Updated: Sep 23, 2022
The goal of the Frost/ Fire Crusader build is to turn your squishy mage into a "one-man army" that can take on everything alone. With the help of powerful fire and frost spells, the Crusader absolutely destroys crowds and with its Knight Enchanter abilities, it can be more than a match for any boss.
This build is ideal for solo gameplay because of its fantastic crowd control and superb survivability.
The ability that makes this build possible, is the Fade Shield passive skill in the Knight-Enchanter specialization. This skill allows you to fill up your Barrier by using offensive spells. Barrier is a protective shield around your character that has to be depleted first, in order for you to take any health damage. With Fade Shield, the strength of your Barrier will depend on how high your damage output is. Needless to say, this means that if your damage output is high enough, your barrier will always be around you to protect you from damage.
This is why you don’t use the Barrier skill itself. You only have a limited amount of space for your active skills, so you want to stack it with the ones you need the most.
Fire Mine – Flaming Array: Fire Mine is something everyone knows about, because it is one of the most powerful skill for a mage in terms of raw damage. With the Flaming Array upgrade, the spell turns into an instant aoe explosion, inflicting very serious fire damage on the targets. Its only weakness is that the ability seems to be bugged and only deals 1 point of damage if you position yourself behind your target.
Frost Mine – Chilling Array: Frost Mine is mainly useful for crowd control. Even cold immune enemies will freeze for a few seconds from it, so it is a very effective ability to paralyze, therefore interrupt enemies before they can use their high damage abilities.
Winter’s Grasp – Winter’s Ruin: Very effective spell for freeze and it causes massive single target damage, especially on “Chilled” targets with the Winter’s Ruin upgrade.
Energy Barrage – Energy Bombardment: It causes huge single target damage and it’s also a great detonator for frozen targets. Energy Barrage is a very effective skill for applying “shocked”, “chilled” and “burning” effect on enemies depending on the material of your weapon. With the upgrade, it also decreases the resistances of your target.
Fade Cloak – Decloaking Blast: This skill allows you to avoid huge damage and knockback abilities, like Corypehus’ initial “red shockwave” from his orb, Gurd Harofsen’s massive frost explosions, or Saarath’s knockback and electric explosions when he pulls you close to him. Even if you get knocked on the ground, this skill resets the “get up” animation, so it will instantly gets you back on your feet. With the Decloaking Blast upgrade, it is also a very effective offensive skill that seems to have a very powerful, but very small, aoe spirit explosion effect when the duration ends.
Fade Step – Frost Step: In my opinion, Fade Step is essential for every mage for maneuvering. There is just no way for a mage to effectively dodge massive aoe abilities without it. Yes, the Knight-Enchanter can use Fade Cloak, but Fade Cloak has a cooldown and a very short duration. Fade Step is simply a “must have” in my opinion. With the Frost Step upgrade, it is excellent to apply “Chill” on enemies, which can be followed by Winter’s Grasp for massive cold damage. Choosing the upgrade that replenishes your mana if you pass through enemies is also a viable option. I personally like to pick the frost damage and “chill” upgrade though, because Fade Stepping into a group of enemies will damage them and fills up your barrier in the process. This is an excellent way to start combat!
Spirit Blade -Amplified Blade: This is pretty obvious. Your main weapon. Energy Barrage will quickly charge it up to its full strength and you can cut through your opponents like butter.
Passive Skills(only the most important ones):
Guardian Shield: This skill is definitely more useful at the beginning. A protective barrier that spawns when you are near death. Amazing skills. Even at higher levels, you will be thankful that it’s there.
Strength of Spirits: Increases the hit points of your Barrier by 50%. This means that you can build up more Barrier with your damage and enemies will have a harder time destroying it.
Fade Shield: I wrote about it earlier. This build depends on this skill, so it’s pretty obvious that this is another “must have”.
Flashpoint: Even mages that do not have fire spells can pick this up. This will allow you to use the same spell twice if you land a critical hit. This means that you get to use powerful skills like Fire Mine, Energy Barrage or Winter’s Grasp twice in a row.
Clean Burn: Since you cast spells in a quick succession with this build, this passive will be your best friend.
Frost Mastery: Enemies will stay frozen longer and the “chill” effect also stays on them longer as well.
In addition to these passives, you can also pick up the Ice Armor passive for more damage reduction, if you have an extra skill point to spare. This skill however is not necessary for the build, just a useful addition.
I recommend that you craft your gear from the best materials you have available. Tier 4 if possible.
