The Witcher 3's Hearts of Stone expansion is a short but turbulent ride, and it starts with quite a bang. After the Toad Prince encounter, which landed Geralt in the predicament he finds himself now, a handful of soldiers and an austere mage seem almost too easy. While you'd be right in believing the foreign soldiers don't pose much of a threat, the Ofieri Mage is shockingly unassuming.

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The cutscene just before does a good job of giving the player the sense that their hands are tied, literally. Geralt has been stripped of his swords and armor and must go from struggling to remain conscious to breaking free of his captors and severing his binds.

This has left many players feeling limited to taking on the group of soldiers and surprisingly aggressive mage in naught but Geralt's skin and a sword he swiped from one of the grunts. But this is not the case. Geralt still has full access to his inventory, where he will find his armor set and swords safely tucked away.

Battle Preparations

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So first things first, don't fall for this grand escape of shirtless glory and remember to reequip your gear as soon as the cinematic cuts back to gameplay. You can also take the time to slug back some decoctions and prep Geralt's blade. Here are some of the alchemicals we recommend.

  • Nightwraith Decoction increases maximum vitality with each enemy killed. This is a good way to prep for the Ofieri Mage as it's best for Geralt to take out every soldier first. That's a lot of bonus vitality!
  • Grave Hag Decoction quickens vitality regeneration with each foe slain, and the acceleration remains in effect for the entire battle. This decoction pairs wonderfully with the extended vitality cap induced by the Nightwraith Decoction.
  • Ekhidna Decoction regenerates vitality every time Geralt uses stamina. This is a go-to for most battles, honestly. Being able to revitalize while doing some crowd control with the signs or rolling to evade enemies is indispensable.
  • Hanged Man's Venom is what you'll want to rub on Geralt's steel sword, to maximize the damage of each strike.
  • Dancing Star Bombs are a good crowd control tactic and will light the soldiers up pretty easily. It's also effective on the Mage.
  • Samum Bombs are good for stunning the Ofieri Mage, once it's down to a one-on-one, so be sure it is one of the bombs Geralt has equipped.
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Grunt Work First

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Stay clear of the Ofieri Mage until you've dispatched the soldiers. Luckily they are fairly easy to take out.

As mentioned above, Dancing Star bombs are a reliable way to incite panic and break up the group. From there, Aard works well. With a higher sign intensity, Geralt can knock down several at a time and execute one or two instant kills each time, systematically doing away with them one by one.

Keeping The Ofieri Mage In Range

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Not only is the Ofieri Mage a long-range and aggressive attacker, but he also teleports around the beach almost every time Geralt manages to get close. Geralt will need to evade his various attacks while dodging towards the Mage and usually stun him before landing any hits. To accomplish this, you'll need to learn the mage's different assaults' patterns and capabilities.

Eruption

When you see a large ring of sand start to form, it is a precursor to a forceful eruption spanning the entire diameter, so get clear of the circle. Where Geralt is positioned within the circle will determine your best escape route, but always try to dodge towards the mage rather than away.

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Cone Blast

The mage will also summon a powerful force of energy and blast it straight at Geralt. You can see him concentrating the energy in front of him in a spiraling circle just before he pushes it towards Geralt in a blast of sand that can engulf the entire screen. Your best chance when at a distance is to roll to the side due to the wide range of the attack and to avoid losing any ground Geralt has made toward the mage.

The closer Geralt is to the mage, the easier this attack is to dodge, so if Geralt has made good advancement, he can simply side-step. Then it'd be advantageous to use dodge again to rush the mage before he can draw power for another attack. Or better yet, take the opportunity to blast him with Igni as it quickly sends the mage into a panic and leaves him wide open for a flurry of sword attacks.

Tornado

The direst attack to avoid is when the mage engulfs himself in a tornado, sucking up sand and fallen debris. He will use this to advance on Geralt, causing massive damage to him if the witcher falls within the range.

When the mage emerges, he can execute several other closer range attacks, all of which Geralt can predetermine by gusts of sand. They should be avoidable simply by side-stepping, so try not to roll if you can help it; you want to maintain your proximity to the mage now.

The mage knows distancing himself is his greatest advantage and will try to teleport away. His teleportation is also tracked by gusts of sand, giving Geralt the upper hand in anticipating where he will reappear. Follow this track to keep him in range, but at a safe distance as the forceful energy can still stagger Geralt.

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Pacifying The Mage

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The good thing is the Ofieri's attacks are also his defense. After Geralt has gotten within close proximity, the mage is actually quite squishy and easy to keep defenseless. He's virtually incapable of fending off Geralt's blows and is extremely vulnerable to fire.

Geralt doesn't even need to get within sword range right off. Getting close enough to cast signs or throw bombs, then rushing in will do. As we mentioned earlier, the best ways to stun the mage are by throwing a Samuum bomb or setting him ablaze with a Dancing Star bomb or Igni.

Igni seems to be the most effective at causing burning and keeping him incapacitated, but if you can't get close enough to catch him with the flames, try stunning him with a Samuum bomb and rushing in to then light him up. From there, it's a simple matter of keeping him afflicted with burn and hauling away at him with the sword.

It can be quite a process to bring down the Ofieri Mage, but it's not impossible. He's unassumingly powerful and wields his giant staff formidably, but once Geralt has cut him off from his greatest strength, he flounders like a fish in the desert.

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