The Witcher Talent Tree Analysis Version 1.0 Author: Harleyquin Version 1.0 Table of Contents 1. Introduction 2. General Playstyles 3. Talent Tree Overview 4. Attributes 4a. Strength 4b. Dexterity 4c. Endurance 4d. Intelligence 5. Sword Styles 5a. Strong Steel 5b. Fast Steel 5c. Group Steel 5d. Strong Silver 5e. Fast Silver 5f. Group Silver 6. Signs 6a. Aard 6b. Igni 6c. Quen 6d. Yrden 6e. Axii 7. Acknowledgements and Credits 8. Contact information 9. Version history 10. Legal Notice 1. Introduction Welcome to my guide on the Witcher Talent Tree. The purpose of this FAQ is to give newcomers to the game an outline on how best to spend talent points in an efficient manner, hopefully allowing new (and experienced) players to play the game through without resorting to unnecessary grinding for XP just because decisions to spend talent points at the start turned out to be poor choices. I'm basing my recommendations based on Version 1.3 of the Witcher (pre- Enhanced Edition) since I completed the game more than a year ago before the Enhanced Edition was released. However just about everyone is on the EE now and with the exception of sword timings being slightly tighter in the EE none of the documented changes should have any effect on my following recommendations. I will try not to give too many spoilers when giving descriptions, however enemies and game features which is common knowledge will be mentioned. 2. General Playstyles Generally speaking, Geralt can adopt two distinct playstyles when dealing with opponents during combat. I'll refer to these playstyles as the Melee and Sign playstyles. The Melee playstyle primarily concentrates on investing points in the various sword styles as quickly as possible, surplus points are then allocated to signs after all sword style talents have been selected. Usually the character will devote spare bronze and silver talents into the Aard and Igni signs as secondary attack options. Attribute-based talents will be chosen and invested depending on whether they enhance Geralt's effective and durability in combat. This playstyle is straight-forward and can be adopted right off the bat from Chapter 1. The Sign playstyle primarily concentrates on investing points in the Sign branch of the talent tree, if the Signs have not yet been learned and all related Sign talents have been selected, players can either wait until all the Signs required have been learned or the surplus points invested in sword-styles as a holdover. This playstyle allows Geralt to kill effectively from a distance using Igni and Yrden,Aard stuns and knockdowns can be used on single opponents susceptible to the effects while Axii and Quen are used for crowd control and emergency equipment use during hectic situations respectively. Typically this playstyle will only invest the Strong and Fast sword styles up to level 3 with Group styles either to level 3 max or less depending on preference. Unlike the Melee playstyle players must wait until the end of Chapter 2 before all Signs are learned, at the very beginning of Chapter 1 it might be worthwhile to stick to a Melee playstyle temporarily until the Igni sign is learned. Both playstyles are perfectly viable and I have finished the game using both styles on different occasions on Hard difficulty. When giving a rating to the various talents I will give separate grades for the talent according to the playstyle employed. Obviously the two playstyles I've mentioned above are just templates, players can always mix and match depending on circumstances and their preferences. It is worth noting though that sticking to a specific playstyle early and consistently allows for a more efficient distribution of talents overall making the game easier. 3. Talent Tree overview The game has a total of 111 bronze talents, 102 silver talents and 33 gold talents. If Geralt earns enough XP to advance to level 50 and drinks all mutagenic potions granting talents he will possess all bronze talents, 80 silver talents and 25 gold talents. However Level 50 requires a substantial time investment in monster grinding and is not necessary to finish the game. Most players should reach levels 32-35 by the end of the game so take note when deciding which playstyle you adopt and the number of talents needed at a minimum to make the playstyle effective. A rating from 0 to 5 will be assigned to each talent, 5 representing a must-pick talent while talents with a 0 rating can be safely ignored. I will not exact descriptions with statistics for each talent, these can be obtained in-game from the talent tree. 4. Attributes Regardless of playstyle, the Strength, Dexterity and Endurance base attributes should be taken to Level 5. Intelligence can vary from 3-5 depending on playstyle. 4a. Strength Strength Level 1- Absolutely crucial to pick early regardless of playstyle. More vitality, increased damage and the associated resistances demand this talent is selected at your first level-up. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Buzz- Geralt when drunk isn't terribly good at landing blows on opponents so the damage increase isn't that useful. However this is 1 of 2 ways for Geralt to acquire Pain immunity and this makes the talent useful against monsters with a penchant for dealing Pain. None of the monsters dealing Pain are immune to Igni so this talent is worth investing for Sign masters, however I advise getting this talent early in Chapter 1 (more specifically before you accept the quest that forces you to fight drunk) and using your pain-immune drunkenness sparingly in Chapter 2 when fighting wraiths. Otherwise don't bother acquiring this talent unless you have so many bronze talents to spend that wasting one on Buzz doesn’t' cost you anything. If you do intend to use this talent, take note that Geralt will not be able to cast Signs regardless of his Endurance condition if he's extremely drunk (i.e. needs 2-3 hours to regain sobriety). Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) True Grit- Assuming you've been reading up on monsters and recipes and didn't screw up somehow making the requisite mutagenic potion, you should earn this talent just by going through the storyline. This talent is identical to the effect granted by the Wolverine potion, it's permanently active unlike the potion and both effects will stack. Sign masters will enjoy its benefits less often than their Melee counterparts but both playstyles lose nothing from having this talent. Rating: 5/5 (Melee and Sign) Strength Level 2- Like its level 1 counterpart Geralt should select this as early as possible for the substantial benefits provided. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Position- This is a defensive enhancement which should be selected after more important talents have been secured. Obviously more important to Melee masters since the increased chance to parry minimises the damage taken during combat. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Regeneration- This is easily one of the most useful bronze enhancements in the Strength branch, players will notice the difference before and after this enhancement is selected with Geralt capable of healing himself back to full vitality given several hours. In addition vitality regained during meditation is also increased meaning fewer hours spent at the campfire/Inn. Try and get this talent before Geralt reaches level 5. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Brawl- If you're not taking part in fistfights there is no need to take this enhancement. However the rewards for finishing the fist-fight quest and the associated material benefits from thrashing pub brawlers are significant enough for this talent to warrant the investment. Bear in mind Geralt's endurance will drop very substantially if the special moves are used when Geralt is still at a low level and hasn't invested in the Endurance base talents. I'd advise getting the Fistfight talent in the Dexterity branch first and then Brawl or getting both talents together at a level-up. Picking this talent around levels 8-10 is my recommendation, earlier if you feel confident. Rating: 4/5 (Both) Strength Level 3- Levels 3-4 require silver talents so the earliest you'll see this talent is level 15 or after you drink the Hellhound's Soul mutagenic potion. Regardless of the change in talents, this is still worth taking as soon as possible. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Vigour- More Vitality is always a good thing regardless of what playstyle you've adopted. The changes are retroactive (if you don't believe me play "The Price of Neutrality" adventure and check Geralt's vitality after this talent has been selected) so there's no need to rush taking this talent. Select it after you've developed your base attributes and primary fighting skills to reasonable levels first. Rating: 4/5 (Both) Knockdown Resistance- All of the resistance-related enhancements increase Geralt's susceptibility to various status effects by 50% cumulative with the resistances gained from base attributes and equipment. Without the aid of potions the maximum percentage earned should range from 70-90%. In this case I wouldn't touch this talent at all since the Willow potion grants immunity to Stun and Knockdown. If you're not experimenting to get potions early you will likely not need this talent anyway since the monsters which can employ knockdown will not have 1-hit kill animations and Geralt can always regenerate the health lost using the Swallow potion after the fight is over. Rating: 0/5 (Both) Survival Instinct- One of the many enhancements that activates only when Geralt is under specific conditions or status effects. At any rate monsters which can inflict the Bleeding status effect is not that common and the duration of this effect when it is active is quite short. With the very notable exception encountered late in the game you will most likely not want to let Bleeding continue since it lasts long enough and is severe enough to kill Geralt in seconds unless the Kiss potion is applied. There are no long-range attacks which inflict Bleeding in the game so Sign masters have even less reason to consider this talent compared to their Melee counterparts. Rating: 1/5 (Melee, only if you like taking risks) 0/5 (Sign) Strength Level 4- This is another must-pick talent regardless of playstyle, however it is not necessarily an immediate pick like its level 3 counterpart since the relative scarcity of Silver talents compared to Bronze requires more careful planning on what to select at level-up. I suggest either getting this as quickly as possible just after Level 3 is taken or waiting until all level 3 base attributes as well as primary attacks have been selected before this talent is considered. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Resistance to Bleeding- Taking this enhancement and Survival Instinct listed above is not the best combination or use of talents for Geralt. If you are going to take this enhancement it should stack with the effect of the Kiss potion (90% resistance) to give immunity to Bleeding. If I'm wrong and the effect does not stack you will still be susceptible to Bleeding but it should not happen often. I advise not bothering with this talent since the most common occurrence of Bleeding (Necrophages eating chunks out of you alive) isn't dangerous enough for you to waste a talent here. Rating: 0/5 (Both) Stone Skin- I don't know how much the bonus to armour rating helps in preventing damage, but it's nice to have and works for all forms of damage (melee and ranged). Melee masters will see more use of this enhancement than their Sign counterparts. