This particular article about party makeup and combinations in Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a long time coming. I’ve lost track of the amount of times the questions “What’s a good 4 player party?” and “What Classes should I choose?”, have been asked. Speaking plainly, the answers to those questions are not an exact science, and tactics in combat are paramount. This tends to make those sort of questions irrelevant, however, I will do my best to answer them here, and at the very least, give you some insight that should lead to a better structure for your party. Now that the game is coming to Xbox One and Playstation 4, this will become more useful than ever.
Divinity Original Sin 2 Party Combinations Guide: Magic, Physical and Mixed
The new Armour system rewards players for dealing damage against one Armour type and punishes those who deal damage to both. This is because you cannot Crowd Control until one Armour is removed, which makes most battles are a race to strip one Armour, CC, and then finish your targets while they are rendered helpless. There are a few schools of thought on the most efficient ways parties can be made in Divinity: Original Sin 2, which are different than the original title because of the addition of the Armour system.
The first is by having each character deal only Physical Damage, the second is by having an all Magic Damage party, and the third is by having characters that deal both Physical and Magic Damage. Of the three this last one is the most complicated to balance, but ironically is the one that will be most useful to new players. This is because it’s best to have more than one damage type when you don’t know what sort of enemies you will face, giving you options you wouldn’t otherwise have. Let’s start out by taking a look at Physical Damage setups.
Physical Damage Party
This is generally considered the “most powerful” of all possible setups because it has good damage, CC and is easy to build. However, I would not recommend this makeup to a new player because it requires a solid knowledge of the game’s mechanics and some knowledge of the game’s Skills. Information about what you will be fighting doesn’t hurt either, and that comes from playing.
- Physical Damage characters have a access to a good number of Knockdown effects, which force enemies to pass their turn.
- Physical Damage cannot be “Resisted” like: Fire, Earth, Poison, Air and Water Damage can, making it the most effective damage type in many cases.
- Warfare effects any skill that does Physical Damage, making Ability Point distribution rather simple as you usually just pump Warfare.
- Physical Armour is much more common on enemies, making you chew through more of it before CCing them.
- Some of the most powerful Source Skills in the game are contained within the magic schools.
- Some fights will be harder because you can’t deal any Magic Damage.
Recommended Builds for a Physical Damage Party
Despite what would on the surface appear to be a lack of variety, you can actually have a pretty varied party with an all Physical Damage setup. You can have a warrior, archer, caster and rogue if you wish, which all play differently and are fun. Let’s take a look at just which Builds would work well here, and some thoughts on each.
- Eternal Warrior – This is your front lines damage dealer and CCer. This Build hits hard, is tough to kill and Knocksdown enemies on the regular. I don’t think you can play an all Physical Damage party without some sort of warrior that can Knockdown, particularly on higher difficulties, so make sure you have one.
- Ranger – This is your ranged Bow user that hangs back and weakens or kills targets, making your warrior’s job easier. Rangers typically don’t have a lot of Skills to use and spend quite a bit of time just using their regular Bow attack. You can either make a pure archer type Build or use my Ranger build if you’d like to give it some other Skills to use, and Summoning works well in a Physical Damage party.
- Blood Mage – This is your caster class, that uses mostly Necromancer Skills to deal Physical Damage to enemies at range. Necromancers get extremely powerful later on in the game because of their access to Blood Storm and Grasp of the Starved. You can also add some healing Hydrosophist Skills if you wish, to make them support your group.
- Duelist – This is your Rogue build that uses Dual Daggers and Scoundrel Skills to attack its targets. It can also use Warfare Skills, giving it access to the same CCs that the Eternal Warrior has, further enhancing your group. In addition the combination of Sawtooth Knife and Marksman’s Fang (if your Ranger has it), can kill heavily Armoured enemies very quickly. Mortal Blow is just godly at killing a single target as well.
- Frost Paladin – This is an extremely tanky warrior Build that uses Warfare Skills to damage enemies, and uses Hydrosophist Skills to heal allies and damage undead. It deals less damage than the Eternal Warrior or Duelist, but is much harder to kill and is great at supporting the group.
- Crystalline Cleric – This is another tanky Build, but this time in the form of a caster. Crystalline Clerics use healing and Necromancer Skills to damage Undead and enemies. Note: Don’t take any Water Damage skills like Winter Blast when playing in a Physical Damage party.
