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. Every major patch the min/max for each class/spec may change, so always pay attention to the theorycrafters (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. 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. Dual wield Steel Tornado spammers and coordinated proxy detonations have become the norm, though there is always room for a good player with a good build.
  • 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). For example, a DK’s Dragon Blood skill heals for less if they are debuffed, so ensure that as much as possible everyone runs the disease enchant on their weapons, a Meatbag catapult hits opponents, and skills such as Dark Flare (Templar) among others are put on high priority targets. If you’re running solo (and are a NB), Soul Harvest also applies a healing debuff.
  • People with a high enough PvP rank should be using the skills available from it, most notably Proximity 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 2,000 damage with that skill (after mitigation) and magic damage can crit at over 10k. If you have 12 people all running that skill, even if they each only so 2,000 damage, their opponent is just about dead and can be killed with an execution of Steel Tornado.
  • 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.

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), as I’ll usually be able to kill my opponent before they can kill me. 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. While this may be my personal preference for build / play style based on the current patch (December 2015), there is value in having different builds in a group that aid in protecting the group.

  • The way defensive stats work, if you have 32,000 resist, then it mitigates 50% of the damage (you take half of the damage that you should). Your resist minus your attacker’s penetration will result in a number. Each 640 Resist in that number mitigates 1% of incoming damage up to a maximum possible mitigation of 50%.
  • Everyone should be running a skill/buff that gives major defensive stats (Immovable, Rune Focus, etc.) and/or a skill for added mitigation (Blade Cloak for DW to mitigate 20% of AoE damage, Dodge from NB or medium armour passives, shields for Templars and Sorcerers, or others).
  • Healing is not only the healers’ responsibility. If a stamina DPS player is PvP skill rank 5, then the Vigor skill is an amazing AoE heal, and casting it when you know your group is taking 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.
  • I did some calculations based on Impenetrable vs. Reinforced traits: http://goo.gl/Zng18G
  • I also recently updated my crit vs. impenetrable calculations: http://goo.gl/84hnar and have concluded that impenetrable is still a very important trait on gear.

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.

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. 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.

 

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.

If every person in a group plays the same class and uses the same skills, your group will fail.

If you have good healers (and players), your group will usually need (total members /4) healers. If that doesn’t sound right, take the total number of people in group (round up to the nearest multiple of 4), then divide that by 4. For a group of 12 people, you would need 3 healers (if they are good and your players play well). If your players are not performing and simply stand in damage, then no amount of healers will help you.

A dedicated person, two or even three (if the group is large enough) on cc (to fear, talons, etc.) is important. One player (usually a DK or Templar) running a set that applies a defile (heal bebuff) such as Fasala’s Guile is also very important.

A few people on siege is important too. Fire siege does very little damage to players these days, though meatbags are critical to preventing opponent healing. Stone trebuchets will hit for about 10k damage. That’s almost half of most opponents health (or the full value of most shields). One or two people hitting with stone trebs (or even cold stone trebs) at the start of a fight can make for a very quick win!

A few people running particular skills (such as efficient purge, siege shield, etc) is very important, as are the retreating manoeuvres to get your players out of slows – and remove snares from people who would otherwise get caught out and die.

A diverse assortment of ultimates and ordering them such that the group leader can call for them is critical.

When forming a group (or adding people to a group), spending a few minutes making sure that the group composition makes sense, key skills are available, and ultimate orders and calls are understood by everyone is critical.

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 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 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.

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 two ballista, or three trebs, making that player much more efficient with trebs.

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 cleanse, or alternatively one can run efficient purge and another can 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.

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 said ram..

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.

Oil pots poured over a breach can do a huge amount of damage. Place them as close together as possible and pour them when opponents are moving under you.

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.

Do what your leader tells you to do.

Learn to cast / use skills as you move.

Learn when to roll dodge, and practice movement and skills/casting coming out of a dodge.

Learn to recognise the animations of every skill in the game, so you know when you need to move out of something (like a DawnBreaker).

Most importantly, never stop moving. If you stand in one place, you will probably die.

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!

Magicka builds:

  • Most magicka builds who have their Undaunted skill line levelled up with all passives unlocked should be running 5 light, 1 medium, and 1 heavy with the chest as a heavy (as the chest gives the most armour) and one of the head/shoulders/legs/feet as medium (they all give equivalent armour).
  • For other 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 use of food vs drink or the 1 stat + 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 magicka 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 magicka. 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 armour enchants should be max magicka and jewellery enchants should be spell damage. If you find that you need more of other resources (health/stamina), the major pieces (chest / head / pants) should have tri-stat enchants. As a general rule, if you need more health then changing a magicka enchant to a tri-chant is the most effective method to gain such.

Standard Magicka for group play: This combination gives you good damage and the speed resurrection bonus for Kagrena’c Hope that is vital to recovering from losing a few players in a fight. I highly recommend this build for anyone in group who already has Alliance War skill line rank 10 with the Battle Resurrection passive as they stack for an even faster resurrection. Templars who have the passive for faster resurrection, PvP skill rank 10, and Kagrenac’s Hope can resurrect a fallen ally in a few seconds. Note that as of the TG patch resurrection bonuses are multiplicative instead of additive, so the old 1.25 second Templar resurrection is now about 3 seconds.

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.

Stamina builds:

  • While many stamina build prefer 7/7 medium armour to take advantage of the medium armour passives, most seem to be running 5 heavy (Black Rose) with 2 medium.
  • Character points should all be put into stamina.
  • All armour enchants should be max stamina and jewelry enchants should be weapon damage.
  • Max health + max stamina, and max health + stamina regeneration are the two consumables that seem to be most popular with the better stamina players that I run with. As always, you need to  find what works best for you.
  • The use of dual wield for AoE damage, bow for single target ranged and two handed weapons for single target melee (or rally buff/heal) will depend on your play style or the needs of your group. Try to have all of them available if you can.

