INTRODUCTION

I’m sure you’ve all noticed the propensity for larger and larger groups in Cyrodiil, and the unfortunate direct effect of these groups’ size being increased lag, latency, desyncs, and disconnects.

This document is an attempt to pass on all the things I’ve learned through testing various skills and addons in the lag conditions when trying to fight such a group, and a few skills and strategies that could help to coordinate enough damage to get past 30 players spamming healing springs with Earthgore on even more.

Nothing I’m saying here is revolutionary, it’s all information that is out there and existing theory crafters are aware of. My hope is that this will help disorganized groups, smaller groups, and individuals to think about how best to contribute to a “faction” win against an opposing faction stack.

SETTINGS & ADDONS

In order to decrease the likelihood of crashing or desyncing before you even start to fight, there are a few steps that could help. Note the “could”, as there is no cure for server performance issues other than ZOS fixing things on their end (game code and/or server hardware).

  • In Settings -> Video, turn off Show Additional Ally Effects
  • In Settings -> Video, decrease Particle Suppression Distance. The maximum is 100, which is what I have mine set to most of the time. I’ve found reducing that to 40 helps a lot when there are 100+ players on the screen in the distance, and simply approaching them causes you to crash.
  • In Settings -> Video, decrease Maximum Particle Systems. The maximum is 2048, which is what I have mine set to most of the time. I’ve found reducing that to 1024 helps a lot when there are 100+ players (including allies and opponents) on the screen.
  • In Settings -> Audio, turn Footsteps Volume to zero. I’m not certain if this makes a difference, though there were a few discussions where people claimed that it did. In theory, 100+ players’ footsteps being processed at the same time could cause challenges in the game client. If I confirm that this does or doesn’t work, I’ll update this document.
  • If you’re using a combat log such as FTC or Combat Log Statistics, turn it off. If you absolutely need one (my mental health requires it), use the Recount addon. The reason many of these addons cause problems during fights is the number of events that would appear in them, and their inability to handle that many events. Recount rate limits these events.
  • If you’re using a buff/debuff tracker, note that some of them will cause your game client to freeze when you have more than 20 debuffs on you (that happens often enough in such fights). I’ve found that Bandit’s built in buff tracking is the least resource hungry and quickest to update.

STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS

Traditionally, large groups (up to 24) would use similar movement, attack, defence, and extrication strategies when fighting other large groups (and randoms / PuGs in the area). Whichever group executed the strategy best would win, and/or whichever group made the first mistake would lose. This does not apply to fighting multiple stacked groups, as no matter how well you do versus the first and second groups of 24, the third or even fourth will come in when you’re low on resources, have no ultimates left, and can’t extricate.

When dealing with multiple stacked groups, the primary strategic considerations are as follows:

  • They are not going to position optimally as a structured min/max group or even a normal PuG (Pick up Group) will. They will be much more spread out, notably due to having 4 different leaders, as well as containing random players who joined who won’t move as well with the regulars. If you’ve ever watched a PuG move and compared it to a “ball group”, watching the multiple stacked groups move is that same difference again.
  • Even though they’re spread out, they will still all cast proxy or shalk (warden bugs skill) when commanded to do so. Being anywhere near the explosions results in a high likelihood (near guarantee) of you dying (80 times 1k damage is more health than players can run).
  • Even with a perfect ultimate dump, you’re not going to kill them all. You may get half, or even ¾ of them, but there will be some outlying players or even another group who get a camp or get resurrections.
  • Change your goals when fighting such a group. The strategies for killing most of a group then forcing the rest to run won’t work on multiple stacked groups. Even 20 (of 80) remaining players can ult dump on you after you’ve finished your bomb.
  • Set reasonable goals of killing a certain number of opponents or groups, after which your goal should be to extricate and get ready to fight again.
  • With 80 players, it is feasible for them to always have a warden’s sleet running while in combat. Plan for 30% damage mitigation when you perform your calculations of how many ultimates to drop at the same time.
  • Some numbers to be aware of (as of February 2019):
    • Destro Staff Eye of the Storm lasts 7 seconds.
    • Warden Sleet ultimate lasts 8 seconds. Average damage is ⅔ that of Destro. It takes 3 ticks to stun an opponent, and those ticks can come from different players’ Sleets.
    • Vampire Bats ultimate lasts 5 seconds and heals once for every opponent hit. Average damage per tick is half that of Destro.
    • Proxy det and inevitable det have up to a 250% damage bonus (25% per opponent hit). When fighting a large group you’re likely to always hit 10+ opponents.

