Historically, AP has come primarily from killing opponents. Each individual is worth a certain amount of AP. That amount usually ranges from 1,500 to 1,800 though it can vary from almost nothing up to 2250 based on a few factors:
- The level of the person who died (lower level = less AP)
- How long since the person died (shorter = less AP with full AP value returning after 5 minutes of no deaths)
- The alliance rank of the person being killed (0.5% per alliance rank)
- (25% more AP for killing an AR50 Grand Overlord than an AR1 Volunteer)
- The campaign buffs that you have (small % for home keeps, and more for each enemy keep owned)
- The personal buff that you have (20% for killing a delve boss)
- See this spreadsheet for more details.
When you’re solo, if you’re the only person to damage an opponent (and nobody has healed you while you took damage from said opponent), you get all the AP.
If you are part of a group, then for every member of the group (even if they didn’t participate in the killing or healing), as long as they are in range, the AP will be split with the members of the group See the spreadsheet linked above for more details. There is a balance to be found for making AP, and I’ve always preferred groups of 6 to 12 – as beyond that the AP is too diluted.
In order to get AP from a kill you (or your group) has to do damage to the person who died. Simply tagging them (such as with caltrops) isn’t usually enough, as the amount of AP you get scales with the percentage of damage that you do to the target. In most engagements, people will be healed while they fight, so a person with 20k health may in fact need 50k damage to be killed (as the person has received 30k healing over the course of the fight). Damage to shields is also included in this, so if you want a significant portion of the AP gains you usually have to do enough damage.
Healing other players used to give a lot of AP, though that has been reduced. Simply casting heals on people won’t net you any AP unless those people have taken damage while in combat and the person you heal (or their group) kills a target worth AP. If a large group is spamming AoE abilities and taking down opponents, then you’re probably not going to be able to heal them enough to count for enough AP to be worth spending the time.
Bizarrely, people who take fall damage can be healed for a little bit of AP even while not in combat and that AP is not usually shared with the group.
When players (both sides) die in range of a keep, resource, or outpost (or behind a scroll gate), the total amount of AP that they gave up with their deaths gets added to “the tick pool”. If a keep/resource/outpost is taken there is an offensive tick (O-Tick). If there has been no death within a certain amount of time (two minutes) then there is a defensive tick (D-Tick). When a tick happens, the total tick pool gets divided up between all of the players within range (who are members of the alliance that owns the keep/resource/outpost). Most ticks range from a few hundred to a few thousand, though prolonged fights can generate ticks in the tens of thousands. The largest tick I’ve ever seen was for 118k AP at Bleakers. Long long ago before base AP was doubled and before there were 100% AP buffs, there was a 70k tick called “The Tickening” (which compared to today’s AP returns with delve buff would be the equivalent of 168k). It took place at Sej in late 2014 after a fight that lasted well over 8 hours. Opponents would send people in to die every minute while they regrouped just to ensure that there would be no D-tick.
You can also make AP by turning in quests that are given at your starting gate, though other than the kill enemies quests they tend to be more opportunistic – rather than something you should strive to do.
You can increase your AP gains by 20% for one hour by killing a boss in a delve. Note that it may take a few minutes to get to a delve, clear the trash, and kill the boss – then get back to your group or fight location. You should never leave a good fight or a potential tick to get the buff, as the amount of AP you’ll lose out on may very well be more than 20% of what you’ll make in the next hour. Always save your AP buff renewals for times when your group is on break, or you know there will be a lull in fighting for a few minutes. If you are not in a group, or want to take a change that you won’t get stuck in a long load screen, you can allow the delve NPCs to kill you then respawn at the wayshrine. This is usually a faster way to get out of a delve unless you’re far from your own faction’s control with nowhere to transit to.
Repairing walls and doors also makes you AP, though the amount that you spend on repair kits will be more than what you get by using them. If intend to make AP by repairing, try to get the delve AP buff and if possible major mending buff as it applies extra “healing” to repairs as well, saving you on the cost of repair kits. The extra AP from repairing a wall while you have a buff is proportional to the extra repair amount that you do.
Capturing a resource nets you 1,500 AP, and capturing a keep is 6,000 AP. If players have been killed during the capture, then that amount is added to the tick as described earlier. Recently, many players have started running in large groups and take resources continuously for AP. Every hour, the players renew their 20% AP buff in a delve, then proceed to take all three resources of a keep, run to the next keep to take all three resources, and continue on. They sometimes stop to kill players if it’s convenient, though the amount of AP is currently (Q1 2018) better if they just keep going to the next resource. This can net up to 60k AP per hour. While competent groups can easily make more than that, during lower population times some groups just keep taking resources.
Now that you understand how AP works, it is very important to understand that there are very different play styles. Playing for AP farming is very different from playing for map control, winning fights, taking keeps/resources/outposts/villages, or any other play style. When you play for AP, the most important thing is how much AP you will make. If you can make 10k more AP per hour by repeatedly bombing, dying, and running back than you can by waiting and ganking (but never dying), then you choose the first method. Every player has to figure this out for themselves – what is the best method for making AP based on their skills, build, and preferred style of play.
