Builds (gear and abilities) that you use for a large group should be very different than those you use for a small group or solo ganking. Many people watch streams or videos of some very good (or bad) players and try to emulate them in different play styles and contexts. All this serves to do is waste your time, gold, resources, etc. If you see someone in a very nice solo build, then don’t try it in a group of 20 people. You bring very little value to your group unless you’re an amazing player – and if you’re an amazing player you’re probably not going to flat out copy some build you saw someone using in a stream.

Build and gear min/max details change every time there’s a new patch or someone comes up with a great idea. Pay attention to what new sets come out regularly!

  • Most players who have their Undaunted skill line levelled up with all passives unlocked should be running 5 of their main armour type, and 1 of the others. For Magicka builds this would be 5 light, 1 medium, and 1 heavy with the chest as a heavy (as the chest gives the most armour) if possible, and one of the head/shoulders/legs/feet as medium (they all give equivalent armour). For stamina it would be 5 medium, 1 light, and 1 heavy. There are many viable builds that use 5 heavy armour for both magicka and stamina builds, though as I’ve said a few times each player needs to find what works best for them.
  • For most build considerations, note that the belt gives the least armour, and gloves second least – so builds that only have one light armour item should have the belt as such. The chest gives the most around, and the other pieces (shoulders, boots, pants, head) all give the same.
  • The use of food vs drink, the 1 stat + 1 regen, or the 2 stats + 1 regen consumables are debatable depending on your build, role, and responsibilities. More resources give more damage or healing, though without enough regeneration you won’t be able to sustain your damage or healing. A good regeneration number to start with is 1800, and you need to find what works best for you. I personally prefer the food that gives max health with both magicka and stamina regeneration, though that can be cost prohibitive.
  • Character points should all be put into max of the stat that you use most (magicka or stamina). It’s easier to change enchants or consumable than redo character points all the time if you want changes made to your resource pools.
  • As a base, all major armour (head/chest/pants) enchants should be tri-chants (health/magicka/stamins) with minor armour enchants as the stat that you use most, and jewellery enchants should be damage (healers tend to prefer 2 regen and 1 cost reduction).

Traits on gear: Unless you are in a niche build or are a ganker, every single piece of armour that you use in PvP should have the Impenetrable trait. The math behind this suggestion can be found here: http://goo.gl/84hnar (also linked from the Defence section). Some sorcerers will prefer Divines if they can maintain their shields (which can not be crit) 100% of the time, though for the most part I still suggest Impenetrable even to them. Shields will go down, and Impenetrable can be the difference between being 1-shot and living long enough to get their shields back up.

Please keep in mind that these are simply standard details related to common builds. Using a good build is just one of many things necessary to succeed.

There used to be a lot more detail about particular sets and combinations in this section. I removed them as build discussions have mostly moved to Discord and to the Raid Requirements Document.

Do what your leader tells you to do.

Learn to cast / use skills as you move.

Learn when to roll dodge, and practice movement and skills/casting coming out of a dodge.

Learn to recognise the animations of every skill in the game, so you know when you need to move out of something (like a DawnBreaker).

Most importantly, never stop moving. If you stand in one place, you will probably die.

Some of this is the responsibility of the group leader, though every individual needs to be aware of where their opponents are located, where damage is coming from, the existence of red circles on the ground (indicative of AoE or siege), and where to position in order not to get hit.

People dropping siege can make or break a fight. Siege needs some space, and has a projectile time (before it hits), so locating your friendly siege well is very important. The person(s) running siege also need to be protected (they can’t just stand out in the open and expect not to be attacked.

When running siege, you should get on the siege to fire when it’s ready, then immediately get off of it and maintain awareness of your surroundings. If counter siege is aimed at you, get out of the circle it’s going to hit, then go back in and fire your siege.

Line of sight is another important principle. An area of effect projectile spell will not hit you if it can’t see you, though a single target projectile will still hit you if it starts travelling before you move out of sight.

When in and group and in stealth, don’t use any skills! There are some that can be safely used in stealth, though the people who are watching you don’t know that, and can easily give away your stealth position. If there is a group of people in stealth near you, you should stealth as well so as not to reveal them.

If there is a large train of players (grouped up tightly) moving towards you, then roll to the side! If you stay directly in front of them, it doesn’t matter how tanky or survivable you are, you’re not likely to live through it. It is better to use some stamina in a dodge roll then all of your (or your healers’) resources staying alive in the face of high damage.

If someone is moving towards you with a proxy detonation on them, move away until the proxy explodes and then attack. If you can’t move away, blocking the detonation is usually your best option, though be wary of destro staff ultimates that can’t be blocked.

