Leveling build

People are always asking for this. I don’t understand why… I thought experimenting and figuring stuff out is the most fun part of the game. And you cannot, at all, fuck up your character beyond repair. It’s not possible.

(People will argue that choosing the wrong race and/or class for your desired playstyle is fucking up your build beyond repair. I completely disagree. Now, if you want to be the very best (like no one ever was), you’ve got to go look up some end game build guides to see what the FOTM class and race is for any particular playstyle, and to see what playstyles actually work for which classes and races (hint: orc DK isn’t going to be the very best at anything, sorry). But if you just want to play the game, and and you want to be a good character but doing what you like is more important – you can do all content in the game (except vet trials) with an Orc DK healer. It’s up to you, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

Oh, and if you’re looking at this build you probably already chose the race and class you’re going to level next.

In case you haven’t, and that paragraph about how class and race does matter for vet trials and so on scares you, here’s a quick overview on how to choose.


Here’s what a leveling build looks like.

Some notes:

  • End goal for this guy is tank. However, I’m having fun with the magicka playstyle, hence the staves. And I get to actually use flame lash and so on when I am magicka style.
  • At end game I’ll put all points into stamina because that makes tanking easiest. That means my off spec (dps spec for soloing and so on) will have to be a stamina spec. To that end I’ve got DW and 2H abilities on my bars – I need to keep these leveled even though I’m using staves right now. I can’t use these abilities, but they continue to earn exp (although a smaller amount) towards those skill lines.
  • My goal is to keep all of my class and weapon skill lines at equal or higher level to my character level. So far, so good.
  • The gear is all dropped gear. I’ve tried to put on stuff that has magicka bonuses – the wyrd tree gives magicka regen, whereas the bloodthorn is giving spell power. I also try to keep at least one piece of each armor type so that they all level up. The exact number of pieces of each armor does not matter because I don’t have the armor passives specced anyways. My armor skill isn’t high enough level for it to matter!
  • You’ll notice I have a resto staff skill on my destro bar. This is because I kill things with the destro staff bar more often, and I want to keep resto leveled. Only your active bar gets exp! Like with the DW stuff, I can’t actually use this ability.
  • This gear is 100% drops. I have a lot more skill points for my level than most people, as well. This lets me spread my points out between so many different skills – you might struggle a bit more.
    • Why do I have so many more skill points? I’ve been leveling this guy by collecting skyshards. So I’m not doing quests. I’m only killing things that are between me and my next skyshard (although I’m killing all of the ones… no running past mobs!). This means I’m leveling pretty slowly but I have a lot of skill points to play with.
  • Just for kicks I haven’t spent any cp. Except I really wanted that 50% faster harvesting speed node, so I spent 75 points in magicka regen just to get that.
  • Food is crusty bread. You can find this basically everywhere – any NPC camp full of bandits, necromancers, etc. etc. will have some sitting on the table.

If you know or can pay a crafter, here’s what you could be wearing.

This is a lot better for a lot of reasons:

  • Training – 8 training pieces times 8% more exp each = 64% faster leveling.
  • It’s all coordinated sets, making my max stats a looot higher.
  • It’s all blue quality with blue quality enchants, making my max stats a loooot higher.
  • Ideally I’d run sharpened weapons rather than training – 12% more damage is worth more to me than 8% more exp – but this is what I’ve got.
  • I’m currently eating some magicka/magicka regen food. I chose this because it’s cheap to make and scales to all levels. Health/mag food would be better but there is no health/mag food that scales to all levels. There is Witchmother’s Potent Brew, which is health/mag/magicka regen and scales to all levels, but that is worth around 120 gold apiece… a stack would be 12k and while it would last me past level 50 that just seems like a bit much.

This gear cost about 3000 gold worth of mats to craft and I’ve valued the ability to craft it at around 2000 gold.

Ideally you’d get a set like this once every 10-15 levels. It should cost about the same at every level; making it purple or in a cooler style (this style was originally crafted for my argonian, who used it til level 50, and it does look a bit odd on my poor imperial) will cost a lot more.

This isn’t a build Thallassa!

It’s a guide. And it’s generalizable to any class and build.

Here’s how you level:

  • You pick a playstyle.
  • You pick gear and weapons that match that playstyle.
  • You put abilities on your bar to level all of the skill lines you could ever possibly need for that playstyle (all three class skills, and any relevant weapon skills).
  • You go play. Minmaxing and shit really just doesn’t matter.
  • If you want to do dungeons and so on, you should proooobably take the skills you can’t use (those DW skills) and replace them with something useful – another damaging ability or a group buff. Other than that, there’s really not much you can do to optimize your build at low level. Your gear is what you’ve got, and there’s no point in grinding for gear that will be obsolete in a few more hours of play. You don’t have the skills to make the optimal rotation. You’re still low level, and what you’re going to do will reflect that. It shouldn’t prevent you from doing any dungeons anyways.

How do I level?

Do whatever you like. It all earns exp.

Here’s the list of things that you can do to earn exp from most to least.

