Dragon Age: Inquisition – How to Play as a Mage

Barrier, Barrier and more Barrier, plus everything you need to know to play the three primary mage disciplines.

The mage is arguably the best class in Dragon Age: Inquisition, with Magic being the primary stat to focus on, followed by Willpower. Without any traditional healing spells in the game, the mage’s Barrier spell becomes an extremely powerful tool. Like every other class in Inquisition, the mage can be played in a variety of ways depending on the party role you need them to fill. All mages start with Chain Lightning and Flashfire, both offensive abilities. However, there are many different play styles for mage users.

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The Spirit skill set is filled with mainly defensive abilities, while the Storm skill tree offers many disabling techniques, and the Inferno and Winter skill sets are primarily offensive. Despite these differences, every skill tree for the mage offers damage and protection or disabling abilities, with a combination of all three creating an extremely formidable party member.

Best Spells and Skills


  • Spell Set: Spirit
  • Barrier: 5,500 percent of weapon damage
  • Area of Effect: 4 meters
  • Cooldown: 24 seconds
  • Cost: 50 mana

This spell essentially gives armor to every party member within range. The small circle that appears when you cast the spell is not the exact casting range. The circle is roughly three meters in diameter, so extend that by about another 25 percent and that’s the range of the spell. More often than not you’ll have party members positioned so they’re all just outside of the circle if you place it right in the middle of your group. So long as each member of your party isn’t too far away from the outer edge of the circle, they’ll still gain the full effect of the Barrier spell.

Once you’ve leveled up enough, add Elegant Defense and Rejuvenating Barrier to further enhance the spell. Elegant Defense lowers the cooldown time of Barrier by four seconds every time a previous Barrier spell wears off. During longer fights you may cast this spell three or four times (especially if you only have one mage in your party), which means the spell will have a cooldown time of only 16 seconds by the time you get to the fourth cast.

Rejuvenating Barrier increases the mana and stamina regeneration time of all affected party members by 35 percent. When coupled with Elegant Defense, not only is the cooldown of Barrier greatly reduced, you can cast it far more frequently because your mana replenishes much faster. With this combination of spells and multiple mages in your party, it becomes very difficult for enemies to inflict damage.

Expert Tip: If you have trouble defeating enemies at any point in Dragon Age: Inquisition, use a party that consists of one warrior (shield and sword with taunt abilities) and three mages (each with Barrier spells). Have the mages cast Barrier one after another every time one wears off and you’ll have a nearly endless Barrier spell cast on your party.

Chain Lightning

  • Spell Set: Storm
  • Distance: 5 meters (9 meters with Arcing Surge)
  • Number of Targets: 4 (6 with Arcing Surge)
  • Damage: 250 percent of weapon damage
  • Shocked Duration: 8 seconds
  • Cooldown: 8 seconds
  • Cost: 50 mana

Every mage gets Chain Lightning by default. However, it’s very helpful to add the Arcing Surge secondary spell to increase the maximum number of targets and distance of the spell. This spell shocks your primary target and damages nearby enemies as well. It’s a very good way to start a battle against multiple enemies. In fact, almost all battles against groups should start with this spell or Lightning Bolt once you have Barrier down.


  • Spell Set: Spirit
  • Area of Effect: 5 meters
  • Cooldown: 8 seconds
  • Cost: 35 mana

Any enhancing magic cast on enemies or disabling effects cast on party members can be removed with Dispel. More often than not you’ll use this to remove an enemy’s Barrier spell. It also becomes extremely useful when you’re attempting to close a rift. After the first wave of enemies you’ll start to see green cracks appear on the ground surrounding the rift. Cast Dispel on a patch to stop the demon within from erupting and attacking your party. Dispel enough of these and you can skip an entire wave of enemies, allowing you to close the rift much faster.

Energy Barrage

  • Spell Set: Storm
  • Damage: 66 percent of weapon damage per hit
  • Number of Hits: 12
  • Cooldown: 16 seconds
  • Cost: 50 mana

Energy Barrage is great because it casts a spell based on the elemental ability on your current weapon. If you have a fire-based staff, the attack will be fire-based. It shoots 12 projectiles at your primary target, inflicting a total of 792 percent of your weapon damage. This makes it one of the most damaging spells in the mage arsenal and very good in almost any situation so long as your primary target isn’t immune to the elemental magic of your weapon.


  • Spell Set: Inferno
  • Damage: 300 percent of weapon damage
  • Effect Duration: 8 seconds
  • Cooldown: 20 seconds
  • Cost: 65 mana

In most cases you should be using Energy Barrage as your primary damage spell for a single target attack. However, when you come across enemies that have strong defense against the elemental trait of your weapon, Energy Barrage isn’t as effective. In these circumstances, Flashfire can be a good alternative (so long as the enemy in question doesn’t have strong defense against fire-based spells). In addition to the 300 percent damage this spell inflicts, it also causes fear, which drastically reduces how effective the enemy will be for the next eight seconds.