- Warden – This is a Warrior/Ranger combo Build that uses a Bow and a Spear to attack at range and then leap into melee when needed. Why this Build works is because it only costs 1 AP to swap to 2-handed Weapons, Spears and Bows both scale off of Finesse, and because there are few Huntsman Skills, giving the Warden some Warfare ones to use when they are on cooldown.
I would recommend using any combination of the those listed above, or you can even have 2 of one build you really like. I would strongly suggest though that you have at least 2 melee builds, because the CCs from Warfare Skills are extremely important to your survival.
Magic Damage Party
Magic Damage parties are considered less effective than Physical ones because Magic Damage can be resisted, their Skills generally have lengthy cooldowns, and because hitting a Frozen enemy with a Fireball is a waste of a CC. I would not recommend this setup for a new player because the game has a steep learning curve, and this will only make it more difficult until you’ve learned a bit more about the game.
- Early game enemies have little or no Magic Armour.
- Synergies between schools of magic can be extremely powerful when utilized, resulting in increased performance.
- Access to the most powerful Source Skills in the game.
- Relatively solid Crowd Controlling effects if you know what you are doing.
- Very good range on most attacks.
- Lengthy cooldowns on Skills hurt early game casters who lack access to many Skills.
- You can accidentally remove CCs from Stunned and Frozen targets if you use the wrong Skill.
- Most enemies have some Magic Damage resistance, making you do less damage than Physical on average.
- Some enemies have immunity to certain Magic types, rendering them ineffective.
Recommended Builds for a Magic Damage Party
Magic Damage parties have a wide variety of possibilities because there tons of Skills to choose from, and combinations to use. You could make 4 characters that each specialize in a school, or you can mix and match as you see fit. Let’s take a look at just which Builds would work well here, and some thoughts on each.
- Stormchaser – Perhaps one of the most fun Builds to play in the entire game, this Build focuses on getting in close to enemies and shocking the ever-living crap out of them with Aerotheurge Skills. This will leave them Stunned and unable to attack. Stormchasers fulfill the role of “warrior” in the Magic Damage party, and it is advised you keep other party members well clear of them, because they are inclined to hit them with friendly fire.
- Tidalist – Tidalists are high damage water mages that get up high and unload on their targets with Hydrosophist Skills and Wand attacks. They are the “ranger” of the Magic Damage party and operate much the same way, only with massive CC potential. Between your Stormchaser and Tidalist you should be able to keep enemies Stunned or Frozen most of the time.
- Battlemage – The Battlemage is a melee-based Fire mage that uses Warfare and Pyrokinetic Skills to deal devastating damage at close range. They can dispatch large groups of enemies single-handedly if they are grouped tightly, making them perfect for defending bottle neck locations.
- Elemental Champion – Cousin to the Battlemage and Elementalist, Elemental Champions are melee mages that use the damage type that best fits the situation. They do this by swapping their Staff to the most useful type and swinging for the fences with Warfare Skills. They also make good use of Enrage to further increase their Magic Damage.
- Elementalist – The Elementalist is the jack of all trades caster, that uses 3 or more Magic types. They sacrifice some damage for the access to nearly every Magic Skill in the game, and they synergize well with any Magic Damage party. Be sure to tailor their Skills to best suit your party’s needs.
- Druid – Druids are casters that specialize in Summoning Skills, but have access to a wide variety of buffs. They are capable of making their Incarnates extremely powerful and deal damage of any Magic type they wish, and help support their group with healing and Armour enhancing Skills. They can also deal a bit of damage in a pinch.
You can mix and match any 4 of these you wish, but it is likely that you will have some overlap in Skills selection. I would recommend that you don’t use any other melee type builds if you use a Stormchaser, as they tend to shock nearby friendlies quite regularly. Battlemages are harder to use in all Magic Damage parties then in mixed parties, but they can still be effective if you manage the battlefield efficiently.
Mixed Damage Party
Mixed damage parties should aim to have a ratio of roughly 1:1 Physical to Magic Damage in their group. What this means is that they want to try to be balanced if they can, and not favor one damage type more than the other if possible. I have not done any studies, but I also have not seen any conclusive evidence that points to the perfect ratio of Physical to Magic in a mixed party, so shooting for 50/50 gives you the best chance until this is proven otherwise. I absolutely recommend this setup to new players, because they don’t know what they will be fighting, and this makes them a little bit prepared for anything.
- Allows for multiple damage types to be used, making it easier to use the correct type against the lowest Armour of an enemy.