  • Skyreach runs. Skyreach is a group instance in craglorn (that means it’s available to everyone, regardless of game upgrade status). It’s full of skellies. You can pull massive groups of these skellies at once. If you kill them before they kill you, it’s a lot of exp. You will not be able to do this with a leveling build. But, you can pay or sweettalk a  high level character into running you through if you’re desperate to get to max level for some reason.
  • Dolmens – There are three dolmens in a zone. You can do them in a perfect rotation so that there is no downtime and minimal travel time. Alikr desert is the best for this. This is pretty good exp and there are always groups running that you can join, making it basically impossibly simple and boring.
  • Public dungeons – you can go to public dungeons like Razak’s Wheel, Old Orsinium, and so on, and pull massive groups of mobs and kill them  very quickly with little downtime. While it’s not as good as skyreach, it’s easier to solo.
  • Questing – Questing is pretty good exp, and you get skill points and gear and achievements to boot.
  • Running around collecting skyshards – you end up killing a lot of mobs doing this, but it’s still slow.
  • PvP – this is really slow. Don’t pvp if your goal is to get exp.



Just a reminder…

We recently received news (via screenshots of a reddit private conversation) that Windows devs have confirmed a patch for the dx9 VRAM allocation bug in Windows 8/10 and that it will be in the next insider build.

What this means is … if you were on Windows 7 (where it worked correctly), TESV.exe could access all your VRAM, and ENBHost.exe could access up to 192 GB of memory (RAM and VRAM). ENBHost.exe could hold things that TESV.exe could use, freeing up VRAM and generally making the game run more smoothly.

If you were on Windows 8/10, TESV.exe could access up to 4 GB of VRAM (I think). and ENBHost.exe could access up to 4 GB of memory (RAM and VRAM). This generally decreased the total amount of memory available to hold things for both ENB and TESV to use, lessening the benefits from ENBoost (those benefits being less stuttering and smoother loading, potentially preventing missing texture bugs, particularly when using a high percent of your video card’s total VRAM).

The reminder is that

  • This fix will take a long time to be widely available – probably not until next year. Windows does a loooot of testing, as they must (remember they’re forcing us to download these patches whether they work or not!). It’ll be amusing to see if it comes out before or after SKSE64.
  • This fix only matters if you
    • Have more than 8 GB of VRAM on your card, and used it all
    • Or are happy using RAM instead of VRAM for video things (which is slower, mind you) – and again, used more than 8 GB total for video stuff (that is, you would see: skyrim allocating up to (VRAM of your card or 4 GB, whichever is lower), and ENBoost allocating (all the rest of your VRAM and RAM up to 4 GB total). If you didn’t see that, you aren’t benefiting.

It’s not going to do anything for your crashing. It’s not going to make the game perform better. It’s not going to make grass look good.

It might help stuttering, frame drops, and other things that impact how ‘smooth’ the game feels. That’s it. and only if you were actually hitting the limit before.



What do I do with all this crap in my inventory?

You send it to me, duh.

Ok, more seriously. You’re in the middle of a delve, trying to get some fat loots off a boss you just killed, and your inventory is full. Again. How do people do it?!

Probably a bit late for you now – but number one priority on a new character – go visit the bag merchant. There’s one in Daggerfall, Vulkhel Guard, and Davon’s Watch. The first 10 slots is 400 gold – Basically free. The second 10 slots is 2000 gold… a bit more pricey but still worth it. After that – if it’s your first character, save for your horse (10k gold) so you can do riding training regularly. If it’s a later character, keep upgrading inventory as much as you can without going broke.

But again, that doesn’t help you now. I need to get that belt off that boss!

Here’s what your inventory probably looks like, eh?

Inventory screen 1

Ok maybe yours isn’t as fancy. I have the filters across the top added by “Advanced Filters”. There are also useful icons added by CraftStore, and you’ll see in a bit price information added by one of two mods (Tamriel Trade Center and Master Merchant) which can help with this dilemma quite a bit.

Still you can see some of the cruft that’s clogging up my inventory and preventing me from claiming my rewards! Mats, consumables, trophies and gear.

Let’s start with the gear:

inventory screen 2.png

First check: Is anything better than what I’m actually wearing? If so, equip it. Right now you can see this new axe has slightly higher damage than my old sword. So I should equip it. (Actually my old sword is better because it has the sharpened trait which is better than decisive, but that’s out of the scope of this post).

We need to free up space right now, so let’s check if anything has no value.

inventory screen 3

Gear with no gold value is actually straight up zero value. It gives almost no experience and no mats when deconstructed; it has no value to other players. It should be deleted. I think we found the space we need to loot that boss! (but let’s keep going).

Other items with zero value might actually have value to you or to other players – potentially a lot of value. So don’t use that as a general rule – it only is true for gear.

There are two special traits that change how you use a piece. Intricate and ornate gear is useless to wear but especially valuable for when you get back to town. Intricate gear gives triple crafting experience and materials from deconstruction – essential to leveling skills! (Even if you think you’ll never ever do crafting, you can usually sell intricate gear to other players that are trying to level it). Ornate gear sells for triple price to merchants, so save this to vendor later.

Set gear might be worth saving depending on the set. These two pieces are useless, but especially at cp 160 (max level), sets can be worth a loooot of gold. Usually it’s safest to hang onto those and sort it out when you have free time.

All other gear:

  • Greens and whites actually vendor for more than the value of the mats and exp you get from deconstructing them. If you’re desperate for crafting exp, you can decon them; if you’re low on gold, vendor them. Usually vendoring is the better choice.
  • Blue and purple items are much more valuable to deconstruct and should always be deconstructed if they are not useful to you.
  • Jewelry cannot be deconstructed – if it is not useful to you and is not a purple set item (purple set items = value, all other = worthless), then vendor it.


inventory screen 4

Food is very very important to staying alive. Ideally you’d run food that gives health + mag or health + stam from a crafter, but at low levels that can be pricey as the recipes are more rare. Failing that, hang onto some white food that gives a useful stat. Just one stack though. The rest can be deleted – it doesn’t even vendor for enough to be worth hanging on to.

