I’m sure that most players have seen or heard people talk about their statistics, how much damage they do, how much healing they do, and other metrics. While there are some people running private addons that are capable of extracting a lot more information, what I’m going to explain is how anyone can see some data.

Before you try enabling logs, the Recount addon, or any other combat metrics addon, please keep in mind that they may be very resource intensive on less powerful systems. You should consider running the same scenario with and without enabling logging or addons in order to accurately judge the difference in performance (if any).

There is a built-in function in the game that will create a file locally on your computer with the full details of everything that happens to you in the game. To turn this logging function on, all you need to do is type /encounterlog in the text chat window. Logging will then start for everything about your, your group’s, and your opponents’ activities to a file located at:

C:\Users\%username\Documents\Elder Scrolls Online\live\Logs\Encounter.log

Note that new logs are automatically appended to the file, and it can grow enormous, so you should only turn on logging when you want to gather data. If you crash, log out, or sometimes even transit to another zone, the log may end. You can type /encounter log again to re-enable it.

The file will start by listing all the players in your (current) group. This is an example with myself and three others:

3,BEGIN_LOG,1594774326711,15,”NA Megaserver”,”en”,”eso.live.6.0″

Note that your own name will be listed first, then everyone else’s. Lines for each player will be based on alphabetical order after your own. In this example, I’ve changed the names to alpha, bravo, and charley with those same @names. If someone has themselves set anonymous, then they will show up as empty quotation marks: “”,””. If you take a screen shot of your group members (open the party window and hit print screen), you can then later go back and edit the text file replacing all of the “” with the names of the people in your group.

Ensuring That You See Accurate Data For Each Player

In order to have everyone’s character names appear in the log without “Anonymous #” (saving you the time to manually enter them, then look up who joined the group in what order for later “UNIT_ADDED” lines that you would otherwise need to find and edit), they will have to make a change in their game settings.

Open Settings, Combat, and under Encounter Log change the option to Appear Anonymously to OFF.

If you don’t do this, your data will still show up in the logs, but it won’t add your name to it. Anyone in your raid can easily identify who you are based on your casts, gear, buffs applied, and activities during combat, so this doesn’t actually keep you anonymous, it just removes your character name so that if data is made public other people won’t identify which character was yours.

Log Settings

Once you’re done with a logging session, you should manually rename the Encounter.log file to something unique. I like to use the date and a short description, for example: 2020-06-18_Duel_With_Drace.log or 2020-06-18_PvP_Duo_With_Tiny.log.

Once you have a log, you then need to parse it. The contents won’t make any sense to most people as you can see in this sample line of healing:


I’ve written some tools to do analytics for my own purposes. If you’re not interested in doing so yourself, https://www.esologs.com/ is a great site that can do it for you. The site (as of 2020/07) is more PvE than PvP oriented, and considers PvP fights to be “Trash Pulls” rather than boss fights, so just be aware that it may look confusing at first. It will separate all of your time logging into sessions or fights when you are in combat, making it easy to see what’s going on in each fight.

If you upload your logs to the ESO Logs web site, be sure that you set the session to private, or at least unlisted. There may be data in there that your guild considers proprietary, and that should not be shared with the public!

If you use the ESO Logs site, you can see detailed info about everyone in raid. For example:

Example Data from a Test Duel
Your own character gear and skill bars.
The gear and skill bars from people who are in group with you. In this case Drace was my opponent, but we were grouped up so I could see his info.
Skill, ability, buff, and debuff up-time. In this example (duel) you can see that my Shadow was up for the second half of the fight, and I cast a Sap just after the Shadow came up.
Who did damage. In this case, I did 92.05% of the damage to the target, and my Shadow did 7.95% of the damage.
Graphs that show damage and healing over time. In this example, it shows my damage over the (approximately) 37 second duel.
How much damage and the percent of total damage done by ability. You can also see healing done by ability.
If you want to get even more details, you can see the number of casts, hits, crit percentages, up-time, and DPS.

Some of the ways to analyze logs aren’t very obvious. Here’s an example of two players’ Radiating Regeneration statistics over a fight. Although the image sizes don’t match perfectly, it should be relatively easy to compare columns.

