The content below is intended for players and groups who have not developed their own (successful) strategies on how to counter these groups. I see random groups and PuGs run into these ball groups and die way too often and can only blame it on their not understanding what’s going on. I hope this helps!

First, please read the Offense section, the Defence section, and the Siege section. These sections contain some basics in addition to tips on dealing with ball groups. What comes below is excerpts and short tips that apply to ball groups, though it is by no means all-encompassing.

STRATEGY:

  • Pay attention. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re going to blindly follow your group leader without watching what’s going on, you’re going to have a bad time. If you’re going to madly focus on killing one person, chances are you’re going to get trampled to death.
  • You can’t take them out alone. Don’t even bother trying. Help another group that is there, or go do something else. These groups prey on the weak, unskilled, or small group players and they will try to pull you together so that they can hit more of you at once. Don’t let them get away with this. If you leave them alone and they have nobody to kill, they’ll move away trying to find more players at once.
  • The key to winning versus these groups is strategy. You’re going to need a reasonable number of players to coordinate their damage (player damage or siege damage) and debuffs (snare/stun/slow/defile/breach/etc) in order to take them out or make them run away.

DEFENCE:

  • Keep moving, and keep a distance from them until you’re ready to engage or ready to try and bait out their ultimates.
  • If you have solid ranged damage or debuffs, keep them applied. Corrupting Pollen, Dark Flare, and Inevitable Detonation are all good examples that can affect how and when they will attack.
  • Opposing ball groups will use their ultimates together, and will proxy together before they destro. Consider the timing of proxy – that’s how much time they’ve allotted to moving to you so that they all explode together. Don’t be where they are going.
  • They’re going to be spamming crowd control (slows, snares, and hard cc). Be aware that you might have trouble moving, and plan accordingly.
  • Use what methods you have available to not be where they are going with their bombs. Elusive Mist Form, Retreating Maneuvers, Shuffle, Immovable potions, and any methods you have to get snare or cc immunity and speed to get out.
  • You may want to try using cc (crowd control) on them, though they’ll probably have immovable potions up and have at least one player spamming Retreating Maneuvers. Any cc is good to try and break them up or slow them down, though don’t sacrifice yourself to do such.
  • If you have damage mitigation, use it! Shields can’t be crit, and a shield that is up while mist form is active will take damage post-mitigation (75% less). Ultimates like Warden’s sleet provide 30% incoming damage mitigation and Templar’s Nova provide 30% opponent outgoing damage mitigation. Use them if needed.

OFFENSE:

  • Keep as much siege as you can on them. Siege that does damage, like Cold Stone trebuchets if they’re in a tower, and Cold Fire ballista if they’re in a keep. Try to coordinate hits. One Oil catapult is also nice, and a Meat bag if you’re unsure if there’s a Defile build fighting them. See the Siege section for more insights.
  • If you’ve managed to bait out their ultimates, or once you’re out or have escaped their bombs, consider that this is the best time to hit them back. They’ve just blown their ultimates, so will need between 15 and 30 seconds to get them back up (subjective timing, though a good base for your strategic thinking).
  • When counter attacking, be quick and accurate with Negates. Players can’t cast in a Negate (damage or healing). Once they’re in, they won’t be able to anything other than run – either towards you and hope that 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.
  • Separate them and pick off the one(s) that are out of the group. 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.
  • If you can tab target a player with higher importance (such as healers or the group leader – if known), then it makes things easier if you try to single target that 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.
  • 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, countering them and winning fights will be easier.
  • Don’t let them resurrect. You’ll probably take out half, maybe 3/4 of them if you execute your bomb or counter well. There will probably 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.
  • Most of the ball groups are going to be running fairly tanky, so you will need a sufficient amount of damage to get through their survivability. This may mean that you’re running a ball group yourself or at least stacking your ultimates. With the state of the game (in Q4 2017), you’ll probably need at least eight players executing perfectly, or at least twelve players executing well in your group to take out a full raid (24) of opponents who play like this.

I was recently interviewed by JonnyTheKing for one of his videos on making AP and becoming emperor. This post is being put up in conjunction with the video in order to provide a reference to the information in our discussions. We recorded over an hour, and with the final video being about 20 minutes, there will also probably be some details cut out due to time limitations.

You should have already read the Making AP and Emperor sections, so I’m not going to repeat very much from those. The short, short summary: In order to become Emperor you need to be at the top of the leader board, and have all six of the inner “Emperor Ring” keeps taken by your faction at the same time.