Recipes and motifs: These could potentially be very valuable, but you have to know what you’re looking at. If it’s purple or gold, it’s definitely valuable. Purple motifs books like daedric typically go for around 1-2k. Purple recipes go for like 15k or more. Blue motif books only go for around 100 g. Blue recipes are a lot more variable – that Pattern: Breton Rug, Starburst is worth around 5k, but some others I’ve gotten were only worth 300g. This is where tamriel trade centre comes in handy to know what you’re looking at. (Master Merchant is better if you’re already in an active trade guild).

The green recipes typically go for around 35 gold. The green design there is worth around 200.

Usually I just learn green recipes on whatever character I find them on, but save the others for my dedicated crafter.

Dropped potions are very useful, even at max level. Keep a one of each type at your level on your quickslots. Ones not at your level can be vendored. Poisons are useless and only good for vendoring.

Mats. Here is where it gets confusing.

inventory screen 5.png

The easiest way to deal with mats is to get the ESO+ subscription which gives you the craft bag. Then you can just stockpile forever. But that’s not feasible for a lot of people.

I’m planning a more in depth article on inventory management at end game, but for now, here’s a general idea.

One option for the leveling character is to find a patron. You mail them all the mats you get and they pay you either at a fixed rate (say 10% below MM) or a flat weekly fee.

Failing that:

Blacksmithing, Clothier, and Woodworking mats are all the same. Raw mats are a lot more valuable than refined ones. They’re all valuable and worth hanging onto. If you’re leveling crafting keep a stack at your level; sell the rest to other players. Save the upgrade materials.

Trait materials (like sardonyx) have basically no value, but can be difficult to buy. You don’t really need them at low level unless you’re crafting for yourself.

Style items (like bone) are pretty valuable (15g per item or more), but can be purchased from the vendors. Keep one stack so you can craft for writs and so on; sell the rest to other players.

Alchemy mats are always valuable. Mushrooms and most herbs run around 50 per. Some particularly in demand herbs run a lot higher. This changes based on the patch. Right now it’s nirnroot, corn flower, lady’s smock, and columbine. They are all worth around 300 per.

Enchanting mats: Aspect runes (Ta, Jejota, Denata, Rekuta, Kuta) are valuable based on their quality. Ta is worth nothing. Delete it unless you need it for writs. Kuta is worth around 2k – sell this! Essence runes are pretty much all worth nothing (unless you get a Hakiejo in imperial city). Potency runes are actually pretty valuable. Keep the ones at your level and sell the others to other players.

Provisioning mats are all worthless (5-10g per) Hang onto what you can to level provisioning, but if you need to make space don’t hesitate to delete them. One exception – Flour. That’s worth 30 g apiece.

Furnishing mats are considered provisioning mats for some reason. Hang onto them all if you want to make your house pretty. For selling, hang into bast, heartwood, regulus, and mundane rune; toss alchemical resin, decorative wax, and clean pelt.

inventory screen 6.png

Last screen. This will be least interesting at low levels. Treasure maps and surveys can be thrown in your bank until max level when they are more valuable. You can also sell treasure maps to other players for around 200-300 gold. Don’t delete them – they really can be worth quite a bit, especially if you get lucky.

There are three kinds of vendor trash: The super obvious grey kind. NO duh you vendor that. Treasures from stealing and pickpocketing – the only use these have is to sell to a vendor. Just make sure they’re really treasures and not furnishings or patterns, which are very valuable! and Trophies. Trophies are for achievements; once they’ve entered your inventory you have credit and you should vendor them.

Always keep a supply of soul gems and lockpicks handy. If you have more than 200 filled soul gems you should vendor the extras (or save for alts); lockpicks should be deleted as they have no vendor value.

Quest items do not count against your item limit!

Happy looting.

(P.S. The item the boss dropped turned out to suck)

List of grievances I would love ZOS to address (Draft)

Picking some nits:

  • My buddy couldn’t summon his banker in my house. I don’t have a banker. Fix pls.
  • Logging out in the house should be instant (fixed in 3.0.0).
  • Logging out in Belkarth should be instant.
  • Logging out at the wayshrine in Wayrest should be instant.
  • Logging out at the undaunted refuges should be instant.
  • There are probably some other places that need to be fixed too. Instant logouts pls.
  • The length of time between scenes in Belkarth and Rawlka should be increased. (Yeah, yeah, cry ZOS a river, maybe I’ll float out of Craglorn).
  • The provisioning writ for psijic ambrosia only grants 10 vouchers, but requires you to craft 8 of them. It should require only 1 (which puts it on par with similar gear writs), or grant more like 30 vouchers. Right now it’s 23k cost to craft which is insane (much higher cost per voucher than anything).
  • Mount walking: Character sits up straight, looks confident. Good riding position. Mount running: Character is crouched over like a jockey but not so high in the saddle. Looks uncomfortable. Pls gib mount walking animation for faster speeds.


