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The Witcher 2 Talent Builds Guide – Swordsmanship, Alchemy and Magic

The Witcher 2
Just like its expansive world, The Witcher 2 has a highly flexible character development system. Though its one in which you really can’t go wrong (such as those seen in games like The Elder Scrolls), an individual new to the concept can become rather overwhelmed by the large amount of abilities and investment system in the game.

In this guide we’ll go over the trees and abilities and which ability to invest talent points into for a given set of desirable attributes.

Note that apart from the Training tree (which we’ll discuss in detail), everything else is highly flexible and almost entirely up to the player and his/her play-style, so opinions may not necessarily align (or contradict) with the recommendations listed here.

For more help on The Witcher 2, read our Romance, Armor, Weapons and Crafting Diagram Locations Guide.

Browse through the guideBasics, Talent Trees Overview, Talent Builds.

Basics

There are up to 51 different abilities distributed in 4 different trees Geralt can invest his talent points in, with each ability having two levels of investment.

Now, the problem is that the maximum level Geralt can attain is 35, and he gets one talent point per level, excluding the first one.

That means that there will be 34 points in total for the first play-through. That also means that you will not have the luxury of attaining all abilities in your first go at the game.

Many abilities are linked with other higher/lower ranked ones; the higher ones cannot be purchased if the lower hierarchy abilities or prerequisites are not activated.

The linkage of abilities in the 4 different trees allows players to follow a specific line of development path so to attain a streamlined build for Geralt. However, 6 mandatory points have to be invested in the Training tree before the other trees are unlocked.

Choosing Your Play-Style

Though the Training tree is mandatory, how you develop Geralt after the availability of the three main trees is entirely up to you.

Generally, players like to build their character according to their style of playing. We can categorize them in three ways:

  • Specialists who master one tree only with barely any investment in the other trees. This is a good practice in The Witcher 2 as it allows for rapid strengthening for Geralt. The downside is that it works best only for specific circumstances and may not be ideal for slightly different situations.
  • Those who expertise in two trees. This is my personal favorite formula for any RPG game, as it gives a hybrid style of play (which is my way of doing things) and can allow one to deal with multiple types of situations. This method is slightly difficult to apply as it is time consuming and shows its upsides later in the later levels.
  • The jack of all trades. This is super-risky in The Witcher 2, though it’s one used by many. The jack of all trades will invest equal number of points in all the trees. This will mean you won’t have mastery over any particular type of scenario, and instead will be suited to survive in all types. This will also mean that Geralt will be significantly weaker in some regions for a long time, and the effectiveness of this type of build is only visible at around level 30-35.

Witcher 2 Talent Trees Overview

So, there are three main trees, and one Training tree. That makes a total of 4 trees in the game. Only the Training tree is mandatory – 6 points must be invested in it before unlocking the other trees. The other three trees are Swordsmanship, Magic and Alchemy (Formula).

Now, let’s look at the abilities in every tree:

Training Tree:

Vigour Regeneration

Prerequisites: None

Level 1 effects: +25% vigour regeneration outside of combat

Level 2 effects: +25% vigour regeneration in combat

Hardiness

Prerequisites: None

Level 1 effects: Vitality +10

Level 2 effects: Vitality +50

Dagger Throwing

Prerequisites: None

Level 1 effects: Unlocks the ability to throw daggers

Level 2 effects: Damage dealt by daggers +20

Parrying

Prerequisites: Vigour Regeneration OR Hardiness OR Dagger Throwing

Level 1 effects: Unlocks ability to parry attacks from all directions

Level 2 effects: Parrying reduces damage inflicted by 50%

Arrow Redirection

Prerequisites: Parrying

Level 1 effects: Unlocks ability to repel arrows when blocking

Level 2 effects: Unlocks ability to deflect arrows back to the shooter

Fortitude

Prerequisites: Parrying

Level 1 effects: Vigour regeneration in combat +10%

Level 2 effects: +1 Vigour

Swordsman Tree:

