Elemental resistances Edit
- Frost: Very weak
- Nature: Very weak
- Electricity: Mild resistance, or immune on Nightmare mode
- Fire: Mild resistance, or immune on Nightmare mode
- Spirit: Normal
Special traits Edit
- Immune to flanking
- Immune to knockdowns
- Immune to immobile
- Immune to paralyzed
- Immune to enslavement
- Very high defense
- High health and fortitude
- Medium bonus to damage
- Weak attack
A good strategy while dueling the Arishok is to keep moving. Moving in a figure eight pattern around the two columns in the room is particularly effective. He attacks slowly, but hits very hard and damage extends beyond his weapons. Damage can actually follow a player beyond the normal weapon range or strike path. The best strategy is to move in front of him, and as soon as he starts to attack, move 45 degrees from his front. His attack will miss and allow for a few attacks or an attempt at a stun free from damage.
Another strategy is to stand a distance from him and let him come to you. This enables you to pause, and then move just before he reaches his strike activation distance, so that you can be beside him as he begins his swing. This precision increases the likelihood of avoiding impalement, but the move must be adjusted as his potions increase his strike activation distance. When he bows and a white dust cloud appears at his feet, move to the side several steps to avoid the coming charge and then run parallel to his charge path to be near the point of impact for a counter-attack. A dodged charge will usually leave him running into an obstacle for a couple of seconds which can provide the best counter-attack windows in the duel.
The dog sometimes becomes a charge-stopping obstacle. The Arishok occasionally stops his charges short of hitting a wall. He has at least three potions, which he'll use when his health drops to 50% or lower. Players with very good twitch skills can interrupt him with a stun, and on lower difficulty levels it's possible to kill him fast enough that he doesn't get a chance to use them. Otherwise, consider his health bar to be twice as long as it looks. After each potion the Arishok begins his attacks from a slightly greater distance, which requires a timing adjustment of the 45 degree movement toward his back. After the first potion, Arishok will begin the occasional use of his impale and 360 degree spinning attacks.
Impaling deals dramatic but relatively low damage. However, it leaves you on the floor at his feet and vulnerable to a follow up attack. Avoiding this attack requires perfect timing if you use melee. As the attack lacks the harmless pre-strike weapon movements that the other attacks have, there is no extra time to leave the attack area once an impale has begun. If you avoid an impale, the Arishok will fall on his face leaving a counter-attack window. Once a successful impale attack is finished, you must flee or attempt a stun attack as soon as, or even before, you recover, as he will often follow up with his spinning weapons attack. His spinning attack is impossible to avoid in any direction at close range, but this attack leaves the greatest counter-attack window of any of his weapons attacks. It is indicated by wind/dust movement around his weapons areas as soon as he beings to swing. In addition to following a successful impale with this attack, the Arishok tends to use it at some point when he occasionally decides he’s had enough of the dog and focuses on it.
The easiest class to win this duel may be with a mage. The Arishok's magical resistances are quite poor when compared with his titanic defense and armor rating, and like all Qunari, he is very vulnerable to cold and nature damage. His attacks are easiest to anticipate and stay clear of by staying at range - it's easy, if tedious, to kite him indefinitely around the room, tossing off auto-attacks from a cold staff while your hexes and Winter's Grasp are on cooldown, and pausing every few shots to run a little farther away. Properly upgraded Spirit Healers don't even need to kite; with the protection of Rock Armor and near-infinite healing provided by a fully upgraded Aura with full passives, you can just start the duel, start an auto-attack and then go make dinner while your de facto invulnerable PC plinks his health away. Force mages will have a tougher time using their spec and should stick to basics, as the Arishok's ridiculous HP pool makes him essentially immune to force effects, although Gravitic Ring can immobilize him and give you some distance. Horror is particularly useful as its stun time is long enough to unload plenty of spells into him, or if you prefer, it will give you time to cast an AoE attack.
A good combination of spells is either Winter's Grasp or Cone of Cold to slow the Arishok down and then an AoE spell like Firestorm or Tempest (note that this won't work on Nightmare, because all Qunari are completely immune to fire and electrical damage). After this combination, all you have to do is run through the spell and he will take a lot more damage than usual. It is possible to immobilize him with spells such as Petrify or Gravitic Ring, then unleash your most powerful moves before he frees himself. The two guaranteed disables mages have access to, Petrify and Horror, have effects on the Arishok's attacks that you may wish to take note of. Petrify will stop his charge, but not his regular attacks once they are already in progress. The reverse is true for Horror.
If you have access to a Maker's Sigh potion you can quickly retalent before the Arishok has a chance to land a hit on you. An oddball combination spec with Rock Armor, upgraded Winter's Grasp and Cone of Cold, and upgraded single-target abilities from the elemental and spirit trees can take him down quickly if you chug lyrium potions to use all your spells on cooldown. If you watch for his charge, the most healing you'll need is a health potion or two if he catches you with his impaling attack. This spec isn't as useful outside of this particular fight, however.
