What are the best talent build, skills, specializations, and gear to make Alistair the best sword-and-board tank?

Note: I am playing the Dragon Age: Origins - Ultimate Edition. So I have all the DLC and Awakening.

  • 3
    A list of tactics would be nice too. Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 23:09

3 Answers 3


I'm playing through Dragon Age: Origins again with this specific goal in mind, so I'll outline what I've done:


I've found letting Alistair run on auto-pilot works really well. The aggressive behavior, combined with the tactics loadout described below, makes the AI pretty smart and hands-off. However, you really need to make sure you have a good Spirit Healer (like Wynne) backing him up.

So I've built him around me not having to do anything with him: prioritizing his tactics load-out and passive skills.


Obviously, Alistair is going to be a warrior. You're locked in with the relatively useless Templar specialization, but once you reach 14 and can choose a second, definitely pick Champion.

  • Class: Warrior
  • Specializations: Templar, then Champion
  • Attribute priority: Strength. Pop a couple points into Dexterity when talents require it. If you've built your healer well, you don't need to get fancy with Constitution and Willpower.
  • Skills: Combat Training and Combat Tactics; don't bother with the rest. Alternate between selecting the two based on what talents you're about to pick up. If you need a talent that requires the next level of Combat Training get that, otherwise, get Combat Tactics.
  • Talents: Concentrate on filling out the tactics load-out described below. Getting to the third tier of the first line of Warrior Talents and all the lines of Weapon and Shield talents should occupy most of your time.

Leveling Priority

Alistair starts with:

  • Talents: Righteous Strike, Powerful, Shield Bash, Shield Pummel, Shield Block, Shield Cover
  • Skills: Expert Combat Training

I then chose the following as I leveled:

  1. Shield Defense (Weapon and Shield, 2nd line, tier 1)
  2. Shield Balance (Weapon and Shield, 2nd line, tier 2)
  3. Shield Wall (Weapon and Shield, 2nd line, tier 3)
  4. Threaten (Warrior, 1st line, tier 2)
  5. Precise Striking (Warrior, 2nd line, tier 1)
  6. Taunt (Warrior, 2nd line, tier 2)
  7. Overpower (Weapon and Shield, 1st line, tier 3)
  8. Bravery (Warrior, 1st line, tier 3)
  9. Shield Tactics (Weapon and Shield, 3rd line, tier 3, needs 20 Dexterity)
  10. Shield Mastery (Weapon and Shield, 3rd line, tier 4, needs 26 Dexterity)
  11. Specialize in Champion to get War Cry
  12. Death Blow (Warrior, 1st line, tier 4)
  13. Shield Expertise (Weapon and Shield, 2nd line, tier 4)
  14. Rally (Champion, tier 2)
  15. Motivate (Champion, tier 3)
  16. Superiority (Champion, tier 4)

This should take you to level 20-ish. Note you don't need Master Combat Training until you get Shield Mastery, so spend your skill points on Combat Tactics to make sure you can use your abilities.


As mentioned above, I didn't want to micromanage Alistair, so I used the following to handle pretty much every encounter. Note because of my reliance on a dedicated healer, Alistair does not use any sustainability/survival abilities.

  • Behavior: Aggressive
  1. Self: AnyActivate mode: Threaten
  2. Self: Being attacked by a melee attackActivate mode: Shield Wall
  3. Self: Being attakced by a ranged attackActivate mode: Shield Cover
  4. Enemy: Nearest VisibleUse ability: Shield Pummel
  5. Self: Surrounded by at least two enemiesUse ability: Taunt
  6. Self: Surrounded by at least three enemiesUse ability: War Cry
  7. Enemy: Health >= 75%Use ability: Shield Bash
  8. Enemy: Health < 75%Use ability: Overpower


Equipment choice is not particularly difficult, and I've found you don't need to worry about min/maxing to make him effective, so I'm not going to bother with a mostly unnecessary list of exact gear you need to have. Generally:

  • Armor: Equip the heaviest you can find: ultimately, you'll be wearing massive armor. Favor equipment that has stamina regeneration and secondarily, on "tanking" stats like Constitution, Resistances, Armor, etc.
  • Weapons: Sword and board: long swords and the largest shield you can find.

Final Thoughts

It's really hard to unintentionally mess up building Alistair: there are so few "tanking" choices in the game that you'll eventually get everything you need by level 15-ish anyway.

Ultimately, it comes either micromanaging Alistair as your de-facto main (which takes practice), or a decent tactics load out (specified above) if that's not your thing.

Finally, I can't stress enough how much a sword and board tank like Alistair needs a good healer. If you're not interested in giving up a slot for a dedicated healer, it's going to be very difficult to keep Alistair effective.


The above is an amalgamation of various different guides I've found, notably:

I've confirmed the viability and effectiveness of this advice by using it myself.


I know this is an old question but I came across user3389's advice above and, while it's good, there are a couple of issues worth pointing out to anyone who stumbles across it:

  1. Attribute priority

Don't bother putting strength past 42 (enough to equip the best gear) for a tank. A tank is not a damage dealer; he's there to draw aggro and be unkillable. You might also want a few points in willpower so he doesn't run out of stamina - the right gear can do this too - but otherwise everything else should go into dexterity. This makes the tank harder to hit, which is the best way to boost survivability and ensure that he needs less healing.

  1. Talents

Spare a point for the 'second wind' talent. With massive armour and a couple of sustains on, your tank's stamina will drop quickly. Keep second wind up your sleeve for when you need your tank to taunt or disable enemies to save your squishier buddies.

  1. Sustains/tactics

Don't set auto tactics to switch between shield wall and shield cover. It's a waste of stamina and casting time. Anyway, shield cover is rubbish compared to shield wall and even shield defense. Stick with shield wall all the time UNLESS you want to keep both threaten and rally up and you find you're running out of stamina too quickly. In that case I would still prioritise shield defense over shield cover if you can afford it. Note that the shield wall damage penalty apparently doesn't work, making it even better.

In addition, don't set your tank to taunt when enemies are attacking him. That's the whole purpose of taunt. Set him to use it when enemies are attacking weaker party members. Finally, save a tactics slot for using a health poultice if his health drops below 25%.

Otherwise, the advice above is sound.


You can use this build: https://www.gamestegy.com/post/dragon-age-origins/233/alistair-the-juggernaut-build

The idea of the build is to increases the constitution to have as much hp as possible.

Try wearing Wade's Draognplate armor and before that Juggernaut Armor. Warden COmmander set also works early in the game

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