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.
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.
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.
The math behind ESO has changed many times, and likely will change many more times. You’ll hear theory crafters talking about additive or multiplicative sets, buffs, debuffs, champion points, and skills. Here’s what that means with some math examples:
For the purpose of this example, the attacker is going to hit the defender with a skill. The base damage of the skill is 10,000 damage. If both parties are not using any gear, have no champion points, no buffs, zero armour and zero magic resist, then the defender will take the full 10,000 damage.
Consider the attacker then adds some champion points that adjust their damage output by 25%. That’s great, as their attack will now do (10,000 * 1.25 = 12,500) damage. In that first calculation, it doesn’t matter if we multiply the base damage by 1.25, or if we take 25% of that damage and add it to the total. With only one calculation (there’s NEVER only one calculation) the result is the same. Here are the two possible equations:
Multiplicative: 10,000 * 1.25 = 12,500
Additive: 10,000 + (10,000 * 0.25) = 12,500
Next, consider what happens if the attacker uses a buff that increases their damage output by 25% more. There are a few ways that this can play out depending on if the math is additive or multiplicative:
In this case, there’s only a difference of 625 damage, but consider that there may be 10+ different parts of the equation in normal fighting, and different sets, buffs, debuffs, champion points, and skills may each be treated differently (multiplicative or additive) in the equations. This is rendered even more challenging as the ZOS team may change how a particular item is treated in each patch, so a theory crafter will need to test and keep track of numbers / math for every set, buff, debuff, champion point, etc. every patch!
With ten instances of a 25% increase in damage (remember that this isn’t possible, it’s just being used to demonstrate how the math works):
One more example to put this into perspective is damage mitigation. For this example, we’re going to consider an AoE damage skill hitting someone with the following mitigation. Note that the likelihood of this actually happening is low, but it makes for a good example to understand.
Major Protection (30% Mitigation)
Minor Protection (8% Mitigation)
Heartland 4-Set Bonus (5% Mitigation)
Heartland 5-set Bonus (20% Mitigation)
Major Evasion (25% Mitigation)
Minor Evasion (10% Mitigation)
Swift Set (10% Mitigation)
Elemental Defender CP (15% Mitigation)
Thick Skinned CP (25% Mitigation)
If we add up all that mitigation together: 30+8+5+20+25+10+10+15+25 =148.
148% mitigation doesn’t make sense, and would reduce any AoE from players down to zero damage.
If all mitigation is multiplicative (it’s not like that, but for this example we’re pretending that it is), it will make more sense. Note that 20% mitigation means I will multiply the damage by 0.80. The calculation for how to turn a percentage into a multiplier is: (damage * (1 – 0.mitigation%))
With all nine sources of mitigation multiplicative, 0.70 * 0.92 * 0.95 * 0.80 * 0.75 * 0.90 * 0.90 * 0.85 * 0.75 = 0.19
In this case, the defender will have 81% mitigation and take 19% damage. From our original example of 10,000 damage (before buffs, CP, and sets that increase damage, the defender would take 1,895 damage. Note again that this is NOT a comprehensive example and does not include armour, magic resist, and other multipliers. It’s just an example to help you understand the math.
Sources of Stamina, Health, and Magicka cost reduction that are obtained from passives, abilities, or item sets are now all multiplicative, rather than being a mixture of additive and multiplicative.
Block mitigation now has a cap of 90%. This was done to prevent situations where you could reach 100% damage mitigation.
In Conclusion: Not everything is multiplicative, so it’s up to you to figure out which sources of damage and mitigation work out best for your build and/or group composition, and ensure that you have (at least) those available if you’re going to min/max.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
Rather than write more about PvP addons, I made a video showing how I like to set up for healing.
This is using (not quite) minimal addons to get all of the options that I want available. When I have the time, I’ll add comments / notes to the video on Youtube with the time links for each addon, so for now you can probably watch it at 4x the speed and just pause when you get to the configs you’re looking for!
Here are my Minion addons list (as of 2020/Q4). Note that not all of these are active in PvP!
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.
Does your group consistently lose fights in Cyrodiil? Do you seem to get ROFLStomped every time you come up to another organized group? It may be the leader, it may be a huge difference in skill, it may be that their group composition and builds are much better aligned than yours, or it may be a combination of all those and more.
Group composition is one of the biggest challenges that leaders and strategists face. Many groups have different players in different raids, and expecting strict adherence to build details can be challenging. Rather than provide detailed gear, set, skill, and champion point specifications that are subject to change more often than I want to update these guides, I’m going to provide a high level overview of how I look at group composition strategies with a few examples in the hope of helping you better strategize your own groups.
This is meant to help groups who are trying to figure out how to plan their compositions and builds, or solo/small players who want to join groups of 12 and be able to perform for the group rather than for their own numbers or kill records. If your group already has a strategist building a composition for you, this may serve as reference material to them, though keep in mind that your strategist knows your group (leader’s, damage dealers’, healers’, and supports’ preferences, styles, and capabilities) better than I do, and will be better able to set up builds that best compliment their capabilities and styles.
The Raid Leader
While it’s reasonable for the raid leader to be a damage dealer, they are the ones who will control group movement and the location where damage should be focused. Considering that there is a 1-2 seconds gap between where the leader sees themselves on the screen and where everyone else is located, hard cc is the most important capability in the leader’s arsenal. Whether it be fears or stuns, the leader has to be able to maintain them, while keeping their awareness of everything and everyone around them. Instant cc is most often associated to a magicka NB due to their fear skill. Turn undead from the Fighter’s Guild skill line is a viable alternative for a stamina build. I personally prefer magicka NB leaders, though everyone has their preference. As long as you have a hard cc in your kit, and manage your damage dealers to focus on the opponents that you hard cc, any class can be a good leader.
Every group needs one stamina build running Charging Maneuver for major and minor expedition. Historically this would be a stamina healer, often a Warden due to Green Lotus and Mend Wounds (Psyjic) synergy and their wonderful ability to keep healing while standing in a Negate. My current preference is for the Stamina Speeder to be a damage dealer running Powerful Assault with one other damage set and a monster set (if not using a Mythic) such as Selene. They will use Shuffle (5 medium armour) for Major Evasion. Their first priority is to keep Charging Maneuver up (cast every 7 seconds for an 8 second buff ensuring near 100% uptime), then deal damage – often with Whirling Blades. I’ve seen some viable builds using Vicious Death on weapons and jewelry (enchanted with weapon damage), though have never tried it myself.
Damage Dealers (Magicka)
Damage dealer builds are likely among the most consistent for most groups. Keeping in mind that many min/max groups will have their own opinions, and my recommendations here are based on what will work best for the most groups of diverse players. My current preferences are for one DK (Talons / Deep Breath), then NBs and Wardens (highest damage after NB) for main sources of damage. Necromancers are awesome for graveyards and smash (ult), though they don’t bring as much damage as other classes. If you have two Necromancer healers who can supply graveyards and the occasional smash ultimate, you may not want any Necromancer damage dealers in your composition.
Between sets, character points, passives, enchants (most should be tri-chants), and champion points, you should have 30k health. Unbuffed.
You should be in 5 light, 1 medium, and 1 heavy armour.
Most builds will be using Harmony on their jewelry with weapon/spell damage enchants. The first part of the damage cycle should be coordinating proxy detonations with a harmony synergy on a Necromancer’s graveyard, a Templar’s Nova, and as many other relevant synergies as possible.