- Allows for a wide a variety of Skills to be used, making you more prepared for what the game might throw at you.
- Has the element of being the most fun because it boasts the most possible combinations of Builds.
- New player friendly because it allows for some mistakes in optimization without hurting you as much.
- You can respec characters into just about any Build, allowing you to find what you like best.
- Is less efficient than a focused Damage party in many cases.
- It’s easy to create Builds that don’t synergize well especially if you are new.
- Choices can be overwhelming, paralyzing players with indecision.
Builds That Deal Mixed Damage
Mixed party characters will deal either Physical or Magic Damage generally, but some characters can deal more than one type. This tends to add complication to the 50/50 calculation, and it would be my guess that this is one of the reasons many players have been clamoring for such a guide. Let’s look at some Builds that utilize more than one damage type and then we will discuss some good compositions.
- Terramancer – Terramancers to do a mix of Earth and Physical damage, taking advantage of the status effects that some Geomancer Skills apply when targets have no Physical Armour. Terramancers are probably the tankiest Build in the game, and are excellent front lines characters who can soak up a lot of damage and not die.
- Crystalline Cleric – Like the Terramancer, Crystalline Clerics do a mix of damage types, but in this case it’s Water and Physical. They are also extremely tanky and belong somewhere near enemies so that they will take the damage meant for squishier party members. They do more Physical than Water Damage, so keep this in mind when factoring your ratio of damage types.
- Druid – Druids can also be used effectively here as they can deal multiple damage types, including Physical if they use some Necromancer Skills. They fit well into just about any party because buffs are good no matter what other Builds you use!
- Frost Paladin – The Frost Paladin does mostly Physical Damage, but can do a mild amount of Water Damage by using Global Cooling and Ice Breaker. Keep this in mind when using one in a mixed party, and realize you will need to compensate with more Magic Damage on another character.
- Magick Archer – The Magick Archer is an excellent “Ranger” Build that uses Elemental Arrows to deal Magic Damage when needed. They are more Physical Damage than Magic, but they can adjust how much Physical and Magic Damage they do, by tweaking the frequency with which they use these Arrows.
- Ranger – Rangers that utilize Summoning and Elemental Arrows can add Magic Damage to their party with ease, and are an excellent addition to a split damage party. Shoot a Fire Arrow into a group of enemies, summon a Fire Incarnate, win!
- Juggernaut – These warriors use a mix of Physical and Earth Damage to constantly CC their enemies. Juggernauts typically do more Physical Damage than Magic, but you can control just how much more by adjusting where you place your Ability Points.
You can use any Builds I have outlined in this article for a mixed damage party, not just the ones listed in this section. Just remember to try to balance how much damage you will do to Physical and Magic Armour as a group, not each character individually. It’s ok if it is not a perfect balance, because that is nearly impossible, just be sure it’s in the ballpark.
Mixed Damage Party Composition
I decided to list some mixed damage party compositions because I think that’s really where most players need help. In this section I’ll talk about some specific parties and why I think they work well together, as well as some tips on how to use them. First up is the typical 2 and 2 setup.
The Usual Suspects – Eternal Warrior, Ranger, Titalist, Stormchaser
This setup is probably the easiest to create and is probably what most new players should aim to use until they gain a bit of knowledge. For this setup I’d recommend one Eternal Warrior, one Ranger, one Tidalist and one Stormchaser. Now I normally don’t recommend having another melee character when you use a Stormchaser, but we’ll make an exception here because the Eternal Warrior is pretty tanky, can replenish Magic Armor, and you can give him some Air Resistance so he’s not as much at risk. Your Ranger can also be a Archer/Summoner or just an Archer, either works well here.
This will give you 2 melee units (1 Physical 1 Magic Damage), two ranged units, (1 Physical and 1 Magic damage). This is an extremely balanced combination and you shouldn’t have a lot of trouble with it. You will have lots of CC from your Eternal Warrior, Tidalist and Stormchaser and you shouldn’t take too much damage. You will also have a pretty good variety of Skills there, with little overlap. This is a good place to start if you are utterly unsure what to choose.
A Song of Earth and Fire – Juggernaut, Battlemage, Magick Archer, Terramancer
This group has really good synergy because of the focus on Earth, Fire and Physical Damage, but is slightly more difficult to play. Juggernauts deal both Physical and Earth Damage and have the most CC potential of any Build in the game. Terramancers use the same damage types, and some of the same Skills, making for a wicked combination of CC goodness (Earthquakes for days!). Add on top of that Magick Archers who deal tons of Physical Damage and can ignite the Oil pockets created by these two Builds, and a Battlemage who can do the same (in even greater capacity) and your enemies are going to be on fire or Knocked Down most of the time.