A good leader understands all of these principles (among many other things), can predict what opponents will do, and make the right calls to counter them

A good leader is completely useless unless the people in the group all perform well. If the leader calls for movement, you should move. If you stay where you are, you may get one more kill, but more often than not the leader knows or sees something you do not, or is strategizing for the next movement and if you do not follow commands then the group is less powerful. You may have gotten that one kill, but you’re going to miss out on the next 20 kills because of it, or put others in your group at risk because they have to come resurrect you rather than keep on killing.

Do what your leader tells you or get out of the group.

Updated: June 2021

Introduction

Does your group consistently lose fights in Cyrodiil? Do you seem to get ROFLStomped every time you come up to another organized group? It may be the leader, it may be a huge difference in skill, it may be that their group composition and builds are much better aligned than yours, or it may be a combination of all those and more.

Group composition is one of the biggest challenges that leaders and strategists face. Many groups have different players in different raids, and expecting strict adherence to build details can be challenging. Rather than provide detailed gear, set, skill, and champion point specifications that are subject to change more often than I want to update these guides, I’m going to provide a high level overview of how I look at group composition strategies with a few examples in the hope of helping you better strategize your own groups.

This is meant to help groups who are trying to figure out how to plan their compositions and builds, or solo/small players who want to join groups of 12 and be able to perform for the group rather than for their own numbers or kill records. If your group already has a strategist building a composition for you, this may serve as reference material to them, though keep in mind that your strategist knows your group (leader’s, damage dealers’, healers’, and supports’ preferences, styles, and capabilities) better than I do, and will be better able to set up builds that best compliment their capabilities and styles.

The Raid Leader

While it’s reasonable for the raid leader to be a damage dealer,  they are the ones who will control group movement and the location where damage should be focused. Considering that there is a 1-2 seconds gap between where the leader sees themselves on the screen and where everyone else is located, hard cc is the most important capability in the leader’s arsenal. Whether it be fears or stuns, the leader has to be able to maintain them, while keeping their awareness of everything and everyone around them. Instant cc is most often associated to a magicka NB due to their fear skill. Turn undead from the Fighter’s Guild skill line is a viable alternative for a stamina build. I personally prefer magicka NB leaders, though everyone has their preference. As long as you have a hard cc in your kit, and manage your damage dealers to focus on the opponents that you hard cc, any class can be a good leader.

Stamina Speeder

Every group needs one stamina build running Charging Maneuver for major and minor expedition. Historically this would be a stamina healer, often a Warden due to Green Lotus and Mend Wounds (Psyjic) synergy and their wonderful ability to keep healing while standing in a Negate. My current preference is for the Stamina Speeder to be a damage dealer running Powerful Assault with one other damage set and a monster set (if not using a Mythic) such as Selene. They will use Shuffle (5 medium armour) for Major Evasion. Their first priority is to keep Charging Maneuver up (cast every 7 seconds for an 8 second buff ensuring near 100% uptime), then deal damage – often with Whirling Blades. I’ve seen some viable builds using Vicious Death on weapons and jewelry (enchanted with weapon damage), though have never tried it myself.

Damage Dealers (Magicka)

Damage dealer builds are likely among the most consistent for most groups. Keeping in mind that many min/max groups will have their own opinions, and my recommendations here are based on what will work best for the most groups of diverse players. My current preferences are for one DK (Talons / Deep Breath), then NBs and Wardens (highest damage after NB) for main sources of damage. Necromancers are awesome for graveyards and smash (ult), though they don’t bring as much damage as other classes. If you have two Necromancer healers who can supply graveyards and the occasional smash ultimate, you may not want any Necromancer damage dealers in your composition.