PLANNING AND PREPARATION:

  • Prepare multiple sets of gear and plan for different builds depending on what you’re going to be doing. You might have some time playing solo, small group, or even join zergs depending on the state of the map and what you’re trying to accomplish.
  • Talk to the guilds that play the map, and if you’re able to open up good relations with them, it will be a lot easier later on to get their help flipping the ring.
  • There may be a time that you have to lead your faction and wrangle the PuGs, so an addon like “Auto Invite” will make that easier. Remember that most players are not very organised, and their builds will not have synergy for the group that you put together (or join), so if you want the group to succeed then you’ll need to fill in for whatever is needed.
  • You will need to keep track of your AP, so get an addon that is capable of helping you maintain your sanity. Ghostbane created a great one.
  • Ensure that you have all five of the PvP quests completed (kill, scout, keep, resource, scroll), so that you can turn them in 30 seconds after the scoreboard opens.
  • Talk to your friends, and get help. You probably won’t be able to do this alone, and having at least 2-3 friends with you at all times will help you maintain sanity. I can’t stress this point enough!
  • Ten minutes before the scoreboard opens, head over to a delve and get ready to kill the boss. At 2 minutes before the scoreboard opens, kill the boss to get your 1-hour AP buff (20% bonus AP), then get back to the gates and prepare to turn in your quests. Note that dying to the monsters in the delve will let you respawn at your gates and get into position much more quickly than exiting the delve, running to a keep/outpost, and transiting to the gates.
  • Look at the scoreboard (hit “J” then click the last tab) and check when the campaign opens. It will usually be about 45 minutes after the campaign closed (if I recall correctly).

MAKING AP:

  • Now that you’ve turned in your quests and have a small lead over the rest of the players who have not prepared for this, pick up new quests. It’s a good idea to have one of your friends keep an easy quest in their list so that they can share and re-share it to you each time you turn it in. For DC, the capture Chalman Mine quest is the one we tend to do most often. For AD, it’ the capture BRK Mine quest, and for EP it’s the capture Aleswell Farm quest. These three resources are taken very often, and retaken relatively quickly, so as you have the opportunity to head over to those locations, you should be getting the extra bit of AP for those quests.
  • Depending on the state of the map, your skill level, the people with you, and a whole slew of other things, the initial AP farming session will take different forms. You may want to play as normal, you may want to go ganking, you may want to try to farm a resource, or you may want to go and take opponent resources one after the other.
  • If the map is relatively dead, resource taking nets you 1800 AP (with your 20% buff and assuming that nobody has died) each, so going to a keep with three resources available and taking them one after the other before moving to the next keep and repeating that continuously could net you 5400 (1800 x 3) per keep, and about 10 keeps per hour if you move optimally giving you five minutes to go get your AP buff every hour when it falls off. Including the occasional kill, that will probably reach about 60k AP / hour.
    • Note that the O-tick from taking a resource will include the AP from any player deaths. To clarify how that works, if someone dies, then the AP from their death would be added to the 1800 you get on the O-tick, though that extra AP would be divided among all the people there. In this case, someone could purposefully die, then everyone except for one player moves off the resource towards the next one once the guards are dead, while that lone player gets the O-tick including all of the extra AP. At the next resource, a different player would die to guards, and so on. Remember that a player is worth full AP after 5 minutes of their last death, so three players helping with this would cycle their death at each resource. Note that this technique can be considered “feeding” or “cheating”, though it is not technically against the Terms Of Service and nobody has ever been officially punished for it (that I’m aware of). We’ve seen this done in the past few months (Q4/2017) by large groups taking resources at the start of the campaign and leaving all but one player there. Normally I wouldn’t explain things like this so as not to promote the practice, but it is actively being done so I feel that it’s important for everyone to understand why.
  • When keeps are being taken, you probably want to be in the area. There will be more players to kill, and the O-tick will be a nice bonus.
  • When possible, use methods that do a lot of damage to opponents even if you don’t kill them yourself. Stock up on cold fire ballistae, trebs, and oils so that you hit the most number of opponents with a good amount of damage in the shortest amount of time. Keep an execute skill on your bar and spam it on players who get low standing in oils. If you’re in a magicka build, running the Vicious Death set while using siege is a great way to get extra tags on players while using siege. Low damage skills like Caltrops won’t do enough damage to be worth AP, though skills like Inevitable Detonation when spammed on multiple targets as they are grouped up can be very nice for taking advantage of other players’ efforts in killing these opponents. As long as you stay in range of the opponents, you’ll get AP when they die.
    • Think about the skills you have available to you. Purifying Light or Power of the Light from a Templar will store damage and proc after 6 seconds. If you spam that on different targets who are under someone else’s oil or about to be bombed by another group, then the procs and subsequent heals (from the magicka morph) will gain you good contribution percentages for the incoming AP. Think about every skill, and if it can be used to net you more AP than simply killing one target at a time.
  • The most important point to make about making AP is that you have to keep playing. If you take a break, then someone else will probably pass you on the leader board. Everyone needs to sleep, so plan your resting hours for when the campaign is dead and there’s a lot less AP to be made.
    • Remember that it is against the Terms of Service to have multiple people play on the same account. It has happened many times, and I’m sure some of you have seen some player able to be online for 5 days with zero down time (indicative of multiple players on the same account), but if you do this you risk the consequences of violating the Terms of Service.
  • You have also probably heard about AP feeding, and having lots of friends play on another faction in order to “feed” you AP and ticks at a resource. This was a big complaint on console for a long time – in that the person(s) at the top of the leaderboard would have an entire guild feed them AP when someone else was catching up on the leaderboards. This was all done out in the open with no attempts to hide it. Like earlier when talking about dying at a resource, this isn’t against the Terms of Service, but it is seriously frowned upon by the community and many people consider it “cheating”. If you’re considering being fed AP, then keep the following in mind:
    • The people feeding AP are not going to be making AP while feeding, so there’s no real value to them in doing so. They probably won’t want to do this for long (unless you’re compensating them), so if you rely on this method, it probably won’t last for long enough to get Emperor.
    • People will talk, and take screen shots or videos, and it will get out. It’s very easy to accuse people of such when you don’t understand AP farming techniques and strategies, and many of the high AP earning players have been accused of this (myself included). Consider that it’s one thing for whining jealous people to accuse others, though it’s another if there is actual proof. With proof, your reputation (if you have one) will take a hit, and it can impact your social enjoyment of the game. Some people don’t care, and we’ve seen many posts on the forums and screen shots of players being fed both on the map and using exploits to get outside of the map (under the world or past the mountain barriers).
    • If people are aware that you’re not making your AP legitimately, then they won’t want to help you get Emperor.
    • It is very easy to find you doing this, as when you kill a few players in an area, there will be swords on the map. Seeing consistent swords on a resource that is not flipping during the early campaign is very obvious, and it’s very likely that people will come to disrupt your activities.
    • We’ve heard of a few PvE guilds who would do this in order to help new players or new characters get the required skills in the Alliance War skill line (caltrops / vigor / proxy).
  • Renewing your AP buff by killing a delve boss is very important, though try to do so when you’re on a break or there’s nothing significant happening. During the time it takes you to get to the delve, zone in (load screen), kill the boss, then either die to mobs and resurrect at the gate (load screen) or run out (load screen) and get back to the action you’re not making any AP. The next hour’s 20% extra AP needs to be more than the AP that you didn’t make during the time lost getting the buff.