  • Certain furnishing patterns exist but do not drop. Others drop so rarely that they might as well not. I don’t know what you did to screw up the leveled lists (really, leveled lists are not that hard, see my previous post), but fix pls. I need my common teapot. I needs it.
  • Dungeon finder. How hard can it be? How did you even manage to break it between 1T and homestead? You didn’t touch it! (PS in case you never use the dungeon finder, here’s what happens:
    • You queue for a dungeon. There are no tanks and few healers queuing, so if you are a dps, it takes an hour or two to get a group.
      • This could be fixed by giving bonus rewards for tanks and healers queuing, like every other MMO with a queue has realized is necessary.
    • When you hit accept, half the time you get “group is not viable”. Now I was assuming this just meant that someone else didn’t accept, but apparently it means ZOS put 3 dps and a healer in a group and then went “psych”. If this is actually the case… wtf.
      • Why are you even attempting to put a group together if people can’t do the roles.
    • You land in the dungeon. The game immediately tells you you are not in your group’s instance and starts teleporting you out. This is the new bug. This happens even though you can see your group right there goddamnit.
    • At this point, at least one group member (usually the tank, of course), doesn’t realize that you can just… you know… teleport back into the dungeon and do the damn thing.
    • Once you do manage to get four people in the same instance you quickly realize:
      • The tank has either way too little (less than 25k) or way too much (more than 35k) health to do their role. The latter is preferable because at least it means they’re thinking about tanking even if they have no idea of how to go about it. The former is usually a dps who queued as tank.
      • Alternatively, one of the other three simply has no idea how their role works at all.
      • At least one of the members has never seen a soul gem in their life.
      • At least one member has less than 16k health (if it’s vet) and refuses to eat food.
      • No one admits they’ve never been there before so you can explain the fights to them. Eventually you wipe on a boss, and someone goes “yeah I don’t know this fight”. Thanks dude. You could have told me before we wiped.
    • Despite all this, you eventually completed the dungeon. If you queued for a random dungeon, you would now expect to get undaunted rewards. However apparently these don’t always get mailed out. gg.
    • Now, I don’t know the technical basis for the technical issues. I’m sure it’s all fixable, because it worked correctly before, and it works correctly in every other game I’ve played.
    • For the societal/game knowledge issues, there are a few fixes.
      • The afore-mentioned bonus for tanks. of course this will exacerbate not-tanks queuing as tanks. So, some ideas:
        • Require that a character have equipped, before they queue:
          • as tank, they must have a useable taunt spell on their bar. Period. Frost staff doesn’t count. Or, this would be easier to code, they must have a sword and shield, or a frost staff, equipped on at least one bar.
          • As healer, they must have a single resto staff equipped.
          • As dps, they must have one weapon that is not a resto staff or a frost staff or a sword and board (one bar can be. We encourage different builds, after all).
          • Downsides: would discourage/prevent dual queueing. :-/
          • Downsides: Entirely technical. Doesn’t fix social aspects or game knowledge problems. Likely to lead to all kinds of horrible bugs.
      • For all of the above… give good kick reasons. And make kicks stack.
        • Kick reasons should include:
          • “not performing selected role”
          • “rude”
          • “afk”
          • “Insufficient Skill” (like in other games, this is a fake kick. It does remove the person from the dungeon, but never gives a cooldown timer or counts against the player. Perfect for when you get a level 10 in nCoS).
        • By stacking I mean:
          • If you leave, you always get a 15 minute timer.
          • The first time you get kicked, no timer. You can queue again immediately.
          • The second time you get kicked within a 4 hour period, you get a 15 minute timer before you can requeue.
          • Every subsequent kick, the timer  increases by 5 minutes. (So by kick 5 you’re waiting 30 minutes before you can queue again).
          • The timer slowly decays. So if it took you 12 hours to build up a 30 minute timer, it will be another 12 hours of not getting kicked before you’re back to no timer. Or something like that.
          • If you get kicked a lot, like, 10 times in 48 hours, you get a permanent debuff to your timer. (“permanent” – like a month or so of good behavior = it goes away).
          • Numbers subject to someone who actually does game design to work out.
        • Encourage people to actually ask questions if they don’t know. Like on loading screen tips. Or the first time they join a dungeon they haven’t been in, Flash across their screen “Haven’t been here? Be sure to ask the other players for advice!”
  • Minor Staminasteal
  • Built in text search for guild stores
  • Increased furnishing limit for large houses. For small and medium the existing limits are fine. For large it’s like “I paid 3x the price for… 100 more items. Yay.” It just straight up takes more items to decorate a house that’s 5x the size. Fancy that. Also having the same player limits for large and medium houses is a copout. Oh, and crown store houses are even more bigger and they’re exclusives so, like, they should have a super special item limit.
  • Provisioning and Alchemy writs. I shouldn’t need to craft cp 100 food for my master provisioning writs. Oh, and I shouldn’t need nirnroot every.single.day. Fix pls.

Big things

  • The bidding system for guild stores needs a complete rework.
  • Cyrolag.
  • Gear cap
  • 2H weapons
  • Hard normals
  • Training dungeon

Oops need to set up my experiment. BBL.




No, I haven’t forgotten about Skyrim

I just… don’t want to play it.

Maybe with the exciting news of Last Seed nearing completion (I’ve been waiting for that longer than most of ya’ll have modded skyrim, ya noobs), I’ll crack it open again. My modlist needs to be redone from scratch… again… even if I do play on original, I kind of fucked it up big time messing around with stuff for various testing, mod picker, etc. and I like starting with a clean slate so I can actually remember what I did.

(Luckily, I documented what where I was going and how I was getting there heavily, last time around, so it won’t be hard to build it up again, especially considering some new thoughts I have about…. how many mods I really need. Not that I can ever say no to adding one more).