  • Between sets, character points, passives, enchants (most should be tri-chants), and champion points, you should have 30k health. Unbuffed.
  • You should be in 5 light, 1 medium, and 1 heavy armour.
  • Most builds will be using Harmony on their jewelry with weapon/spell damage enchants. The first part of the damage cycle should be coordinating proxy detonations with a harmony synergy on a Necromancer’s graveyard, a Templar’s Nova, and as many other relevant synergies as possible.
  • Choose a defensive 5-set. As of 2021/06 with procs working again in Cyrodiil, Vicious Death is once again the great group killer. It doesn’t matter how good your group is when a few random players close enough to you can cause your group to wipe.
    • This is why I believe (as of 2021/06) that all classes except for NB (as they have their own source of Major Evasion) should be running Spectre’s Eye. The 5-set bonus provides Major Evasion for 30 seconds whenever you cast a magicka ability.
    • You can keep your back bar weapon(s) as Spectre’s Eye along with three body pieces, so you only need it to swap to your back bar, cast a magicka ability every 30 seconds (when it falls off – as it won’t refresh the buff timer) to maintain that sweet 20% AoE damage mitigation.
    • Alternatively if you back bar a special weapon (such as Vateshran, VMA, Master’s or others) then your front bar would be a crafted Spectre’s Eye staff, something very easy to acquire (unlike the Burning Spellweave destro staff that took me more than 200 runs to get).
    • More detail on Spectre’s Eye vs. Gossamer is lower down in the healer section.
  • Choose an offensive 5-set. This will likely be Vicious Death. Kill one player and start a chain reaction. This is the way.
  • Your monster 2-set will likely be Balorgh. Ensure the highest damage during bombs. If you’re going to use a Mythic set piece, breaking Balorgh and using only 1 piece is a viable option.
  • You have many options for your weapon bars. I’m not going to make recommendations, as there are too many viable options between Vateshran, Master’s, vMA, and others. Pick what works best for you and your group. I’ve noted some success with a front bar Lightning Staff of Spectre’s Eye and a back bar VMA Resto staff (for that sweet magicka regen). Again, pick what works best for you, keeping the above ideas in mind.
  • In your Champion Point setup:
    • Unassailable (blue) provides 10% mitigation of area damage. This is one more defence against VD procs and ultimate bombs.
    • Slippery (red) will automatically break you free of cc every 21 seconds. You may believe that you can break free quickly, and you may have tried this CP and found that it doesn’t always work (necessitating a manual break free), though there will be times in high lag and latency situations where it will break you free before you even realize you’re hard cc’ed.
    • The rest of your CP should orient towards movement speed in green, extra damage in blue, and health/armour/defence in red.
  • If you are a NB and have slotted Phantasmal Escape (for Major Evasion), you don’t need Spectre’s Eye and can run a second damage set. I enjoy Mechanical Acuity for guaranteed critical strikes on bombs.

Healers

Healing compositions can be challenging, especially with the limited number of set slots available. Once again keeping in mind that these recommendations are meant to help the most groups, as well as solo players who are looking to build for groups. If you have a min/max group with your own theory crafters, take the information here as idea inputs and not gospel.