Choose a defensive 5-set. As of 2021/06 with procs working again in Cyrodiil, Vicious Death is once again the great group killer. It doesn’t matter how good your group is when a few random players close enough to you can cause your group to wipe.
This is why I believe (as of 2021/06) that all classes except for NB (as they have their own source of Major Evasion) should be running Spectre’s Eye. The 5-set bonus provides Major Evasion for 30 seconds whenever you cast a magicka ability.
You can keep your back bar weapon(s) as Spectre’s Eye along with three body pieces, so you only need it to swap to your back bar, cast a magicka ability every 30 seconds (when it falls off – as it won’t refresh the buff timer) to maintain that sweet 20% AoE damage mitigation.
Alternatively if you back bar a special weapon (such as Vateshran, VMA, Master’s or others) then your front bar would be a crafted Spectre’s Eye staff, something very easy to acquire (unlike the Burning Spellweave destro staff that took me more than 200 runs to get).
More detail on Spectre’s Eye vs. Gossamer is lower down in the healer section.
Choose an offensive 5-set. This will likely be Vicious Death. Kill one player and start a chain reaction. This is the way.
Your monster 2-set will likely be Balorgh. Ensure the highest damage during bombs. If you’re going to use a Mythic set piece, breaking Balorgh and using only 1 piece is a viable option.
You have many options for your weapon bars. I’m not going to make recommendations, as there are too many viable options between Vateshran, Master’s, vMA, and others. Pick what works best for you and your group. I’ve noted some success with a front bar Lightning Staff of Spectre’s Eye and a back bar VMA Resto staff (for that sweet magicka regen). Again, pick what works best for you, keeping the above ideas in mind.
In your Champion Point setup:
Unassailable (blue) provides 10% mitigation of area damage. This is one more defence against VD procs and ultimate bombs.
Slippery (red) will automatically break you free of cc every 21 seconds. You may believe that you can break free quickly, and you may have tried this CP and found that it doesn’t always work (necessitating a manual break free), though there will be times in high lag and latency situations where it will break you free before you even realize you’re hard cc’ed.
The rest of your CP should orient towards movement speed in green, extra damage in blue, and health/armour/defence in red.
If you are a NB and have slotted Phantasmal Escape (for Major Evasion), you don’t need Spectre’s Eye and can run a second damage set. I enjoy Mechanical Acuity for guaranteed critical strikes on bombs.
Healing compositions can be challenging, especially with the limited number of set slots available. Once again keeping in mind that these recommendations are meant to help the most groups, as well as solo players who are looking to build for groups. If you have a min/max group with your own theory crafters, take the information here as idea inputs and not gospel.
Between sets, character points, passives, enchants (most should be tri-chants), and champion points, you should have 30k health. Unbuffed.
You should be in 5 light, 1 medium, and 1 heavy armour.
Most builds will be using magicka regeneration enchants with one Swift and either the Arcane (max magicka) or Infused (more effect of the enchant) on their other jewelry. I personally prefer running three Swift.
Choose a defensive 5-set. As of 2021/06 with procs working again in Cyrodiil, Vicious Death is once again the great group killer. It doesn’t matter how good your group is, if there are a few random players close enough to you, their deaths will ensure yours. This is why I suggest Spectre’s Eye on all classes except for NB (as they have their own source of Major Evasion). The 5-set bonus of Spectre’s Eye provides Major Evasion for 30 seconds whenever you cast a magicka ability. You can keep your back bar weapon(s) as Spectre’s Eye along with three body pieces, so you only need it to swap to your back bar, cast a magicka ability every 30 seconds (when it falls off – as it won’t refresh the buff timer) to maintain that sweet 20% AoE damage mitigation. Every healer (not Cleanser) who is running Spectre’s Eye back bar should have a Master’s resto front bar to supply the regeneration buff from their Illustrious casts.
Before choosing a healing (proc) set, first confirm what classes you have healing:
Templars are the classic healer. Their value used to come from Breath of Life, though this skill’s smart targeting has been decidedly not-smart for a long time. Run a few tests yourself by having a few friendly players all use Equilibrium to keep their health at different levels (as low as possible on one, and missing only a few thousand health on others). You’ll note that the *big* heal from BoL won’t always hit the player with low health, it’ll even sometimes hit out of group on a guard or other friendly player missing 1k health rather than the group member right in front of you missing 25k health. It’s still a powerful skill, though the NB and Necromancer single target burst heals have better / smarter targeting, so in the current patch (as of 2021/06) I recommend only one Templar healer in an optimal healing composition. Value comes from Extended Ritual being capable of proc’ing various sets and CP, in addition to solid mid level area heals from Repentance (with bodies) and Ritual of Rebirth (or Hasty Prayer if you don’t have a speeder in your composition).
Night Blades have a diverse skill set, and will use more Resto staff skills. Merciless Resolve gives them 10% extra critical healing, and they will want to have (blue) CP providing 10% more critical healing (for 20% more than others – at least those without the CP as well). Most of their healing will come from Healthy Offering (smart single target), Blessing of Restoration, and Illustrious. The value in a NB is that they bring their own Major Evasion, so can run two healing sets without affecting their survivability.
Necromancers have the best mid level area heal in the game. Renewing Undeath is a good area heal slightly larger than most, and it will purge (removing 3 negative effects) from anyone in the area if you consume a corpse. Between their own Spirit Guardian (10% damage mitigation) corpses and dead bodies, this becomes a spammable heal/purge made even better by the new Salve CP (area heal on removal of negative effects) that can get a group out of a counter bomb consuming one corpse on each cast after killing a group of opponents.
Sorcerers run Cleanse and Power Surge. VMA resto staff back bar with Radiating Regen for magicka recovery.
Wardens don’t bring as much value right now. Their cone heal provides minor regen buffs, any of their healing provides a buff to max health (though this can come from Radiating Regen on a damage dealing Warden), but otherwise they tend not to be as valuable as the above three classes.
Dragon Knight healers are of very low value in PvP. They just don’t have the kit that other classes do. Some players enjoy them, and there’s nothing stopping them from playing how they want, though they’re not welcome in my compositions.
Based on having five to six healers in a group, at least one of which is a NB, there are between six and eight healing sets available (one for each healer and two on NBs). The sets I recommend are as follows:
Curse Eater. The cool down for Curse Eater is on the player (not the healer), so having two of these in group is reasonable. Curse Eater can be great on any healer, though Necromancers with the Salve of Renewal CP (area heals when removing a negative effect) complements their purges from Renewing Undeath. By stacking the negative effect removals on Necromancers, the slottable CP won’t need to be on the other healers (just Cleanse Sorcs).
A second Curse Eater either on your second Necromancer or on your Templar.
Transmutation. Considering that NBs gain extra crit healing (from maintaining Merciless Resolve), I’ve tended towards giving them any set that has critical strike chance on it.
Worm Cult. Extra magicka regen for the group always helps. I tend to prefer this as the second set on a NB.
Spell Power Cure. More damage buffs! This works very well on a Sorc, and will be easily applied by their Power Surge and Radiating Regen.
Meritorious Service. This needs to be on a Sorcerer, as every cast of Cleanse will apply it. 3450 resistance is just over 5% damage mitigation.