The biggest thing stuck in my craw right now is SSE vs. Original Skyrim. I just can’t decide.

Special Edition


  • Rain Occlusion
  • Better performance, particularly with regards to memory (not that I had issues with memory in original once I got crash fixes working, but y’know, it helps).
  • Some cool new mods I haven’t taken apart yet
  • Cool new water effects (flow and waves)


  • Some godawful godrays everyone goes on about (they’re seriously ugly)
  • No good choices for mod manager (After thinking it over I think I would end up installing mods with MO, taking the resulting folder, zipping it, and then dropping that into bash. Sounds… awkward.
  • Weirdass snow sparkles

Original Skyrim


  • Parallax
  • Subsurface Scattering
  • Search bar in inventory
  • Crafting UI
  • Grimy’s Utilities, various other mods that will never be ported
  • CK actually works right
  • MCM for easy mod configuration


  • Very few new mods coming out
  • Have to use heavy ass ENB for good AO and so forth.
  • Performance tends to chug a bit after I add my 15th new city mod/overhaul and 5th NPC-adding mod

So you see my problem.

Still, there are a few outstanding projects that I would like to get back to. Maybe if I put them here people will bug me to do them. I would be doing these in the original CK and then, if possible, porting to SSE.

The weapon and armor overhaul to end them all

I’m sick of finding cool new weapon and armor mods and being like “well, this is just more crafting station clutter.” Not what I need. Stuff like dragonglass armor should be earned with blood. So I put it on a leveled list. Dropping at level 50+ I think. It was cool. Bandit bosses could use it, so even if you didn’t want to use it yourself, you’d get to see it which is the whole point. Problems?

  • I never get past level 30 anyways, so kind of a waste of time
  • While the esp for that (and the other few I’ve finished) are available on the respective mod pages, making them into an all-in-one would be for-my-use-only.
  • Turns out this is the single most tedious thing I could ever have chosen to do. It’s awful.
  • Weapons cost nothing to exist, but calculating them on the leveled lists might actually have a minute performance cost.

The Botanist’s Guide to Skyrim Mods

I already drafted this. It’s a lot of mods to compare. Several of them aren’t even available anymore. Yay… Most aren’t on SSE. I already know the answer for my own information…


Poor forgotten Markarth. No good overhauls. Lots of good dwemer resources. I have ideas. Problem is, it would be like 40 hours just to learn how to implement them. Time I don’t really have. (In case you’re wondering it, it took all of 15 minutes to write this post while babysitting an experiment).

  • Greatly expand the market at the front of the town.
  • Add more shops and homes hanging off the walls of the canyon.
  • Do something with the abandoned house after the Molag Bal quest is done.
  • Weekly market outside the city gates? Maybe not possible. Maybe on hiatus due to the forsworn problem. Hmmm….
  • Expand the warrens
  • Basement in the inn
  • Expand the guard quarters
  • Use the space on the south side of town better….?
  • Add passage to High Rock?


Welcome to ESO: Part 3, Builds

Now that you understand a little bit about stats (if you read part 2 anyways), it’s time to think about what skills and gear you should use. These, along with your attribute and champion point distribution, define your build.

Don’t forget to unlock all possible skill lines!

Skill Line Unlocking
Newly-created characters will now have all skill lines hidden except for the 3 from their class, the goal being to improve a new player’s experience by reducing the initial number of skill line choices to a more manageable number.

  • Skill lines will now unlock when your character takes specific actions.
    • Armor skill lines unlock when you equip 3 pieces of a given armor type (light/medium/heavy).
    • Weapon skill lines unlock when you get a killing blow while the weapon is equipped.
    • Crafting skill lines are unlocked when you visit the appropriate crafting station.
    • Your racial skill line unlocks at level 5.
    • The AvA skill lines now unlock when you gain Alliance Points.
    • Other skill lines will continue to unlock as they did previously, such as the Mages Guild skill line when you join the guild.
  • Note: This feature only applies to newly created characters; all existing characters will be unaffected.

fucking zos.

(Oh, and mundus stone. Having the right mundus stone can give you a lot of free stats! There’s a list here… dps typically go for the Thief; Healers and tanks might prefer The Atronach).

In ESO, different builds have different strengths and weaknesses. You can be very tanky, but you won’t do any damage. You can be a pro at healing your allies, but all those healing spells don’t leave you a lot of space on your bars for damaging spells.

In solo play, you can pretty much do whatever you want and be successful. While you might kill things more slowly if you’re wearing heavy armor, than if you wore medium (stamina) or light (magicka), that’s ok!

For group content a degree of specialization is necessary to be successful. ESO group content is built for the “holy trinity” of MMOs – tank, dps, and healer. While you can do normal dungeons with 3 dps and a healer, or even 4 dps, veteran dungeons demand that you have one tank, one healer, and two dps in order to complete them, and vet trials require 2 tanks, 2 healers, and 8 dps to be successful, due to the various mechanics.

If you’re not sure what I mean by tanking, dpsing, or healing, this guide covers it fairly well.

In short, a tank’s first job is to taunt the enemies to attack him and not die, and their second job is to buff the group as much as possible to maximize group dps. If they have any resources left over, they might try to dps a bit. A healer’s job is to keep the group alive, buff the group, and if they have any resources left over they can dps a little. Dps job is to do as much damage per second (dps) as humanly possible, while not dying (and paying attention to mechanics that might cause the rest of their group to die, like totems, adds, etc.)