Position

Prerequisites: None

Level 1 effects: Damage incurred from backstabs 150%

Level 2 effects: Damage incurred from backstabs 100%

Riposte

Prerequisites: None

Level 1 effects: Unlocks ability to counterattack foes while parrying

Level 2 effects: Riposte instant kill chance +10%

Feet Work

Prerequisites: None

Level 1: Dodge distance +100%

Level 2: Dodge distance +200%

Violence

Prerequisites: Feet Work OR Whirl

Level 1: Sword damage +5%

Level 2: Sword damage +15%

Whirl

Prerequisites: Violence OR Hardy

Level 1: Attacks now affect multiple opponents per swing, secondary damage

50% of intended target

Level 2: All targets successfully hit by Whirl attacks take full damage

Guard

Prerequisites: Riposte OR Tough Guy

Level 1: Vigour required to block -25%

Level 2: Vigour required to block -50%

Schemer

Prerequisites: Feet Work OR Tough Guy

Level 1: Vigour regeneration in combat +10%

Level 2: Vigour regeneration in combat +40%

Tough Guy

Prerequisites: Schemer OR Guard OR Hardy

Level 1: Damage reduction 5%

Level 2: Damage reduction 15%

Hardy

Prerequisites: Whirl OR Tough Guy

Level 1: Vitality +25

Level 2: Vitality +100

Precision

Prerequisites: Hardy

Level 1: Critical effect: Bleeding +10% chance

Level 2: Critical effect: Bleeding +20% chance, +5% sword damage

Finesse

Prerequisites: Hardy

Level 1: Chance to inflict critical effects +5%

Level 2: Chance to inflict critical effects +15%

Sudden Death

Prerequisites: Hardy

Level 1: Chance of instant kill +2%

Level 2: Chance of instant kill +5%

Invincible

Prerequisites: Precison OR Finesse OR Sudden Death

Level 1: Vitality +50, damage reduction +5%

Level 2: Vitality +150, damage reduction +15%

Combat Acumen

Prerequisites: Invincible

Level 1: Group finisher enabled once adrenaline bar is full.

Level 2: Damage +10%, damage reduction +10%

Whirlwind

Prerequisites: Combat Acumen

Level 1: Adrenaline generated by sword blows +10%, all resistances +10%, chance to inflict critical effects +10%

Level 2: Adrenaline generated by sword blows +30%, all resistances +20%, chance to inflict critical effects +20%

Magic Tree:

Enhanced Aard Sign

Prerequisites: None

Level 1: Unlocks Aard Sign level 2, sign range +2m

Level 2: Unlocks Aard Sign level 3, sign affects entire areas, sign range +6m

Enhanced Axii Sign

Prerequisites: None

Level 1: Unlocks Axii Sign level 2, hexed opponent gets +20% Vitality, +20 damage inflicted on targets

Level 2: Unlocks Axii Sign level 3, hexed opponent gets +50% Vitality, +50 damage inflicted on targets

Destructive Magic

Prerequisites: None

Level 1: Sign damage +5

Level 2: Sign damage +10, Vigour +1

Enhanced Quen Sign

Prerequisites: Enhanced Aard Sign OR Destructive Magic OR Enhanced Axii Sign

Level 1: Enables Level 2 Quen Sign, Quen deflects 20% enemy damage back on opponents, Sign duration +20s

Level 2: Enables Level 3 Quen Sign, Quen deflects 50% enemy damage back on opponents, Sign duration +60s

Magical Vigour

Prerequisites: Enhanced Quen Sign

Level 1: Vigour +1

Level 2: Vigour +2

Venting

Prerequisities: Enhanced Quen Sign OR Enhanced Igni Sign

Level 1: Quen transfers reflected damage to two opponents

Level 2: Quen transfers reflected damage to three opponents

Magic Intensification

Prerequisites: Enhanced Quen Sign OR Fatal Attraction

Level 1: Sign intensity +1

Level 2: Sign intensity +2, Damage Reduction 5%

Fatal Attraction

Prerequisites: Magic Intensification OR Magical Vigour

Level 1: Axii Sign can bewitch two opponents at once

Level 2: Axii Sign can bewitch three opponents at once

Enhanced Igni Sign

Prerequisites: Venting OR Magical Vigour

Level 1: Enables Level 2 Igni Sign, Igni has chance to incinerate target, Sign range +3m

Level 2: Enables Level 3 Igni Sign, Igni now has an area effect, Sign range +6m

Enhanced Yrden Sign

Prerequisites: Fatal Attraction OR Enhanced Igni Sign

Level 1: Enables Level 2 Yrden Sign, two Yrden traps can be laid at once

Level 2: Enables Level 3 Yrden Sign, three Yrden traps can be laid at once

Glyph enhancement

Prerequisites: Enhanced Yrden Sign

Level 1: Yrden traps link once cast, foes making contact are stunned the same way as contact with the regular trap.