If there’s a seventh set slot available, Combat Physician is very viable as a second set on a NB (who also runs Transmutation with the extra critical strike chance bonus).
If there is an eighth set slot available, Hiti’s Hearth is viable. The heal from Hiti’s Hearth isn’t large, though it will proc other heal-based procs. While a proc isn’t supposed to proc another proc per game design, this has been a long running bug (years), so may be viable in some contexts. The stamina cost reduction is very nice in some context.
If the group is not running Spectre’s Eye, then Gossamer is a requirement. The buff only lasts one second, and only applies when actual damage is healed, so the initial hit from an incoming bomb will not be mitigated. The decision between everyone (except NBs and the stamina builds) running Spectre’s eye and having multiple Gossamer sets in group is one for your strategist. I’ve found that it takes three Gossamer in a group to ensure adequate coverage. Considering how high damage is (as of 2021/06), Spectre’s Eye will likely be the better choice.
Hiti’s Hearth. The heal from Hiti’s Hearth isn’t large, though it will proc other heal-based procs. While a proc isn’t supposed to proc another proc per game design, this has been a long running bug (years), so may be viable in some contexts. The stamina cost reduction is very nice in some context.
Hollowfang Thirst. Hollowfang work exceptionally well for some groups, and horribly for others. It depends on movement style, and how much fighting you’re going to be doing in more cramped conditions (keeps and chokes) where the Hemoglobin balls can spawn.
If the group runs tightly stacked (seven meter range), Almalexia’s Mercy may be viable. It’s not as powerful as prior to the 2021/06 patch, though the output is still reasonable. I don’t love this on a healer, as it doesn’t require healing – so it can be on any player such as a dedicated defile/support DK if you want one in group (I don’t).
Prayer Shawl. Prayer Shawl applies on overheal, so it’s more of a preparatory skill increasing the available health pool pre-bomb. If your group is min/max or at least regular experienced players, its value is a lot lower. If you’re running a Pick up Group (PuG), then it may be viable to help newer and squishier players.
Saxheel Champion. Some believe this to be viable for a healer with the Replenishing Barrier ultimate. As you’re moving into a bomb, the healer casts Barrier to protect your group from counter damage, giving your damage dealers 20% extra critical damage (especially those NBs in Acuity/VD). The use of this set will depend on how your strategist sets your group and how your leader wants to run your bombs.
Earthgore (as of 2021/06) only removes negative ground effects directly under the player on whom it proc’ed at the time it procs. The animation of Earthgore’s blood rain is not related to ground effect removal – only the range of who the heals may tick on. The Earthgore heal will also not always target the lowest health player in range (per tool tip) – this was inconsistent in our testing. Thanks to the Ballistic crew for their time in helping to test this.
Bogdan the Nightflame totems have a reasonable heal with a reasonable radius, and running a few of them in group can help a lot when on a ram, in a choke, or in any given bomb or negate that you’re trying to live through. Nightflame can be amazing or useless depending on the group style, positioning, and what they’re fighting.
Symphony of Blades. Resource regen every 18 seconds per player when they’re under 50% resources. One of these in every group is very valuable.
As of 2021/06, Regardless of Earthgore’s limitation, it’s still a very powerful set, and will remove a good number of ground effects. In the first two raids post-patch (with procs back), of 34 total negates in which Earthgore proc’ed on one of our group, there were 19 of them removed. Earthgore is never a wrong choice on a healer, though you shouldn’t rely on it for actual healing. I suggest that you have your healers try Nightflame (perhaps an even split with half in Earthgore and half in Nightflame) and see how it feels to you.
Ensure that you’re looking at logs to assess its healing, and ensure that you’re looking at the times before players die – not just the total healing amount that it does.
Huge healing when you’re only taking cursory damage is wasted.
Keeping big heals out just in case you’re about to be bombed may be reasonable or may be a waste of resources. It’s subjective, contextual, and there’s no right or wrong – you do what your raid leader (or heal leader) tells you to do, be it “your best” or “what I tell you to do”.
Enlivening Overflow (blue) provides 150 resource regeneration on overheal. This should be on one healer, as the buff doesn’t stack (it actually does in some circumstances, though that’s a bug and not working as intended.
From the Brink (blue) will shield a ally that you heal when they are below 25% health. The base shield size in Cyrodiil (due to Battle Spirit) is 5,500. This can be very significant in giving your low health group members (and allies you heal) one more tick of damage before they would otherwise die. I believe that this should be on one healer in group, and likely the one with the most consistent healing ticks being applied. In my own play style, I get the best results on a Templar for this, though we haven’t yet run enough raids with this new CP to confirm a position.
Salve of Renewal (blue) provides an area heal centered on any player on whom you remove a negative effect. This definitely needs to be on Cleanse Sorcs and Necromancer healers. Its value on other healers will depend on how much they purge/cleanse and on whether they’re running the Curse Eater set.
Sample Group Composition
This is meant as an example of a viable composition. Please do not set your group up exactly like this and expect good results. How your group performs with any given setup has many more factors than just builds.
Damage Dealer 1
Damage Dealer 2
Damage Dealer 3
Damage Dealer 4
Spell Power Cure
There is no one true way, and no single composition that will win vs. all others. Your strategists and leaders need to decide for themselves how you’re going to play, what you’re going to fight, and with the players that you have available, what is best for your group.
You could be the absolute best damage build in existence. You could kill thousands of opponents. Your bombs could generate enough ultimate from Combat Frenzy that you could chain them back to back and keep killing forever. The only problem is, you have a finite amount of health, and you won’t be able to do any of this if you’re dead. Too many bombers and DPS players seem to think that they are the be-all and end-all of PvP. Many don’t realize that they wouldn’t be able to do anything without the healers and support roles that keep them alive, keep them moving, keep them purged, and keep them buffed with a myriad of benefits.
Raid healing may seem simple, and I’ve heard many people say things like “get a set of Seducer and just spam heals”. In reality, raid healing takes more awareness, predictive assessment, better reaction times, exceptional positioning, and a higher degree of coordination than most damage roles. A group leader will call for ultimates or some damage skills, but rarely will a raid leader make healing related calls other than “big heals” or some variant thereof. Raid healers will need to coordinate their gear, their movement, their skills, their timing, their ultimates, and may not be able to take advantage of voice communications to do so (the purview of the group leader making calls).
In this guide / post, my intent is to give an overview of what different gear, skills, and styles should exist for Templar raid healers so that your group can better plan and optimize (min/max) how you’re going to keep your DPS and bombers alive. If you’re a solo player or a small group player, while the information here might be interesting it won’t apply significantly to your play style. Note that while the focus here is on Templars, other classes can be viable raid healers as well. The information presented here is also focused on the premise that the healers in group will be coordinated and will want to min/max as a group rather than as individuals.
Individual healers playing in a group (as opposed to the aforementioned coordinated healers) will often want to use a higher regen or sustain set rather than one that will complement the group (such as Shroud of the Lich or Alteration Mastery).
As a main 5-set, most Templars will be very happy using Kagrenac’s Hope. This set has been a staple for many years, and gives a bit of everything: health, magicka, magicka regen, spell damage and the always important speed resurrection. This set pairs very well with The Master’s Resto as you can keep a Kagrenac’s resto staff, dual wield swords or sword & shield on one bar (depending on your build), and use The Master’s Resto for Illustrious Healing to apply the resource regeneration buff on your back bar.