When looking at the map and deciding where you want to make AP, you need to consider where your opponents will be, where will they be coming from (running back after being killed), who else will be there (other factions and your own faction), the likelihood of how long you’ll live, how many kills you’ll get, what percentage of AP you’ll get for those kills if shared with other people, what the terrain will be like, and a lot of other things. When you see popular streamers going for emperor, they usually don’t understand AP farming and just try to play their 1 v X (I call it 1 v Potato as they don’t fight skilled players, they only look for easy kills) style as usual. That style will make good AP most of the time, though a true AP farmer is easily capable of making more.
One of the easiest ways I used to make AP (that tended to drive other people crazy as they couldn’t figure it out) was to run two people, one a tank (yes, I know I’ve said that there are no tanks in PvP) and the other a magicka nightblade with a fire staff. The tank would lure people to the edge of cliffs (you can find a LOT of them in Cyrodiil), and the nightblade would knock them off with a flame reach. The important thing to note there is that the two players would not be grouped, and the tank would not do any damage to the opponents, so the nightblade would get all of the AP. This works just as well with other classes, though takes better timing and positioning as a nightblade is able to stealth easily while multiple opponents charge at the tank (who would stand there and block at the edge of the cliff). The best such AP farming moment I ever had was 28 different players who all ran sporadically in to a particular location just north of Bleakers, most of whom died by being knocked off a narrow ledge with a meteor, and the rest with flame reach. That was about 50k AP in 2 minutes.
In order to understand a lot of the ways AP works, a person has to spend many hours testing every skill. Over time and different patches, AP gains have changed based on damage, healing, synergies, buff application, debuff removal, and debuff application. The results of the below have changed over time, and I will not share past and current test results – though this has always been a very important series of tests at each major patch that relates to the creation of new strategies on how I’ve made a lot of AP when solo/duo. Here are a few tests that you could perform to see how each skill that you have available impact AP gains. In the past (when I really cared about AP farming) I maintained spreadsheets for each skill in every tree available to any character on which I’ve wanted to make AP:
- Do damage to a target that someone else of your alliance kills. What percentage of the the damage needed to kill them did you do, and what percentage of the AP did you get? If shields were applied to the target, does the total damage to kill them include shield damage?
- Do damage to a target that someone of another alliance kills (If you’re AD, damage an EP player that a DC player then kills). What percentage of the the damage needed to kill them did you do, and what percentage of the AP from their death did you get? If shields were applied to the target, does the total damage to kill them include shield damage?
- Cast or use a skill that enables a synergy that someone else of your alliance uses before they kill a target. Does using the synergy equate to a percentage of the the damage needed to kill the target, or of healing on the friendly player, and what percentage of the AP did you get?
- Apply a debuff to a target that someone else of your alliance kills. Does the debuff equate to a percentage of the the damage needed to kill them, and how much of the total AP from their death did you get?
- Apply a debuff to a target that someone of another alliance kills (If you’re AD, apply a debuff to an EP player that a DC player then kills). Does the debuff equate to a percentage of the the damage needed to kill them, and what percentage of the total AP from their death did you get?
- Heal someone else of your alliance who then kills a target. What percentage of the damage that they took did you heal or what percentage of their total health did you heal (two separate tests) and how much of the total AP did you get? If you shielded instead of healed, how does that affect the numbers?
- Apply a buff to someone else of your alliance who then kills a target. Does the buff equate to a percentage of the healing done, and what percentage of their AP did you get?
- Remove a debuff from someone else of your alliance who then kills a target. Does the debuff removal equate to a percentage of the healing done, and what percentage of their AP did you get?
Then, for each of the above, you also have to consider (and find out) for the beneficial activities (healing, shielding, synergies, buffing, or removing a debuff from a non-grouped same-faction player), how long after you apply them will the link from you to the other player last. It may be solely for the kill in question, it may be for a period of time (perhaps until they exit combat), or it may be for a particular range (from one end of the bridge to the other).
You also have to consider which skills, abilities, synergies, buffs, and debuff removals can apply to people who are not in your group, and when they are performed, do you gain a percentage of the player on whom you cast, or are you treated (for the purposes of AP gains) as an equal member of that player’s group. If that latter, then a new series of tests need to be performed per the paragraph above related to how long will the link from you to the other group last. Another very important consideration for situations where multiple conditions apply, and you gain links to multiple groups who both participate in a kill. In that case, is it possible that you can double-dip in the AP gains and be considered as a full member of multiple groups gaining AP for both?
One last consideration (that I’m sharing) is related to guards. Are there skills or abilities that you can use that affect guards at a keep or a resource? If you use the right ones, and guards do damage to opposing players, might that damage be considered as coming from you for the purposes of AP calculations?
If anyone would like to discuss AP farming techniques, I’m happy to do so in Discord (see the links on the main page).