STRATEGIES

There are a lot of strategies that will still work when fighting a faction stack, as long as you consider the points above (among many other things). Some notable ones to include in your and/or your group’s strategies are:

  • Inevitable Detonation is an amazing skill. While it does have a 1.5 second cast time, and that cast time may be extended to 2 or 3 seconds in lag, if you manage to get a few players casting it at the same time (especially those in a Spinner/VD/Balorgh type of build) then your targets will die almost every time. If you’re solo or in a small group, Inevitable Detonation is still a great skill due to the number of players it hits at high enough damage to put you well onto the AP table for when the players hit die.
  • The opponent groups will be healing and purging A LOT. Heal debuffs are critical to getting past the sheer raw numbers that they can bring. Players that have a focus on debuffing should have 100 champion points into The Shadow -> Befoul tree, giving them a 55% increase in the effectiveness of healing reduction abilities.
    • A warden casting Corrupting Pollen: Enemies who enter the field are afflicted with Major Defile, reducing their healing received by 30% for 4 seconds.
    • A more survivable build wearing the Thurvokun set: (2 items) When a nearby enemy damages you, summon a growing pool of desecrated bile for 8 seconds. Enemies in the bile receive 430 Disease Damage every 1 second and are afflicted with Minor Maim and Minor Defile, reducing their damage done and Healing Received by 15%. This effect can occur once every 8 seconds.
    • DK’s banner ult won’t be up long enough, and Templar’s Dark Flare may take even longer to cast than Inevitable. Both are of value, but should not be the focus of a group’s defile debuffs.
  • Coordinate different types of siege. If you’re getting ready to fire your siege, watch where someone near you is firing theirs. You should wait an extra second or two so that you both fire at the same time at the same target – ensuring a kill rather than just getting opponents to low health and hoping someone else will kill them.
    • While some players may have snare immunity from their individual skills, Retreating Maneuvers no longer applies snare immunity to everyone in group. Oil catapults to slow and remove stamina.
    • Scattershot catapults to increase damage.
    • Meat bag catapults can help, though won’t stack with other sources of Defile. If you have a warden keeping up Corrupting Pollen – especially one with 100 points in Befoul, then meat bag catapults are not a high priority.
    • Ballistae & Trebuchets: Cold fire siege hits hard on the initial hit, especially on vampires, but considering the sheer number of purges going out you can’t count on the DoTs to tick. It will be interesting to test standard stone siege (the kind you use on walls), as ballistae hit most players for around 5k, and trebuchets hit most players for around 10k. Stone cold trebuchets are of course the best, but take longer to reload, so may not be as easy to use.
  • Snare them. Then snare them some more. Finally, hit them with more snares! The more snares, the easier they are to hit with siege and other AoE skills. The more snares, the more they will spread out trying to move at different speeds allowing you to single target players of interest.
    • If you run a magicka build and are used to running one handed weapon & shield on your defensive bar, swap them out for an ice staff. You can still block with an ice staff at reduced (magicka) cost, saving your stamina for breaking free, roll dodging, or sprinting. You can then also run ice Blockade (morph of wall of elements that has a greater area) which applies a slow and immobilize (to chilled opponents).
    • If you run a stamina build, slot Caltrops.
    • If you’re a magicka warden, slot Gripping Shards.
  • Traditionally, ball groups would proxy up, shalk (warden bugs) up, then run into and through their opponents with destro ultimates, point AoE ultimates (such as NB Tether), and hard crowd control (cc) such as fears or warden Sleets to stun opponents. While this may still work in some circumstances for very well coordinated groups, keep in mind that your opponents – the multi group faction stack – will likely be doing something similar. If you have a semi-organized group, try practicing keeping on the outer edge of such a group and constantly re-positioning to ensure that while your ultimates are up you are hitting a good number of opponents, and while you have to rebuild your ultimates you can extricate and stay safe until you’re ready to hit them again.
  • Keep your buffs up. Continuous attacks gives you 10% weapon and spell damage. That 10% is compounded with all other bonuses (major/minor). When you’re looking to burst down an opposing group, every extra bit of damage helps!
  • Time your damage. If you or your group doesn’t have enough damage, call out in /yell or better yet have everyone join the same voice communications channel (Discord). Just having one person call out timing on damage makes a huge difference!