Figuring out what skills you need is also important as you level – you don’t want to get to max level and then realize you never leveled an essential skill or skill line! While it’s always possible to catch up later, it’s easier to level everything at once.

In ESO, you can have 12 different skills at once. 5 regular skills on each bar, and two ultimates.

(Confused about the “two bars”? At level 15, you unlock “weapon swapping” – weapon swapping lets you equip a second weapon that you can swap to at any time – even in combat. This weapon comes with its own ability bar that can have a totally different set of skills than your main one).

Therefore, the biggest differentiation between different builds is what skills you choose to take.

You’ll want to take skills that are cohesive. Running a magicka burst spell alongside a bow doesn’t make a lot of sense! They don’t scale with the same stats.

However, you may realize that in order to unlock skills and morphs that work for your build, you’ll have to use skills that don’t make any sense with your current stats. This is part of the leveling process. For example, even a stamina sorc build needs to use the pet (which scales with magicka) for a while in order to level daedric summoning and get the cool, stamina based, bound armaments skill.

When you’re questing and such, you’re at fairly low risk of dying horribly, so focusing into dps with a few self-healing or tank skills is probably the right way to go.

For group play, you’ll want to work on a build that suits a tank/healer/dps archetype. This will be different from your solo play build – using an addon that keeps track of different bar and gear setups, or writing the builds down, can be very helpful!

For PvP… well it’s a whole different beast. You can be very tanky – disrupting the enemy, preventing your opponents from returning to the keep or retreating… you can heal… but the different builds have very different priorities than dps builds, and end up looking different.

Skills come in two flavors – active and passives. You want to prioritize getting active skills that you know you’ll need first, then passives that buff those skills. If you have leftover skill points, you can put them into actives  you might want to try out, “just in case” passives, and lastly crafting (crafting might be a higher priority if you don’t have any crafter yet).

To level weapon and class skills, they must be on your active bar when you earn exp (like from killing monsters or quests). Many players put their most used skills on their front bar to kill enemies, then switch to their back bar when they turn quests in so that all skills level equally. It is also possible to put one or two skills you don’t use (for example, putting a resto staff ability on your destro staff bar) to help it level faster.

Usually your core skills will be from your class skill lines, and the appropriate weapons (DW/bow/2H for stam dps, sword and board for tank, destro/resto for healer and magicka dps). Fighter’s, Mage’s, and Undaunted guilds also provide crucial skills, as do the Alliance War skill lines. You can run any combination of these skills on your bars, although note that you must have the correct weapon equipped in order to use weapon skills!

(Note: There are two ultimates that give a third action bar: werewolf and overload. Note that these bars cannot have weapon skills on them!)

Here are some guidelines for skills you might want:

  • A spammable attack. For templars, this would be jabby jabs. For magicka sorcs, this would be force shock (not crystal fragments!) from the destro line. DKs might use flame lash. Stamina builds might use flurry from the DW line.
  • Two different ultimate abilities.
  • Buffs: If you’re a stamina build, you’ll want major brutality. Magicka wants Major Sorcery. Various other skills might buff you in other ways, increasing your stats (or decreasing the enemy’s!)
  • Survivability: For stamina this usually means self-healing… which usually means Vigor from the alliance war. Magicka can also heal themselves, but they also get access to powerful ward spells (from the light armor line, or daedric summoning for sorcs).
  • Damage over Time (DoTs) – Whether ground dots like elemental blockade or poison injection from the bow line, casting these, then going back to spamming your main attack, will greatly increase your damage.
  • Execute – Executes do bonus damage when the enemy is at low health. In some cases, executes don’t do more damage than your normal spammable (for example, even though Radiant Destruction does bonus damage when your enemy is below 50% health, it only does more damage than sweeps when your enemy is below around 25% health).

If you are healing, here’s a few crucial abilities (not the only ones of course).

  • The first resto staff ability. This is your group heal. You need it.
  • Combat Prayer (morph of the 3rd resto staff ability). This buffs your group by 8%.
  • Luminous Shards (Templar) or Necrotic Orb (Undaunted skill line). This restores your group’s resource pools so they can keep doing their thing.

If you are tanking, you must have (among other things):

  • An ability that provides major protection/major ward. All classes have access to one.
  • A taunt (there’s two in the game: the first ability in the sword and board skill line, and inner fire (undaunted).
  • Shields. Some stuff just can’t be blocked. Bone Ward from the Undaunted line works really well and buffs your allies too! Classes might have even better ones.
  • Other survivability tools and group buffs at your description (one really popular one: Aggressive War Horn from the alliance skill line).

Gear is the second part of your build. Superficially, armor seems simple. It has an enchant which gives health, mag, or stam (or other things for weapon and jewelry), a trait which can do anything from increase gold drop rate to increase your penetration by 5000, and the quality, which increases the magnitude of the enchant and the trait.

However, you may notice you get gear drops that are part of a “set”. There are over 300 sets in the game. Some can be crafted; others are received from overland content; yet others from dungeons, trials, or pvp. These sets give powerful bonuses that are crucial to end game builds, and different combinations of sets can greatly increase your power.

The leveling player shouldn’t worry about gear too much. Because of the way scaling works, your stats will be pretty boosted right up until the gear cap of cp 160 (you won’t be stronger, you’ll just not die as easily). Also, like with any MMO, you end up needing gear every few levels.

However, if you do want to farm or craft a nice set, keep in mind it can be used on your alts too!