  • In this example, we’ve confirmed that the number of players healed by each healer averaged 5.4 and 5.5. This means that the cast likely hit the same person twice a few times, so sometimes casting it twice applies the HoT (Heal over Time) on five people, other times six people. In some rare cases it may only be four people.
  • The uptime of both healers is very close (63.34% vs 64.58%). This means that they had Radiating Regen up for about the same amount of time during the fight.
  • The average cast value including overheal was 2.1k for the first healer, and 2.3k for the second. This implies that the second healer had slightly higher stats (max magicka and/or spell damage) than the first, or perhaps has the Ritual mundus whereas the other healer didn’t (which should be corrected).
  • The amount of overheal is very close (92.05% vs 92.39%), implying that both healers were likely keeping their casts up around the same times. If one healer let their HoTs lapse during big damage moments, the numbers would be different with one healer having less overheal. Good healers think alike!
  • The first healer cast it 102 times, and the second 72 times. This is an issue. If both healers had very similar number of targets, uptime, and overheal, the likely conclusion is that the first healer cast the spell 30 times while their regen was already up, either refreshing it part way through, or moving it to another player. The spell lasts 10 seconds per target, and with a maximum of 6 targets that can have one healer’s regen at the same time, it should be cast twice every 10 seconds. 30 wasted casts during a fight of about 7.5 minutes is a lot. If we look at the rest of the statistics for these two healers, we can see that the first healer has a lot less casts of energy orbs, illustrious healing, and hasty prayer, resulting in the overall healing and value to the group of the first healer being a lot lower than the second healer. This is something very simple to address/improve/correct.

Did this affect the group’s performance?

Probably not significantly, as most healers overheal a lot (80-90%), so that particular healer’s drop in performance (wasting 30 casts in the fight that could have gone to other skills) wouldn’t have made a difference to the group’s success. If another raid has less healers, where every one makes a difference (to match incoming damage or if the group is spread), it would have definitely impacted the group. If damage was ever greater than healing output, those extra 2 casts per 10 seconds from one healer could have changed a wipe into a win.

Another challenge arises when different healers each have a weakness like the above, but each one is different! Without logs like this, it’s not realistic or feasible to identify what they may be. If almost every healer is under-performing by 25% and all for different reasons, more healers will be needed to achieve a baseline and that takes away from other roles in the raid.

In this particular scenario, a simple solution (and one that I’ve been using for months for myself) is to add a buff widget showing Radiating Regeneration in an obvious icon on your screen. Since the spell will usually prioritize the healer casting it, with a double cast there’s an almost certain change of you casting it on yourself. When the icon disappears or the timers on the buff icon is down to 1 second, it’s time to double cast it again. Since I started doing that (and paying attention to it), my own Radiating Regeneration efficiency has increased significantly.

For most people, looking in this much detail will be more effort than they want to spend. For those who seek to be the best that they can be, analyzing information like this is very important.

If all of these logs are too much effort, you can also use the Recount addon to show you real time numbers, as well as graphs of total damage, healing, and distribution. It takes a lot less effort to click the button on the Recount window than to load up logs! Here are two examples:

In this example, you see a templar’s healing. In this example, you see a warden’s healing.

There is an enormous amount of information available in these logs, and if you would like to analyze your own play to better understand what you’re doing, what happens, and how you can better improve, using these logs is a great resource!

I’d like to explain more about feeding or AP boosting. The simple explanation of the term(s) is the scenario where you have players from another faction come and allow you to kill them repeatedly to make AP. If they die on a resource and you get the defence tick, you get the same amount of AP for killing them from the tick. If they die on a fully leveled-up keep (as of 2019/Q2), then you get five times the amount of AP you made for killing them from the tick.

Keep in mind that a player’s AP value when killed resets after five minutes, and they’re worth less AP until that five minute mark has been reached. I believe that the increase from being worth zero AP one second at the time of resurrection to being worth full AP after five minutes is linear, though have never tested that. In order to optimize feeding, there will be a five-minute delay in between when the player being fed will make their AP, and this is easily noticed by those who are looking for it.

In order to identify someone who is being fed, the easiest method is to look at the leader board. If their score increases with a very consistent amount of AP every five minutes, then it’s possible that they are being fed. It’s also possible that they are in a big fight that keeps going on (we’ve seen fights last for hours where both factions keep coming back), or they may be using some over-performing skills (I’ll get into that later on). Other possibilities include players duelling, players testing skills, players testing AP returns after a patch, though in most situations it will be someone being fed.

A simple way to identify a potential feeding location is to look for small swords on the map in an area that wouldn’t otherwise make sense. They look like this: and will appear whenever multiple players are killed. If they only appear every five minutes, then the likelihood is high that someone is being fed or boosted.

An example from 2019/05/13 follows:

Here is the starting leader board positions. I was playing my warden [email protected], and the Adrestia guild group wanted to push one of their members One Chaturbate [email protected] up to get emperor. You’ll note that we’re both in the mid/high 900k area.

A few minutes later, One Chaturbate Token (hereinafter referred to as OCT) jumped up by about 75k AP. He then continued to increase by about 75k every five minutes until a few of us went to investigate Blackboot, where we saw small yellow and red swords appear every five minutes.