For a second 5-set (or choice of two if you won’t be using Kagrenac’s Hope), there are a few options as listed below. While this is not an exhaustive list of all the good possibilities, and there are a lot of niche builds for small man that are very different, these are the main sets that raid healers should be running:
5 items: When you heal yourself or an ally with a healing over time ability, grant them 1400 Critical Resistance for 5 seconds.This is required for one healer (preferably a Templar). The Transmutation buff mitigates about 20% of extra critical strike damage. Every healer should have a set, and only one healer needs to run it in any given raid.
(5 items) When you heal yourself or an ally with a direct heal ability, remove up to 3 negative effects from them. If a negative effect was removed this way, your target restores 678 Magicka. This effect can occur every 8 seconds per target.
(5 items) Casting abilities that leave an effect on the ground will create a circle of healing frost for 10 seconds. You and your allies restore 2358 Health every 1 second while inside the circle. This effect can occur once every 10 seconds.
(5 items) When you heal yourself or an ally with an ability, gain a Warming Aura for 10 seconds. While in the Warming Aura, you and group members restore 1020 Health every 1 second and reduce the cost of Sprint, Block, and Roll Dodge by 5%. This effect can occur once every 12 seconds.
Nice to have on one healer who applies a lot of HoTs.
(5 items) When you heal yourself or an ally that is at 100% Health, you have a 50% chance to give the target Major Courage for 10 seconds which increases their Weapon Damage and Spell Damage by 258.
(5 items) Casting abilities that leave an effect on the ground in combat will create a circle of might for 10 seconds. You and your allies standing in the circle gain Major Courage for 30 seconds, increasing your Weapon Damage and Spell Damage by 258. This effect can occur once every 10 seconds.
There are a few other sets that could be of value to a group, though they tend to be more situational and depend on the conditions in which you’re playing. Note that Worm (magicka management for 12 players) and Sanctuary (increase healing received by 12% for 12 players) may seem healing relevant, they can be used and applied by any player. Only healers can apply heal proc set effects, so these should be used by non-healers if they are needed in group.
When an ally activates your synergy, they heal themselves for ~ 19 k Health over 10 seconds and gain Minor Force, increasing their Critical Damage done by 12%.
This set can be exceptionally good, though it will depend on how many spells the player can cast that have synergies, as well as the lag conditions – which affect whether synergies can even be seen or used.There are some niche compositions and interesting conditions in which this set can be of value.
The value of this set is to help mitigate damage when your group is being bombed. If your group has a turtle capability (eating multiple bombs and live through it), then this set can help in very situational fights.
When you take damage, you have a 10% chance to grant you and your allies within 8 meters a damage shield that absorbs 12 k damage for 6 seconds. This effect can occur once every 15 seconds.
The monster 2-set completing the healer’s gear list could be Bogdan the Nightflame, Earthgore, Symphony, Troll King, or others that provide value to the group – rather than damage. Many healers in 5 light armour prefer Blood Spawn for the added defence stats (during proc) and ultimate return. Earthgore may seem like the best choice for its ability to remove ground effects (including ultimates), but keep in mind that multiple Earthgore procs at the same time won’t give much benefit. Two or three Earthgores in the group is enough.
On the topic of armour, most (if not all) healers (and magicka DPS) should use 5 light armour, one medium, and one heavy. If the sets you’re using support it (Kagrenac’s Hope does as it’s a crafted set), the chest piece should be heavy (as it gives the most armour) and one of the head, pants, boots or shoulders should be medium. Note that the belt gives the least armour so should always be light, and the gloves give second to least armour (so in 5 heavy builds the belt should be light and gloves medium to min/max defensive stats). The value that a group build gets from the light armour passives far outweighs the defensive stats that heavy brings. You may be 1-shot ganked, but remember that your build and group comp is meant to fight other groups, not chase one or two gankers or tower humpers.
If you feel that you need more survivability, then I suggest using a defensive set as your jewelry/weapons rather than changing to 5 heavy armour. You can enchant and transmute your jewelry and maintain the levels of regen, cost reduction, and spell damage that you need while gaining some survivability and keeping one of the group healing sets discussed earlier.
I’m a firm believer in all pieces having tri-stat enchants. If you’re low on gold, then put tri-stat enchants on your major pieces (head / chest / legs), and the trait that you need most (probably magicka) on your minor pieces. Your goal for resources between gear set bonuses, enchants, and character points should be about 28k health, at least 32k magicka, and 16k stamina. My preference for stamina is to have enough to break free, dodge roll, sprint for 2 seconds (to be back in your position in the group), and be able to break free again just in case. Considering that magicka Templars tend to have low stamina regen, about 16k is the right amount to cover this.
The jewelry enchants that will probably be best for most healers are two magicka regen and one magicka cost reduction, though there are some builds where three magicka regen are best, and others where one magicka regen, one magicka cost reduction, and one spell damage are best. As a healer, you need to know how each of the skills that you use are affected by your spell damage vs maximum magicka (how much more healing or damage they do), and get a feel for how your group requires heals. If you tend to continuously spam spells, cost reduction is advantageous. If you have some delay in between casts and you have more casting down time then regen is likely best. There is no one true way, and each player needs to determine what is most efficient for their role and responsibilities. If you’re the type who doesn’t want to think about it and just wants to run something “good”, then go two regen and one cost reduction.
The trait on at least two of your jewelry should be Swift. While DPS builds can get away with using a Ring of the Wild Hunt or another mythic item, your best value as a healer is the ability to proc healing sets, so you shouldn’t break those sets if possible.
One of your bars will need to be a resto staff. As to which resto staff you should run, the most likely options to synergize with your builds are as follows:
A resto staff that completes a 5-set bonus (most likely).
Master’s resto staff that will restore resources to those in your Illustrious Healing. There should be a few healers with The Master’s resto staff as the buff will stack from multiple sources. Even though a second cast removes the first cast’s ground effect, you may still cast the skill repeatedly in some situations to keep the regen buff.
Maelstrom resto staff that will help restore some magicka. This is more for smaller groups, and not for large raid healing builds.
Asylum resto staff that will reduce the cost of other heals when you use blessing of protection or combat prayer. This could be good in a niche build, but is not likely in a medium to large group.
Your other bar may be a sword and shield, two swords, a destro staff (probably lightning), or a second resto staff. Here’s the comparison:
1H & Shield
Dual Wield passive gives you more healing.
Second weapon gives you more spell damage.
Quick Cloak mitigates 25% of AoE damage.
You look really bad-ass.
You can block when stationary or moving slowly.
You can block more damage at less cost.
You can role play being a knight with a big shield.
You can run Blockade to provide the “off ballance” debuff with lightning or slows with ice.
If you feel the need to block, you can do so with ice and keep your stamina for breaking free or rolling.
You can adjust your bars for Radiating Regen and Illustrious Healing on different bars.
You can light attack to proc different poisons from ranged on both bars.
Most healers should be running powered weapons in most groups. Precise for critical strike chance and Nirn for spell damage could work for some niche builds.
Rounding out stats on your healer will be your Mundus stone. My preference is The Atronach for magicka recovery (letting me change a ring’s regen enchant which are more easily swapped as needed during a raid). The Ritual for increased healing is likely the most efficient if your build and play style has sufficient magicka management. Other viable options could be The Mage for maximum magicka, or The Apprentice for increased Spell Damage.