  • Between sets, character points, passives, enchants (most should be tri-chants), and champion points, you should have 30k health. Unbuffed.
  • You should be in 5 light, 1 medium, and 1 heavy armour.
  • Most builds will be using magicka regeneration enchants with one Swift and either the Arcane (max magicka) or Infused (more effect of the enchant) on their other jewelry. I personally prefer running three Swift.
  • Choose a defensive 5-set. As of 2021/06 with procs working again in Cyrodiil, Vicious Death is once again the great group killer. It doesn’t matter how good your group is, if there are a few random players close enough to you, their deaths will ensure yours. This is why I suggest Spectre’s Eye on all classes except for NB (as they have their own source of Major Evasion). The 5-set bonus of Spectre’s Eye provides Major Evasion for 30 seconds whenever you cast a magicka ability. You can keep your back bar weapon(s) as Spectre’s Eye along with three body pieces, so you only need it to swap to your back bar, cast a magicka ability every 30 seconds (when it falls off – as it won’t refresh the buff timer) to maintain that sweet 20% AoE damage mitigation. Every healer (not Cleanser) who is running Spectre’s Eye back bar should have a Master’s resto front bar to supply the regeneration buff from their Illustrious casts.
  • Before choosing a healing (proc) set, first confirm what classes you have healing:
    • Templars are the classic healer. Their value used to come from Breath of Life, though this skill’s smart targeting has been decidedly not-smart for a long time. Run a few tests yourself by having a few friendly players all use Equilibrium to keep their health at different levels (as low as possible on one, and missing only a few thousand health on others). You’ll note that the *big* heal from BoL won’t always hit the player with low health, it’ll even sometimes hit out of group on a guard or other friendly player missing 1k health rather than the group member right in front of you missing 25k health. It’s still a powerful skill, though the NB and Necromancer single target burst heals have better / smarter targeting, so in the current patch (as of 2021/06) I recommend only one Templar healer in an optimal healing composition. Value comes from Extended Ritual being capable of proc’ing various sets and CP, in addition to solid mid level area heals from Repentance (with bodies) and Ritual of Rebirth (or Hasty Prayer if you don’t have a speeder in your composition).
    • Night Blades have a diverse skill set, and will use more Resto staff skills. Merciless Resolve gives them 10% extra critical healing, and they will want to have (blue) CP providing 10% more critical healing (for 20% more than others – at least those without the CP as well). Most of their healing will come from Healthy Offering (smart single target), Blessing of Restoration, and Illustrious. The value in a NB is that they bring their own Major Evasion, so can run two healing sets without affecting their survivability.
    • Necromancers have the best mid level area heal in the game. Renewing Undeath is a good area heal slightly larger than most, and it will purge (removing 3 negative effects) from anyone in the area if you consume a corpse. Between their own Spirit Guardian (10% damage mitigation) corpses and dead bodies, this becomes a spammable heal/purge made even better by the new Salve CP (area heal on removal of negative effects) that can get a group out of a counter bomb consuming one corpse on each cast after killing a group of opponents.
    • Sorcerers run Cleanse and Power Surge. VMA resto staff back bar with Radiating Regen for magicka recovery.
    • Wardens don’t bring as much value right now. Their cone heal provides minor regen buffs, any of their healing provides a buff to max health (though this can come from Radiating Regen on a damage dealing Warden), but otherwise they tend not to be as valuable as the above three classes.
    • Dragon Knight healers are of very low value in PvP. They just don’t have the kit that other classes do. Some players enjoy them, and there’s nothing stopping them from playing how they want, though they’re not welcome in my compositions.
  • Based on having five to six healers in a group, at least one of which is a NB, there are between six and eight healing sets available (one for each healer and two on NBs). The sets I recommend are as follows:
    • Curse Eater. The cool down for Curse Eater is on the player (not the healer), so having two of these in group is reasonable. Curse Eater can be great on any healer, though Necromancers with the Salve of Renewal CP (area heals when removing a negative effect) complements their purges from Renewing Undeath. By stacking the negative effect removals on Necromancers, the slottable CP won’t need to be on the other healers (just Cleanse Sorcs).
    • A second Curse Eater either on your second Necromancer or on your Templar.
    • Transmutation. Considering that NBs gain extra crit healing (from maintaining Merciless Resolve), I’ve tended towards giving them any set that has critical strike chance on it.
    • Worm Cult. Extra magicka regen for the group always helps. I tend to prefer this as the second set on a NB.
    • Spell Power Cure. More damage buffs! This works very well on a Sorc, and will be easily applied by their Power Surge and Radiating Regen.
    • Meritorious Service. This needs to be on a Sorcerer, as every cast of Cleanse will apply it. 3450 resistance is just over 5% damage mitigation.
    • If there’s a seventh set slot available, Combat Physician is very viable as a second set on a NB (who also runs Transmutation with the extra critical strike chance bonus).
    • If there is an eighth set slot available, Hiti’s Hearth is viable. The heal from Hiti’s Hearth isn’t large, though it will proc other heal-based procs. While a proc isn’t supposed to proc another proc per game design, this has been a long running bug (years), so may be viable in some contexts. The stamina cost reduction is very nice in some context.
  • Alternative sets:
    • If the group is not running Spectre’s Eye, then Gossamer is a requirement. The buff only lasts one second, and only applies when actual damage is healed, so the initial hit from an incoming bomb will not be mitigated. The decision between everyone (except NBs and the stamina builds) running Spectre’s eye and having multiple Gossamer sets in group is one for your strategist. I’ve found that it takes three Gossamer in a group to ensure adequate coverage. Considering how high damage is (as of 2021/06), Spectre’s Eye will likely be the better choice.
    • Hiti’s Hearth. The heal from Hiti’s Hearth isn’t large, though it will proc other heal-based procs. While a proc isn’t supposed to proc another proc per game design, this has been a long running bug (years), so may be viable in some contexts. The stamina cost reduction is very nice in some context.
    • Hollowfang Thirst. Hollowfang work exceptionally well for some groups, and horribly for others. It depends on movement style, and how much fighting you’re going to be doing in more cramped conditions (keeps and chokes) where the Hemoglobin balls can spawn.
    • If the group runs tightly stacked (seven meter range), Almalexia’s Mercy may be viable. It’s not as powerful as prior to the 2021/06 patch, though the output is still reasonable. I don’t love this on a healer, as it doesn’t require healing – so it can be on any player such as a dedicated defile/support DK if you want one in group (I don’t).
    • Prayer Shawl. Prayer Shawl applies on overheal, so it’s more of a preparatory skill increasing the available health pool pre-bomb. If your group is min/max or at least regular experienced players, its value is a lot lower. If you’re running a Pick up Group (PuG), then it may be viable to help newer and squishier players.
    • Saxheel Champion. Some believe this to be viable for a healer with the Replenishing Barrier ultimate. As you’re moving into a bomb, the healer casts Barrier to protect your group from counter damage, giving your damage dealers 20% extra critical damage (especially those NBs in Acuity/VD). The use of this set will depend on how your strategist sets your group and how your leader wants to run your bombs.
  • Monster Sets:
    • Earthgore (as of 2021/06) only removes negative ground effects directly under the player on whom it proc’ed at the time it procs. The animation of Earthgore’s blood rain is not related to ground effect removal – only the range of who the heals may tick on. The Earthgore heal will also not always target the lowest health player in range (per tool tip) – this was inconsistent in our testing. Thanks to the Ballistic crew for their time in helping to test this.
    • Bogdan the Nightflame totems have a reasonable heal with a reasonable radius, and running a few of them in group can help a lot when on a ram, in a choke, or in any given bomb or negate that you’re trying to live through. Nightflame can be amazing or useless depending on the group style, positioning, and what they’re fighting.
    • Symphony of Blades. Resource regen every 18 seconds per player when they’re under 50% resources. One of these in every group is very valuable.