Due to the heavy melee threat of the Arishok, rogues may benefit from a strategy similar to the mages'. Even as a dual-weapon rogue, you might consider equipping a bow and playing kite-around-the-columns if you're having a hard time dodging the Arishok's attacks. If you get too close to the Arishok, he will impale Hawke on his sword and finish him/her off. Hawke takes some time to recover once impaled and will get hit by the next attack. Backstab is also highly useful as a repositioning tool, allowing a rogue to jump immediately into the safe space behind the Arishok when he makes a forward attack. Evade, particularly with the stun upgrade, is also useful, as the Arishok is very vulnerable to stuns for the first half or so of the fight, and again once his health drops to around 20%. This stun vulnerability makes Miasmic Flask a useful trick as well. Archer rogues can benefit from Pinning Shot in much the same way as stuns, and can deal substantial damage by dumping stamina into Archer's Lance or Assassinate after the Arishok charges, or when he's stunned by Miasmic Flask. Shadow rogues are at a significant advantage, as the Arishok is utterly fooled by Decoy, sometimes to the point of glitching and standing motionless even after the decoy wears off.
Warriors may have the hardest time defeating the Arishok in head-on combat. Generally speaking, as a warrior, the easiest strategy is to move around the Arishok in a constant circle. When he begins an attack, continue to sidestep and pause the game as quickly as possible. Once the game is paused, you should be able to tell if he is going to use one of his two standard attacks or the spinning weapon attack. The two standard attacks hit only in his front arc, so if your warrior is completely clear of his front arc, feel free to attack. If not, get behind him and attack. If the timing on this attack is perfect, it is possible to get three swings before the Arishok completes his attack. If you were not completely clear and had to keep moving, do not go for more than two hits. If he is spinning his weapons, you must run away as quickly as possible, as this will deal massive damage and may kill you outright. Liberal use of stuns is highly recommended. Pommel Strike and upgraded Devour, if you have them, are particularly useful. They last quite a while and let you safely get many hits. A stun provides enough time for an Assault attack followed by a Shield Bash and a quick retreat. Be sure to stock up on stamina pots and abilities like Bolster and Second Wind, because there are no other enemies to kill to restore your stamina during the battle. The best specialization for fighting him as a warrior is the Reaver, if for nothing more than the Devour ability and its heal/possible stun. Templars may appreciate the stunning upgrade to Holy Smite and possibly can prevent the Arishok from healing by a precisely-timed Silence. However, Templars are still at a disadvantage compared to Reavers and Berserkers and might consider a temporary respec if possible.
If Hawke has low constitution, the battle will become more difficult after the Arishok heals once. This is when the Arishok begins using his impale attack, which has a very quick start-up animation you will likely miss. After the impale, the Arishok may be able to kill you with another of his other attacks while Hawke is standing up, essentially making the impale an instant kill. At this point, it becomes imperative to run around the pillars and 'kite' the Arishok by slashing him through the corners. Avoid being directly in front of him to stay out of the impale range.
If you are having a difficult time with this battle as a melee character, using a Rock Armor Potion and a powerful poison can make all the difference in the world. Combustion Grenades are also useful due to their 100% stun chance during most of the fight, as are Tar Bombs to stop his movement. Dog, if you have him, will contribute basically no damage and will die quickly, but can be helpful in keeping the Arishok's attention from time to time if needed. Be sure to have belts and rings that feature health (and maybe stamina) restoration attributes, which will be helpful when you run out of potions. When you do run out of potions, use your HP like currency. Fight conservatively when you're low and go for more risky, aggressive play when you have more.
It should be noted that the Arishok's Impale attack can bug, resulting in him tossing you out of the ring, or even out of the level geometry (getting stuck through the wall, for example). Characters with ranged weapons or two-handers with Giant's Reach can sometimes exploit this, since it's still possible to damage him even when he can't reach you.
- If the Arishok impales Hawke while the Arishok's back is up against the short wall (to the right of the stairs with the balcony above), Hawke may wind up on the balcony after Impale is over. From there, Hawke can't get down. Hawke can only use abilities that don't require a target. This is less of an issue if Hawke is a mage, but tougher as a rogue or warrior. There is limited availability of damage-dealing area abilities for Rogues and Warriors, such as Tremor and Holy Smite, and Hawke cannot throw grenades. The Arishok can't harm Hawke, though, so Hawke can swap armor, weapons etc. to maximize damage dealt. It takes a while to deplete the Arishok's health from the balcony, but once defeated, the cut scene puts Hawke back on the proper floor.