Death March Tips

2 posts in this topic

1.  Ability points are the most important thing in the game. Find any and all Places of Power as early as possible.  This includes the ones in Skellige. Never have open ability slots or slots without a maxed out ability assigned. At the very beginning of the game it helps to take at least one of the general health abilities like +500 vitality and/or the “Gourmet” health regen, they are only 1 point to max out. You can drink a potion of clearance later to respec these ability points.


2.  You can get to Skellige very early, so long as you have 1,000 gold. I was level 8, only half of what the game recommends. You do NOT have to defeat any of the higher level pirates on the ship, you can simply dodge and run away for a couple minutes and your NPC allies will take care of them.


3.  Once you have access to Kaer Morhen around level 15-20 in the main story, you will have an unlimited supply of gold, so long as you have all the DLC installed. Just south of the main marker you will see a small lookout tower. There are numerous chests there with decent loot, but also a skeleton holding a very good level 17 sword called “Pang of Conscience” along with a “Letter of Apology” from CDPR. Yes, this valuable sword infinitely respawns! Pick up the sword from the skeleton, save your game, reload, pick it up again, and repeat until you can't carry any more. Come back any time later in the game, the sword is back! Each copy of the sword can be sold for over 500 gold, the best merchants being the armorer and blacksmith in the main city of Toussaint because they have huge amounts of gold. You can make 30,000 gold this way in about an hour. I believe this was added with the B&W DLC in specific response to people being pissed off about how expensive the Runewright is for the HoS DLC. Pretty hilarious.


4.  Always take advantage of grindstones and armorer's tables, they provide huge increases to your sword damage and armor rating, and the effects last a decent amount of time. Fast traveling should be tailored around finding the nearest possible sign marker that is also near a grindstone/armor table. Meditate, pop your decoctions, use the grindstone/table, manual save, then continue story.


5.  Alcohest is extremely valuable early in the game because of how often you will need to meditate, replenish weaker potions, etc. Never sell it, always pick it up, you may even may have to search for it. Making alcohest via alchemy is not advisable because you have to use Cherry Cordial, an expensive ingredient needed for the dreaded White Gull, which in turn is needed about 9,000 times to upgrade just about everything. If you are playing an alchemy build trying to maximize toxicity level, you will DESPISE White Gull by the end of the game.


6.  Melee/Alchemy build is extremely powerful, especially with greater red mutagens. Greater greens are good too early on for precious extra health.  Always match your red/red and green/green abilities with your best corresponding mutagens for the maximum possible power/health boosts.


7.  Lesser red mutagens are an extremely rare drop until Geralt is around level 15 or so, because CDPR knows they break the game. You need 3 to make a normal red, and 9 to make greater reds. Even just assigning the “named” lesser reds to a mutagen slot is a huge help at earlier levels, and those drop very frequently from enemies.


8.  Lesser red farming. There is a lone Alghoul around level 14, directly SE of Downwarren among the deserted shack village. For whatever reason this lone creature seems to have a much higher drop rate for lesser red mutagens, but it will still be a grind. You should be able to take him on at about level 8+, but it will be a tough fight early. Save right before fighting, hopefully he drops a red, then fast travel out to White Orchard for a respawn, return, rinse and repeat.


9.  The alchemy skill tree has some insanely powerful skills later on (namely Synergy), but you have to fully commit to the build because some of the best abilities work together. Invest in “Heightened Tolerance” and “Acquired Tolerance” skills early, then find and purchase any and all formulas as you come across them with merchants. This will allow you to maximize potions, and to have multiple decoctions active at all times, by later game you can have 3-4 active. Remember, you can pause during any fight to spam potions, apply oils, change bombs, etc.


10.  For health management in battle, the best tools are the decoctions. Get the Ekimmara and Ekhidna as early as possible. Ekimmara is great, but you have to deal damage to gain health. Ekhidna is better for Death March because you can dodge around waiting for your stamina to restore, then cast Quen to quickly restore health. Ekhidnas are flying enemies, fairly common in Skellige, and not too tough to kill early on. There is a guaranteed one on Undvik island where Hjalmar has the quest to fight the ice giant, Dorve Ruins marker. You will have to run through most of this island, avoiding much higher level enemies you probably can't kill yet. Early Ekhidna decoction is worth it.


11.  As everyone says, Quen is your #1 defense tool on Death March. Always cast it heading into a fight, and only switch to other signs after your Quen shield is up. The instant you get hit, immediately make sure Quen is selected, then cast again when stamina is ready. That being said, I invested 0 ability points ever into Quen itself and found that it still worked just fine. I have not experimented very much with a Sign character build, so I cannot speak to enhanced Quen or the other sign abilities. In general what I've read about the blue sign abilities is that they are underwhelming, boring, or in the case of Igni have been nerfed by CDPR.