The Superior Battlemage Armor schematics has no equal when it comes to a mage build that focuses on damage. With the Battlemage Arms and Legs, you can push your Magic bonus up to 44. The rest of the slots can have Magic Defense, Cunning and Health materials.
You can get this schematics by getting the Short List inquisition perk and visiting the Desert Merchant in the Hissing Waste. The shop will randomly sell it sometimes.
Masterwork: I recommend the Fade-Touched Imperial Vestment Cotton or the Fade-Touched Lustrous Cotton for the masterwork slot. Walking Bomb is such an amazing masterwork for this build, because it gives an additional "ticking" spirit damage to your attacks and a powerful spirit explosion after a target dies. This, combined with the Fire Mine can lead to some pretty awesome aoe damage.
The Superior Battlemage Cowl schematics is probably the best helmet for a damager mage. If crafted from the best materials, it can boost your Magic with 20 points.
You will need the Jaws of Hakkon dlc for this schematics. You need to visit Stone-Bear Hold and look for the Weapon Merchant there.
The Blade of Tidarion schematics is probably my favorite mage weapon. With this beauty, you can shoot both fire and frost projectiles with Energy Barrage, if you put a different rune in the blade than the material you made it from. Exactly what a Frost/Fire Crusader needs! Watching your enemies get “chilled”, while simultaneously start “burning” too is something I find extremely amusing.
You will need the Trespasser dlc for this schematics. You need to complete the war table mission “Stop the war between Nevarra and Tevinter” with Josephine.
Masterwork: I recommend the Fade-Touched Nevarrite for the masterwork slot. If you combine the masterwork from your armor with the masterwork from your blade, the result will be multiple high damage spirit explosions, whenever one of your target dies. This is usually strong enough to create a chain reaction and take out the entire enemy group.
Belt of the Winter Pact. More frost damage is something I prefer a bit more than fire, but you can choose the Belt of the Inferno pact too. However you can only get that item as a random trials reward.
Reward for completing the “Map to a waterfall” quest in the Hinterlands. You can get this belt very early in the game.
Andraste’s Sacrifice. The best amulet for Knight-Enchanters. Guard, mana regeneration and 10% cooldown modifier.
You can get this amulet in Villa Maurel in the Emerald Graves. It is in the main room in a chest.
Ring of Slicing. An additional 5% Critical Chance and 10% Critical Damage bonus is something literally every character can benefit from. Including the Crusader Mage.
You can buy it from the Black Emporium. You need the Black Emporium dlc.
Enhanced Energy Barrage ring. Energy Barrage is the skill I personally use the most often. This ring gives and extra kick to this spell. If you can’t find it in the game, an Enhanced Winter’s Grasp ring or an Enhanced Fire Mine ring is also a good option.
Random loot. I personally found it in the Hinterlands from a Fade Rift.
The combat is pretty simple: Against crowds, you start with either Fade Step or Ice Mine. Fade Step is great to gain some initial protection, but sometimes you do not need it if you use Ice Mine on the group, since it freezes them so fast they don’t really have time to attack. After Ice Mine, you lay down your Fire Mine, which will cause massive aoe damage and fills up your barrier. Then you can select an opponent and cast either Winter’s Grasp or Energy Barrage on it. If you cast Winter’s Grasp the target will be frozen, which can be detonated by Energy Barrage. If you use Energy Barrage first and you follow it up with Winter’s Grasp, then your spell will cause enormous frost damage on the target. Since both combination is great, it is up to you which one you will go with. I personally use both for different situations: I use the Winter’s Grasp + Energy Barrage method on normal enemies and the Energy Barrage + Winter’s Grasp method on bosses, since the “chill” effect has a hard time applying from Fade Step or Ice Mine on bosses sometimes. After this, I usually activate Fade Cloak and “get inside” the enemy. While “inside”, I start swinging my Spirit Blade, so that the combination of Spirit Blade and Fade Cloak can result in an enormous sprit damage on the target.
I found this build to be extremely fun to play. The beginning I thought that the immunities can cause some problems, but the game usually applies massive weakness to the opposite element on enemies with immunities. This means that enemies who are immune to frost will receive double fire damage and enemies who are immune to fire, will receive double frost damage. Dual immunes like the Trespasser’s Qunari Shock Troopers are extremely rare and they can also be dealt with by using Spirit Blade and Fade Cloak.
I hope this guide had some useful extra details in addition to the already mentioned information in the video! I wish you good luck and much fun with the build!