You should be able to keep your gear updated through what drops for you. When replacing gear, consider:

  • Does it have the stats that boost my skills (stamina vs. magicka and so on)?
  • Could it help complete a set bonus, or is it going to break one and therefore actually decrease my stats?
  • Does it have a trait that is useful (sharpened on weapons, etc.)?

Once you hit 160 champion points… congratulations! you are now max level. Any gear you get could last you, potentially forever (at least until you decide you like a different set better). The gear cap hasn’t been raised in ESO for a year and won’t be raised for at least another year, quite possibly much longer.

At this point you have a bewildering number of choices. However, one thing narrowing it down is that the absolute best gear for PvE drops from dungeons, so you do need to get good enough gear that you can do dungeons and get the best gear. For PvP, since there’s more flexibility in sets, a wide array of gear is useable – most PvPers end up using a mix of PvP sets, dungeon sets, and overland drop sets… (hope you are ready to farm).

One thing to pay attention to is traits. Weapon trait is the most important. In order to do decent dps, you need sharpened weapons. Nirnhoned and Precise don’t even come close. dps also get the most benefit from Divines armor, but infused (on large pieces, aka head/chest/legs) comes very close, and if it’s in the set you want even prosperous is better than nothing.

Most healers prefer infused on large pieces and divines on small. Tanks prefer infused on large and sturdy on small (although some run divines). Healer and tank weapon trait just don’t matter as much as dps. Healers can use powered or precise, although for trials the meta is to run defending resto and charged destro (due to a rather complex aspect of the meta). Tanks run at least one infused weapon with the crusher enchant to debuff the enemy; the other is their choice, although defending is also popular.

Enchants can be changed. Quality can be improved. If the piece you want drops but it’s blue or green, that can be fixed!

Crafted gear is only a few percentage points worse in dps than dropped gear. Here are some good crafted sets:

Magicka dps or healer: Julianos, Magnus, Seducer’s, Kagrenac’s (Julianos and Magnus for dps, Seducer’s to be sure you don’t run out of mana ever, kagrenac’s for survivability or pvp).

Stamina dps: Hunding’s Rage, Night Mother’s Gaze, Twice Born Star (NMG is higher pure dps than Hunding’s, but Hundings is a little easier to use in different groups. TBS gives better survivability).

Tank: Tava’s Blessing, Armor Master, Hist Bark

If you can’t craft these yourself, do not despair! It’s fairly easy to find experienced crafters who can help you out. Keep in mind, you do want to provide the materials yourself to keep the cost down – you can use this to determine how many mats you need to craft the gear you need.

Some good overland drop sets (these can be farmed solo)

Magicka DPS (PvP) – Spinner’s (for PvE, spriggans would lead to over penetration in most group compositions)

Magicka DPS (Both) – Necropotence (for sorc and warden, this is Best in Slot), Queen’s Elegance, Silks of the Sun,

Stamina DPS – Spriggan’s (stam dps inherently have less penetration, so spriggan’s is good for all content), Briarheart

Healer: There really aren’t any overland sets worth farming.

Tank: Akaviri Dragonguard, StormKnight’s Plate (honestly these kinda suck compared to the crafted sets).

Dungeon sets:

  • The most important kind of dungeon set is the monster helm. Monster helms are special types of 2-piece sets that can only be worn on head and shoulders. They give powerful bonuses – better than most 5 pc set bonuses! The shoulders drop from chests in the Undaunted Refuge in the faction capital – these chests can only be opened with keys earned from undaunted pledges, a type of daily quest that sends you to different dungeons. The helms drop off the last boss in the dungeon where the helm namesake lives (for example, bloodspawn is the first boss in spindleclutch II… the last boss of spindleclutch II drops the bloodspawn helm).

Even in PvP, undaunted sets are crucial.

Some other important dungeon sets:

Magicka dps: Burning Spellweave, Lich

Stamina DPS: Er… there isn’t much.

Healer: Spell power cure. You need spell power cure. You can’t heal without it. Worm is also good.

Tank: Ebon

Trial sets:

Magicka DPS: Infallible Aether, Moondancer (pick one)

Healer: Mending, Twilight Remedy

Tank: Alkosh (yeah, it’s a medium armor set. You wear it in jewelry + weapons).

Stamina DPS: Vicious Ophidian; Alkosh (if your tank doesn’t have it),

Oh and maelstrom weapons.

Confused yet?

The last part of your build is Champion Points. Once you hit level 50, you start earning champion points which are account wide and can be spent on all characters (even level 1 characters!) Each character has their own independent build. There are up to 600 champion points in the game.

Blue tree: Focus first into increasing the type of damage you do (magic or physical), then into either direct damage or dots depending on which type of damage you do more (most end game builds do higher dps from dots).

Green tree: get some points into the appropriate regeneration asap, then kinda do what you like.

Red Tree: Split points between Hardy and Elemental Defender, then maybe into Bastion or Quick Recovery or Ironclad.

Too much?

Here are some good websites to go to for easy-to-follow guides for all kinds of builds:




Thoughts on ESO pts: Part 2, The New State of Healing

First of all: Thee changes were unveiled to the public less than 48 hours ago. ZOS does very large iterations on pts. Usually the initial changes are quite large and they renege or mitigate them very heavily in the weeks between pts and live

Not to say you shouldn’t speak out – feedback is crucial. Just… don’t make any decisions you’ll regret based on these changes. Wait until you actually play with it on live – that is, mid June is the earliest you should delete your Templar. 😛

Secondly: I haven’t even downloaded the pts. I’m basing my thoughts on the patch notes and vague statements by friends. Things don’t work on the pts the way they’re meant to, so obviously you’ll go “whut that’s just wrong go on the pts and try it out”. But on the other hand, things don’t work on the pts the way they’re meant to, so… I dunno. Point is, this is all based on publicly available information.