As of 2021/06, Regardless of Earthgore’s limitation, it’s still a very powerful set, and will remove a good number of ground effects. In the first two raids post-patch (with procs back), of 34 total negates in which Earthgore proc’ed on one of our group, there were 19 of them removed. Earthgore is never a wrong choice on a healer, though you shouldn’t rely on it for actual healing. I suggest that you have your healers try Nightflame (perhaps an even split with half in Earthgore and half in Nightflame) and see how it feels to you.

    • Ensure that you’re looking at logs to assess its healing, and ensure that you’re looking at the times before players die – not just the total healing amount that it does.
    • Huge healing when you’re only taking cursory damage is wasted.
    • Keeping big heals out just in case you’re about to be bombed may be reasonable or may be a waste of resources. It’s subjective, contextual, and there’s no right or wrong – you do what your raid leader (or heal leader) tells you to do, be it “your best” or “what I tell you to do”.

Champion Points

Enlivening Overflow (blue) provides 150 resource regeneration on overheal. This should be on one healer, as the buff doesn’t stack (it actually does in some circumstances, though that’s a bug and not working as intended.

From the Brink (blue) will shield a ally that you heal when they are below 25% health. The base shield size in Cyrodiil (due to Battle Spirit) is 5,500. This can be very significant in giving your low health group members (and allies you heal) one more tick of damage before they would otherwise die. I believe that this should be on one healer in group,  and likely the one with the most consistent healing ticks being applied. In my own play style, I get the best results on a Templar for this, though we haven’t yet run enough raids with this new CP to confirm a position.

Salve of Renewal (blue) provides an area heal centered on any player on whom you remove a negative effect. This definitely needs to be on Cleanse Sorcs and Necromancer healers. Its value on other healers will depend on how much they purge/cleanse and on whether they’re running the Curse Eater set.

Sample Group Composition

This is meant as an example of a viable composition. Please do not set your group up exactly like this and expect good results. How your group performs with any given setup has many more factors than just builds.

Role Class Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Weapons
Leader NB Mechanical Acuity Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Damage Dealer 1 NB Mechanical Acuity Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Damage Dealer 2 Warden Spectre’s Eye Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Damage Dealer 3 Warden Spectre’s Eye Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Damage Dealer 4 DK Spectre’s Eye Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Stamina Speeder Sorcerer Powerful Assault Mechanical Acuity Balorgh Various Options
Healer 1 Templar Spectre’s Eye Worm Cult Symphony Master’s Resto
Healer 2 Necromancer Spectre’s Eye Curse Eater Nightflame Master’s Resto
Healer 3 Necromancer Spectre’s Eye Curse Eater Nightflame Master’s Resto
Healer 4 NB Transmutation Combat Physician Earthgore n/a
Cleanser 1 Sorcerer Spectre’s Eye Spell Power Cure Earthgore VMA Resto
Cleanser 2 Sorcerer Spectre’s Eye Meritorious Service Earthgore VMA Resto

 

Conclusion

There is no one true way, and no single composition that will win vs. all others. Your strategists and leaders need to decide for themselves how you’re going to play, what you’re going to fight, and with the players that you have available, what is best for your group.

There are optimized builds for every set of roles and responsibilities in a group. Some may need more weapon damage, some more spell damage, some larger resource pools, some more resource regeneration, and some more defensive stats. The gear, enchants, and skills that you use / equip / put on your bar are what determine if you have the potential to be great. Good gear does not make a good player, but it does give the player a higher likelihood of success.

Every individual has a role and responsibilities. Some examples are: Stamina DPS, Magicka DPS, Disruptor (disrupts the opponents with cc), Protector (ensures that certain key members of  your group don’t get targeted) and Healer. Note that there is no such thing as a tank in PvP, or rather a PvP tank doesn’t serve much purpose other than to be an ultimate generator for opponents.

If you come into PvP thinking you’ll be “the tank”, very few good leaders will want you in their groups. There is a requirement for “tanky” players to assume other roles (such as applying defile or other healing debuffs to opponents), but there is no dedicated Tank role as there is in PvE since you have no control over who your opponents attack. If they think even a little bit about what they’re doing, they will target the high priority players first (such as known group leaders, healers, or high damage doers) – not the person who will last to the end of the fight who doesn’t do anything useful. It can be fun to be “the tank” and last a long time before dying, though you should also consider that you’re not going to make very many points by just standing there holding block.