12.  The two hardest battles during the main story quests are probably the botchling/wraith battle early on during the Bloody Baron quest, then much later the Imlerith battle. You will need to master Quen management as noted above to get through these on Death March. Good luck trying to fight the botchling/wraiths at the graveyard, there are all kinds are fun obstacles for Geralt to stumble over and get caught on while dodging. Your best bet is to take the other option where you a least have more clear room to dodge around on the road. Bring LOTS of food to the botchling battle, or have your “Gourmet” ability assigned, because this fight may literally take you 30+ minutes.


13.  Early on there are 2 great swords that I believe have level requirements of around 11-13. I can't remember their names. Silver sword is in the “guarded treasure” chest location, west side map of Velen, along the coastline, north of Heatherton, east of the Lornuk place of power. There is a level 16 Wyvern that is supposed to be guarding the chest, but the AI is dumb and you can get to the chest while it's far enough away. Steel sword is in a chest at the very NE corner of main Skellige island, near the Giants Toes marker, lots of bandits there to kill but they are manageable due to the usual invisible AI walls. Just chip at their health and run away if you are very low level.


14.  Use the HoS and B&W DLC to your advantage. The later game God-tier swords become available from this DLC content at level 33-40. Dahlia (magic crafted 33, relic 38), Sarrim (35), and Aerondight (35+) are the best silver swords I know of for characters under level 40. Geralt of Rivia's Sword (33), Ofieri Saber (38) and Blave (40) are the best steel swords. I was playing a Cat School light armor build, and found both the Feline swords to be very disappointing, even upgraded to Grandmaster level 40. They lack the critical hit damage bonus of the other swords.


15.  The HoS DLC gives you the Runewright.  He is absolutely worth the high 30,000 gold investment for numerous reasons. You can add sockets to weapons and armor, particularly needed for Aerondight. You can buy Greater Glyphs of Mending for your armor, +3 health regen stacked throughout your armor is insanely OP for light armor build, so long as you aren't using a Sign build character. This works well with the “Invigoration” enchantment he offers for any sword. Stack health regen glyphs, swallow potions, troll decoction, food, etc. Then stack your Invigoration enchanted sword with Water Hag decoction, Superior Thunderbolt, etc. My level 38 Geralt can do close to 10,000 damage with his first attack if he lands a critical.


16.  The B&W DLC gives an expansion for your character build. “Strengthened Synapses” adds more ability slots, but unfortunately this is hard to take advantage of until your character is at a ridiculously high level. More importantly, there is Toxic Blood, then the God-tier EUPHORIA mutation, which basically breaks the game. Euphoria is insanely overpowered because it works together with your alchemy build relying on toxicity. Pick Heightened Tolerance, Acquired Tolerance, Tissue Transmutation, and Synergy abilities. If you are always running 3 decoctions with Euphoria and those 4 abilities active, then Geralt is basically an insta-death killing machine for anything that isn't 5+ levels higher than him, bosses included. Make sure you have greater red mutagens tied to as many melee abilities you can afford to work with the Synergy ability for max damage output.


17.  For armor, early on a light melee build with the Assassin's gear is good, it's easy to find or have crafted. Remember to always use 1 slot in your character tree for the Cat School Techniques general ability, or whatever armor build you are using. Special note, the Assassin's Gauntlets are one of the only pieces of armor in the game which increase critical hit chance, so I'd argue they are even better than using Witcher guantlets until the level 40 Grandmaster perks kick in. Later game the Witcher gear is the best, tailored obviously for whatever school you are running. Feline/Cat School is IMO the best because of raw attack power. I was pretty much ignoring signs except Quen and situational usuage of the other signs, so the +3 health regen glyphs stacked in my armor were OP for my build.


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Additional Runewright Enchantment notes: 

"Preservation" - If you are willing to give up the 3 rune slots, then this is a great enchantment for your steel sword.  The grindstone and armorer's table bonuses will never expire, not only for the steel sword enchanted with this, but also for your equipped silver sword and equipped armor set.  Essentially you are getting the preservation bonus on your other sword and your armor set for free, which is very convenient.  


"Severance" - If you love using the Whirl and/or Rend abilities, then you obviously want this enchantment.  This is particularly effective on the Aerondight sword (you need to add the 3 rune slots), where you are looking for fast strikes to quickly charge up kill shots for the permanent damage increase.  People are always raving about how awesome the expanded strike distance is.  Personally I find Whirl and Rend rather cumbersome to use, they eat a ton of stamina, and the controls don't feel very responsive compared to Geralt's regular fast and strong attacks.  


"Levity" - This enchantment for chest armor allows you to treat any full armor set (such as the Witcher Ursine heavy set) as "light armor", while keeping the higher damage protection of the heavier gear.  This also apparently allows you to keep the Cat School Technique general ability perk for increased damage on your now "light armor".  I would still argue that the Feline Armor set is better due to it's raw attack power buffs and level 40 Grandmaster perks, which are much better than the Ursine set.  You are also giving up the 3 valuable glyph slots on your chest armor when you enchant Levity, which can be used for +3 x 3 health regen, or for improving signs. 


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