Once you’ve worked out which sets you’re going to use, gotten your equipment, gotten the right traits on everything (Impenetrable on armour with few exceptions and Powered on weapons with few exceptions), you will need to determine which skills to use. Depending on how many healers you have in group, you should be able to determine if you’re going to need to spend most of your time spamming healing, or if you’ll be able to cast many other skills as well.
If we’re in combat, I am always casting something. Here is the logic behind what I cast and prioritize for standard Cyrodiil medium to large group scenarios. The lower the number of the line, the higher priority, so for every cast you could start at the first option, if that’s not needed, consider the second, if that’s not needed consider the third, etc.
Remembrance or Barrier. Is there an emergency, is the group being bombed, or are a lot of people missing enough health to warrant it? Note that you may interrupt Remembrance once the group is almost out of range (or topped off) so that you don’t get stuck catching up.
Repentance. If you’re not at full Stamina or someone in range is missing health, Repentance if available.
Hasty Prayer. Are burst heals needed immediately within 10 meters? Hasty Prayer. I tend to look at burst heals being needed if three or more players are missing 25% of their health.
Breath of Life, Healing Ward, or Ritual of Rebirth (alternate Hasty Prayer morph). If one person is out of range and is missing 25% of their health, face their direction and cast one of these.
Race Against Time. If speed is needed or snares are irritating, this will GYTFO.
Channeled Focus. Ensure that you have Channeled Focus up for the armour/resist and the magicka regeneration.
Energy Orb. Cast Energy Orb in the direction the group is moving so that it hits the most people for the resource Synergy every 20 seconds.
Quick Cloak. Ensure that you have Quick Cloak up (if in dual wield swords build) for Major Evasion (unless the group has external coverage from enough Gossamer, or you’re running Spectre’s Eye).
Extended Ritual. Keep an Extended Ritual down. If the entire group has moved out or past it, recast.
Illustrious Healing. Keep an Illustrious Healing down every 10-12 seconds. This may be higher priority for applying The Master’s Resto resource regeneration buff.
Radiating Regeneration. Ensure that you have two Radiating Regeneration cast every ten seconds.
A Dawn’s Wrath skill is needed by one Templar per 12 players in group in order to provide Minor Sorcery every 20 seconds. The ultimate regen is nice too.
Mage Light is a good choice if you have a free slot. It gives 10% spell crit, and you can detect stealthed players when they try to escape.
Your champion point setup may be different depending on your role, your group composition, and if you want to be lazy and have one setup that works for both healing and DPS. You can see my current (2020/Q3) preferred setup in the screen shot below, along with a sample build for raid healing.
Healing as a stamina warden is both simpler and more challenging than healing as a templar. Your kit is smaller with only a select few healing spells, and you have to keep more independent buffs up, but you make up for it with a level of burst healing that a templar can only output in some specific circumstances with builds that have among the highest of skill caps.
Your front bar needs to be two daggers, as the Dual Wield passive Twin Blade and Blunt for daggers increases your critical strike chance.
Your back bar will be a bow if you’re using Bombard, or a 2H Maul (Master’s, perfected preferred) if using Carve. See the section on the back bar’s skills for that decision.
I recommend the Swift trait on at least two of your three jewelry to ensure that you have the speed to maintain appropriate positioning outside the group for better coverage of Soothing Spores.
The key to stamina warden healing is your critical strike percentage. You need to increase it to somewhere between 60% and 80%, while maintaining sufficient stamina regeneration to keep your skills usable for the duration of a standard engagement (ask your raid leader what that time is, usually between 30 and 60 seconds). Considering the requirement for critical strikes on healing, Leviathan is going to be your base set. This provides one maximum stamina bonus, with the rest being critical chance.
You may want a second 5-set bonus that provides a buff to the group such as Powerful Assault. This will proc on your Echoing Vigor casts, hitting six allies every cast. A maximum of twelve targets may have your 10 second HoT (Heal over Time) at any given time.
If your group’s style will require you to spam more big heals for a longer fight duration, then Battlefield Acrobat is a great option.
If you want to maximize your raw healing, Briarheart will add critical strike chance and a significant amount of weapon damage. It will also heal you for extra when you critically strike (heal) others! This set requires that you damage someone to proc it, so you will need a ranged skill that can critically hit at least once every 15 seconds. Using a bow with bombard on your back bar, or using the caltrops skill are simple methods of keeping the buff up.
For your monster set (head and shoulders), your best option is Nightflame. The 1-set bonus of maximum magicka is not optimal, though you will still be using magicka, and your stamina regeneration should be quite high, so this is not a wasted stat. Nightflame will drop a totem that heals allies every second for 10 seconds, and as long as you keep healing it will keep dropping on cooldown (every 10 seconds). The amount of the heal is not as high as many HoTs, but it’s consistent, and can be the difference between someone dying and getting out of a negate or cc with very low health.
A common alternative monster set is Earthgore. Earthgore is valued not so much for the heal, but for the ground effect removal when it procs. The challenge with Earthgore is that it will often proc at the same time if multiple healers are using it, potentially wasting all but the first one. This set should be on a healing class that outputs the most consistent and regular HoTs and heals, so if you have templar healers in raid, you probably won’t be running this.
Troll King is another solid set that is very often discounted in favour of others. While Nightflame is almost always a better choice, the extra health recovery is equivalent to another HoT, and helps the group by increasing passive healing without being limited by location (as the totem is). For highly mobile smaller groups who are planning to farm a tower, or the top floor of a keep, Troll King is very viable (though this build is less so).
Bloodspawn is a very good option, as it comes with stamina regen, and will give you 13 ultimate every time it procs (quite often in combat). This will allow you to cast even more Healing Thickets. The set you likely use will be a toss up between Nightflame and Bloodspawn.
As usual, I recommend that both bars have poisons, specifically the 4.4 second Immovable poison on your ranged bar (if you have one), and the 3.9 second Immovable poison on your melee bar.
Bewitched Sugar Skulls is likely the best choice for food, as it provides all three stats with some health regen.
Potion preferences are up to the individual, though the staple Health/Stamina/Immovable and Health/Lingering Health/Invisibility as well as something with Minor Heroism (for ultimate regen) are nice to keep slotted.
The front bar skills that are most appropriate are as follows:
Echoing Vigor. This is the staple HoT (Heal over Time) that you need to cast twice every ten seconds. This HoT is limited to twelve targets, and applies to six targets every cast. Note that the application is capable of overlapping, so if you have a free cooldown available casting it again is not necessarily a wasted cast.
Soothing Spores. This is your big / burst heal. Like most stamina skills, it can be cast while silenced, so while your templar and magicka warden raid healers are trying to get out of a silence, you can laugh your way through spamming some enormous critical heals.
Camouflaged Hunter. This skill is on your bar to provide major savagery, which increases your critical strike chance. It’s also nice to detect stealthed opponents. An alternative to this skill is Green Lotus. I prefer Camouflaged Hunter as it applies the critical strike bonus as a passive as long as it is slotted without needing to spend a cast cycle for it. If you want the buff available while on both bars, then use Green Lotus on your back bar, and another skill in this slot.
Shuffle. Shuffle will give you immunity from snares for five seconds (assuming you’re using 5 pieces of medium armour), and must be on your front bar.