Be very wary of taking advice from people. People build biases based on what they like to do, not necessarily what is best for them or their group.

Be even more wary of copying the builds you see popular streamers use. Many of them have a very niche play style, and tend to play for their audience rather than to be good at the game. I often call many of these players “1 v Potato” players rather than their self-titled “1 v X’ers”. If you see one person kill five others, then it’s a near certainty that those five others were not very skilled. In most situations, one player vs two other players of the same skill level will result in the one player dying / losing. In some cases the two may be outplayed, or one may make a mistake, though when considering equal skill it’s very unlikely for an outnumbered player to win. This is of course what many of the “1 v X’ers” count on, as it promotes their stream and brings in more fans who will help them make more money. The exception to this is usually an Emperor (the the Emperor section for more info) who, as a good player with an appropriate Emperor build should easily be able to take on five other players if using the right strategy.

There are many buffs that give benefits to your allies, and debuffs that take remove benefits or add hindrances to your opponents. Read all of the passives of all of your skill lines, and ensure that you are keeping your needed buffs up at all times.

A simple example that is not used near enough is Choking Talons. Most DKs use the morph that adds more damage, though the Choking morph reduces opponent damage by 15%. If your group is going to charge into an opposing group of 20+ players, having a tanky DK go in a few seconds early and cast Choking Talons a few times before you hit them can make a huge difference.

The timing on your own buffs is also very important. If you’re using DW (either as stamina or magicka) then the cast of Quick Cloak just before you’re going to get hit by AoE damage will negate an additional 20% of said incoming damage. When I lead groups, I’ll often call for “20 second buffs”, meaning that I’m giving people 3-4 seconds to apply everything that they want before going in. I’ll sometimes call “20 second buffs” as we disengage or if the engagement is delayed by a few seconds to ensure that my team’s buffs are all up for as long as possible without them needing to spend casting time reapplying them.

There are also some sets that provide buffs to your allies such as Spell Power Cure (increase spell damage). Having such a set on a player who can provide the associated buff to as many players in your group as possible can greatly increase the performance of your group.

Crowd control is one of the most critical and under rated mechanisms in the game. There are two types of crowd control, hard and soft. Hard usually causes a loss of control of your character (such as being feared or knocked up/down), while soft usually causes you to be unable to move, but you can still cast spells or use skills (such as being snared by Talons or Bombard).

Lets consider a NB’s fear skill. It hits 3 targets, and puts them out of the fight for between 1 and 2 seconds (one or two casts of skills). One player casting fear doesn’t do any damage or healing, though negates the activities of three opposing players for the same amount of time (or more) it took to cast the fear. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), fear is not a smart targeting system, and may hit someone who is immune from cc (as they’ve just broken out of a cc effect), so continued fears within a large group of opponents will probably only take out two targets after the first few seconds of fighting, though two for one is still very good especially if you’re outnumbered!

Snares are critical to taking out groups that move tightly together. A few people casting snares will cause some opponents to get stuck for a second or two, fall behind the moving group, and lose the protections that being in said group (all balled up) provides them. They’ll be much easier to kill. A strung out group can be focused down one by one, whereas a balled group needs to be AoE’ed.

Having your NBs cast fear regularly, your DKs talons, your archers Bombard (though consider that you can’t snare someone with cc immunity using bombard), your ice staff users slows and the use of ultimates that knock up (Meteor), down (Nova) or snare (ice destro staff ultimate) in the right place can all cause your opponents to get out of position, panic, or use up their critical stamina resources getting out of them. A player with no stamina can’t block or escape, and can be killed much more easily.

Defensive statistics are important, though too many people focus on staying alive and ultimately lose fights as they can’t do enough damage. I personally prefer glass cannon builds (the best defence is a good offence) when running in small groups and more defensive builds when in medium to large groups (as we expect to fight other medium to large groups with a lot of outgoing damage). In a group with good healers and crown control, being able to kill off the high priority targets of your opposing groups will increase the likelihood of winning an engagement.