Lightning Bolt

  • Spell Set: Storm
  • Damage: 200 percent of weapon damage
  • Effect Duration: 2 seconds per nearby enemy
  • Cooldown: 24 seconds
  • Cost: 65 mana

Lightning Bolt is extremely useful against multiple enemies, especially if you are controlling the mage as your main character. It paralyzes most enemies, freezing them in their tracks so you can cast at least one more spell before they move toward you. This also gives your warrior time to taunt the enemy so your mage is safe from harm. It works especially well when the mage is your main character because you will almost always start the fight, meaning the enemies will attempt to attack you until the warrior executes a taunt. Paralyzing an enemy gives you more time to setup your plan of attack before the enemy can react.


  • Spell Set: Spirit
  • Area of Effect: 2 meters
  • Cooldown: 60 seconds
  • Cost: 85 mana

Revival is basically the resurrection or raise spell of Dragon Age: Inquisition. If a fellow party member dies, you can use this spell to revive them much faster than doing it manually. Add the Life Ward secondary spell that goes along with Revival and you can boost the defense of your party members and auto revive them if they die while the spell is active. This is best used if your Barrier spell just went down and one or more party members have low health.

Barrier Mage

Recommended Spells (in order of priority): Chain Lightning > Barrier > Peaceful Aura > Dispel > Revival > Elegant Defense > Lightning Bolt > Rejuvenating Barrier > Transmute Magic > Guardian Spirit > Mind Blast > Fortifying Blast > Strength of Spirits > Life Ward

If you only have one mage in your party, it should be the Barrier Mage. This construct focuses primarily on the Spirit skill tree and is the closest class to a healer that you’ll find in Dragon Age: Inquisition. The first spell you need to acquire is Barrier, as it’s the most important spell for your Barrier Mage to utilize.

The main role of the Barrier Mage is to keep the party protected as often as possible. Damage is a secondary function here. If you’re playing as the Barrier Mage, cast Barrier every time it’s available and your party is without a Barrier spell. If you simply have a Barrier Mage as one of your party members, Barrier and Revival should be the only preferred spells in their AI-controlled rotation.

Black Mage

Recommended Spells (in order of priority): Chain Lightning > Barrier > Energy Barrage > Stormbringer > Lightning Bolt > Flashfire > Arcing Surge > Exploding Bolt > Energy Bombardment > Flashpoint > Blistering Pain > Conductive Current > Pyromancer > Elegant Defense > Winter’s Grasp > Peaceful Aura > Dispel > Rejuvenating Barrier > Revival > Winter’s Chill

The Black Mage is just as you’d imagine, a mage geared around damaging offensive spells. The best single mage party construction only features a Barrier Mage, which means if you want best results you should only have a Black Mage in your party if you already have a Barrier Mage. As the second mage in your party, the Black Mage focuses almost exclusively on offensive spells, but Barrier and its complementary spells are still important as you level up and fight harder enemies.

You get Chain Lightning automatically, which means Energy Barrage is your first offensive spell that you need to unlock. In many cases it’s the most damaging spell, which is why it takes precedence. In addition, it hits in almost every situation. Many spells can be blocked by environmental obstructions such as trees or buildings. Energy Barrage goes around obstacles as it homes in your target.

Once your Black Mage is a relatively high level (10 or above), you can start to focus on some of the secondary but helpful spells. The most important is Revival because it brings back a fallen comrade without having to use the standard, lengthy revival process. This is extremely important in boss battles toward the end of the game, especially if you’re not directly controlling the Black Mage. Your Barrier Mage should use Revival as a primary spell, but if your Barrier Mage goes down, you’ll need the Black Mage to quickly get him back up.

Red Mage

Recommended Spells (in order of priority): Chain Lightning > Barrier > Energy Barrage > Peaceful Aura > Dispel > Stormbringer > Lightning Bolt > Revival > Elegant Defense > Arcing Surge > Rejuvenating Barrier > Flashfire > Exploding Bolt > Transmute Magic > Revival > Energy Bombardment > Flashpoint > Blistering Pain > Conductive Current > Pyromancer

A Red Mage is the happy median between a Barrier Mage and a Black Mage. If you want a more offensive party, a Red Mage can replace a Barrier Mage as the sole mage in your party. By the time you get to level 15 or above, every mage in your party can be a Red Mage, but you’ll lose some ancillary spells from the Barrier Mage and Black Mage. The safest and most destructive late game party configuration is a warrior (sword and shield), alongside a Barrier Mage, Black Mage and Red Mage.

In the early levels, a Red Mage focuses on offense with the important spells of Barrier and Dispel to keep the party as safe as possible. As an AI-controlled Red Mage, Barrier and Energy Barrage should be the only two spells set as “preferred” during your first 10 levels. Unless you have a Barrier Mage, Barrier should always be the priority for a Red Mage, with offensive spells being secondary. However, if you have a Barrier Mage in your party, the Red Mage should only cast Barrier when the Barrier Mage can’t (due to a lack of mana or Barrier cooldown period).

Return to the Dragon Age: Inquisition Walkthrough.

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Bryan Dawson
Bryan Dawson has an extensive background in the gaming industry, having worked as a journalist for various publications for nearly 20 years and participating in a multitude of competitive fighting game events. He has authored over a dozen strategy guides for Prima Games, worked as a consultant on numerous gaming-related TV and web shows and was the Operations Manager for the fighting game division of the IGN Pro League.