Deceptive Predator. Deceptive Predator provides you with Major Expedition for 6 seconds. It also provides Minor Evasion, reducing damage from area attacks. If your group has someone whose responsibility is to maintain Major Expedition (such as a stamina sorcerer spamming Charging Maneuvers, this this skill may be replaced, though consider that in order to cover everyone perfectly with Soothing Spores you will need to be outside the group, and thus will usually need Major Expedition more often. Even with someone keeping up Charging Maneuvers, Minor Evasion has tremendous value in allowing you to stay in an otherwise untenable position to get one more Soothing Spores off from a perfect position to save your group.
Healing Thicket. A lower cost and high value healing ultimate – what’s not to love? While the other morph (Enchanted Forest) will almost always give you an extra 20 ultimate on cast (lowering the time to your next cast), Healing Thicket’s HoT will remain on players for 4 seconds once they leave the area of the effect – which will often coincide with a bomb, so those extra 4 seconds of healing will often save a life.
Your back bar has one variable slot that will usually either be Bombard or Carve, then the rest are utility and buffs:
Bombard, Carve, or Corrupting Pollen. If your buffs are up, Echoing Vigor has been cast twice, and there’s no need for burst healing, Bombard your opponents to snare them. If Bombard is already covered by someone else, or your opponents are using Snow Treaders (preventing snares or slows from affecting them) Carve with a Master’s Perfected 2H is a great option should your group wants more killing power vs large stacks. If you don’t already have a source of Major Defile for the group, then Corrupting Pollen is a great source for applying the debuff to opponents, though the Champion Point layout may change with more points in Befoul.
Turn Evil. Minor Protection (8% reduced damage) while standing within the effect (on a ram, a flag or in a choke) is very powerful if you don’t otherwise have it available. The true value of this skill is in applying fear to opponents. The other morph, Ring of Preservation, provides a HoT while standing in the effect. For groups that are stationary, this may be helpful, though for those with high mobility Turn Evil is the best choice.
Bull Netch. This buff gives you major brutality for extra weapon damage, removes 1 negative effect from you every 5 seconds, and most importantly restores stamina while active.
Expansive Frost Cloak or Ice Fortress. Both of these skills apply major resolve increasing physical and spell resistance for twelve players in your group. Expansive Frost Cloak has a range of 28 meters, and Ice Fortress has a range of 8 meters but also gives you Minor Protection, reducing your damage taken by 8% for 24 seconds. Your group should have one warden with Expansive Frost Cloak for every 12 players in the raid. If you will be playing with a style of staying outside the raid for maximum dispersal of your Soothing Spores (20 meter range), then the assurance of having minor protection is significant in keeping you alive and in position. If your raid doesn’t have enough wardens (one for every twelve players), then you’ll need to use Expansive Frost Cloak.
Shimmering Shield. While each cast protects you from 3 projectiles, the significant value in this skill is the application of Major Heroism for 6 seconds (when hit), granting you 3 ultimate every 1.5 seconds. A big part of your effective healing will be your Healing Thicket ultimate, and this will bring it back up much quicker.
Reviving Barrier. Your barrier will often be larger than that of magicka classes. Your raid leader may call for your barrier before entering a breach, as your Healing Thicket will be available very quickly – whereas other healers may take longer to get their ultimates up.
Bombard, Carve, or Corrupting Pollen
Expansive Frost Cloak or Ice Fortress
Here is the logic behind what I cast and prioritize for standard Cyrodiil medium (12) to large (24) group scenarios. The lower the number of the line, the higher the priority, so for every cast you could start at the first option, if that’s not needed, consider the second, if that’s not needed consider the third, etc.
If your group has many players with less than half health, Reviving Barrier. This will protect them while you and your burst healers get them back up to full health.
If you see significant incoming damage, Healing Thicket. The area HoT may be negated, but it will still last four more seconds.
If there are players missing 25% or more health within the area of your cone, Soothing Spores.
Keep two casts of Echoing Vigor up every ten seconds.
If you are slowed or snared, or are about to run through a slow or snare, Shuffle.
Ensure that your Major Resolve buff is up, Expansive Frost Cloak or Ice Fortress.
Keep Bull Netch up. You need that stamina regeneration.
If you need major expedition to keep up, catch up, or get into position, Deceptive Predator.
If your ultimate is not up, and there are players or NPCs who will attack you, Shimmering Shield.
If there are multiple opponents within five meters who do not have crowd control immunity, or you have allies standing in a high damage area (such as on a ram) who could use 8% damage mitigation, Turn Evil.
Conditional skills depending on what weapon is being used on the back bar:
While using a bow back bar, if there are opponents in range who are not immune to snares, Bombard.
While using a 2H back bar, if there are opponents in range who are not dead, Cleave.
If you have nothing better to do and there’s someone stealthed, Camouflaged Hunter.
You can see my suggested champion points for this build in the screen capture below. This CP layout is meant for high healing with some damage capability as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 manythings 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.
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.
Historically, AP has come primarily from killing opponents. Each individual is worth a certain amount of AP. That amount usually ranges from 1,500 to 1,800 though it can vary from almost nothing up to 2250 based on a few factors:
The level of the person who died (lower level = less AP)
How long since the person died (shorter = less AP with full AP value returning after 5 minutes of no deaths)
The alliance rank of the person being killed (0.5% per alliance rank, thus 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)
As of the Summerset patch (v4.0.5), defence ticks at keeps and resources work slightly differently. To get on the credit list for a defence tick, you must do one of the following:
Do damage to an opposing player who dies (resulting in AP)
Repair a wall or door
Resurrect a dead player who is within the keep area
Heal a player who has taken damage in a fight, where that player kills an opponent and earns AP
Defence ticks have also received a multiplier based on the level of the keep or resource. You can see the keep or resource level by opening the map and clicking on it.
When players (both sides) die in range of a keep, resource, 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 offence tick (O-Tick). If there has been no death within a certain amount of time (one minute) then there is a defence tick (D-Tick). When a tick happens, the total tick pool gets multiplied based on the keep or resource level (if it’s a keep or resource), and is then divided up between all of the players within range (who are members of the alliance that owns the keep/resource/outpost) and who have done something to get on the credit list.
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 596k during the 2018 Mid Year Mayhem (double AP) event. Prior to that, it was for 118k AP at Bleakers. Long long ago before base AP was doubled and before there were 20% delve buffs or 100% AP buffs, there was a 70k tick called “The Tickening”. 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.
Capturing a resource nets you 1,500 AP, and capturing a keep is 6,000 AP. If players have been killed during the capture, then that amount is added to the tick as described earlier. A simple manner to make consistent AP is to group up and take resources continuously. Every hour, the players renew their 20% AP buff in a delve, then proceed to take all three resources of a keep, run to the next keep to take all three resources, and continue on. They sometimes stop to kill players if it’s convenient, though the amount of AP is usually better if they just keep going to the next resource. This can net up to 60k AP per hour if there are no kills made – a reasonable amount for low levels of effort. While competent groups can easily make more than that, during lower population times some groups just keep taking resources.
SOLO VS GROUP
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 AP Calculations sheet (second page) within this spreadsheet for more details. There is a balance to be found for making AP, and I’ve always preferred groups of 6 to 8 – as beyond that the AP is too diluted. Larger groups can be fun, and sometimes when fighting other large groups or faction stacks it is necessary, but if AP is your primary focus you should probably cap your group at 8.