Level 2: Yrden barrier deals 5 damage per second to foes which attempt to pass

Energy Flow

Prerequisites: Enhanced Yrden Sign

Level 1: Signs chance of critical effects +5%

Level 2: Signs chance of critical effects +25%

Magical Life Force

Prerequisites: Enhanced Yrden Sign

Level 1: Vitality +50

Level 2: All resistances +5

Sense of Magic

Prerequisites: Glyph Enhancement OR Energy Flow OR Magical Life Force

Level 1: Enables Heliotrope Sign, activate when Adrenaline bar hits maximum.

Level 2: All resistances +5%, Adrenaline generation through Signs +50%

Control over the Power

Prerequisites: Sense of Magic

Level 1: All resistances +20%, Sign Damage +3, Adrenaline generated through Signs +10%

Level 2: All resistances +50%, Sign Damage +10, Adrenaline generated through Signs +75%

Alchemy Tree:

Alchemist

Prerequisites: None

Level 1: Bomb damage +30%, Trap damage +20%

Level 2: Bomb damage +100%, Trap damage +100%

Synthesis

Prerequisites: None

Level 1: Vitality +20

Level 2: Vitality +80

Side Effect

Prerequisites: Alchemist OR Harvester

Level 1: Chance of generating mutagens through Alchemy +2%

Level 2: Chance of generating mutagens through Alchemy +10%

Specialization: Potions

Prerequisites: Synthesis OR Harvester

Level 1: Potion duration +10%

Level 2: Potion duration +40%

Harvester

Prerequisites: Side Effect OR Specialization: Potions

Level 1: +50% alchemical ingredients harvested

Level 2: +100% alchemical ingredients harvested

Catalysis

Prerequisites: Harvester

Level 1: Positive effects of potions +25-50%, negative effects of potions -30% (Actual % varies depending on actual potion involved)

Level 2: Positive effects of potions +50-100%, negative effects of potions -80% (Actual % varies depending on actual potion involved)

Specialization: Oils

Prerequisites: Harvester

Level 1: Oil duration +10%

Level 2: Oil duration +40%

Transmutation

Prerequisites: Specialization: Oils

Level 1: Oil intensity +25-50%

Level 2: Oil intensity +50-100%

Taster

Prerequisites: Specialization: Oils

Level 1: Geralt can now drink 4 potions in total

Level 2: Damage +10% while poisoned, Damage reduction +10% while poisoned

Impregnation

Prerequisites: Specialization: Oils

Level 1: Mutagen effects +33%-250% depending on mutagen type

Level 2: Mutagen effects +80%-500% depending on mutagen type

Metathesis

Prerequisites: Transmutation OR Taster

Level 1: +5% damage inflicted while poisoned

Level 2: +25% damage inflicted while poisoned

Condensation

Prerequisites: Metathesis

Level 1: Vigour regeneration while poisoned +15%

Level 2: Vigour regeneration while poisoned +40%

Berserker

Prerequisites: Metathesis

Level 1: Chance of Instant Kill while poisoned +1%

Level 2: Chance of Instant Kill while poisoned +3%

Mutant

Prerequisites: Condensation OR Berserker

Level 1: Enables Berserk mode, activate when adrenaline bar hits maximum

Level 2: Adrenaline generated while poisoned +25%

Amplification

Prerequisites: Mutant

Level 1: Adrenaline generated while poisoned +15%, Damage inflicted when poisoned +5%, Damage reduction while poisoned +5%

Level 2: Adrenaline generated while poisoned +50%, Damage inflicted when poisoned +15%, Damage reduction while poisoned +15%

Training Tree Build Up
Building the main three trees might be entirely arbitrary, best suited to the likings of an individual, but the point investment in the Training tree can be slightly tricky, especially since it’s the first character development tree you will face, and is one that cannot be accessible later on.