  • The first and most important concept of defence, is that you need to pay attention. Don’t just blindly follow along with the group. Watch what’s coming at you, where you’re going, judge where siege is likely to hit, what opponents are around, what buffs you have active and which ones you should cast or recast in different time frames. Awareness is what makes the difference between life and death.
  • The way defensive stats work: 32,000 resist mitigates 50% of incoming damage (you take half of the damage that you should per attacker’s tool tip). Your resist minus your attacker’s penetration will result in a number. Each 660 Resist in that number mitigates 1% of incoming damage up to a maximum possible mitigation of 50%.
  • Everyone should be running a skill/buff that gives major defensive stats (Immovable, Rune Focus, etc.) and/or a skill for added mitigation (Blade Cloak for DW to mitigate AoE damage, Dodge from NB or medium armour passives, shields, or others).
  • Keep moving. If you stop moving, you’re a bigger target.
  • If there is only one significant group of opposition, don’t ignore individuals. They may be able to set up siege, or single-target burst down one of your squishy members (your own bombers or healers). They may bitch about you zerging them down, but you’ll regret leaving them alive if they gank your back line or burn your siege.
  • Use shields if you can. 3-4 sequential casts of a shield will often let you look at incoming destros and laugh at them. You should still move out of the way and follow your leader’s directions, though your survivability in the face of the bomb will increase.
  • If you’re a vampire, use mist form. You can’t be snared, and you get major expedition, in addition to taking less damage while you get out of high damage situations (or a destro bomb).
  • Keep Race Against Time (RAT) up while moving. If you can’t be snared, you’re less likely to be single targeted by those whose reaction times (to hit moving targets on their screens) are lower.
  • Note that if you have cast a shield, and then enter mist form, the damage that the shield takes (before your health is hit) will be mitigated by mist form, so your shield is effectively 4 times more powerful (as of Q4/2019).
  • Healing is not only the healers’ responsibility. If a stamina DPS player is PvP skill rank 5, then the Vigor skill is a great AoE heal. Casting it when you know your group is about to take large AoE damage will help everyone. The Cleanse morph of Purge uses a lot of magicka, though the heal on it effectively negates one large hit from almost anything. Some buffs also heal or apply a HoT (Heal over Time). The less your healers have to heal you all at once, the longer they can keep everyone alive.
  • Your opponents may have players (mostly) dedicated to spamming cc, or you might just get hit by a few snares and slows here and there. They will be snaring you with sorcerer’s encase or DK’s talons, they may be slowing you with an ice wall of elements or caltrops, and you’re not going to be able to move. This is why most groups need to have dedicated players on Purge, magicka builds need RAT (see above) and why everyone needs to have Immovable pots ready to use when the leader calls for them.
  • If you’re running a defensive ultimate, be ready to cast it when being hit. Warden’s Sleet provides a defensive 30% damage mitigation, and ticks towards cc’ing opponents. If you have someone running Nova, keep in mind that Nova reduces opponent outgoing damage by 30%, which is different from the Sleet’s 30% mitigation of incoming damage. If your group is snared and have no choice but to eat a bomb, Sleet defensively, Nova on top of your group and have both primary and secondary AoE healers start spamming their heals.
  • Learn about your opponents if they are regular organised groups. Their leaders will have relatively consistent play styles, so if you can predict what they’ll do most of the time, living through their bombs, countering them and winning fights will be easier.
  • My calculations based on Impenetrable vs. Reinforced traits: http://goo.gl/Zng18G
  • My crit vs. impenetrable calculations: http://goo.gl/84hnar

Offensive tactics first involve knowing how likely you are to win a fight. Some groups are better than others for a variety of reasons (coordination, balance, composition, leadership, experience, min/maxed builds, etc) and knowing that you are outclassed can save a lot of frustration and change the tactics that you’re should use in order to try and win an engagement.

Every player should be min/maxed for their role and responsibilities. For offinsive players that means that they should be able to do the most damage without being 1-shot or dying in in the first few seconds of a fight.

Every major patch the min/max for each class/spec may change, so always pay attention to the theory crafters (if you don’t want to do it yourself). For stamina builds, you will probably stack the most weapon damage and maximum stamina with sufficient crit. For magicka builds, it will be the most spell damage and maximum magicka with sufficient crit. You’ll need a reasonable amount of resource regeneration, and to choose the right skill on your bars. I’m not going to go into each build, though if you are in a good PvP guild I’m sure that there are people who can help you. Some high end guilds even have required builds for certain roles and responsibilities. If you’re new to the game and want a quick recommendation, I’m usually happy to spend a few minutes (as long as I’m not in battle) helping people out – regardless of your faction.