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 have to do enough damage.
Healing other players used to give a lot of AP, though that has been significantly reduced. Simply casting heals on people won’t net you very much AP (comparatively). There are still methods to gain AP from other peoples’ work related to buffs, debuffs, and synergies. Every patch is slightly different, so you should test using each skill available to you and see if that nets you increased AP from opponent deaths.
OTHER SOURCES OF AP
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. The amount of AP earned is minimal (well under 100 per player healed) and there is a cool down whereby healing that player won’t generate AP for a certain amount of time, so I have not done any testing to confirm these numbers (believing it to not be worth the time).
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. Sometimes you have to make a decision of timing for turning in quests. If you leave a location, then you’re not earning AP at the location while in transit. The quest turn-in can wait until a fight is over and you’re ready to go somewhere else.
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 you intend to make AP by repairing, try to get the delve AP buff and if possible the (major/minor) mending buffs as they apply 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.
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 (or just run past it), 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. Note that entering a delve removes you from the credit list for a tick! 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 want to save a minute or two – and if you’re hard core AP farming then every minute counts, 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 if you intend to go somewhere where transit is up.
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 or cycling resources at different keeps (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 – or what is within their capabilities.
When looking at the map and deciding where you want to make AP, you need to consider the following:
Where your opponents will be.
Where will they be coming from (running back after being killed).
How long it will take them to be worth good AP again.
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.
Will you be able to get offence or defence ticks rather than just kills.
When you see popular streamers going for emperor, they don’t often 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 much more.
HISTORY & FOND MEMORIES
Two of the easiest ways I used to make AP (that tended to drive other people crazy as they couldn’t figure it out) were:
Run two people, one a tank (I know I’ve said that there are no tanks in PvP) and the other a magicka nightblade with a fire staff or another knock back (such as Javelin). 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 NB 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. Today, with the way ticks work, this style is no longer (as) effective.
As a magicka NB who could stealth everywhere, find your way to wherever the two opposing factions are fighting. Once you’re there, throw out as much AoE damage as you can without actually getting into the fighting. Caltrops used to work well, though don’t do enough damage to get you the AP that you want these days. Inevitable Detonation was the go-to skill. As an AD player, casting it on an EP player would damage all EP players and all DC players in the area with enough to get a nice amount of AP regardless of who won the fights. Surviving can be challenging, so keep in mind movement speed as you’ll want to get away from the zergs as soon as they start to take more notice of you. This technique was what once got me the title “Grand God of AP Whores“.
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? Does the synergy damage count towards your or the other player’s contribution?
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?
For each of the above, you should also consider (and test) 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).
There are some skills, abilities, synergies, buffs, and debuff removals that can apply to people who are not in your group, and when they are performed, you gain a percentage of the credit for the player on whom you cast, or you may be treated (for the purposes of AP gains) as an equal member of that player’s group (even if that player is part of a full 24 player 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, it may be possible that you can double-dip in the AP gains and be considered as a full member of multiple groups gaining AP for both netting you more AP than you would normally get for your own contribution. This situation is most likely a bug, and you should report it if you find one that is working.
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? Since I’m bringing this up, it’s obvious that this does work. I’ll leave it to you to figure out how to make it work!
TIPS & TRICKS
There are a few relatively simple things that people don’t often realize, so in this section I’m going to list a few of them. None of these are game breaking or particularly amazing, though if you combine them all, think logically (and slightly out of the box), and consider many of the things I’ve written about earlier, then you’ll come up with a lot more that can help you earn more AP.
Your own death and the death of your allies counts for AP towards a tick. If you’re fighting at a keep where you expect a defence tick, it is in your and your allies’ interest to die every five minutes (the time for your AP to be worth max) in order to increase the size of the tick that will happen once the fight is over. Always ensure that you’ll be able to resurrect before dying!
Related to the above, if you know that an opponent is going to bomb a flag just before it flips (for your offence tick), let it happen. The deaths of your allies will increase the size of the tick. If you play a healer, it may be counter to your nature to let people die, but AP > life!
A resource can only give you an offence tick every five minutes. Keep this number in mind, as small groups who want to farm a resource won’t expect defence ticks and will usually allow it to be flipped back to your faction’s control (so that they can flip it again five minutes later). This gives you a window of control where a defence tick may be possible, whereby you’ll get the AP benefits of their kills.
If you’re roaming around looking for small groups who want to take resources, once you engage in a fight, try to pull them back into keep range rather than resource range. Remember that resources don’t multiply defence ticks (as of 2021/06) and keeps can multiply them by up to 3. Resources used to multiply up to 3 and keeps up to 7. Those were good times!
If it looks like you probably won’t kill your opponent quickly, and you’re in range of a keep with a multiplier, then it might be in your interest to just let your opponent kill you (netting them 1.5k+) so that you can get the defence tick from your own death of 4.5k+ (note that this is the base number, and it will almost certainly be higher per this spreadsheet.
Consider when the end of a fight should be for you, rather than for everyone else. If a group of opponents have all died, you’ve earned AP, and they then all take a camp to resurrect, they are not going to be worth much AP for a few minutes. It is probably in your interest to go find other opponents to kill!
If you come across a small group who are in stamina/tank builds who are trying to farm a resource, don’t even bother. Move on to fights where you’ll make more AP. These players specialize in survival, rolling around and running with a lot of cross healing to stay alive until they can coordinate their damage.
If you come across an allied zerg chasing after a few players (such as the example above where 20+ players chase them into a tower), don’t waste your time. You’ll make more AP moving on to a fight where your contribution will make a difference rather than getting one skill off on a target before they are zerged down or run away.
You can earn ticks for a keep and its resources at the same time as long as you don’t earn AP at another keep or its resources. If you’ve finished a fight and move on, ensure that the kills you make or contribute to are not at anther keep or resource until you get your defence tick from the prior one.
Use an addon to be certain of your location. I prefer Wykkyd Toolbar. Here’s an example, and note that the location is listed on the left (ish) side. You can configure the toolbar to show a lot of information!
Keep moving, and check your back keeps’ resources. There will often be players coming to flip them, and those make the best AP gains (if you’re solo or in a small group).
Keep track of your AP. Set a goal of how much AP per hour you want to make. Use Ghostbane’s AP Meter, and be sure to configure it in your addon settings (I don’t like having my chat area spammed with AP notifications from combat – only ticks). Here’s what the addon looks like:
If anyone would like to discuss AP farming techniques (or anything relevant), I’m happy to do so in Discord.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The content below is intended for solo and small group players who have not developed their own (successful) strategies on how to counter these groups. I see random groups and PuGs run into 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 Offence section, the Defence section, and then the Siege section. These sections contain some basics that are applicable regardless of who you are fighting.
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.
If you see an organized group fighting them, don’t stack with them. Stay at least 5 meters (VD distance) away. They have group buffs, and may be min/maxed so that they have a lot more resilience than you. You will get bombed and you’ll contribute to their deaths if you’re too close!
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.
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.
Slow them, snare them, and ensure that they’re on the defensive as much as possible. Bombard spam, caltrops, anything to prevent them from moving consistently.
