage).

    The last slot is the one that I have the most trouble with. I went with Varric because Bianca is just a far superior weapon than any of the bows. Since Sera is my Archer-Tempest, her weapons are often quite weak, and Cole dies way too quickly as a Duel-Wield Assassin (since I had such great luck with DW, and I already had two archers, I thought that made sense). I am cool with Varric, except, I don’t make much use of his Artificer spec (In fact, I am often the victim of his traps, not the enemies, which is funny since I have friendly fire turned off). But, Back up Plan is awesome, so that makes up for it, and if my party does die, Varric is always the last one alive, so I go into stealth and flee the battle.

    So, in my experience, I think that is the best combo.

    Also, I did very well playing Sera (Archer), Varric (Archer), Vivienne (Spirit/Storm), and Inquisitor DW (all unspecialized). 3 rogues, 1 mage, and I was blowing through enemies. I am in the camp that the rogues are the most powerful characters in the game. I find little use for warriors actually, though Iron Bull is doing quite well now that I buffed his stats to a point where he doesn’t die immediately (Accessories, Passive Abilities, Armor, and Defense slots. + He does a ton of damage, too).

    Ring of Pain Reaver ability is just TOO effective to not go with Iron Bull.

  17. my seyup is this inquistor archer iron bull blackwall ane viveene i made viveenes a oure spirt mage with knight enchanter works real well plud if you end up around a noble it helps with her around

    • Haha yeah I actually ran 3 mages and a rogue on Hard difficulty up until the Aspect of Nightmare fight. It was certainly more fun than doing a cookie-cutter set-up, but also a lot more difficult!


Leave a Comment