  • A good balance of outgoing damage types is critical to every group.
  • Coordinating your damage so that it all hits at the same time makes it much more difficult for opposing healers to keep their players up.
  • The best timing on execute skills to kill opponents is based on their health. Most become effective at 20 or 25%.
  • Debuffs that reduce healing mean you’ll have less damage to do in order to kill an opponent that is receiving heals from a healer (or themselves using one of their own skills). When playing in groups, have someone in a defile build. Fasala’s Guile for minor defile with a warden’s Corrupting Pollen for major defile is a good combination. This will help deal with their healing.
  • Get siege on your opponents. The more damage you can as often as you can. If there are multiple players sieging, try to target the same opponents. If you see two groups about to engage, try to hit the location of the most opposing players as they engage (as so that their healers can’t keep up with the damage that your siege does and the damage that the opposing group is doing).
  • People with a high enough PvP rank should be using the skills available from it, most notably detonation. This puts a bomb on you that detonates after a few seconds and damages all enemies that are close enough. There are groups who all run that skill (even those who are stamina builds). Consider that a stamina build may only do 1,500 damage with that skill (after mitigation) and a magicka build can crit at  10k. If you have 12 people all running that skill, even if they each only do 1,500 damage, their opponent is just about dead and can be killed with one tick of an ultimate.
  • Knowing when to use your skills is critical. When you see a group of opponents running at you with blue glowing lights and big red circles around them (they’ve all cast Proxy Det as described above), run away for a few seconds until they detonate, and then turn around to do your damage. If you take the damage from all those detonations, then you’re reducing the likelihood of winning the engagement. Proxy Det will take a few seconds to re-arm, so you’ll have time to kill them before it explodes again.
  • Tab target a player with higher importance (such as healers or the group leader – if known). Tab targeting makes things easier if you try to single target a player in order to disrupt the group. Some groups fall apart when the leader dies, others will obsess about getting their healers back up (if they run low on burst healers), and others won’t care and just continue to play and recover as normal or run to drop a camp for their dead.
  • Plan to snare, immobilise, and hard cc (crowd control) your opponents. An opponent who is feared for a few seconds is not doing damage or healing. An opponent who is immobilised or knocked back is not moving with their group. There are a lot of ways to separate opponents from their groups. Wardens can use their circle to teleport them. DKs can grab one with chains. NBs can drop a fear trap in their path, and cause a few to be separated if they don’t break free quick enough. Those that become separated need to be targeted and taken down quickly.
  • Be quick and accurate with Negates. Players can’t cast in a Negate. Once they’re in, they won’t be able to anything other than run towards you and hope that whatever they case previously (such as their destro ultimate) does damage while getting out of the negate – or retreat. It’s up to the leader to call for a defensive or offensive Negate. You’ll hopefully have a few of them in group.
  • Prepare and practice baiting. If a few players are able to get close enough that your opponents believe that they have a good chance to get kills, they’ll likely charge and pop their ultimates. The baiting players should have Retreating, and immovable pot ready, and someone to heal them from range. As soon as the opponent ultimates are out and will only last long enough for the rest of your group to get into them, it’s time for your counter bomb.
  • When running in a group, your ultimates (at least some of them) have to go off at the same time. To do enough damage to wipe another group, consider how long your opponents will be in range of your damage, how much healing they’re likely to have, and how mobile they will be. You also have to consider how much damage they’re going to do to your own group, as you have to be alive in order to do damage! This is why many groups run very tanky builds that do low damage, and rely on numbers with very few glass cannons to output enough damage to kill their opponents. A good base for medium to large groups is to have at least three destros and one sleet ready to go as soon as you hit opponents, and to try and have the engagement occur in your own negate. Remember that Earthgore procs will remove negates, so you should have a second one available at all times.
  • If you don’t kill all of your opponents in the first engagement, try not to let them resurrect. You’ll probably take out half, maybe 3/4 of a tanky group if you execute your bomb or counter well. There will probably be at least one templar in Kagrenac’s Hope (faster resurrecting speed) trying to get them back up. If it looks like they won’t be able to recover, some will likely stay to delay you, while a few of them will run away to get a camp up. It’s your (leader’s) choice on how you deal with this – be it to kill the ones left, chase the runners, or let them go so that they can form up again and you can have another good fight!
  • If your opponents spread out to avoid a bomb (as they should), try to go after the squishiest players. Ignore the tank with 50k health and kill the healers and bombers first!
  • Against a good guild group, your approach needs to much more cautious. If they are “retreating” against anything less than 2-3 times their number, they aren’t retreating, they are baiting you into a choke to nuke you. Do not follow into the chose. Let other players make them use all of their ultimates or bait them out if you can, and then hit them when they are unable to fight back.

There are way too many people saying way too many different things about PvP. The builds to use, strategies to play, and focus on different skills and abilities will be very different depending on the type and style of PvP that you will play. This is my attempt to ensure that as many people as possible are not given false, misleading, or wrong information.

Some of the information here may seem obvious to you. Please keep in mind that my goal is to educate new players, and help longtime players to identify any gaps in their knowledge. Along with all that you’ll find some different perspectives, detailed spreadsheets with the math behind how and why things work, and some of my own thoughts and strategies on PvP.