A little bit of intro. I played this game for around 450 + hours over the course of last year and loved it so much. My favorite build and play style across both playthroughs involved heavy usage of signs. I decided to make a detailed guide around my favorite build, as a means to leave something behind for the community of the game that I loved so much, and maybe give some fun ideas for more experienced players to mess around with, or help newer players with their planning. In advance, sorry for all the grammatical and structural errors, as this is my first time doing this.
The set up. As you can see in the stats sheet in the two screenshots below, we can easily achieve a sign intensity of 527% and that's not even the maximum number that we can obtain, rather a realistic number that is not too hard to maintain, I will talk about that later in the guide. This set up allows each cast of Igni sign to hit for 4692 flat damage, not counting the burn effect, while our Queen shield explodes for around 2000-2500 damage each time it's broken. The latter is not shown on the sheet, but you will have to trust me on this one.
As you see in the next image below, for this particular build I am using 6 pieces of level 100 Grandmaster Legendary Griffin set. For my steel sword, I am using preservation enhancement (Grindstone bonuses never expire), silver sword is equipped with 3x Greater Veles runestones for 15% additional intensity when silver sword is drawn. Armor piece is enchanted with Eruption Glyph word. All the foes that die from Igni sign explode, damaging all the nearby enemies in a similar fashion how Rot fiend explosion does, while also reigniting them. Best armor enhancement by far in my opinion for a sign build, and it's especially amazing when fighting large group of foes at later stages of the game. The rest of armor pieces just have Igni intensity glyphs.
The build. This is how my skill tree looks like. The build primarily focuses on Igni , Queen and Yrden signs, since this is a new game+ build. Aard and Axii are just not very effective in new game+. I will go over my choice of skills and comment on why I chose them, while also discussing some other alternatives that you can use as needed.
For starters we are using Conductors of magic mutation. It's by far the most powerful mutation when it comes to boosting sign damage in new game+. Basically it adds your sword damage into the base damage of signs, this is how we reach such high numbers of damage with Igni, and that's why having level 100 gear with highest possible sword damage is pretty vital here. Now on to choice of skills.
Melt armor 5/5– More of a filler skill. Basically this lets us do slightly bit more damage to most enemies with a sword, by weakening their armor. Nice combination with Sunder armor that I will talk about below.
Firestream 5/5– Very good skill. Not for doing damage, it loses to regular Igni in that regard. It's very good for dealing with shield users, as Firestream makes them permanently drop their shields after a few seconds of burning them.
Igni Intensity 5/5– Pretty obvious choice, makes your Igni hurt more.
Sustained Glyphs 2/2 – Increases Yrden sign duration, and lets you make 2 traps instead of 1. Also gives your alternative mode more chargers, pretty mandatory in my opinion.
Magic Trap 3/3– Incredibly useful skill just for it's utility to periodically stun and push back enemies. Unfortunately most new game+ enemies are resistant to Yrden, so it does not do the damage it should be doing according to the sheet, but that's fine.
Yrden intensity 5/5– Makes your Yrden circle last longer, more damage from the Yrden trap.
Exploding Shield 3/3- Your queen shield explodes and damages nearby enemies when broken, momentarily stunning them. One of the best skill upgrades for already very good sign, use this.
Active Shield 3/3– Another very good skill. With the amount of sign intensity we have this skill basically lets us heal almost right back to full health after blocking just 1 hit. This is particularly useful, because I don't have that much healing in the build, so I rely on this sign to heal myself quite often.
Queen Intensity 5/5 – Improves your queen sign, tank more damage, heal more from active shield, bigger damage from explosive shield etc.
Queen discharge 5/5- Reflects 25% of absorbed damage back to the attacker. This skill may sound good on paper , but in practice I did not see much of a difference. I am assuming it adds a little bit more damage to the explosive shield, each time Queen is broken. Just like Melt armor, this is one of the filler skills/ less important skill.
Synergy 5/5– A must have skill in pretty much any build in my opinion. This is how I have 60% sign intensity increases in the skill tree from most greater blue mutagens instead of the usual 40%.
Griffin School Techniques 1/1- Another mandatory skill for sign build in my opinion. It gives you 20% sign intensity and 20% stamina regeneration in combat. Literally no other skill gives you as much benefits and it's just 1 point!
In the extra 4 slots I decided to put some combat sword skills, to help me fight and deal with enemies that are have high resistances or are otherwise strong against signs, like Golems, Elementals, Specters etc. I focus on strong attacks, because they partially ignore enemies resistances do more damage and it creates an easy combat pattern – Strong Attack -> Double sign cast–> Strong Attack, while stamina is recharging, repeat.
Strength Training 5/5- Increases your strong attack damage by 25%.
Crushing blows 5/5– Increases your strong attack critical chance by 10% and critical damage by 75%.
Sunder Armor 5/5- Reduces enemy resistances by 25%. Very very good skill. This allows you to tear apart even the most resistant enemies like Golems, combos nicely with Melt armor.