TAKING THE EMPEROR RING:

  • This part is rather obvious. You need for your faction to have possession of all six Emperor keeps. The more large groups that coordinate to take them all at the same time, the higher your likelihood of success.
  • Some players won’t want to get Emperor for their faction, as that tends to cause the other two factions to gang up on your faction. While you defend the last Emperor keep, your faction may lose everything else on the map including your scrolls. What you do is up to you, but you also have to respect that other players will do what they want as well. Be mature in zone chat, and try your best to convince others that having you as Emperor is in the best interest of your faction.
  • If there’s no chance of getting it during prime time (probably happens once per campaign reset at most), then the middle of the night is the time to do this. Many players have disdain for the “PvDoor” (Player vs. Door) concept, though if it’s the only way to take all six keeps when very few others are playing, then it’s your choice on how and when to do it.
  • The order in which you take the keeps is important, primarily due to your opposition. If you leave the easiest keep for last, and the hardest keep for second to last, then you’ll probably have an easier time. There won’t likely be a faction stack (almost every player in the opposing faction) at the second to last keep, so you’ll have a better chance of taking it. The last keep should belong to the faction with the least population / power / capability at the time you’re pushing for Emperor, and a separate group from the one taking the second to last keep should be starting on the last keep shortly after the second to last keep flags. There are many strategies for timing, and I’m hoping that this example gives you an idea of what you should consider if you’re directing or leading groups.