A direct correlation between 75k ticks at Blackboot and OCT’s increases was identified.

Looking at this leader board screen shot, OCT had 1,662,773 AP.

I took a transit shrine from Roebeck where we had just taken back the farm to Blackboot, and repaired a wall making 86 AP. Seconds later, I got a tick for 38,174 AP. This number is almost exactly half of what OCT’s leader board increases were every five minutes: 

You can then see in the next leader board update that OCT increased by exactly that amount (38,174 AP), and I increased by that same amount + 86 AP (which I got for the wall repair).

OCT: 1,700,947 – 1,662,773 = 38,174

Coroin: 1,151,579 – 1,113,319 = 38,174 + 86 = 38,260

From the beginning in the 900k range, about one hour passed where OCT increased by about 75k per five minutes except for the four periods where I stole half his ticks. In those four periods, he increased by the same amount as I did (around 38k excluding the 86 AP wall repairs). In some updates, he didn’t wait the full five minutes and made about 70k, with the largest update being 78k, which was probably a perfect five minute wait between the time that his guildmates resurrected each other and when he killed them again.

It looked like they would continue feeding / boosting AP regardless of my stealing half their ticks, so we went to interrupt them near Blackboot mine where we saw the small swords appear:

By this point, OCT had made about 789k AP in that hour, as can be seen on this leader board screen shot:

OCT: 1,752,460 – 963,457 = 789,003

Coroin: 1,190,081 – 992,928 = 197,153 (of which about 150k was from stealing his ticks).

Once they were located and interrupted, the players feeding scattered and logged back into their AD toons. It’s interesting to note that they claim to have all been playing together fighting “normally” the whole time, yet OCT is the only one who made any AP during the period.

This was the Adrestia group about five minutes after they were interrupted when they went back to their AD characters:

It is important to note that feeding and AP boosting is not against the Terms of Service, the EULA, or the Code of Conduct, but it is seriously frowned upon by the community and many people consider it “cheating”.

Section 9 of the Terms of Service state:

You agree not to use any hardware or software or any other method of support that is not authorized by ZeniMax or that may in any way influence or advantage Your playing abilities, or influence or advantage Your use of the Services.

To our knowledge, this is the only paragraph that can be relevant to these activities, though ZOS’ interpretation of said paragraph is only related to the use of cheating programs and hardware – and not activities taken by players without any of these types of cheating mechanisms.

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).
    • People will talk, and take screen shots or videos like the ones above, 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). I personally believe that this has less of an impact, as it won’t affect the leader boards past the first few hours of a campaign.

I posted the below on 2019/05/14 in Discord explaining my position on this event:

Yesterday someone was caught with their guild feeding them to top the AD Vivec leader boards. I’d like to make my position clear on that, as there have been quite a few arguments on the matter.

My issue with this is case of balance, where everyone has an opportunity with the same potential.

The players / guild who were feeding are good players, and are probably all among the top 5% of PvP players in the game in terms of skill. They have the skills to make top AP. There’s no need for them to play unethically (subjective statement).

Regarding other types of activities that make more AP than is expected with normal fighting (this point was brought up by one of them that other people do or did these in the past so it’s ok for them to feed):

  • There is a case of skills over-performing such as undaunted skill line abilities with synergies. If you are a solo player (not in group) and use them around many other players, you can get higher returns on AP while in range of the players who have used your synergies. Many players know about this (including the ones who were feeding), as it was made public months ago and they were directly told in voice comms (Discord) the morning of this event.
    If done well, having personally used these skills a lot as a player who is solo most of the time (including that morning), I know that it can result in between 20% and 35% more AP per hour than you would make normally.
    If someone wants to slot a skill on their bar, then use that skill on the Alessia bridge (example of where many players congregate), then they’re not doing anything outside of normal fighting activities even if a skill is over-performing. I use these skills regularly, and while you may disagree with using them to make AP, they are skills that anyone can use anywhere at any time.
  • In the case of a resource or outpost swapping (which was a thing with broken BB mine a while back, and outposts before ZOS changed the tick requirement to having 5 minutes pass), anyone could participate in taking the resource repeatedly, and everyone had the same potential for AP. Show up and you get AP. Everyone can see it happening and can join in, so there’s nothing unbalanced. There were cases of players leaving an AFK macro at Bleakers (where DC and EP swapped it continuously for days) achieving AR50 Grand Overlord in less than a week.

