Tyranny Combat Guide

Learn how to vanquish your foes in Obsidian’s latest RPG, Tyranny.

Tyranny, by developer Obsidian Entertainment, has garnered quite a bit of success and attention following its release on November 10th. There’s quite a lot to do in Tyranny, and if you are unfamiliar with isometric RPGs as a whole (such as Obsidian’s previous title, Pillars of Eternity), the game may take a little getting used to.

One of the more important elements in Tyranny is combat. Therefore, if you’re struggling to get a handle on Tyranny’s combat system—or are simply looking to make sure you’ve fully got the basics down before proceeding to some of the more complex elements of the game—read on for our beginner’s guide to combat in Tyranny!

Moving Your Fighters

One of the primary focuses when it comes to combat in Tyranny is moving and positioning your fighters. The game operates on an RTS system with an added (and quite nifty) pause element. Once your party of fighters engage in combat, they’re locked into those moves until they either break free (suffering a ‘disengagement’ penalty and free hits as a result) or simply die.

To really master the element of movement and proper positioning in Tyranny, be sure to experiment with customized formations. To do this, locate the square with dots for corners on the left-hand side of your party portraits (once you have more than three party members) and select it.

By doing so, you can ensure that your higher HP “tank” members such as Barik are at the front of the line. You don’t want your squishier party members at the front taking the most damage during combat.

Additionally, placing your ranged fighters behind your tank members (but not entirely being blocked by your tanks) is often a good idea. Note that your ranged fighters are of more use to you from afar. In terms of magic, you will eventually be able to craft healing spells.

However, until that moment comes, utilize Lantry (your third recruit) and make good use of his healing capabilities. Note the range required for various abilities and attacks by checking the proximity indicators on the ground.

A pair of footsteps will appear in the event that you need to move closer before casting/firing an attack. Be cautious with moving in too close though, as running headfirst into a cluster of enemies is a fantastic way to die. If there’s anything you can take away from combat in Tyranny, it’s strategy!


Whenever you need to pause, simply hit the spacebar. Although, when it comes to Tyranny’s handy pause mechanic, be sure to peruse your menu options and select some of the auto-pause options available to you.

There will be moments when you are in the heat of combat and may forget that you can pause, so having the game pause automatically is a wonderful way to give yourself a little extra time to analyze your opponent’s formation and adjust yours accordingly.

Frequently pause whenever you’re engaged in combat to identify where the most damage is coming from, then prioritize taking out these foes first. You may find yourself outnumbered in certain combat scenarios. In this instance, pause and figure out how to get your tanks like Barik to tackle any enemy that rushes at you (which will distract ranged attackers).


If you’re playing casually, these won’t be as necessary to your combat, but are still worth learning about either way. In your inventory, there will be a variety of consumables that can boost your armor penetration, poison enemies, and give your fighters various buffs.

Assign these consumables to your “quick items” list in order to utilize them quickly whenever needed. Note that you should always have a heaping collection of healing potions available in case your healing abilities are on cooldown and your fighter’s health is fading fast.

Damage and Defense

Each fighting member of your party is different and will specialize in different methods of attack. Learning to recognize the specialties of each fighter will help you progress in Tyranny.

Furthermore, each and every weapon in Tyranny deals different forms of damage. This means that melee, magic, and ranged attacks will be more or less useful depending on the combat scenario you're in.

The most important aspect of this is to recognize the “Defense” these weapons are effective against. There are five types of Defense:

  • Parry
  • Dodge
  • Endurance
  • Magic
  • Will

You can get a better idea of your foe’s Defense by hovering over them with your cursor and right-clicking to lock-in temporarily. You’ll want to pay special attention to Parry and Dodge, as most (if not all) melee attacks will target Parry. Consequently, ranged and magic attacks will target Dodge.

Some magic attacks can target Will, though this is less common than magic attacks with a Dodge focus. In Tyranny, Endurance is mainly for resisting status effects, and Magic (despite its title) doesn’t uniformly defend against magic. Instead, it helps guard against a specific form of magic attack delivered by malicious deities such as “Bane.”

Armor Penetration

Don’t forget to pay attention to your armor and armor penetration during combat. Even though your melee attacks may be hitting a foe’s Defense properly, if your enemy has on heavy armor, you may discover your weapon isn’t doing as much damage as it should. Pay attention to your enemy’s armor and weaknesses, then adjust your attacks as needed.

Cast spells at enemies with low Dodge and Will, and use your band of melee fighters to go after foes with low Parry stats. Don’t be afraid to apply status effects like Poison, Stun, or Bleed. These can really come in handy, especially when you are dealing with heavily armored opponents. Additionally, don’t view your party as a group of individual entities.

Instead, make use of companion combo attacks. Though they take a little longer to cast, companion combo attacks are extremely useful and powerful. Take Eb’s “Terratus’ Embrace” for example, which is a massive area of effect attack that deals damage to multiple opponents and also heals your party at the same time. Personally, we love this companion combo!

Finally, when it comes to armor penetration, there’s a combat log at the bottom right that runs during engagements. If you need a little intel, you’ll find your fighters occasionally letting you know whenever they’re having a hard time penetrating an enemy’s armor with statements like “this weapon is useless,” so be sure to heed their advice.

When To Use The AI

Your quirky group of fighters can be given AI commands to follow by right-clicking on the head with the gear sticking out on the left of the companion portraits (left-clicking switches this either on or off). We’ve experienced both luck and misfortune with the AI, so use this tool at your own discretion.

Personally, I recommend learning how to micro-manage your fighters as it lends itself well to the strategy elements mentioned above. Nevertheless, if you want to go with the AI to start with, setting it to “Defend Party” and “Default Behavior” as opposed to a specialized character template will help keep the AI on the right track during combat.

You don’t want it getting too wonky—unless you’re in the mood to watch a little tragic comedy unfold. The Defend Party method of AI works extremely well for characters (especially tanks like Barik) that you want to send into battle and deal/take damage of their own volition.

However, if you find things aren’t going according to plan, you can override AI commands. This is extremely helpful and important, as intervention can make a world of difference when it comes to life and death decisions.

There you have it, some of the basic info you’ll need to know when engaging in combat and fighting your way through Tyranny. If you’d like more Tyranny guides, let us know in the comments below. Also, feel free to ask any and all questions you may have, we’re here to help!

Tyranny can be purchased on Steam, a DRM-free version can be purchased on GOG, and you can learn more about Tyranny on the game's official website.  

For more guides here at Indie Obscura, be sure to check out our Transport Fever Guide to Manufacturing, our 2016 Winter Game Sales Guide to find the best deal on where to buy Tyranny, and get salty with our Oh...Sir!! Gentleman's Guide to Insults

Morgan is a writer, indie game lover, and socially awkward coffee addict. Need something? Morgan can be reached at morgan.shaver@allgamers.com or if you like, you can say hello using GIFs on Twitter.


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