ONCE YOU HAVE EMPEROR:

  • The most important thing to do now is to thank every one that helped you. You did not do this yourself, so take 30 seconds and build better relations with everyone out there letting them know that they are appreciated.
  • The next thing to do is equip the gear you prepared for being Emperor. You have a lot more regen, so switching to damage enchants on your jewellery (instead of regen or cost reduction) is the first consideration. If you’re running a sustain or regen oriented set, change it to a max-resource set (as Emperors get extra resource pools) and/or a damage set. Blood Spawn is usually the best monster set, as the proc for extra ultimate is doubled for the Emperor!
  • The skills you use will also probably change a bit. Your ultimate will hit a lot harder due to the much larger resource pool, and you may want a lesser cost ultimate available (such as Dawn Breaker) so that you can cast it every couple seconds due to all of your extra ultimate generation.
  • Go kill things. KILL ALL THE THINGS. If you’re going to take another keep (such as tri-keeps to open scroll gates), the Emperor should be sieging with their double siege damage buff.
  • If you’re going to take a scroll, the Emperor should not be the one to pick it up, as if they are needed elsewhere to defend a keep, they need to be able to mount and move out as fast as possible (you can’t mount while holding a scroll).
  • Have fun! You’ve put in an enormous amount of effort, so enjoy it while it lasts. The faction with Emperor will usually be ganged up on by the other factions, so your Emperor status may only last for an hour. It’s up to you how to have the most fun during the time that you are Emperor!

WHEN YOUR EMPEROR STATUS IS AT RISK:

  • You should very rarely leave the last keep. If you trust the players there, and believe that you can take another keep before your opponents take your last keep then go and do your best, though it’s usually a tough decision.
  • Expect lag. Expect lag to the point that many players will disconnect and won’t be able to get back in the game. Expect your FPS to drop such that the game is almost unplayable. Expect most players in your faction to get fed up and just let the last Emperor keep go in order to reduce the amount of lag and get back to playing normally.

ONCE YOU’VE BEEN DETHRONED:

  • Switch back to your normal build.
  • You now have a series of decisions to make:
    • Will you keep AP farming to get Emperor again?
    • Will you play normally and if it happens then it happens (being crowned again)?
    • Will you drop campaign so that someone else can be on top of the leader board right away? I suggest that you not do this. Keep your place on the leader board so that you have a greater chance to get gold rewards at the end of the campaign.
    • Will you play another of your characters so that someone else can pass you and be on top of the leader board? This could be a nice gesture if you farmed AP with a friend the whole time and said friend is in second place. It’s now your turn to help them farm as fast as possible. Once your friend has gotten slightly ahead of you (perhaps by 50k), then swap back to your former Emperor character and keep making AP.
  • If you have not done so already, put on your Emperor costume, Former Emperor title, and check out how the Emperor Red colour looks on the gear or other costumes that you usually wear.
  • Most importantly, be gracious and thank everyone that helped you.

To become Emperor, you have to be top of the leader board (with at least 50k AP on 30-day campaigns and 25k AP on 7-day campaigns), and your faction has to own all 6 of the keeps around the Imperial City (centre of the map). To lose emp, your faction has to have lost control of all 6 of those keeps at the same time. You can lose and retake individual keeps, and you won’t lose emperor until all 6 of the keeps are lost at the same time.

The emperor gets some rather overpowered passives:

Chaining ultimates is one of the most significant emperor powers. Using sets like Bloodspawn that give 15 ultimate will also be doubled, so Bloodspawn procs will give 30 ultimate to an emperor! The passive that gives ultimate when getting a killing blow on an opponent is also doubled, so if an emperor drops a large damage ultimate then it is very feasible for ultimate chaining (or multiple ults at the same time).
Emperors need to siege. While it may awesome that they can do more damage with their larger resource pools and continue to do so with their higher regen, doing double damage on siege (especially with three stone trebs up) can make the difference between getting a wall or door down before too much opposition arrives. After the wall or door is down they can then use their awesome damage powers to kill everything. Note that this passive does not apply to ram damage. A few years ago this passive also applied to damage done by siege to players! Imagine a cold stone treb hitting for over 30k!
 Emperors should usually be running something that can heal them. Considering their resource pools and regeneration, using Cleanse to remove two negative effects and heal for 18% of max health becomes amazing for an emperor healing them for 27% max health.
 Doubling resource regeneration will usually mean that an emperor who wants to min/max can take any recovery enchants (on jewlery) or sets (like Seducer) and replace them with others that are directly able to increase their killing power. The more damage an emperor can do, the more ult is made, the more damage can be done, etc.
 75% more resource pools can make for some incredibly powerful players. Magicka and stamina pools in the area of 70k will make most skills hit like a truck, and health pools in the 40-50k range for DPS builds make emperors a lot harder to kill. I’ve tried a few fun builds in my many times as emperor based on health and health regen, such as a DK spamming igneous shield (which is like a spammable barrier for the group) or a Templar 1-shotting opponents when a Blazing Shield comes down. These types of builds are more entertaining than they are useful – but if you have the chance to be emperor you should get as much enjoyment out of it as you can!

 

If you want to become emperor, you have to be at the top of the leader board. To be at the top of the leader board you have to make the most AP. Traditionally, emperor has gone to the player who spends the most time, or farms the best.