If you feed, you’re unleveling the playing field and it becomes a question of resources, which we measure in time, money, and people:

  • With enough time, you can make more AP than people with less time. As an example, working full time gives me less time to play, so someone who is off school for the summer or unemployed (such as many of the Adrestia guild members) can easily make more AP than me. There’s nothing wrong with this in principle, as better players can make more AP in less time, though there is a balance here – which many of us don’t like, but it is still a balance.
  • With enough money, you can pay people to stand and die for you feeding you ticks. What’s to stop a player from bringing in 50 other players to feed ticks? Absolutely nothing. For each player feeding another, the one being fed can make about 140k / hour in an optimal situation.
    If feeding were included in acceptable activities, then that player will make 7.5 million AP / hour. Many, many people in ESO have gold measured in hundreds of millions or even billions. If someone offered other players one million gold to stand there for an hour or two and die every 5 minutes, would people do it? I’m sure that they would. There would be no way to beat that person on the leader board (not considering seeing swords on the map and interrupting for the sake of this point).
  • With enough friends or guild mates who want to help, a similar scenario to the point above is applicable. In the case of this event, based on the ticks I saw (repaired a wall and got half the tick), there were probably 6 (maybe 7) players feeding. One player gives about 2k AP when killed, and the tick for that player is about 10k (five times at a fully upgraded keep). Ticks of about 75k with a bit less than 12k per player (considering imperfect timing) would require seven players feeding.

None of the above feeding scenarios are against the Terms of Service, EULA, or Code of Conduct. ZOS have made their position clearly known that the players can do what they want, and if they want to role-play killing each other, they are welcome to do so. Many people talk about players policing themselves, though we all know that’s not going to happen. There’s very little that we can do to stop feeding, and I’ve always argued vehemently against feeding because it messes up the balance of the boards.

That’s the summary of my position. If you want to feed, you can go right ahead, but I’m going to clearly state that I believe that it’s a shitty thing to do.

Regarding the allegation that I myself use over performing skills to make more AP, I freely admit that, and some may call me a hypocrite for such. The techniques and methodologies that I use to find those skills and determine their performance for AP percentage returns were also made public as well as the use of synergies, applying debuffs, and spamming skills like Inevitable Detonation when running solo to get very high returns on other players’ efforts killing.

Some people disagree with using them, and they’re entitled to their opinion. Bug reports were made for every skill and set that we believe is over or under performing, and it’s on the ZOS development team to change these things if they want to. If they want to declare something “an exploit” as they did gap closing over non-contiguous ground until they changed their code, they are entitled to do that. If they declare something an exploit, then we will obviously not use it – though we may argue with them. Until and unless they explicitly state that “using the altar skill when you are solo and there are other players around you is an exploit”, I fully intend to keep using altars on the Alessia bridge until they change how that skill works. Incidentally we’ve tested on PTS, and it looks like AP percentage returns are being much better balanced in the Necromancer update (2019/05/20).

In my opinion, and you are welcome to disagree (as I’m sure many of you do), there is a very big difference between:

  • Running up to the bridge or a breach and dropping an altar, then spamming trapping webs or inner fire.
  • Having your guild mates swap factions and feed you ticks.

In ZOS’ opinion they are both acceptable practice. If you as a player disagree, again, you’re entitled to your opinion. The ToS allow for all of this, and it’s on each player to determine their own code of ethics.

A very simple method for ZOS to address these types of situations would be to eliminate any AP that one player gets from killing another if there have not been any other players who made AP off of the killed player in a subsequent kill/death. If you are against feeding, suggest this or something like this to ZOS. If you have other ideas on how to combat feeding, please feel free to let me know the details, and I’ll add them here and suggest them to ZOS myself.

Incidentally, after a heated debate / argument in the ESO PvP discord the evening of 2019/05/14, the server hosting this web site came under attack around 1:30 am eastern and the ESO PvP Discord disappeared.

For those interested in web server attack details:

This is the normal level of traffic from a week prior to the attack:

This was the traffic from the day of the attack:

The web site was down until about 5 pm when I got home from work and could migrate it to an AWS stack with CloudFlare front-end.

No direct accusations are being made with regards to the party or parties responsible, though it was rather coincidental and interesting timing.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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

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.


  • 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).


  • 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 75k 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.
  • 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, scatter-shots, 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 (VD no longer procs on siege – those were the good old days!. 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 (Templar Nerfs in late 2019 killed this option). 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. If you’re in it for the long run, then it might even be in your interest to sleep or take a break in prime time. With lag and disconnects / crashes happening often enough, you may make more AP with less population on the map. Record your AP per hour every hour and keep track of when works best for you.
    • 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. 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 seen PvE guilds do this in order to help new players or new characters get the required skills in the Alliance War skill line (caltrops / vigor / proxy). I personally feel that this isn’t much of an issue as they are not affecting the leaderboards, and are thus not impacting anyone else’s ability to play and achieve emperor.
  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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!


  • 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.


  • 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.

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.

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.

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 retreating manoeuvres.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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