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I'm apparently being attacked by a giant dragon and there's fire everywhere. No matter what I do, I seem to catch fire and burn to death before fighting the second group of enemies.

If this is a tutorial level, it's not a very good one. By the time I finish reading any of the tips it gives me, I'm generally dead. Sometimes I die before the tip is finished, which removes it from the screen and I'm left waiting for the level to re-load yet again.

Even if I manage to get past the burning, there are so many enemies that I can't avoid death without healing.

What game basics am I missing? How do I avoid the fire? How do I heal out of battle?

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Apparently one of the spells makes you invincible, turning the game from "unintuitive and frustrating" to easy mode. Poor design or am I just missing the point? – StrixVaria May 19 '11 at 1:01
Aha, the next (previous, I guess) battle is even worse. It's just me by myself vs 5 or more enemies. I get surrounded and murdered, and "invincibility" doesn't help. – StrixVaria May 19 '11 at 1:22
up vote 10 down vote accepted

The sign that protects you is Quen, it absorbs part of the damage and prevents you from being incinerated. It is extremely useful, just know that your vigor doesn't regenerate while it's active.

In general, for group battles you should make liberal use of everything you have available. If you have time to prepare, drink a potion (e.g. swallow) and set traps. Use Axii to make one of the enemies fight on your side, distracting the other. Yrden sets up a trap that hurts and immobilizes an enemy for a short while, also very useful. And before you engage in sword combat put on Quen to protect yourself.

But the most important thing is to never get yourself surrounded! Try to seperate the enemies and use hit&run tactics to attack one enemy and quickly evade (double tap direction key or space) once the other enemies arrrive.

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Having continued to play after I asked this question, I found that hit and run tactics are really your only option for any battle where you're outnumbered. – StrixVaria May 19 '11 at 13:06
@StrixVaria I've written a bit more about combat tactics in the Witcher 2 in a blog post on our Gaming.SE blog. – Mad Scientist May 19 '11 at 16:13
I wish I could upvote this answer another couple times for that blog post. You deserve rep for that. – StrixVaria May 19 '11 at 17:14
@StrixVaria I'm at the rep cap for the third time in a row due to all the Witcher 2 questions and answers, so it doesn't really matter anyway ;-). – Mad Scientist May 19 '11 at 17:17

When the dragon is attacking, you need to move quickly. Once he's lit each shelter on fire, you'll take damage periodically. When you move to the next shelter, you have a brief space until he lights it on fire.

When fighting groups, make liberal use of the Block command (E). After a block, immediately counter-attack with a quick strike (left mouse button). Aard can also be useful as it will knock back a foe and interrupt their attack. Don't let foes get behind you if you can help it. They deal extra damage when hitting you in the back.

Also, to see all the tutorial tips, you can go to the Tutorial section of the Journal (default J).

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