If the current emperor drops campaign, there will be no emperor until the opposing factions take all the emperor keeps (effectively dethroning the empty throne).

In the early days of the game, there were some emperor passives that remained after becoming emperor. They were nothing like what emperors get, though 5% ultimate cost reduction and 2% extra resource regeneration did count for a lot at times. This prompted many people to “emp trade” on some campaigns, whereby one faction would crown emperor, then allow another to dethrone and crown their own emperor. The dethroned emperor would then drop campaign allowing the person in second place to be next in line, whereby they would crown that person. Residual emperor buffs were removed from the game in the hopes of eliminating this behaviour.

If you want to support your emperor, lay siege so that he doesn’t have to spend time dropping / picking it up. When the emperor has to get off his siege to kill something, keep firing it for him, and be sure to get off of it as soon as he is back! Shields that are based on maximum health such as bone shield synergies are amazing for emperors. If you’re in a stamina build, running bone shield and spamming retreating to remove snares for the emperor can help a lot towards his survivability as well. If you’re a healer, throw area heals at the emperor, if you’re running purge, spam it to keep disabling effects off of him, and if you have crowd control abilities then use them on the areas or players that the emperor is attacking. You want your emperor to get kills, so that more ultimate is generated, allowing for more kills, and to further the goals of your faction. A good player as emperor can count as five or more other players working together.

The disadvantage of supporting the emperor is that the emperor almost always makes AP at a much higher rate than other players, as he has a lot more killing power. If you want to compete for emperor the next time that your faction crowns, then  you might hope that the emperor’s reign lasts as short as possible! Some emperors have been dethroned in as little as 30 minutes when both opposing factions actively push to dethrone (there’s almost no way to fight a faction stack who force flips flags). My longest emperor run was about a week back in mid 2015, though these days emperors tend to only last a few hours due to game and population changes.

Some players run into problems in their pushes for emperor in that they have angered their faction (or an opposing faction). In the “good old days” when there were a lot of guilds playing regularly, and there was 24/7 coverage of the map by at least 2 solid guilds at any given time, some guilds would refuse to push for someone who they did not like. Some would even log onto other faction characters to actively try and prevent someone from achieving emperor and call in their friends from PvE to help when they were having trouble! With the mass exodus of players in early 2016, and most of the larger guilds now unable to run large groups with the power that they used to, most of these challenges have fallen by the wayside and no longer exist.

The biggest challenge a potential emperor will face will be in coordinating their faction to take all of the emperor keeps. Many people don’t care about the map or campaign, many people prefer to run less “zergy” and keep to groups of 6-8 people, many people prioritise AP farming over map control, and many people understand that when one faction has emperor, the other two will focus on dethroning and cooperate (in a limited manner) to double team the faction that has emperor. The “good old days” where people like me could direct multiple guilds and groups to coordinate are long gone. I remember the day we crowned Lolimage for the first time: I was directing six full groups of 24 each one from a different guild. We had over 150 people in TeamSpeak, and we were fighting on two fronts versus faction stacks (100+) of each opposing faction. Those were the days of the #CrownZerg!

Now, people wanting to become Emperor in a populated and active campaign will either have to wait and hope that their faction happens to work together long enough to crown (AD crowned emperor an average of once every two weeks for the past few months), or will have to try and gain the cooperation of the many smaller groups that play in addition to the one or two larger guild groups that run two or sometimes three times per week for a few hours. The challenge with those larger guild groups is that they get together less often, so don’t have the incentive to push for emperor in the few hours of prime time that they play together.

Alternatively they could wait for the middle of the night and bring in a solid group to night-cap, or go to a nearly dead campaign (one without people playing much) and wait for the keeps to flip back and forth. That tends to be looked down on, and someone who does that on purpose will usually not be respected for their skill – though most people don’t really care what others think and only want the Emperor costume and red dye, so it is a viable way to be crowned.

My first time as Emperor was achieved at 4:35am on January 19, 2015 after playing all night with DiE and friends. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. Thanks to Minoa for recording it!

A good distribution of champion points is key to maximising your damage or healing output, and minimising the damage that you take. As champion point min/max details for each build and play style change just about every patch, I’ve removed the old details from this section. If you’d like to discuss the current best practices, Discord is likely the best place to do so as I don’t keep up with (or theory craft) for builds other than the ones I main anymore.

There are a lot of complaints about lag (since the lighting update a few years ago). If you’ve played PvP during prime time, you’re certainly seen your ping spike into the hundreds if not thousands. Ping is a technical term (or tool) to describe an ICMP Echo request and reply. This is a type of packet that is sent over a network (or internet) from a source (in this case your computer) to a destination (in this case the ESO servers) and a measurement of how much time it takes for the response to be received. It is important to note that a ping is not a true measurement of the speed that your communications are processed, it is simply a measurement of the capability of the connection between you and the ESO server based on a lot of factors (most notably network congestion by your internet provider, or the ESO servers’ ability to process your requests in a timely manner).

