Blackguards

From Before I Play
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  • Plan ahead and specialize, this is not a game where you can spread your ability points all over and come out fine. As a Mage, pick out a few spells you want to focus on and get them up to a decent level (usually 8) before branching out. As a Warrior, pick no more than 1 or at most 2 weapon styles to start with and get real good at them.
  • Making the main character a spellcaster allows for more flexibility in your group than a Warrior as having more Mages means they can initially specialize on different spells. Later on it'll allow for more castings of the most useful spells. Archers are another solid choice as their Triple Shot is an extrely potent source of damage.
  • In the Weapon Talents screen you can adjust your characters' melee weapon focus between Parry and Attack. Mages don't usually need the latter, so going full Parry gives them a small survivability boost. Warriors will probably want to do the opposite and go full Attack as landing hits is of critical importance to them.
  • Have multiple damage types ready, don't fight skeletons with piercing weapons. Keep an eye out for Infantry Damage weapons in particular as few enemies have resistance to it, often making them stronger than they might seem.
  • Remember to restock potions and other items on your item belts before battles. Larger belts which allow for carrying more items into combat should be your top priority when buying things, followed by the potions themselves.
  • While most fights happen one at a time, watch out for chains of multiple battles which don't let you rest inbetween them. If it looks like a battle might lead to another, leave one weak enemy alive and spend a little time healing and regenerating your Mages' mana before ending the current fight.
  • Most characters can only go for one parry attempt (which increases their odds of avoiding a physical hit) per combat turn. Before trying to land a powerful but hard-to-hit physical ability on such an opponent, it can be worth trying to bait out the parry by attacking them with a weaker character first.
  • You can always purposefully cast lower ranks of spells, which is particularly useful for mana conservation purposes when finishing off low HP enemies.
  • Remember to update your hotbars with higher rank spells as you learn them. Most spells change functionality on Rank 4, so you'll probably end up with Rank 3 and Rank 4 copies of the same spell on your bars later in the game.
  • The starting Mage companion Zurbaran starts with Fortifex Arcane Wall on level 2, which allows him to create impassable force fields on the battlefield. Don't underestimate its usefulness! The ability to block enemies from moving through tiles of your choosing can often be far more valuable than any damage spell.
  • By far the best sources of damage in the mid- to late game are Hammer Blow (for heavy weapons users) and Triple Shot (for archers). Throw your offensive buffs on characters with either of these abilities and watch them wreck the opposition.
  • Don't bother buying spell books from stores, they cost astronomical amounts of gold and the same spells can often be learned from trainers.
  • At certain points the game will give you flashback missions where you will only have access to the skills and equipment you get from character creation screen. In some of these you will need to fight skeletons, so starting the game with a source of bashing or fire damage can save you some frustration later.

Talents

  • Willpower and Body Control are very important on frontliners, but they shouldn't be completely neglected by your backliners either. Body Control in particular can save you a lot of frustration from chain knockdowns which often come from sources your frontliners can't prevent.
  • You should get Perception to maximum rank on one character somewhere during Chapter 3 as it will then reveal every hidden trap and object on the entire map when used in combat. Just don't forget to actually use it, and make sure to add it to your hotbar.
  • Warcraft is another priority skill to max out on your Warriors. Most enemies in the game are humanoids and Rank 4 allows for weapons switching without skipping your turn, giving you much more flexibility. Animal Lore is less important but not by any means useless.
  • Streetwise and Survival are worth learning for everyone ASAP for the +1 Speed they provide, but actually leveling them isn't that important. Traps and Treat Wounds are not especially critical.

Spell Recommendations

  • Balm of Healing - The most reliable method of healing in the game, get it for all your spellcasters. Remember that healing a character whose HP has hit 0 brings them back to battle. Rank 2 will serve you fine 95% of the time, but sometimes Rank 3 can be useful for wound removal.
  • Clarum Purum - While only useful occasionally, it's very cheap to level and being stuck with high-level poison can be a pain. Just make sure you don't get poisoned again right afterwards. Don't bother getting it on more than one character.
  • Ecliptifactus Shadow Force - While not necessarily worth it for its "intended" use, having this spell at Rank 2 allows you to cheese a few levels as the shadow you summon can for example interact with levers and pressure pads. Be creative!
  • Fastness of Body - Solid survivability boost, particularly in the early game. Offensive buffs become more important as the game progresses, but since the early game is the hardest part it's worth getting to at least Rank 2 early on.
  • Hawkeye Marksmanship - Definitely worth picking up on someone if your player character is an archer, this + Triple Shot will make short work of practically anything. Otherwise your points are better spent elsewhere as the sole other archer you'll get can cast it themselves.
  • Ignifaxius Burst of Flame - Solid and reliable damage which bypasses magic resistance. Rank 4 has the same range as the other ranks but can hit up to 3 characters at a time. A few enemies are fire resistant, so you can also grab Thunderbolt for someone as backup if you like.
  • Karnifilo Frenzy - Probably the strongest spell in the game and every caster should get it to Rank 4 sooner or later. Makes any enemy attack the nearest character, and works on damn near everything. Use it on spellcasters and other enemies in the backlines and watch them kill each other for you.
  • Magica Infracta - Maybe not as useful as you might expect from a dispel as it also removes your own buffs and debuffs, but having it on one character can be worth it in a few battles.
  • Move as the Lightning - Rank 3 is the strongest buff in the game, doubling a character's actions per turn and giving them a hefty speed boost on top. Get this on at least two casters and cast it on your Warriors to practically double their effectiveness. Rank 4 is skippable.
  • Standfast Catlike - Increases your characters' chance to hit in melee, which is absolutely critical for reliably landing powerful but hard-to-hit melee skills like Hammer Blow. The dodge bonus is just gravy.