SKILLS IN LAG

Regarding skills, you’ll find that some work better than others in lag, and some AoEs work better against enormous groups than others. I tested almost every skill available on all classes, though will only list the relevant AoE skills here. What I’ve noticed so far:

  • Impulse (Destro Skill): The animation doesn’t always go off, but the damage is still done (per combat logs).
  • Blockade (Wall of Elements): Works well even in lag. Ice Blockage is amazing.
  • Reflective Light (Templar Skill): Works well in lag, and procs Valkyn Skoria (see note for Valkyn below).
  • Shards (Templar Skill): Unlikely to go off.
  • Bombard (Bow Skill): Works most of the time, damage hits immediately.
  • Spin to Win (Steel Tornado): Sometimes takes spamming the button, but damage goes immediately when the animation is seen.
  • Shalk (Warden bugs): Works most of the time. People have different results.
  • Proxy Detonation (Alliance War Skill): Works beautifully. Sometimes needs to be cast a second time.
  • Inevitable Detonation (Alliance War Skill): Often requires spamming the button, and the cast might only go off 2-3 seconds later, but the damage is amazing if using a solid damage build (Spinner + something). Note that you can have multiple inevitables on the same target, and they will all hit independently. When 10 opponents are hit (with the 250% bonus to damage), magicka builds tend to hit for 6-10k and stamina builds from 2.5-4k (depending on build). If you want to test, I have groups of 10 target dummies in my house (PC/NA). Remember that numbers are halved in PvP.
  • Eye of the Storm (Destro Ult): Does not always start when you expect it to, but once it does damage works well.
  • Nova (Templar Ult): It might show up 20 seconds late on the other side of the screen. If you turn off auto casting then you’ll have better luck with placement.
  • Banner (DK Ult): Seems to go off, but damage doesn’t always work. Could be a situation of damage catching up late, but in the three tests I performed none worked.
  • Veil (NB Ult): It might seem to cast, but ultimately doesn’t in most tests.
  • Bats (Vampire Ult): This works amazingly, and the heal keeps you alive with a 3k (ish) heal every time someone new is hit. It’s probably impossible to kill you for the 5 seconds it’s going off.
  • Dawn Breaker (Fighter’s Guild Ult): Usually works, but is sometimes delayed by 2 seconds – in which case you’re not hitting what you thought you were hitting.
  • Meteor (Mage’s Guild Ult): If it’s blocked, it’s of no value. If it’s not blocked, works very well, and gives you back a lot of ultimate. I’ve spammed 3-4 meteors on some well-stacked groups due to hitting 40 players at a time. Ice comet will be of great value due to the slow, but you won’t get ultimate back.
  • Valkyn Skoria procs (Monster Set): Seems to proc more often than it should. There might be a bug in the cool down while in lag allowing for more damage than there should be.
  • Grothdarr (Monster Set): Procs seem to work well, damage goes out immediately.

DEALING WITH A LAGGY GAME

If the game is really lagging so badly that you can’t stay connected, your skills don’t fire, and you’re ready to smash your keyboard into your screen, it’s probably time to take a break. Go make a sandwich and/or a hot chocolate, kiss your significant other, and find something else to do (clothing optional). You’ll be a lot less frustrated, and probably have a lot more fun than staring at a screen and hoping that the next engagement lets you actually fight for more than 20 seconds before you get kicked to login.

Updated: 2019/02/27