Some of the causes of lag are known, and quite obvious. The more players who are in a particular area, the more processing the server will have to do, and the slower its relative performance. Here are examples:

  • Healing springs is one of the most commonly used healing spells. It is an area spell, and thus affects a certain number of players who are within the area of it being cast. When someone casts it, there is a process to determine who is in the area, how much health they have missing, how much health each tick of the spell will add to their health pool, and communications between the server and all the clients of the players in the area to add each tick of health to their health pools. Each player has different gear and champion points which may affect increases in healing received, or debuffs that may affect decreases in healing received. All of this needs to be calculated for every tick of a healing springs. If the caster of healing springs is using a Master’s restoration staff, then there is an additional calculation on the return of stamina. If the caster is using the healing mage set, then there is an additional check on any opponents in the area of the heal that will reduce their weapon damage. Every effect that needs to have status determined or calculated increases the required processing on the server side and for each calculation to be sent to the clients for every player who is affected, and every player in range who may mouse-over players in their area.
  • Steel tornado is an area damage skill in the dual wield line. It hits everyone within a certain area, though only a certain number of players receive full damage. Other opposing players receive reduced damage up to a point. Steel tornado is also an execute, so when any player is hit there is a check to determine if execution damage should apply. Every hit of damage has to be processed for every player in the area, and all that data sent to every other player in the area who, like with healing, may mouse-over other players in their area.
  • Back in the good old days, ultimates such as Meteor (Mage’s guild) that hit an area also included a calculation to determine if your ultimate has already hit and done damage (so one person’s ultimate should not hit multiple times). The use of an ultimate brings your ultimate pool down to zero, though once lag starts this was not instantaneous – so multiple ultimates could go off from one person. Only one of them would do damage, though for each one the calculations and checks to determine if it will damage, to whom, and what debuffs will be applied need to be performed. This would significantly exacerbate the lag if someone (or multiple people) spamed Meteor during lag.

Every time that an area of effect (AoE) skill is used, calculations need to be performed and information updated in the game clients (computers) of every player who is within a certain range. The more players from each side, the more calculations need to be performed and the more updates need to be sent. There is a reasonably feasible number of such that can be performed without impacting timing of game play (lag) for the players involved, and this is largely dependent upon the way that both the game client and servers were programmed.

When you see / hear some players complaining about zerging, this is the main reason that they do so. If a guild runs tightly stacked in the same place all casting area of effect spells, then they are directly contributing to the increase in lag. It is debatable if it’s their fault knowing that what they do causes lag, ZOS’ fault for not delivering the large scale battle capabilities that the promised (many years later), or a combination of the two. I believe that the groups who zerg are responsible, and ZOS is accountable. If you know that running in large numbers exacerbates lag, then there’s no excuse to keep doing so unless you don’t care about other players – unless of course it’s a case of “the largest zerg wins the fight” .

There is no “lag switch”, and lag is not something that the developers “turn on” just to upset you. The people who believe that obviously don’t understand how technology works.

The term zerging is used often by a lot of people to mean different things. It would be nice to have a shared definition of the term, so my proposal is: Zerg: A zerg is any set of people who run around in a group, organized or not, who mindlessly spam arbitrary skills. The mindless spamming of area skills, be they healing, damage, or cc are known to cause lag.

The term comes from the game Starcraft where the Zerg race of creatures was known for running giant groups of less-powerful group members and taking down opponents by sheer force of number (and not necessarily by skill or technique). By this definition you could have a small group zerging, or a giant group (such as multiple groups of 24) zerging as long as the opponents of the zerg are lesser in number than the zerg.

That raises the issue of what do you consider a small group of 8 people who have randoms (I use the term randoms instead of PUGs, as by definition PUG is a group) following them around? I have often run groups of 8-10 where less than one minute after starting something, there are over a dozen randoms who show up – or another organized group who show up! It would not be reasonable to require that every time other people show up that the group move away, as they would spend all their time running away from their own faction. Thus, you can be part of a zerg even if you or your group is not voluntarily zerging.

If someone calls you a member of the zerg, this is what they probably mean. As you progress in skill and technique, you’ll find that you probably prefer running in smaller groups where individual skill makes a difference, and will only organise or participate in large organised groups of groups when it’s absolutely required to fight a zerg from an opposing faction. Nobody likes zergs (with some exceptions of people who don’t know that it’s possible to be successful outside of one), though the game in its current state often requires that a very large group be used to fight another very large group.