Keep them out of formation or position. Warden teleport circles, DK Chains, Fighter’s Guild Silver Leash, and to a lesser degree knock-backs will ensure that they’re never perfectly ready to hit with their full power.
Opposing ball groups will use their ultimates together, and will proxy together before they do so. 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.
If you have damage mitigation, use it when you see them about to hit. Warden’s sleet provides incoming damage mitigation and Templar’s Nova provides opponent outgoing damage mitigation. Use them if needed, not just to save yourself, but to help others of your faction who are fighting!
Keep as much siege as you can on them. Siege that does damage, like Scattershot Catapults (increases other damage), Cold Fire Ballistas, Cold Stone trebuchets if you can, and a combination of siege (though primarily Scattershot Catapults) if they’re in a keep or relatively open world. 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 20 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. Most players can’t cast in a Negate (damage or healing). Once they’re in, they won’t be able to much of anything other than run – either towards you and hope that their proxies or ultimates do damage as they get out of the negate – or retreat.
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. Any class can use Fighter’s Guild leash. Templars can javelin. NBs can drop a fear trap and Necros a fear totem 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 organized 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 at least a few of them if you execute your bomb or counter well. 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 due to cross heals, consistent purges, and builds that provide buffs to the group, so you will need a sufficient amount of damage to get through their survivability. Unless you have a lot of players able to coordinate damage, you’re probably best off pulling one out of position then single-target damaging them to death before they can get back to the group.
An advantage to the above is that you then know where they’re going to be in the near future when they try to resurrect the dead player! Prepare to bomb them there if you can!
SOLO PLAYERS & SMALL GROUPS:
The most important points to understand are:
As a solo player or small group, you’re probably not going to be able to wipe a well structured min/maxed organized ball group.
Their goal is usually going to be farming AP and getting as many kills as they can.
Once they see that they’re not going to have an easy time farming, they’ll move somewhere else.
Your criteria for success (winning) should not be killing them all, it should be something along the lines of making it so tough and irritating for them to farm pugs (decreasing their AP per hour to less than PvDoor activities) that they have no choice but to go elsewhere (or rage quit). With that in mind, read through the following points and consider best how you can contribute to the fight.
Don’t stack together. That just makes you a target, and even if you don’t die from their damage, the Vicious Death procs from other people around you will kill you.
The majority of their damage comes from AoE, so if you can get the major evasion buff, you’ll be more likely to live.
Most players use one defensive set, one offensive set, and a monster set. Whatever it is that you use normally, while fighting a ball group you should consider swapping your defensive set to either Spectre’s Eye or Swift (if in a magicka build) to take significantly less damage from their bombs.
If you’re a healer, use Earthgore as your monster set. You’ll be throwing out heals and hots, and Earthgore will probably proc as the opposing ball group hits people around you and save a lot of them by removing negates, smashes, conduits, graveyards, and other ground effects. While the heal from Earthgore isn’t great (big nerf), the removal of ground effects is still great.
Keep snares down on all sides of them. Caltrops if ranged, Gripping Shards (Warden) and Talons (DK) are good choices. This helps keep them less structured and may help isolate a straggler.
Use time stop. Then use it again. Keep using it. You have no idea how irritating and disruptive it is. The hate whispers will flow..
Use knock backs. If the opposing group are running around the top of a wall or keep, knocking a few off where they can’t get back in (because you’ve already repaired behind them) will make the rest jump off to get everyone back together. They may re-siege, but that wastes their time.
Call out their healer’s names (/yell) and tab target them. Single target burst those healers, and the rest of the group will have a tougher time. An even better target is their rapids spammer, as if you can take that person out then the group will be a lot more challenged in their movement (no more perfectly consistent Major and Minor Expedition buffs).
Keep siege on them. If you’re alone, the damage you can do with siege is a lot more than with your skills (ultimate excluded).
If you see them proxy and run towards you (usually with ults), use a snare immunity skill (RaT or Shuffle), then run through them not away from them optionally while popping an Immovable potion or hitting with an Immovable poison. That will reduce the time you spend standing in their ults, and they will rarely stop to kill you as they’re all following their leader. if you can get some snares in while moving, it will help de-ball them for a few seconds!
Remember that your goal is not necessarily to kill them, but to make it so challenging for them to achieve their goal of (easy) kills and enough AP (to make it worth the time) that they will go away. Killing them should be seen as an added bonus.
I’m sure you’ve all noticed the propensity for larger and larger groups in Cyrodiil, and the unfortunate direct effect of these groups’ size being increased lag, latency, desyncs, and disconnects.
This document is an attempt to pass on all the things I’ve learned through testing various skills and addons in the lag conditions when trying to fight such a group, and a few skills and strategies that could help to coordinate enough damage to get past 30 players spamming healing springs with Earthgore on even more.
Nothing I’m saying here is revolutionary, it’s all information that is out there and existing theory crafters are aware of. My hope is that this will help disorganized groups, smaller groups, and individuals to think about how best to contribute to a “faction” win against an opposing faction stack.
SETTINGS & ADDONS
In order to decrease the likelihood of crashing or desyncing before you even start to fight, there are a few steps that could help. Note the “could”, as there is no cure for server performance issues other than ZOS fixing things on their end (game code and/or server hardware).
In Settings -> Video, turn off Show Additional Ally Effects
In Settings -> Video, decrease Particle Suppression Distance. The maximum is 100, which is what I have mine set to most of the time. I’ve found reducing that to 40 helps a lot when there are 100+ players on the screen in the distance, and simply approaching them causes you to crash.
In Settings -> Video, decrease Maximum Particle Systems. The maximum is 2048, which is what I have mine set to most of the time. I’ve found reducing that to 1024 helps a lot when there are 100+ players (including allies and opponents) on the screen.
In Settings -> Audio, turn Footsteps Volume to zero. I’m not certain if this makes a difference, though there were a few discussions where people claimed that it did. In theory, 100+ players’ footsteps being processed at the same time could cause challenges in the game client. If I confirm that this does or doesn’t work, I’ll update this document.
If you’re using a combat log such as FTC or Combat Log Statistics, turn it off. If you absolutely need one (my mental health requires it), use the Recount addon. The reason many of these addons cause problems during fights is the number of events that would appear in them, and their inability to handle that many events. Recount rate limits these events.
If you’re using a buff/debuff tracker, note that some of them will cause your game client to freeze when you have more than 20 debuffs on you (that happens often enough in such fights). I’ve found that Bandit’s built in buff tracking is the least resource hungry and quickest to update.
Traditionally, large groups (24 in the past, now 12) 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, 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.
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 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.
A more survivable build wearing the Thurvokun set.
DK’s banner ult.
Templar’s Dark Flare may take even longer to cast than Inevitable, and while it may be of value, it 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 for heal debuff.
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. A normal stone ballista can hit players for 6-8k. If times well (during other players’ bombs), it can make a huge difference!
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!
DEALING WITH A LAGGY GAME
If the game is really lagging so badly that you can’t stay connected, your skills don’t fire, and you’re ready to smash your keyboard into your screen, it’s probably time to take a break. Go make a sandwich and/or a hot chocolate, kiss your significant other, and find something else to do (clothing optional). You’ll be a lot less frustrated, and probably have a lot more fun than staring at a screen and hoping that the next engagement lets you actually fight for more than 20 seconds before you get kicked to login.
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.
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).
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”.
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. and
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.