Magick Archers and Terramancers should start out with Physical Damage attacks trying to strip Physical Armour before using Earthquake, while the Battlemage and Juggernaut get in melee range and start dealing damage to whatever targets are appropriate. For the Battlemage this will be low Magic Armor targets, like warriors. The Juggernaut will need to assess whether it’s better to use Earth or Physical Damage based on the overall amount of Magic Armour enemies in the area have. If it’s low, he’ll want to use Petrifying Visage to CC them all at once. If it’s not, he’ll start out with a Whirlwind, and then hopefully follow it with an Earthquake, then Petrifying Visage.
Hydromania – Frost Paladin, Tidalist, Magick Archer, Crystalline Cleric
The combination of these 4 characters gives you tons of Physical Damage and tons of Water Damage. Water Damage synergizes well with other Water Damage because Chilled and Frozen targets take more damage from these attacks. Frost Paladins and Clerics will hold down the front lines, healing and buffing while they chip away at Physical Armour, as well as create impasses for enemies with ice, preventing them from getting to your party. While the Frost Paladin will be focusing primarily on Physical Damage, the Cleric is free to determine which type it should use (Water or Physical).
The Magick Archer and Tidalist will both Tactical Retreat to elevation if possible to gain a damage bonus and some security, but if not they should still be protected by the ice. Magick Archers will focus on taking down targets with weak Physical Armour, only using their Freezing Arrows when it serve them better. Tidalists will focus on enemies with weak Magic Armour, in hopes they can freeze or kill them as quickly as possible. This team is extremely tanky and a lot of fun to play. Water might be my favorite magic school in the game.
Team Devastation – Juggernaut, Eternal Warrior, Ranger, Elementalist
This group focuses very heavily on melee damage. The Juggernaut and Eternal Warrior will both be up in the enemy’s face, while the Ranger summons its Incarnate, so you will have a 3rd melee unit in there. Juggernauts hit hard and can CC many targets with weak Magic Armour or Physical Armour, while Eternal Warriors have very high damage and great CC against Physical Armour. Make sure they have good Armour values, so they can take some hits.
Rangers can attack with Physical Damage or Elemental Arrows, and can make their Incarnate deal Magic Damage or Physical. The Elementalist will focus on low Magic Armour enemies and create no go zones that will help protect their melee units from damage. They can also help buff other characters when not raining destruction in large AoEs. This is a pretty balanced group, with a slightly heavier focus on Physical Damage. This group has great flexibility and great raw damage. Consider swapping out the Elementalist for a Druid if you want a 4th melee unit, for some added mayhem.
Team Inversion – Terramancer, Battlemage, Blood Mage, Ranger
This is a rather unique setup because usually it’s your melee units dealing Physical Damage and your ranged units dealing Magic Damage. That is not the case here, where the Terramancer and Battlemage are holding the front lines. Ideally you’d want to weaken the Physical Armour of enemies with your Terramancer, Blood Mage and Ranger, before using the Geomancer Skills that can then be ignited by your Battlemage.
This is another setup that is really fun to play because of the good synergies. Earth and Fire work very well together, and so do Earth and Physical. Blood Mages can use Blood Storm or Grasp of the Starved, removing all Physical Armour and then you can level all enemies with an Earthquake and then set them on fire with a Fireball. Things can go from bad to worse very quickly for your enemies!
Well there you have it. I hope this Guide was a useful tool in determining what sort of party you want to make. I strongly recommend The Usual Suspects setup to brand new players because these Builds are rather focused, are not hard to create and don’t rely on other characters to be effective. There is also little or no overlap in Skills, so it should be fairly easy to determine who gets what equipment you acquire. The other setups are less cut and dry, but are extremely powerful too and also fun to play, so give them a chance if you’re looking to mix it up a bit. Mixed Damage is the way to go if you’re new, and more fun I think, if you’re an advanced player.
If you liked this article I can do another video showcasing more Setups that would work well for mixed damage parties. As I don’t think Physical Damage and Magic Damage parties are hard to create, I will not be covering these. Stay tuned for more Divinity: Original Sin 2 content, as we will be publishing more Build Showcases between now and August!