First I’d like to go over a bit about how Alliance Points (AP) work: They come primarily from killing opponents. Each individual is worth a certain amount of AP. That amount usually ranges from 1500 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.

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).

There two major types of groups, PUGs and guild groups.

PUG stands for Pick Up Group. Sometimes, anyone who is not part of *your* group is called PUGs. It can sometimes be used as a derogatory term by groups who consider themselves elite, though factually, any group that is not pre-organized as part of a guild is a PUG. PUGs are generally open to anyone, though some will require that you join in for voice communications. You never know what you’re going to get with a PUG.

Guild groups can be of any size up to a full 24 person group. These groups are usually restricted to guild members only. Sometimes they will be open to random people in order to find new potential members, though that is the exception and not the rule.

When joining a group you are expected to follow the directions of the leader. If you don’t follow the leader’s directions, you will probably be kicked from the group. You may not like the directions, and you may not believe that the leader’s decisions are the best or most appropriate ones, though you still need to follow them. If you don’t want to follow the leader of the group, then leave the group.

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 SIEGING TO TAKE KEEPS:

  • 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. If you’re running multiple siege (as you usually should be), then between firing renew any defensive buffs that you have!
  • Stone trebs do 4,000 damage to walls. Stone ballista do 2000 damage to walls. You can shoot a ballista twice for every shot of a treb. Both will do the same amount of damage over time to a wall or door, though if you have twice the wait for reload, a normal player can run more trebs than ballista. One player can easily run three siege if they’re well placed.
  • When besieging a keep or outpost, don’t just hop onto any open siege you see. Most experienced players will set up two or three siege and rotate between them. We feel very useless when running three siege and random people hop on two of them. We know that we can run more, we’re just not able to! If you don’t have any siege, then buy some! Don’t steal siege unless you see the siege owner run away / move off to do something else.
  • When sieging a door with a ram, drop ballistas right in front of the door and surrounding it so that the people on the ram can fire the ballistas. One of the people on the ram should be running purge or cleanse, or spam healing in the event that oils are poured on the ram. Position yourself with your back to the door in the corner, as some oils being poured won’t hit you in that spot. Be wary of negates being dropped on rams, as you won’t be able to cast (purge or heal) and you’ll need to get out of the negate in order to stay alive (under oils). Keeping a HoT (such as rapid regen, mutagen, vigor or others) on you can proc your Earthgore if you get low on health and this will also remove ground effects (such as the negate).
  • Siege shield can save your ram (or any siege for that matter) a lot of damage. It is especially useful on rams as there will often be oil poured down onto them.
  • When starting to place siege against the outer wall of a keep, place trebs down first so that they can hit the inner (if you are going to try to take both down at once). When placing siege down after the first one, try to place them in a triangular form at minimum distance from each other. If your siege line is too spread out, you make it easier for gankers to take out the people on the edges.
  • If your siege is on the edge or back of the line – or near a set of stairs that someone can come up to it, get a caltrops on it. That will prevent sneaky nightblades from burning them. If you have caltrops and the person on that siege doesn’t, then cast yours to help them out.
  • Meatbags apply a healing debuff on opponents, while oil catapults slow them and sap stamina. Both are very useful when hitting a choke (such as a breach in the wall), though you won’t usually need more than one or two.
  • Make sure that you know the timing for each type of siege at different ranges. You can go to a safe keep and siege to your heart’s content in order to test and get a feel for distance and timing.
  • Siege repair kits cost less than buying new siege. If you have a siege low on hit points, repair it in between firing. You can also take it down, and when you’re in a safe place put it down again, repair it up, and pack it up.
  • Some positioning with a trebuchet on the outer second floor can hit the inner ground floor of a keep. If you find these areas, you can use a (cold) fire trebuchet to help take out the inner guards in advance, and/or help your allies kill any opponents in the area of the front flag.
  • Placing anti-player siege (such as cold fire ballistas) on the third floor above the front door, and on the third floor of the corners of keeps can make or break a keep take. Use that siege to hit the opposing players on top of the inner keep who are pouring oils down on your allies. Use that siege to coordinate a hit if there’s a large (ball) group running around inside killing your allies.
  • If you can get upstairs above one of the posterns, you can often place an oil that will drop down and hit the defenders of the back flag. One oil pour can make the difference!