Razor Focus 5/5– This skill gives you 1 adrenaline point at the start of combat, and increases adrenaline point generation from sword blows by 25%. Why does this matter again? Each adrenaline point increases your sword damage by 10%, and your sign intensity by 5%. So in reality with this build I would have 532% sign intensity at the start of combat, and it could ramp up to 542% intensity, if I manage to gather 3 adrenaline points. It's nice addition to the build, because you don't lose adrenaline points until you actually take damage. Breaking your Queen does not count as you getting hit, and your stamina regeneration with this build is so high that Queen is basically always up.
Alternative skill choices:
1) Delussion- One of the best sign skills. It gives you additional experience from dialogues, letting you solve most conflicts peacefully, saves you money, while also upgrading the effectiveness of your Axii sign in combat. The only reason I am not using this skill anymore is because I am already level 100, so I can't gain any more extra experience, and most new game+ enemies are invulnerable to Axii ( They only get staggered for like 1 second). Must have skill if your anywhere below level 100.
2) Acquired Tolerance- The infamous OP skill that almost everyone uses , it dramatically increases your maximum toxicity. I highly considered using this skill, but I chose to stay away from it, for several reasons. Sign builds just don't have that many good decoctions. The best ones are Foglet decoction, which increases sign intensity by 25%, but this decoction almost never works in the endgame map Tousaint, or in caves. Ekimmara and Ekhidna decoctions would be great for self healing, but I hardly get hit to begin with due to my high stamina regeneration, and queen sign and if I do take damage, I can just heal myself with alternative queen sign or swallow potion. Archgriffin decoction is great for the first playthrough, but again it falls off as you gain levels, because % damage is not that valuable anymore, having higher sword damage is more valuable, which I do from the 4 combat skills and I don't want to lose my stamina anyway, because I need it to cast signs. On top of that by slotting this skill, I would be loosing out on 15% sign intensity, since Conductors of magic allows you to use extra slots only for combat and sign skills, not worth in my opinion.
3) Protective coating- Another great skill that I use on most builds and also considered using on this 1. Combining this with Queen sign actually allows it to take quite a beating, most humans needing almost 10 hits to break it, so why am I not using this skill? Conductors of magic mutation boosts your sign damage depending on your sword damage. This means that we almost never want to use our steal sword in combat, simply because silver sword has higher attack damage, and thus boosts our signs more. There is also the fact that you can't put hanged man's venom on the silver sword, so to make use of this, you would have to use a weaker sword, lowering your sign damage. That's not all. With this build we sometimes actually want enemies to break our Queen sign, so that they take damage from Queen explosion, and that's exactly how we quickly kill some burn resistant monsters with this build (Spam Queen + Strong attacks). All of this combined, plus the fact that just like with Acquired Tolerance I would be sacrificing 15% intensity to slot this skill is why I don't use it.
If you want to use any of the above mentioned skills or other skills, I highly recommend dropping Queen discharge or Melt armor, as those are in my opinion the weakest skills in the build.
Combat and strategy- This is not a rocket science. At the start of most battles you will want to drop a couple of Yrden circles and cast Queen on yourself, then fight your enemies in the area of your Yrden circles. Superior Petri's philter's potion, Superior Thunderbolt, Superior Tawny Owl are your bread and butter potions. Occasionally you will also want to use Superior Swallow for the heal, and superior golden oriole against poisonous enemies( 100% best counter to Archespores, which are otherwise really annoying for this build). Spam that double cast Igni like your life depends on it. Don't be afraid to use your strong attacks though. In situations where your enemies do not burn, you will be killing them with the combination of Queen explosion + strong attacks. Make sure to use to use the right oil for the right enemy, and don't underestimate your sword damage with this build. It's not some Euphoria build, but it does very respectable damage, especially during rain storms, because Superior Thunder bolt makes you always critically strike. As you see in the image below our silver sword strong attacks critically hit for 7122 damage, with no adrenaline points while our steel sword does 5440.
Final notes – This is a very expensive build in a sense that it requires a lot of skill points (102 for skill trees and 49 or so for unlocking all mutations so 151 total) as we are pretty deep into all 3 skill trees, hence why this is new game + build. Make sure to find all places of power before starting new game+ because they reset and you can revisit them for more skill points.
Also for some reason game shows my playtime just over 120 hours, but I assure you that this was done fair and square as I am playing on console (Ps4) and screenshots were taken via share play. I am gonna guess starting the new game + resets your playtime.
This build is by no means the most broken build either. It's just something fun and effective to try for people that are tired of alchemy builds, or just for sign build enthusiasts. It's intended for new game+ death march difficulty, but you can use something similar with more blue skills and piercing cold, if it's your first playthrough.
Finally, I wanted to say, that I wanted to write this guide for a long time and kept procrastinating it . Hopefully it will help someone or at least give people some ideas. I'd like to mention that I have many more interesting builds and ideas, so if people will be interested I don't mind making another guide.
Again sorry for all the grammar and structural errors I made and good luck and have fun on the path fellow Witchers.
If you have any questions feel free to ask below, Cheers :).
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