  • Major mending

Templars were the only class (besides DKs, but no one healed on DK anyways) with access to major mending. (Resto staff provides major mending for 2 seconds after heavy attack but anyone who has actually played the game knows why that is irrelevant). Major mending increases all healing done by 25%. It will be replaced by minor mending (which is currently available only through 5 pc set bonuses), which increases all healing done by 8%. So templars will be doing ~14% less healing than before (their healing is buffed by 17% less).

This is something that the community has asked for, or so I’ve been told. People were concerned about health “rubberbanding” – you’ve all seen it, where a tank or a dps can be down to 1k health and immediately full with one or two spells. Perhaps the nerf is overkill.

The real concern here is that wardens do have access to major mending, and with a pretty damn good uptime too. So we’re back to “new class is OP”. Which, like I said before, I think is necessary. But it might be overkill.

Of course, we’re early in pts yet. and guess what? Warden’s access to major mending will get nerfed. We’ll probably see those changes in a week or two.

I would like to point out that major mending isn’t necessary to heal well. Oooh, I know. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, try healing vet HM rakkhat without it, etc. etc.”

But let’s look at the numbers.

Breath of Life does 10k on tooltip with “typical” healer stats. This translates to about 14k once you take into account CP (and my argonian passives 😀 ). About 18k with major mending. About 22k crit without major mending/party buffs, and my biggest heal yet was 32k on a tank that had + healing percent stacked and all buffs and so on.

Keep in mind: DPS typically have around 18k health and tanks around 30k.

Is it a good design choice for a healer to be able to instantly heal all dps to full, and two heals for a tank? Is that necessary to complete content?

I don’t think so. Keep in mind, even without major mending you just need one BoL + a tick of a hot, and two BoL + a tick for a tank. It’s not that big a nerf, as it turns out – it might make hots a little more important since you can’t top people off with only BoL.

Now, I’ve been told that wardens have heals that are almost as strong (9k on tooltip), but still have access to major mending and all that. Soo…. there might be a consideration there.

If Major mending is essential to complete content, then all classes should have access to it. Easy fix – make the resto staff passive last for 10 seconds instead of 2.

If Major mending is too OP, perhaps it should be nerfed across the board. Make it only a 15% buff instead of 25%. Or even more interesting – Templars get “Major Cure” which increases direct healing by 20%, while Wardens (and nightblades pls) get “Major Remedy” which increases HoTs by 25%. Resto staff can give “Minor Mending” (the existing buff) for 10 seconds.

  • Positional requirements

I think this was uncalled for. While Wardens do have stricter positional requirements than Templars, one of the core features of templars was the ability to instantly save anyone, no matter how bad their allies screwed up their positioning (Ok one lie, I did have one pug that would constantly run behind a rock when I was trying to heal him, but there’s no saving that).

I was excited about this of course, because if you recall I’m a sorc main, and if you recall pet heal has no positional requirements (of course it does require you keep your bloody pet alive, but that isn’t that hard anymore).

Regardless I’ve been told this change isn’t actually on pts right now so who knows what’s up with that.-

  • Shards and Orbs

On top of the across the board sustain changes hitting stam dps and most particularly tanks the hardest, this is what hurt people the most. Of course, it had me cheering out loud because let’s be honest, restoring stam is the only thing templar had that made them the only possible healer, and like I said, I don’t think templars should be the only possible healer for all eternity. That’s bad game design. Now my sorc can finally do everything a templar can do, just not quite as well, which is as it should be.

This really brings it on par with other utility spells. My favorite example is surge/entropy. Surge is obviously a much better spell than entropy, but all classes can use entropy.

Shards is still obviously a much better spell than Orbs, but now it’s no longer utterly unique and the only thing that can play its role.

What’s interesting is that people are (mostly) not concerned about the fact that this makes templars no longer unique. They’re worried about it from a dps perspective – how will I be able to guarantee I get back the resource I need?

That’s obviously a learn to play issue. Just roll dodged? Maybe skip this shards and get the next one. Just cast surge? Wait until you’re at the point in your rotation when your magicka is back to full and then grab the shards so you can get stam.

If it really does become an issue that can’t be solved by l2p, then there’s a few things ZOS can do to ensure it doesn’t hurt groups. They can decrease the cooldown on the synergy – I think they should do this anyways, to be honest. It’s kind of painfully long, and they’re nerfing how much it actually restores quite a bit too.

The other thing I think this game really needs is minor stamina steal. That would bring stamina dps – which, let’s face it, don’t need the nerfs they’re getting – back into raids, I think. And we have a very convenient, never ever used ability to put it on – Quick Siphon. This makes a lot of sense to me – Ele Drain on the destro staff for minor magicka steal, quick siphon on the destro staff for minor stamina steal. Healer provides both to buff the whole group.


Are templars dead?

No, they still have the strongest burst heal in the game, a superior version of shards, and oh yeah they’re still fantastic magicka dps and tanks.

Are wardens gonna be stronger than templars? they certainly seem to be right now, but that’s extremely subject to change.

Can sorcs and NBs finally heal their little hearts out? Oh yeah. Finally.