Here are the recommended abilities you should choose in order of earliest to last:

  1. Dagger Throwing (lvl1)
  2. Parrying (lvl1)
  3. Fortitude (lvl1)
  4. Fortitude (lvl2)
  5. Arrow Redirection (lvl1)
  6. Parrying (lvl2)

Witcher 2 Talent Builds – Swordsmanship, Magic and Alchemy

Now this is a tricky one; investing the points in the trees is almost entirely up to the player.

Do remember that in this game nearly every tree has something of importance, and a good Geralt is one that has excess to all trees and masters one or two of them.

This means that you should try to invest minimum points in every tree and then invest a few points extra in the tree you are aiming to master.

Recall that there are only a maximum 34 points available in the first play-through, and that too if you grind your Geralt to reach level 35.

Six points are subtracted from that for the mandatory Training tree. That leaves you with a total of 28 points to invest.

I recommended you get these abilities in the main trees:

Swordsmanship:

  • Hardy (lvl1) is definitely recommended for sword-heavy players/those looking for swordsmanship mastery.
  • Invincible (lvl1) once again recommended for sword-heavy players/those looking for swordsmanship mastery.
  • Combat Acumen (lvl1) recommended for sword-heavy players/those looking for swordsmanship mastery.
  • Whirlwind (lvl1) recommended for sword-heavy players/those looking for swordsmanship mastery. Level 2 recommended for hardcore swordsman.
  • Riposte (lvl1) recommended for most, irrespective of mastery or orientation.
  • Position (lvl1) recommended for most if you can make room for it. Prioritize others above this though.

Swordsmanship is perhaps the easiest build to choose from. Irrespective of your build, make sure to add a few points into preliminaries like Riposte and Position. The rest is really up to your style and what type of character you are planning to make.

Magic:

  • Enhanced Aard Sign (lvl1) highly recommended for both magic-based and other type of players.
  • Enhanced Axii Sign (lvl1) recommended only for magic-based players
  • Destructive Magic (lvl1) recommended only for magic-based players
  • Enhanced Quen Sign (lvl1 and lvl2) highly recommended for all player types.
  • Enhanced Igni Sign (lvl1 and lvl2) recommended only for magic-based players.
  • Enhanced Yrden Sign (lvl1) recommended only for magic-based players.
  • Energy Flow (lvl1) recommended only for magic-based players.
  • Sense of Magic (lvl1) recommended only for magic-based players.
  • Control over the Power (lvl1 and lvl2) recommended only for magic-based players.

As you can see the Magic tree has a lot of variety and powers to offer. You should choose which of these abilities to go with based on the Signs you will actually use. Do some thorough pre-planning of the type of Signs you will use and what kind of magical impact you wish in fights.

Alchemy:

  • Alchemist (lvl1) recommended for all types of players.
  • Side Effect (lvl1) recommended for anyone not ignoring Alchemy.
  • Specialization: Potions (lvl1 and lvl2) recommended only for alchemy-based players. Useless for any other player type.
  • Harvester (lvl1) only if Specialization: Potion has been chosen.
  • Catalysis (lvl1 and lvl2) only if Harvester has been chosen.
  • Specialization: Oils (lvl1) only if Harvester has been chosen.
  • Taster (lvl1 and lvl2) only if Specialization: Oils has been chosen.
  • Impregnation (lvl1) only if Specialization: Oils has been chosen and hardcore Alchemy mastery is desired.
  • Metathesis (lvl1) recommended for hardcore Alchemy mastery.
  • Condensation or Berserker (lvl1 and lvl2) for hardcore Alchemy mastery and to complete Mutagen skillset.
  • Mutant (lvl1 and lvl2) recommended if looking to enhance Berserk mode.
  • Amplification (lvl1 and lvl2) recommended if Mutant has been chosen.

The Alchemy tree is perhaps the most complicated tree, and the Alchemy specialization is perhaps the most complicated of the lot. Potions in The Witcher 2 don’t have as much effect as they did in the first game – the only reason one would wish to fully master Alchemy is for the Mutagen abilities.

However, this is one very long trip – one with many entanglements as so many abilities have chains of prerequisites in the tree.

Apart from Alchemist and Side Effect – which should be chosen irrespective of the character-build type, the Alchemy builds are ridiculously point-intensive, and investment in them should be made only if you are planning to take the build all the way.