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.

If every person in a group plays the same class and uses the same skills, your group will fail.

If you have good healers (and players), your group will usually need (total members /4) healers. If that doesn’t sound right, take the total number of people in group (round up to the nearest multiple of 4), then divide that by 4. For a group of 12 people, you would need 3 healers (if they are good and your players play well). If your players are not performing and simply stand in damage, then no amount of healers will help you.

A dedicated person or two on cc (to fear, talons, etc.) is important. One player focusing on heal debuffs (Fasala’s Guile for minor and Corrupting Pollen Warden skill for major) is also very important.

A few people on siege is important too. Cold Fire siege does a reasonable amount of damage to players (even more in non-CP). Stone trebuchets will hit for about 10k damage. That’s almost half of most opponents health (or the full value of most shields). One or two people hitting with stone trebs (or even cold stone trebs) at the start of a fight can make for a very quick win!

A few people running particular skills (such as efficient purge, siege shield, etc) is very important, as are the retreating manoeuvres to get your players out of slows – and remove snares from people who would otherwise get caught out and die.

A diverse assortment of ultimates and ordering them such that the group leader can call for them is critical.

When forming a group (or adding people to a group), spending a few minutes making sure that the group composition makes sense, key skills are available, and ultimate orders and calls are understood by everyone is critical.

Please read through the Raid Requirements Document for more information on group composition, builds, and details.

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, make judgements about 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 tooltip). Your resist minus your attacker’s penetration will result in a number. Each 640 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).
  • Use shields if you can. Shields can’t be crit, and 3-4 squential 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, Mist Form (the morph that gives speed as well) can ensure that you’re not snared and stuck taking an ultimate bomb (multiple destros being the most likely).
  • If you’re a vampire, use mist form. You can’t be snared, and you get major expedition (pretty much the same as a retreating cast), in addition to taking less damage while you get out of high damage situations (or a destro bomb).
  • 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.
  • 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 a dedicated person on Retreating Maneuvers – which can remove all snares and prevent new ones (until you attack). This is also why you all need to have Immovable pots ready to use when the leader calls for them.
    • Note that running multiple speed mechanisms can conflict with each other, so if you have consistent Retreating Maneuvers you probably don’t want to use speed potions. You should have various potions depending on what sort of group you’re in.
  • 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, Nova on top of your group and have both primary and secondary AoE healers start spamming their heals (vigor and springs).
  • 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 (and Earthgore procs). My preferred build for this (Q4 2017) is a Magicka Warden in Fasala’s Guile, Alteration Mastery, and Earthgore.
  • 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.