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Aggression: More damage on all sword styles? Sign me up! This isn't that useful to warrant an immediate pick once it's unlocked but Melee masters will want to take this quickly once their sword styles have been developed sufficiently. Sign masters can skip this if they don't see much sword action. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Strength Level 5- Gold talents need even more planning when deciding on their investment since they don't come often and require careful planning for the best value possible. Both playstyles will likely want this talent eventually, Melee masters will want this more or less immediately while Sign masters can probably wait and take this as their 4-6th selected gold talent. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Wound resistance- I personally have no idea what wound resistance means in game terms, I picked this enhancement on my first playthrough and didn't see a noticeable difference before and after this talent was selected. My guess is that some attacks which hit Geralt have a chance of doing no damage to him with this enhancement active. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 0-1/5 (Sign, dependent on how far you've developed Geralt) Added Vitality- If you've made enough progress with Geralt to earn Gold talents you will find this enhancement rather unnecessary since Geralt earns extra Vitality and Endurance at each level-up and he will very likely have the Full Moon potion which gives a significant maximum Vitality boost for a few hours. Taking it won't hurt but only do so if you've fully developed your required base attributes and primary mode of attack. Rating: 2/5 (Both) 4b. Dexterity Dexterity Level 1- Like its strength counterpart this should be selected at your 1st level up, although the associated resistances aren't encountered as often as the Strength-related resistances this is the attribute that governs Geralt's defensive abilities (Dodge, Parry) as well as his chance to land hits on opponents. Sign masters will likely select this attribute only after Endurance and Intelligence have been secured. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Flaying:- You earn this ability at the Prologue if you start the full campaign or start with it automatically for the official mini-adventures. Rating: N/A Werewolf's Wrath- This is one of two mutagenic potions which may or may not be earned depending on the player's decisions. The bonus to attack and dodge is very substantial when it is active at night making it quite the boon for Melee masters, Sign masters will still appreciate the increased dodge chance while waiting for endurance to regenerate in between Sign castings. The choice will affect the storyline so it's entirely up to the player's discretion. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Dexterity Level 2- Same priority as Level 1, get it quickly if you're going the Melee route or pick it after Endurance and Intelligence Level 2 have been secured if going the Sign route. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Deflect Arrows- One of the Witcher's signature abilities, this is useful when taking on cursed plant life and opponents armed with bows and crossbows. It is not 100% effective even if you're facing the right direction and it's less likely to occur at hard difficulty mode and at lower levels. Both Melee and Sign masters will want this enhancement after key attributes and attack skills have been sufficiently developed solely for the chance to avoid damage when closing in against opponents with ranged capabilities. Rating: 4/5 (Both) Repel- Same statistical effect as Parry in the strength branch, read the Parry section for more. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Fistfight- Like its Brawl counterpart in the strength branch, this enhancement only applies during fistfights. Unlike Brawl this talent when active is automatic and has no cost to endurance levels. It isn't 100% guaranteed to activate every time but the additional 1-2 blows speeds up fistfights and can prove the difference between victory and defeat. I recommend taking this either together with Brawl or one level before since the Endurance cost from Brawl is rather high at early levels. You don't need both Brawl and Fistfight to finish the fist-fight quest, however having them both makes things much easier and reduces your reliance on Swallow potions along with hit-and-run tactics. Rating: 4/5 (Both) Dexterity Level 3- Melee masters will want to take this talent immediately after Strength Level 3 has been secured, Sign masters will likely take this only after the equivalent talents for the other attributes have been secured first. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Resistance to Blinding- Of the various resistance-related enhancements this is easily the most desirable talent of its type for both Melee and Sign masters. Aside from the base Dexterity attribute and equipment bonuses there is no way of increasing resistance to Blinding. Although the status effect is rare, it lasts long enough to be an annoyance since Geralt cannot attack or defend himself when blinded. I picked this talent on all 3 of my playthroughs since Chapter 5 has two opponents who will inflict the Blinding status effect and I noticed a big difference when this talent was taken compared to before. It's still not worth taking before key attributes and primary attack skills but I'd advise taking it as early as possible. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Agility- Another defensive enhancement in the Dexterity branch, this is useful regardless of which playstyle you employ since opponents will reach you eventually and the added percentage to dodge reduces the damage you take in the long-run. As before provision for this enhancement should be made after more vital talents have been secured. Rating: 4/5 (Both) Limit Incineration- One of two defensive enhancements guarding against incineration. If this talent is secured Geralt's "burn time" is shortened and the time you spend losing vitality and incapacitated is reduced. This is a unique enhancement as there is no other way of reducing "burn time" for Geralt. On the other hand Geralt tends to suffer from incineration as a result of environmental hazards rather than from the attacks of opponents so the usefulness of this enhancement is debatable. You will be glad this talent and the Incineration Resistance talent are secured when you reach the end of the game though. Rating: 2/5 (Both, not quite as important as Resistance to Blinding). Dexterity Level 4- Follow the suggestions given in Strength Level 4, the priority for this talent depends on your playstyle so the recommendations in Level 3 should be consulted for more. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Finesse- There are other ways of increasing the chance of inflicting pain on opponents, most notably the use of Crinfrid Oil (you'll need Oil preparation) and through the various weapons on offer. I don't think it's worth investing a silver talent here since the base chance for pain with fast style is already quite high and when combined with weapon effects and Crinfrid Oil Geralt will be inflicting pain on his foes on nearly every hit with fast style. Sign Masters can safely ignore this enhancement for something more suitable. Rating: 1/5 (Melee and if you have points to spare), 0/5 (Sign) Feint- Increased chance to hit is only obtained from weapons and runic stones like Svarog and Perun. Level development probably plays a part as well but I have yet to confirm this. Sign masters might consider investing a talent here if Signs aren't as effective and a melee is inevitable. Melee masters will want to pick this as early as possible. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Incineration Resistance: The 2nd of the defensive enhancements guarding against incineration, this is similar to the other resistance-related enhancements with its large % increase. I recommend taking this and Limit Incineration together if you're so inclined since the protection offered by both enhancements makes the incineration effect less of a lethal threat. Rating: 2/5 (Both) Dexterity Level 5- Sign masters may or may not pick this talent if they feel confident about their ability to resist blinding and incineration, Melee masters want this after the equivalent strength talent is secured. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Vigilance- Almost useless for Sign masters since their playstyle excels at killing from a distance and crowd control, melee masters who are fond of the Group Style will want this enhancement, there are few things more annoying than a chain attack being interrupted just because one opponent got in a cheap shot from the rear. Rating: 3/5 (Melee and fond of Group style) 2/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Precision- If you're a melee master who's developed Group styles to the limit, you will like the increased damage provided from more critical hits. This ability will stack with the Wolf potion and any points already invested in the Critical hit sub-branches. Sign masters, move on. Rating: 4/5 (Melee and fond of Group style) 0/5 (Sign) 4c. Endurance Endurance Level 1- More endurance means more Sign castings over a given period of time, the associated resistances are also the most common status effects that Geralt will encounter when fighting monsters. Sign masters will likely prioritise this over Dexterity and possibly Intelligence, Melee masters will take this after Strength and Dexterity. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Heavyweight- In my opinion the single most useless talent in the game! The few times you must get Geralt drunk during the main storyline there are always campfires or a place to meditate for 2-3 hours to get rid of intoxication. Depending on choices made one bronze talent might not be obtainable once Geralt reaches level 50, this is the one to skip. Rating: 0/5 (Both) Mutation- Just like True Grit, this enhancement should be obtained through the course of play over the main storyline. Collect the necessary recipes and bestiary entries and make the potion using the formula automatically instead of manually selecting the ingredients. This is probably the mutagenic talent used most often during the game since the monster parts which can be consumed act like a weaker version of White Raffard's Decoction for restoring health at the cost of increased toxicity. Still it's unlikely to see that much use if the player has been diligent with potion creation and battle tactics. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Endurance Level 2- Secure as soon as possible regardless of playstyle. As for priority refer to the suggestions given in Endurance Level 1. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Absorption- Places of Power aren't exactly common and the effects last several hours so it's not likely you'll be running back to the same area just to get a temporary boost to your signs. This ability increases in importance only if you've invested in the Ritual of Life allowing Geralt to have the Magic and Life rituals active at the same time. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Poison Resistance- This is a more difficult enhancement to rate, on the one hand monsters employing poison are quite common and they appear fairly early in the game. On the other hand the Golden Oriole potion when learnt grants full immunity to poison. If you're not experimenting to get the potion early you'll have to wait until just before the halfway-mark of the main storyline before you can finally brew the potion. My suggestion is to either take this talent as early as you feasibly can and enjoy its benefits until Golden Oriole is available or ignore this talent entirely and put up with the increased likelihood of cadaverine poisoning and the like. If you're not playing the main storyline, possess the Golden Oriole formula and can brew the potion from the start, this enhancement becomes unnecessary. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Endurance Regeneration (Bronze)- There are two enhancements that help endurance regeneration and this is the 1st available. Regardless of playstyle this enhancement is helpful since even the most hardcore melee master likes Aard and Igni occasionally to speed up fights. The bonus from this effect stacks with the corresponding silver talent enhancement of the same name. Rating: 4/5 (Both) Endurance Level 3- Like the other Level 3 base attribute talents this should be obtained as early as possible with priority dependent on your playstyle. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Endurance Regeneration (Silver)- This combined with the bronze talent enhancement of the same name really increase the rate of endurance regeneration, that doesn't meet Geralt's endurance regenerates so quickly as to make Tawny Owl obsolete. Melee masters will likely delay taking this ability until more crucial offensive and defensive abilities have been secured. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Pain Resistance- There are only two ways for Geralt to attain pain immunity, the first is to get drunk and activate the Buzz enhancement while the second is to drink enough potions to raise toxicity sufficiently or drink failed potions dealing poison so that Altered Metabolism is activated. The former definitely grants pain immunity at a significant cost to attack % while the latter grants other nice bonuses to high toxicity or potion poisoning but isn't guaranteed to grant Pain immunity (Version 1.3, I'm not sure if they fixed Altered Metabolism to work properly in EE). The Pain ability is annoying if it helps since Geralt clutches at himself for several seconds while opponents surrounding him get free hits and chain attacks. Taking Pain Resistance makes it less likely for Geralt to get incapacitated and is a useful fallback even with Altered Metabolism secured when combined with the base resistances from the Endurance attribute and armour resistance bonuses. Rating: 2/5 (Both) Revive- I've never picked this ability, if you are stunned by opponents you will either be dead in a few seconds from 1-hit kills or you'll be woken up from your stunned state through non-lethal monster special attacks. At any rate you'll get the Willow potion eventually which grants stun immunity rendering the effect of this enhancement useless with the potion's availability. Rating: 0/5 (Both) Endurance Level 4- Same pattern for this attribute like Level 3, take it as early as possible and vary your priorities depending on playstyle. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Stun Resistance- I recommend not taking this enhancement for the same reasons listed under Knockdown Resistance, the Willow potion makes this talent obsolete when it's available. If you've somehow blundered and don't have the means or knowledge to brew Willow potions, this talent combined with Revive should provide some protection from opponents fond of stunning attacks. Rating: 0/5 (Both) Brawn- Sign masters can skip this since they're extremely unlikely to go beyond Level 3 for sword styles, melee masters might as well pick this up since some of the special attacks are worth trying for the potential of status effects on the unlucky victim allowing Geralt an easier kill. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Altered Metabolism- On paper this is one hell of a package, two immunities, increased bleeding resistance along with better attack and dodge percentages. However I could never figure out where the toxicity trigger point was and I'm not sure the enhancement worked the way it was written to. If the ability triggers according to the in-game talent tree description and not the manual, then the player will have to find failed potion combinations which trigger poisoning for this talent to work. From previous attempts the poisoning effect from potions used to last for as long as it took to drain current Vitality by half so Altered Metabolism would last at most a minute or two. Rating: 3/5 (Both) Endurance Level 5- Sign Masters will want this, Melee masters might decide otherwise depending on what level they're on and the gold talents available. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Potion Tolerance- Geralt's maximum capacity for potions is increased, primarily useful for the Melee master who is more likely to exceed the potion limit with the wider variety of buffing potions for melee combat and increased need for healing potions due to higher damage incurred. Sign masters will find some use for this since Full Moon, Swallow, Petri's Philter, Tawny Owl and Maribor Forest all at once leaves little room for an emergency application of White Raffard's Decoction should the battle situation get too chaotic. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Added Endurance- Primarily geared towards Sign masters who will want every last point of endurance on hand for Sign spamming, however the Maribor Forest potion also performs this function and it's quite possible that the Sign master will have so much endurance to the point where Sign spammage doesn't have any effect on the endurance bar. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) 4d. Intelligence Intelligence Level 1- Secure this talent either on your first or second level-up. The increased sign intensity to Aard will likely make the early one-on-one fights with monsters much easier if you can score the knockdown needed for an instant kill. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Potion Brewing- Read the Flaying description for more details. Rating: N/A Rising Moon- Another of the mutagenic enhancements obtained through a potion, it's primarily useful for the Sign master who will love the huge boost to Sign intensity for a period of 2 hours. However the brief period in which the ability is active means it's just icing on the cake on what is likely to be a very dangerous character with powerful Signs. So long as the Bestiary and formulae journal entries are properly updated there should be no problems obtaining the required potion. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Intelligence Level 2- This talent should be secured not for its base attributes but for the associated abilities that are unlocked at Level 2 intelligence. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Herbalism- This in my opinion is one of the single most important enhancements in the game, the various herbs collectable with this ability secured often have secondary alchemical effects so it's much easier making potions with dominant substances with a fully stocked apothecary. Although it's quite possible to create any potion you know using monster parts and alchemical ingredients alone, having Herbalism in your arsenal makes it much easier and cheaper to accomplish. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Monster Lore- This is a straight-forward enhancement, either get it within the 1st 3 levels or don't get it at all since the monsters you learn about from this ability can be learnt through books which are easily affordable in the early stages of the game. I personally think spending a precious talent point to save 200-300 Orens in the early game isn't worthwhile since money isn't that hard to come by if you're diligent about looting and selling unnecessary items. Rating: 0/5 (Both) Oil Preparation- I've read on the official forums that some players don't see the need for this enhancement since whetstones and runestones also increase the damage dealt by weapons and they're commonly available through looting and exploration. I personally disagree since even the Perun runestone gives a maximum of 60% increased damage compared to the 100% available from oils. Oils are also more versatile since the oils designed for Steel weapons make one-on-one fights much easier if the opponent is perpetually incapacitated with Pain or dying faster from Bleeding or poison. Prior to the EE there was also an easy exploit to get top quality oil bases in chapters 2 and 3 making a large collection of oils like Argentia and Vampire Oil easy to obtain and store. Although the Sign master is less likely to require oils, they can provide an escape route early in the game when Signs are less developed and the sword is relied on as a fallback until endurance recovers. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Intelligence Level 3- Melee masters will pick up this base attribute last after the other attributes have been secured, Sign masters will pick this shortly after Strength and maybe Endurance Level 3 have been secured. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Knowledge of the Cleansing Ritual- With this enhancement secured you'll get an extra option when Geralt visits a Place of Power. It essentially combines the effects of the White Honey and Golden Oriole potion (although it doesn't give poison resistance) into one package. Considering how easy it is to make the potions and the unlikely probability you'll be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no way of brewing potions, it's advisable to give this ability a miss. Rating: 0/5 (Both) Ingredient Extraction- With this ability Geralt will likely harvest double the regular number of ingredients from plants and monsters and have an increased chance of getting the rarer monster parts from monsters (e.g. Ectoplasm from Barghests etc.) This is somewhat convenient for reducing the number of side-trips for ingredient harvesting but is not crucial for beating the game. Rating: 0-2/5 (Depending on preference and patience) Bomb Preparation- Bombs are a nice alternative to Signs for crowd control, all you need are black powder bases and a few more ingredients over and above what you would use for potions and oils. Both playstyles benefit from a silver talent spent here, the Zerrikanian Sun is one of the few sure-fire ways to blind opponents making it easier for the Melee master's Sinister sub-branch to prove its worth. Sign masters will likely appreciate Dragon's Dream for its improvement to Igni's overall effectiveness. King and Queen and Samum are also great for emergency potion consumption and cheap kills respectively. Obviously I leave it to the player's discretion to decide if an extra means for crowd control over and above the effects of Signs is worth the investment. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Intelligence Level 4- Sign Masters will likely secure this earlier than their Melee counterparts (who may decide to give this a pass). The enhancements unlocked with Level 4 are somewhat limited in effectiveness so you're more or less investing a point here just to unlock Level 5 Signs. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Focus- Sign Masters want this, since it will stack with the other special effects duration boosting enhancements. Melee masters will probably only invest in this when they've developed everything else and don't know what to spend their spare silver talents on. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Knowledge of the Life Ritual- Another option to select at Places of Power if this ability is secured. Effect is similar to the Swallow potion without the increase to Toxicity and it stacks with food, Rubedo effect and Swallow potion regeneration. If you're getting this talent Absorption should be picked up as well allowing for Ritual of Magic to be active simultaneously. Rating: 2/5 (Both) Magic Frenzy- Increased Sign intensity when your endurance is low, sounds like a contradiction since in many cases low endurance means you can't cast Signs until your endurance recovers. When it does you might find that the effect no longer applies since it isn't below the enhancement's threshold. Sign Masters intent on seizing every last opportunity to improve their Sign effectiveness can invest in this, all other players can look elsewhere. If the manual is wrong and the game follows the talent tree description in-game, then this is a risky way for Sign masters to inflict more damage from Igni and Yrden at the cost of a potentially quick death due to the low vitality needed to maintain the effect. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Intelligence Level 5- Take note investing a gold talent here only improves Sign intensity, it you're Melee and have gold talents to spare then placing one here won't hurt. Sign masters will obviously take this as early as they can. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Mental Endurance- Purely a boon to Sign masters, it's unlikely Melee masters will have the talents or the need to invest in this talent otherwise. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Intensity- Same as the above, both of the Intelligence Level 5 related enhancements secured for a Sign master make for a potent Warrior-mage Witcher. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) 5. Sword Styles Regardless of playstyle, you will have to use the Witcher swords depending on circumstances and the opponents you face. An easy way to learn the timing is to play the game once through on Medium difficulty and concentrating on melee. Once you notice the animation trends it's not difficult to transition to Hard difficulty and still pull off multiple chains even without the aid of the cursor cues. Melee masters will likely develop Strong and Fast styles for both swords to Level 5, Group styles will be developed depending on whether the player likes wading into groups directly or would prefer using crowd control tactics to pick off opponents one by one. Sign masters should develop Strong and Fast styles to Level 3 at least since there are some enemies in the game which are much easier to defeat with a sword instead of signs, Group styles for Sign masters is a matter of preference. It's quite possible Sign masters will never invest any points in the Group styles if they are confident their Signs and other crowd control measures can do the job. A note on the enhancements of each main sword style: If you've invested in Trip 1 for Group Steel 1 it will only apply its knockdown bonus to the Group Steel 1 swing animation only. If you've developed Group Steel to Level 3, only the initial attack will benefit from Trip 1. The other attack animations will need Trip 2 and 3 for an increase to the knockdown chance. 5a. Strong Steel Strong Steel Level 1- Geralt starts with this, follow the tutorial suggestions on when to use this sword and there shouldn't be a problem. Rating: N/A Cut to the Jugular 1- Base bleeding chance with Strong Steel Level 1 is increased, I'd rather get this later after the damage talents have been secured. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Crushing Blow 1- More damage to the Strong Steel Level 1 animation, it's not much and it will soon be superseded by the more advanced Sword styles but every little point counts especially at the start of the game. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Bloody Frenzy 1- Damage output goes up when Geralt is near death, normally I only touch this talent and its advanced brethren after I've invested all my bronze talents in more important areas. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Strong Steel Level 2- I recommend getting this early (say level 3) so that you get a nice boost to damage and kill opponents faster rather than relying on the basic Level 1 swings. The overhead downward slash on this ability and Geralt's subsequent step backwards means you will slowly move out of combat range if you rely on the regular visual cues for chaining attacks. It's possible to get Geralt to continue the chain without him stepping back all the way if you get the timing right, that way you can chain the jumping slashes to the final attack without pausing too much to move back into range. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Cut to the Jugular 2- Same effect as Level 1, only now it applies to the 2nd animation and the increase to bleeding chance is increased. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Crushing Blow 2- Same pattern observed in this sub-branch, increased damage only applies to the specific combat animation. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Bloody Frenzy 2- As above. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Strong Steel Level 3- I recommend both playstyles invest up to Level 3 minimum by the end of the game, the damage increase over Level 2 is definitely worthwhile once you progress to the mid-game and opponents start hitting harder and lasting longer. This animation is fairly easy to chain and Geralt will either stand in place or advance towards the opponent with each successful chain so try and get this talent quickly to bypass the annoying jump-slash from Level 2. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Cut to the Jugular 3- Same pattern observed from its 2 basic brethren, bear in mind though that Silver talents are now needed to develop this and the other enhancements so only invest talents here if you have them to spare. On the other hand investments in the Level 3 sword style enhancements are fairly rewarding on the combat statistics. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Crushing Blow 3- See the above for general recommendations. Damage boost is nice and if you're not going past Level 3 Strong Steel it's worth the investment. Melee masters will still appreciate the increased damage even if Level 5 Strong Steel is unlocked. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Bloody Frenzy 3- Similar to the other enhancements, but I don't advise investing a talent here even if you're a Melee master since there are more pressing demands on your limited talents. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Strong Steel Level 4- All of the Level 4 sword styles are special attacks which need time to prepare and drain endurance each time they are successfully executed. Melee masters will need to invest a talent here anyway since it's the prerequisite to unlock Level 5 Strong Steel. The attack itself is heavily damaging if it connects leaving quite a few opponents either dead or very close to death. The increased chance to Stun and Dislodge Shield is an added bonus, the latter ability is only obtainable with this move or by wielding other weapons during combat and it's particularly useful against the many shield-bearing opponents you will face towards the end of the game. Getting rid of their shield increases Geralt's subsequent chances to land blows on the shieldless opponent and removes their annoying shield-bash knockdown manoeuvre. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Strong Steel Level 5- The pinnacle of this style's attacks, very damaging to all foes susceptible to the style. If you successfully chain all six attacks in the sequence your opponent's chances of survival are extremely slim. Take note that the interval for chaining the final animation is brief and too long a delay will force Geralt to start the attack sequence from square one. Be sure to count the number of hits in this animation since I tend to make the mistake of interrupting the animation too early midway between the 3rd and 4th strikes. Rating- 5/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) 5b. Fast Steel Fast Steel Level 1- Like its Strong Steel counterpart, follow the tips on which foes are susceptible to its blows and there should be no problems. Rating: N/A Paralysis 1- Base pain chance increased for Fast Steel Level 1, get this enhancement after the damage enhancement has been secured. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Hail of Blows 1-Damage increase for Fast Steel Level 1 animation, the overall effect is less pronounced than its corresponding Strong Steel enhancement but every point of damage counts when the damage increase % are added up. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Sever Sinews 1- Chance of inflicting pain on heavily wounded opponents is increased, my personal opinion is that if you've managed to beat an opponent to the point where this enhancement does take effect it won't be long before said opponent is slain anyway. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Fast Steel Level 2- The damage upgrade is appreciated especially early in the game,the multiple strikes in this animation also keep a struck opponent from retaliating until the animation is finished. Get this early like Strong Steel Level 2. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Paralysis 2- Same as Paralysis 1, differences being the affected attack animation and % increase. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Hail of Blows 2- More damage for the Level 2 attack animation, grab it after more important bronze talent abilities and enhancements have been secured. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Sever Sinews 1- See my description of Sever Sinews 1 for more information. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Fast Steel Level 3- More damage from an attack animation with multiple strikes, the interval to the next chain is somewhat quick so blink and you'll miss it. The last attack is also a jump-slash so Geralt will move back slightly after the stroke, time your attacks properly. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Paralysis 3- More of the same from the Paralysis line of enhancements, grab it if you really don't know what to do with your remaining silver talents. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Hail of Blows 3- The only talent linked to Level 3 which I will invest in, the % increase to damage can reach 2 digits for final damage calculated. Read my description for Crushing Blow 3 for more information. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Sever Sinews 3-Even less reason to bother with this branch now that it will cost you a scarcer silver talent to activate. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Fast Steel Level 4- The Twister special attack has a chance to Disarm the opponent and makes Geralt less likely to take damage thanks to the parry boost. Useful for 1-on-1 battles. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Fast Steel Level 5- The damage from the final attack combination is comparable to Strong Steel levels 2-3, however Geralt will still do less damage to opponents more susceptible to the Strong Style. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) 5c. Group Steel Group Steel Level 1- Geralt starts with this, the two wide slashes of this combination make Geralt move forward slightly each time the chain is continued. Group Styles always do less damage than the other styles focusing on single opponents, on the other hand the enhancements linked to the basic style are much more useful and worth investing in than the corresponding Strong and Fast style enhancements. Rating: N/A Precise Hit 1- Increases base chance of critical hits for the Level 1 animation, I have never really figured out what a critical hit implies, however during gameplay I've observed some opponents taking far more damage than their peers when Group Style is used and the enhancement is active. Hence this is a bigger priority for activation than the next enhancement. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Half-Spin 1- Increases damage for the Level 1 attack animation, unlike the strong and fast steel equivalents you should invest in this enhancement last since the difference with or without this talent active is negligible for Group Steel Level 1. Rating: 2/5 (Both) Trip 1- Increases Knockdown chance when Geralt employs the Group Style against at least 3 opponents. I personally think this is the most useful of the 3 talents linked to the Group styles since Geralt can only use Group styles to obliterate multiple opponents when he outclasses the opposition considerably, on average Geralt will take more damage employing Group style since opponents get to flank Geralt and his defences are reduced to reflect this. With the aid of this enhancement the time Geralt spends being surrounded by multiple foes is reduced (assuming no immunity to Knockdown) making it easier for Geralt to pick off single downed opponents with finishing moves before proceeding to the next kill. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Group Steel Level 2- More damage with the new animation, like Level 1 Geralt will advance slightly when the animation is shown so players should take note not to move Geralt too far forward as to put other opponents out of sword range. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Precise Hit 2- See info on Precise Hit 1 for more details, the increased % chance should be noticeable in kill duration before and after this talent is active. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Half-Spin 2- The damage difference before and after this enhancement is secured for Group Steel level 2 still isn't that significant, I'd take the other 2 Group Steel Level 2 enhancements before picking this. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Trip 2- Knockdown chance increased when Geralt faces 3 or more opponents with this style. Once Group Steel Level 2 is unlocked you will want this enhancement secured as soon as possible since Geralt is stuck using Level 2 styles for some time and with 3 out of the 4 attack animations in the sequence employing the Level 2 animation you will want to spend as little time as possible being surrounded. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Group Steel Level 3- Players should make a choice here since silver talents are required to secure Group styles from level 3 onwards and some players may find the risks of being surrounded far outweighing the benefits of the style. When developed Group styles can do the highest damage overall and can slay groups of opponents faster than picking them off one by one, however players will notice opponents being more capable of dodging, blocking or parrying Geralt when he employs the Group style especially during the later stages of the game. It's up to the player's discretion whether Group styles are developed past level 2. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Precise Hit 3- The % increase to critical hit chance coupled with the decent damage inflicted at Group Steel Level 3 make this enhancement worth investing in if the decision to go for Group Steel Level 3 is taken. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Half-Spin 3- The % increase to base damage is now significant enough to give this enhancement some consideration, it comes down to the player's preference for a chance of much higher damage during combat or a guaranteed, smaller source of group damage. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Trip 3- Even with the increase to damage at Group Steel Level 3 it is still better to keep the situation under control by knocking down a few foes surrounding Geralt. The significant % increase to Knockdown enabled with this enhancement makes this more likely. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Group Steel Level 4- A note on this special attack and its Silver counterpart: the wind-up time is excruciatingly long. If you intend to use this attack in a horde, Geralt must either outclass his opposition to the extent that messing about with the attacking opponents doesn't matter or he will need the help of potions to maximise his defences while waiting for the attack to fully prepare. This is the only special attack that has no accompanying status effects to opponents, execute this attack successfully against a group of opponents and watch most of them either drop like flies or take considerable damage if the attack connects. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Group Steel Level 5- If the player decides to go all the way with the sword style, the results will be quite impressive so long as your opponents do not block or parry the attack. Boost Geralt's chance to attack with the appropriate talents, the Thunderbolt potion and/or runestones for best results. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) 5d. Strong Silver Strong Silver Level 1- Geralt starts with this, if you're playing the main adventure you will not need to develop the Silver sword style branch for a while for reasons that should be painfully obvious. Although the sword can be wielded in one hand, Geralt cannot dual-wield the sword with a smaller steel weapon (such as a dagger or axe). Rating: N/A Deep Cut 1- The Silver sword counterpart to Cut to the Jugular. Note that some monsters don't have a circulatory system so the increase to bleeding will not apply to all monsters susceptible to the Silver sword. Otherwise this talent and its related enhancements should be given the same priority as its Steel counterpart. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Mortal Blow 1- The Silver sword counterpart to Crushing Blow. More damage for the Silver sword is always handy given the Witcher's profession of slaying monsters. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Patinado 1- This silver sword line of enhancements differs from its Steel counterpart in increasing damage to the target when a particular status effect is active against the target foe. The Patinado branch is more useful than its Fast Silver counterpart since incinerating targets is easy with the Igni Sign enhanced with Incineration. The damage boost is quite significant with this enhancement active so I recommend securing it quickly along with the Mortal Blow sub-branch for better damage. Weeding in particular is much easier when the Patinado talent is enabled. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Strong Silver Level 2- If you're playing the main adventure and receive the Silver sword, it's advisable to either pick up the associated Level 2 Silver styles on your next level-up or have planned ahead and secured them shortly before the sword is received. In addition to the damage boost the Level 2 animation is easier to chain against opponents making it a must-pick ability for both playstyles. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Deep Cut 2- Similar to Deep Cut 1, difference being the affected animation and % increase to bleeding chance. Secure after more important talents are at hand. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Mortal Blow 2- Higher % increase to damage tacked on to the base Level 2 animation makes this an important enhancement to secure as quickly as possible. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Patinado 2- Just like Patinado 1, only more damage for the Level 2 animation when an opponent is being roasted alive. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Strong Silver Level 3- More damage but the animation for this attack is slower and the final jump-slash needs to be taken into account when performing chain attacks since Geralt will move a step back before the sword whirl. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Deep Cut 3- More of the same from Deep Cut 2. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Mortal Blow 3- Priority similar to Crushing Blow 3 and Hail of Blows 3. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Patinado 3- Even though it costs a silver talent to invest in, it is definitely worth an investment since both playstyles will be using the Level 3 styles for some time and it's important that the final attacks in the sequence deal as much as damage as possible. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Strong Silver Level 4- Lots of damage if the move connects, however it's advisable to use this for the damage since Knockdown is achievable using Aard. Melee masters who haven't developed Aard sufficiently will probably find the knockdown chance from this move triggering more often than their Aard sign. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Strong Silver Level 5- The cartwheel of doom! Once you've seen the initial animation it is very easy to work out the best timing for chain attacks. This move is so powerful that it's worth trying silver chain attacks on opponents susceptible to Steel since the damage is still very substantial. 5e. Fast Silver Fast Silver Level 1- Like the rest of the Level 1 Sword styles, Geralt starts automatically with this talent. Rating: N/A Crippling Pain 1- The Silver sword counterpart to Paralysis 1, only this isn't quite as useful as its Steel counterpart since monsters aren't as incapacitated by Pain compared to the opponents normally fought using Steel weapons. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Flash Cuts 1- Works the same way as Hail of Blows 1, just with a different name. It's still the most useful of the enhancements linked to Fast Silver Level 1 so grab it as soon as you can. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Sinister 1- The problem with Sinister despite its nice increase to damage is that the methods to blind opponents susceptible to Fast Silver style aren't as convenient as an Igni casting. In addition many of the monsters who should be slain using Fast Silver are sometimes immune to Blinding, completely negating the extra damage that would be inflicted. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Fast Silver Level 2- Once Geralt has a Silver sword this should be secured as soon as possible. The animation is slower than Strong Silver and it is possible to interrupt the chain by being too hasty with the timing. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Crippling Pain 2- % chance to inflict pain is increased compared to its predecessor, however it only applies to the Level 2 animation as usual. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Flash Cuts 2- More damage to the Level 2 Fast Silver attack animation only, worth the investment regardless. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Sinister 2- See Sinister 1 for more information, damage bonus only for the Level 2 attack animation as before. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Fast Silver Level 3- More damage and a slightly faster animation which is easy to chain into further attacks. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Crippling Pain 3- More chance of inflicting pain with the Level 3 animation, select this talent after higher priority talents have been secured. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Flash Cuts 3- Level 3 Fast Silver animation gets the damage boost, priority the same as other Level 3 damage boosting talents. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Sinister 3- More of the same from the Sinister line of talents. See Sinister 1 and 2 for more information. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Fast Silver Level 4- This special move is interesting since successfully pulling off the animation makes Geralt less likely to take hits due to the defensive boosts and provides one method of blinding opponents thanks to the increased chance of Blinding. Melee masters who finally obtain this talent will find the Sinister line of talents finally becoming useful. Sadly it's likely the Blinding effect will only affect a handful of monsters ordinarily vulnerable to Silver and this Sword style. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Fast Silver Level 5- The final attack animation unlocked for this sword style. Geralt advances towards the enemy each time it is chained into so crowd control tactics should be employed in case Geralt ends up in the middle of a pack of monsters. Rating: 5/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) 5f. Group Silver Group Silver Level 1- Geralt starts automatically with this talent. Rating: N/A Critical Hit 1- Like its Steel counterpart Precise Hit this increases the % chance the attack animation will land critical damage on opponents. Higher priority than the base damage boost from the next enhancement below. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Tempest 1- The base damage for Group Silver Level 1 is too low for the measly % boost to damage to make much of a difference. Secure this anyway since it will make a difference once Geralt's Strength and swords increase damage sufficiently for the boost to make a tangible difference. Rating: 2/5 (Both) Knockdown 1- Like its Trip counterpart in Group Steel, this increases the knockdown chance when Geralt employs this style against 3 or more opponents. Has the highest priority of the enhancements linked to the base combat style and should be obtained as soon as possible. Considering how much more dangerous monsters are when they surround Geralt the chance to knockdown is definitely welcome. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Group Silver Level 2- More damage than the measly Level 1 animation, mainly used against Drowners for quite some time until Geralt levels up more. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Critical Hit 2- More of the same from the Critical Hit branch, applies to the Level 2 animation. Higher priority than Tempest 2. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Tempest 2- The % increase to base damage should be noticeable now that the base damage is in double figures but it's still not worth securing before the other 2 related enhancements. Rating: 2/5 (Both) Knockdown 2- Once Group Silver Level 2 has been secured, this enhancement should follow soon after to ensure Geralt spends as little time as possible being mobbed by monsters. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Group Silver Level 3- Players should make a decision here on whether to advance further in the Group style line just as for Steel. Players would likely have noticed that at lower levels even Drowners can parry or dodge the opening animation for Group Silver so it's not unlikely that tougher monsters won't be doing the same regardless of Geralt's level. Melee masters will probably not be bothered by this since Group Silver remains the fastest way to kill hordes of monsters when Geralt is levelled up sufficiently. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Critical Hit 3- The Critical damage inflicted on foes should start to become noticeable once good equipment and higher levels come into play. If you've made the decision to advance into Group Silver level 3 this enhancement should come into play sooner or later. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Tempest 3- % increase to base damage even more noticeable at Level 3, players will probably face the same dilemma of a higher chance to do a great deal of damage or a guaranteed, smaller boost to damage on each successful animation. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Knockdown 3- This remains the most important of the enhancements to Level 3 Group Silver, it's better to play it safe with Group Silver against large groups of monsters instead of rushing in to kill them quickly. Take on 5-6 Bruxae or Cemetaurs and it'll be clear why it's better to use Group Silver to thin the crowd with Knockdowns rather than relying on the damage to finish them all off at once. Rating: 4/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Group Silver Level 4- In my opinion this is the most useless of the special attacks and should only be used once just to see the animation. The wind-up time is unacceptably long even if your opposition is a large group of drowners. In addition the damage isn't that great considering the long wind-up and the incineration special effect can be obtained using a few castings of Igni. Melee masters should take this talent just to unlock Level 5 and then move on, the damage from a few animations of Level 3 will always surpass what Level 4 has to offer. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Group Silver Level 5- Although the preceding level is disappointing, the final animation for Group Silver is worth unlocking for the raw damage and very high chance of critical damage. This is also the only animation that allows Geralt to use any of the small weapons he currently has equipped (Daggers, axes and torches) for dual-wielding with the Silver sword. I'm not sure if this is just a cosmetic gimmick or if the damage from the animation is boosted by the type of weapon Geralt draws. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) 6. Signs In general, Geralt will start with all basic level 1 Signs by default at the start of the adventure. However if the player is going through the main storyline Geralt must re-learn the individual Signs by visiting the appropriate Circle of Elements. Although there are only 5 Signs proper application and development will allow Geralt to defeat almost any opponent faced regardless of type or numbers. Aard and Igni are useful Signs regardless of playstyle, the other three will depend on the player's decisions on talent investment and intended playstyle. Two of the most common ways of boosting Sign Intensity is to visit a Place of Power and perform the Ritual of Magic or visit a Circle of Elements once a base Sign has been learnt to boost the particular Sign's intensity by 100%. Both effects from the Ritual of Magic and Circle of Elements will stack, the remaining ways for boosting Sign intensity rely on your talents and equipment. 6a. Aard Aard Level 1- Geralt will either need to relearn this Sign if the player is going through the main storyline or he will start with it automatically for the mini-adventures. In its raw form it provides a chance to knockdown depending on Sign intensity and the opponent's resistances. Rating: N/A Aard Student- The charge-up special Sign attacks need a fully-charged bar for them to successfully activate. All special Sign attacks cost more Endurance for Geralt but sometimes have useful perks which the base Sign doesn't offer. The Aard Special attack can Knock-down at a wider angle of effect than the basic Sign. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Stun- Once this enhancement is enabled, all subsequent basic Aard signs will have a chance of stunning the opponent permitting a finishing move for Geralt. Get this early and appreciate easier 1-on-1 battles with opponents vulnerable to Stun and Knockdown. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Aard Level 2- Investing a talent here will increase the likelihood an opponent is afflicted by Knock-down or other enhancement-enabled effects at the cost of increased Endurance drain. Keep Endurance development in pace with Sign development to avoid the situation where a single Sign cast drains your Endurance bar to almost nothing. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Aard Apprentice- The difference between this level and Student is the increased Sign intensity making Knockdowns more likely. The angle of effect remains unchanged. Range is slightly longer. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Disarm- With this enhancement enabled, opponents bearing weapons will drop them to the ground. Primarily helpful against foes susceptible to Steel since monsters don't have anything to Disarm. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) Gust- The increased chance to Knockdown makes this enhancement a must-have once Level 2 Aard has been secured. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Aard Level 3- From Level 3 onwards players will have to decide which playstyle they will adopt and invest talents accordingly. Obviously Sign Masters will likely acquire this talent first compared to their Melee counterparts. The increased Endurance cost is counterbalanced by a slightly stronger Sign intensity compared to Level 2. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Aard Specialist- The angle of effect has expanded from Apprentice and there's an improvement to Sign intensity and Range. Keep the increased Endurance cost in mind after investment in this ability. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Blasting Fist- Geralt will need Strong Silver Level 4 for this enhancement to have any effect, correspondingly it's a toss-up between the relative Knockdown chances between the enhanced Level 4 special attack and a level 3 Aard. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Thunder- Increased chance to Stun with this enhancement active makes 1-on-1 fights with opponents even easier assuming no immunity to Stun. Finishing moves for stunned opponents do tend to take more time for the animation to complete compared to opponents who have knocked-down so be wary of pulling a finishing move on a stunned foe if the opponents are not monsters. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Aard Level 4- A more effective Sign at the cost of increased Endurance spent compared to Level 3. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Aard Expert- The special attack now affects all foes around Geralt and is strong enough to knockdown most opponents not resistant to its effects. The increased range should allow the Sign to affect opponents before they close into melee range. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Extended Duration- Secure this enhancement and Geralt should have time to use a finishing move on two consecutive foes who have been knocked-down or stunned rather than just the one previously. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Added Efficiency- The reduced burden on Endurance means more Aard castings and more injury-free battles in the long run. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Aard Level 5- Difference between this level and the last is the increased Sign intensity. Sign masters will want this ability as well because of the unlocked enhancement below. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Gale- The difference between a level 5 Aard with this enhancement enabled compared to without is very noticeable, a fully enhanced Aard sign should stun or knock-down even the most resistant monsters like Cemetaurs on occasions. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) 6b. Igni Igni Level 1- Flame-wave that affects opponents directly in front of Geralt. If you're lucky opponents will be incinerated and continue to lose health for a short while. Don't rely on Level 1 alone to slay foes since it's not very damaging and a lot of running around will be required before you can fry opponents to death. Rating: N/A Igni Student- Charge the Sign up and deliver a short fireball barely longer than the standard Igni range. Opponents with ranged attacks will laugh at you if you attempt ranged duels against them with just this level alone. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Harm's Way 1- Increase the flame damage for both standard and special Igni. More damage is always good so this is more or less an immediate pick once Igni Level 1is secured. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Igni Level 2- Flame-wave angle of effect is much wider and it should affect all opponents within Geralt's field of vision. Damage is also increased slightly. This is worth the investment quickly despite the increased Endurance cost. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Igni Apprentice- The maximum range at this level is likely insufficient to outrange any of the opponents with ranged attacks. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Harm's Way 2- Another increase to flame damage for basic and Special Igni. This should stack with Harm's Way 1 for respectable damage at Level 2 against weaker opponents and a few average foes. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Incineration- Another must-pick since Incineration not only results in continuous health loss for opponents, it also renders opponents susceptible to Steel temporarily incapacitated as they flail around on fire. Melee masters should also note that this enhancement is the key to the Patinado line of enhancements coming into line more often. Rating: 5/5 (Both) Igni Level 3- More damage and an angle of effect that affects all of Geralt's foes to his front and sides. Melee Masters will want to hold off on this until the Sword styles have been sufficiently developed. Rating: 3/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Igni Specialist- From this ability onwards the maximum range should be enough to snipe at cursed plant-life without fear of retaliation. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Burning Blade- If you're fond of using the Group Silver special attack (and I don't see why that's the case) then this enhancement is worth consideration. Rating: 1/5 (Melee and fond of Group Silver level 4) 0/5 (Sign) Wall of Fire- One of the few methods available to Geralt for causing Fear to opponents, the Fear effect is a double-edged sword in that it gives you space against enemies swarming you but you'll have to chase after them and hack them down if you outclass them. The advantage to investing a talent here is that the King and Queen bomb only inflicts fear and causes no damage whereas an enhanced Igni can incinerate opponents in addition to forcing them to flee. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1-3/5 (Sign, depending on preferences) Igni Level 4- Even more damage and the angle of effect has expanded to affect all opponents except those directly behind Geralt. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Igni Expert- Maximum range with this enhancement should be long enough to snipe at monsters outside their range of awareness, if you do plan on long-range baiting you have to try and lead the monsters into firing range if they keep moving around. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Inferno- Inferno-enhanced Igni attacks have a chance to inflict pain in addition to incineration and fear (if enhanced). More useful against non-monsters since the Pain effect will incapacitate them, monsters will still attack you albeit less efficiently and with their movement speed reduced. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Added Efficiency- The discount to the Endurance cost means more Ignis over a given period of time and more dead opponents faster. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Igni Level 5- Igni damage maximised and there are no blind areas the spell won't cover. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 5/5 (Sign) Igni Master- Ranged fireball won't get any longer than this maximum range, at this point having ranged duels with opponents armed with bows and crossbows might be possible (although impractical). Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Extended Duration- Straight forward, a nice boost to roasting time and terror incapacitation (if enhancement selected) for opponents. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) 6c. Quen Quen Level 1- Creates a shield that absorbs a certain percentage of damage dealt to Geralt. It's not very strong so don't use it when you're close to death. Rating: N/A Quen Student- The offensive component of Quen, charge it up and take off a set percentage of the opponent's current vitality. The % is really small at Student level and is nothing more than a gimmick until properly developed. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Barrier 1- The basic Quen shield enhanced with Barrier 1 protects Geralt from incineration. Considering how often Geralt is subject to incineration effects from opponents, this isn't going to come in useful often. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Quen Level 2- Level 2 absorbs a larger proportion of damage than Level 1, it isn't a spectacular difference and you still shouldn't use it when Geralt is close to death. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Quen Apprentice- Opponents lose even more vitality with Quen Apprentice than with Student, don't expect to kill opponents efficiently using this level alone. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Barrier 2- Now Quen reduces damage from acid-based attacks, considering the high damage dealt by exploding Bloedzuigers this enhancement is definitely worthwhile if you forgot to bring Bindweed potions to Bloedzuiger habitats. Rating: 2/5 (Both) Extended Duration- A longer-lasting Quen gives Geralt more time to drink potions or apply damage boosts to weapons while the opponent smashes the shield down. Rating: 2/5 (Both) Quen Level 3- From this point onwards Quen can absorb a fair amount of damage meant for Geralt making it much more useful as a defensive fallback. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Quen Specialist- Damage inflicted on opponents who attack Geralt with this active should be noticeable, even so there are more efficient ways of slaying opponents. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Barrier 3- This isn't that useful since this is only in effect while the base Sign is active and any attacks Geralt starts will automatically disable the shield. You could use it as an insurance when needing time to drink potions whilst fighting monsters with a penchant for dealing Knockdown or Stun. Bear in mind the Willow potion once obtained will render this talent worthless. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign). Added Intensity- The Quen special attacks will now hurt much more than before, this enhancement will start to prove its worth once Quen Level 4 is activated. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Quen Level 4- At this level Quen can be used to buy time against 1-2 tough opponents without Geralt taking too much damage. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Quen Expert- Damage inflicted on opponents with this ability is noticeable, potentially helpful for slaying weaker enemies without Geralt needing to lift a finger. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Survival Zone- Probably the most useful enhancement for this Sign, once this has been secured Geralt can probably save some time and potions if the need to regain vitality is pressing. This should stack with other vitality regenerating sources like Regeneration and food. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 4/5 (Sign) Added Efficiency- Unlike the other Sign-specific efficiency enhancements, this one can probably be put off for a while since the offensive Quen isn't as efficient at slaying opponents compared to the more standard offensive Signs like Igni and Yrden. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Quen Level 5- The shield's damage reduction is now at its peak and Geralt can probably use this whilst surrounded by enemies and still walk away relatively unscathed. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Quen Master- Damage to assailants is maximised and this enhancement should start securing kills for Geralt, still not that efficient as the other Signs at slaying opponents though. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Deflection- With this enhancement active, Geralt can buy even more time for potion drinking, oil application or the like as opponents end up flat on their backs each time the Knockdown chance triggers. It may even secure Geralt an unexpected opportunity for a finishing move as well. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) 6d. Yrden Yrden Level 1- Geralt takes a few seconds to draw a magic circle on the ground which will trigger twice against 1 or 2 separate opponents and a small chance of dealing pain against opponents which trigger the Sign. Rating: N/A Yrden Student- I never used this branch so help would be appreciated for more info. The wave of Pain that issues forth from Geralt has a short range and probably doesn't damage affected opponents (need confirmation). If I'm really desperate to use Pain to incapacitate foes vulnerable to Steel, I'll use other methods which also guarantee damage. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Pain Sign- Increases chance of Pain when opponent triggers Yrden. This is useful even against monsters who will slow down considerably when under its effects. Rating: 3/5 (Both) Yrden Level 2- Yrden sign now triggers 4 times, damage inflicted each time the trap is triggered is determined solely by your Intelligence level. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Yrden Apprentice- A longer range than Student, everything else unchanged. Rating: 1/5 (Both) Prowess- Yrden sign will now last quite a while on the ground before it needs to be recast somewhere else, with this enhancement setting traps to lure off enemies one by one from groups is made easier. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Inscriptions- Yrden gets an extra 5 charges in addition to the 4 from Level 2 allowing a total of 9 triggers, that's more than double the damage normally obtainable from a single casting and is a must-pick for Yrden to earn kills. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Yrden Level 3- Total base charges increase to 6, damage should be increased in proportion to Geralt's Intelligence level. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Yrden Specialist- More range than Apprentice. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Stupor Sign- Yrden Silver enhancements allow the trap to inflict additional status effects on opponents, with this enhancement your opponent's offensive and defensive capabilities are adversely affected allowing Geralt an easier kill at Melee range. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) Crippling Sign- This enhancement allows Yrden to occasionally inflict the poison effect on opponents, slowly draining their vitality. This enhancement alone is reason enough for Melee masters to take Yrden to level 3 since one monster in particular towards the end of the game can be slain easily using a combination of Yrden, Crippling Sign and Aard. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Yrden Level 4- Total base charges increase to 8, damage per trigger should be quite decent allowing for remote kills against opponents too stupid to walk around the trap. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Yrden Expert- Although the range for pain infliction is now sufficiently out of melee reach, it may well be far too late into the game to be relying on the Pain effect to achieve enemy crowd control. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Blinding Sign- One of 3 methods for Geralt to inflict Blinding on opponents without resorting to weapon enhancements, however the investment required is far greater than the other 2 methods and Sign masters will not have much need for Blind opponents if they are already capable of knocking them down through other means. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Added Efficiency- Considering how long a fully-enhanced Yrden sign will last and the amount of Endurance restored between casting periods, it's unlikely players will want to invest a talent here unless they're attempting to take on Groups with this Sign alone. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Yrden Level 5- Total base charges increased to 10, damage determined by talents, potions and presence of active Magic effects. 1-on-1 this Sign should now provide a safe and Endurance-efficient method of killing foes if the Sign succeeds in pushing back the opponent each time it is triggered. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Yrden Master- Longer range than Expert, read my description of Expert for more information. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Circle of Death- The only damage-increasing enhancement for this Sign, the cost of a Gold talent will seem extreme for some considering the damage difference may or may not meet everyone's expectations. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 2/5 (Sign) 6e. Axii Axii Level 1- A green beam issues forth from Geralt which has a chance of temporarily converting an enemy to Geralt's side for a short duration. At this level the effective range is little more than melee distance. I rarely use this Sign regardless of playstyle since I'd rather slay my opponents rather than mess about with their heads temporarily, others might get a kick out of opponents slaying each other leaving Geralt with the much easier task of mopping up the survivors. Ironically it is Melee masters who will see more use for this since Sign masters will have numerous other means of Crowd Control and won't likely need a temporary ally to deal damage. Rating: N/A Axii Student- One of 3 methods available to Geralt for terrorising his opponents, at this level it barely goes beyond Melee range and success isn't guaranteed. Igni enhanced with Wall of Fire and the King and Queen bomb do a much better job at getting enemies to flee from Geralt in fear. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Spell- Opponent's chances of falling victim to Axii are increased, this combined with Hypnosis makes opponents far more likely to fall under Geralt's temporary control. Rating: 3/5 (Both) Axii Level 2- Range increased from Level 1, effectiveness of Sign does not depend which level you've invested up to. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Axii Apprentice- Range increased from Student level, not much more to state. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Hypnosis- Sign intensity increased making Axii more likely to trigger a temporary conversion, aside from Spell there aren't any other ways of boosting the Sign's effectiveness at conversion. Since these enhancements only require bronze talents they are easily obtained. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Extended Duration 1- If you're planning on letting your opponents slay themselves investing talents in the Duration enhancements are worthwhile. With this enhancement active opponents should stay on your side long enough to land at least a couple of attacks on others. Rating: 2/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Axii Level 3- More range than Level 2, at this point enemies can be converted some distance away from sword range. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Axii Specialist- Read the Axii student description, better range than Apprentice level. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Faze- This enhancement is the only reason why Melee masters would bother spending a Silver talent on Axii Level 3, the increased chance to inflict Blinding is handy if the opponent in question isn't immune and vulnerable to fast Silver. Sign Masters who will probably not invest past Fast Silver level 3 will skip this. Rating: 1/5 (Melee) 0/5 (Sign) Extended Duration 2- Combine the increased duration of this enhancement with its bronze talent counterpart and converted foes will fight for you long enough to deal some lasting damage. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Axii Level 4- Fairly substantial maximum range by this point, you might be able to convert opponents just outside of their range of awareness if you're lucky. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 3/5 (Sign) Axii Expert- Maximum range at this point should send opponents cowering beyond that achievable by King and Queen or enhanced Igni, I still don't think it's worth the investment. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Terror- The only enhancement in the Axii tree that boosts the special attack, if you're fond of using the special attack for crowd control by all means invest a silver talent here. Otherwise move on. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Added Efficiency- This enhancement might be more useful than its Quen and Yrden counterparts considering how often you will need to use Axii to convert foes. However I'd spend talents on skills that actually kill opponents faster. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Axii Level 5- Range at this point should convert some foes while Geralt stands beyond their range of awareness. The main point for Level 5 isn't the extra range but rather the enhancement it unlocks. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) Axii Master- More of the same from this line, probably not worth investing. Rating: 0/5 (Both) Ally- Two bodies to throw at your remaining opponents means more time to either find a better position to continue fighting or to single out more dangerous foes for extermination. The Axii Sign coupled with all of the duration and effectiveness enhancements should buy a significant amount of time and might even score a lucky kill on occasions depending on the calibre of opponent converted. Rating: 0/5 (Melee) 1/5 (Sign) 7. Acknowledgements and Credits Most of this FAQ is my own work, I've referred to the EE manual, in-game tech tree and the official forums on occasions for reference. Obviously the ratings I've given are subjective and others might have a different opinion on the value of certain abilities or talents. 8. Contact Information If you spot errors in this work or have something constructive to contribute, send an email to snookercue84[ampersand]hotmail[dot]com, replacing the words in brackets with the normal symbols. Follow the guidelines listed below when sending suggestions or I will delete your email and blacklist your email account. a) Please type "Talent Tree FAQ" in your email heading so that I know you're referring to this FAQ. b) Type in standard English, I will make allowances if English is not your native language or if your spelling is different owing to geography but if you think using numbers to express words counts as a language or aids understanding, meaningful contribution to this FAQ is definitely beyond your comprehension. c) Suggestions should be constructive, if you think my work is rubbish and don't have any suggestions on how I might improve it to make it better, then go ahead and do your own FAQ assuming you can be bothered. d) Please leave a note in your message on how I might give you credit for discovery of any errors or points which I might have missed in this FAQ. 9. Version History Version 1.0: Initial version, all talents have been described and rated according to my experiences. Require additional info to confirm some of the special Sign attacks such as Yrden, Quen and Axii. 10. Legal Notice This guide may not be reproduced under any circumstances except for personal, private use. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission. Use of this guide on any other web site not listed or as a part of any public display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright. All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by their respective trademark and copyright holders. This FAQ is copyrighted by Feng Liangju 2008 www.gamefaqs.com is the only website authorised to display this FAQ.