WHEN SIEGING TO DEFEND KEEPS:

  • Use oils. Use as many oils as you can. Place them as close together as you can, and use them as much as you can. When defending the outer, put them above where opponents will be coming in. When there’s an opposing ram in use, put them above the ram and if you have a sorcerer available, a negate on top of the ram can prefent opponent healing while they are taking damage from (and dying to) your oils. When defending the inner, place them above the breach, on the corner at the top of the stairs (above transit and scroll platforms), half way up the stairs (above the front flag), and on both sides above the posterns facing inwards so that opposing players who want to come from the back flag and go up stairs have to walk through them. If a postern wall is opened, one oil facing outwards (above the stairs) and a few more facing inwards is usually the best configuration.
  • Put up as much counter siege as possible, and coordinate hitting the same targets. If you see someone else’s siege hitting something (a valid target), wait for their siege to reload and fire at the same time as they do so that your likelihood of killing the target (more damage at the same time) is higher!
  • When the front door to the inner is opening, place siege on the back flag facing the front. You can get at least three on the back flag, and a few more between the back and front flags. You can even get two more ballistas on the top above the postern doors that are capable of firing down to the front flag. The more siege hitting the same area, the less likely opponents are going to live through walking in that area.
  • If you can maintain a killing area on the flags, even if you don’t push out on the opponents there, that gives the rest of your faction time to send support and help you defend the keep.
  • The decision whether to repair the outer breach if the opposing group is already inside is sometimes a challenging one. On one hand, that prevents other opponents (or those who have died and taken a camp) from getting in, though on the other hand if it looks like you’re going to lose the keep very quickly, leaving it open will allow your own reinforcements to get in if they show up too late. If it looks like you’re going to lose the keep, setting up a stone ballista outside to hit the breach as soon as it is taken can give you an extra few seconds where your opponents can’t repair, such that your reinforcements might be able to get inside and start the fight to take back the keep.

WHEN SIEGING AS PART OF A FIGHT AGAINST PLAYERS:

  • If there is nobody running a defile build, then a meat bag can help reduce opponent healing. Reducing opponent healing is often critical to taking out a large group.
  • Oil catapults will snare and take stamina away from players, meaning they can’t block, roll dodge, break free, or sprint as much as they could otherwise. An oil catapult hitting an opposing group make it much more challenging for them to win.
  • Cold stone trebuchets will hit most players for more than 10k damage, which is about half of their health. If you can get a solid hit on an opposing group, the damage from the stone trebuchet can account for the equivalent of a few players’ damage. If you can hit at the same time as your opponents are being bombed, then it will often ensure that your side wins the fight.
  • More siege hitting more often is best, as good groups will tend to move a lot. If all of the randoms/pugs/individuals drop a fire ballista when there’s an opposing group fighting nearby, the opposing group’s chances of winning drops significantly.

Picking up a scroll and running it can be a lot of fun, though there are a few important considerations you should make before picking it up and while running it:

  • How much opposition you are likely to face. If you will need to be able to take a good few hits running through opponents, then a player in light armor with no shields is not the best option. If you need to outrun opponents, a player in all heavy armor with low stamina regen is also not a great choice. The scroll carrier should have a good balance of run speed and survivability.
  • If you are part of an organized group with voice communications (TS or other). Being able to make and hear calls about the scroll carrier being in danger, or where opponents are coming from is very important. If you pick up the scroll and are not in a group, ask in zone to be invited to one. Most will be happy to bring you in to ensure the safe travels of the scroll.
  • The path you need to take. If you will be running through choke points, gates, or areas in which opponents can plan to bomb you, ensure that you have people riding ahead to watch and let you know if it’s safe. Don’t get too far ahead of the group if you’re fast, and don’t fall behind.
  • Scroll quests. Have you turned in your current one? If not, don’t pick up another scroll as you’ll not be able to turn in your quest before capping the one being picked up. Scroll carriers will usually announce that they are capping and give people a minute to ensure that they have the right quest.
  • Resource management. Some classes with certain builds can move at full speed all the time such as high magicka regen NBs with concealed weapon and dark cloak, or very high stamina regen sprint cost reduction builds. If you are not one of these, you may be tempted to burn all of your stamina running, though make sure you have enough to block or roll if need be. Other people should provide you with the Rapid Maneuvers buff so that you can use your stamina more efficiently.

I’ve been intending to write up a choose your own adventure style decision tree on choosing where to go dependent upon your goals, though haven’t yet put enough time into it.

Where you go will depend on your primary and secondary goals, such as:

  • Make the most points
  • Defend keeps from opposing faction
  • Take keeps from opposing faction
  • Increase your faction’s campaign points
  • Take campaign points away from opposing faction
  • Crown your faction’s emperor
  • Dethrone an opposing faction’s emperor
  • Steal an opposing faction’s scroll
  • Have good / balanced fights with opposing groups

Remember that not everyone has the same goals, and this is a video game meant for having fun. While some people want to always play for the campaign, others want to make points, and others are just looking for good fights regardless of what else happens on the map.

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.