Please keep in mind that these are simply standard details related to common builds. Using a good build is just one of many things necessary to succeed.

There used to be a lot more detail about particular sets and combinations in this section. I removed them as build discussions have mostly moved to Discord.

A good distribution of champion points is key to maximizing your damage or healing output, and minimizing the damage that you take.

In the blue tree:

  • If you are a magicka DPS, for every 7 points that you have available, put 3 points in Elemental Expert, 2 points in Elfborn, 1 point in Spell Erosion and 1 point in Thaumaturge.
  • If you are a pure healer, then an even split between extra healing (Blessed) and crit healing (Elfborn) is more viable.
  • If you are a hybrid damage/healing templar, then for every 6 points that you have available, put 2 points in Blessed, 1 point in Elemental Expert, 1 point in Elfborn, 1 point in Spell Erosion, and 1 point in Thaumaturge.
  • If you are a stamina DPS, then for every 5 points that you have, put 3 in Mighty, 1 in Piercing, and 1 in Precise Strikes. Some high crit builds work better with 3 in Mighty to 2 in Precise Strikes and 1 in Piercing, and some players who use more heavy attacks like having 27 points or more in their main weapon expert (bow or 2H).
  • There are also some interesting builds that put 100 points in penetration, notably due to the significant number of people who are wearing 5 pieces of heavy armour in this patch.

In the green tree:

  • Cost reduction vs resource regeneration is a regular debate among players. If you are going to spam abilities continuously, then cost reduction is better for the short term. If you are going to cast, move off to regenerate resources or reposition to the next opposing force, and go (back) in with the intent of having very high burst, then regeneration is better. With the diminished returns of high champion point allocation, until you have enough to fill up multiple choices a relatively even distribution is likely the best choice for you.
  • Note that many builds will use some of the other resource. Magicka builds need stamina more than stamina builds need magicka, so if you play a magicka build then having 27 points (10%) in stamina regeneration (and vice versa) can be very helpful if you have enough base regeneration for 10% to make a difference.
  • Most stamina builds will want a reduction in the cost of roll dodge, as it is their primary escape / repositioning mechanism, so you may want to put some points in there too.
  • Most blocking builds will want a reduction in the cost of blocking. In the blocking builds I’ve tried to date, 15% is a reasonable number.

In the red tree:

Almost everyone will want the same distribution of points in this tree.

  • 48 Points in Resistant (The math behind this suggestion can be found here: http://goo.gl/84hnar – also linked from the Defence section) gives you 15% mitigation of crit damage.
  • Either 10 points (4%) or 27 points (10%) in Quick Recovery. If you go 27 points in Quick Recovery, you might as well add 3 more for the Infusion passive.
  • Some shield builds will want points in Bastion.
  • Your remaining points should be split between Hardy (physical damage mitigation) and Elemental Defender (magic damage mitigation). I prefer 3 points in Elemental Defender to 2 points in Hardy due to the excessive amount of Detonations and Destro Ultimates lately.
  • I also prefer adding some points to Thick Skinned for mitigation of damage over time (which includes the Detonation morphs – Inevitable and Proxy). If you choose to do this, then 2 points in Hardy to 2 points in Elemental Defender to 1 point in Thick Skinned works nicely.

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

First I’d like to go over a bit about how Alliance Points (AP) work: They come primarily from killing opponents. Each individual is worth a certain amount of AP. That amount usually ranges from 1500 to 1,800 though it can vary from almost nothing up to 2250 based on a few factors. Please see this spreadsheet for more details.

  • The level of the person who died (lower level = less AP)
  • How long since the person died (shorter = less AP with full AP value returning after 5 minutes of no deaths)
  • The alliance rank of the person being killed (0.5% per alliance rank)
    • (25% more AP for killing an AR50 Grand Overlord than an AR1 Volunteer)
  • The campaign buffs that you have (small % for home keeps, and more for each enemy keep owned)
  • The personal buff that you have (20% for killing a delve boss)

When you’re solo, if you’re the only person to damage an opponent (and nobody has healed you while you took damage from said opponent), you get all the AP.

If you are part of a group, then for every member of the group (even if they didn’t participate in the killing or healing), as long as they are in range, the AP will be split with the members of the group See the spreadsheet linked above for more details. There is a balance to be found for making AP, and I’ve always preferred groups of 6 to 12 – as beyond that the AP is too diluted.

In order to get AP from a kill you (or your group) has to do damage to the person who died. Simply tagging them (such as with caltrops) isn’t usually enough, as the amount of AP you get scales with the percentage of damage that you do to the target. In most engagements, people will be healed while they fight, so a person with 20k health may in fact need 50k damage to be killed (as the person has received 30k healing over the course of the fight). Damage to shields is also included in this, so if you want a significant portion of the AP gains you usually have to do a lot of damage.

Healing other players used to give a lot of AP, though that has been reduced in the current patch. Simply casting heals on people won’t net you any AP unless those people have taken damage while in combat and the person you heal (or their group) kills a target worth AP. If a large group is spamming AoE abilities and taking down opponents, then you’re probably not going to be able to heal them enough to count for enough AP to be worth spending the time.

Bizarrely, people who take fall damage can be healed for a little bit of AP even while not in combat and that AP is not usually shared with the group.

When players (both sides) die in range of a keep, resource, or outpost (or behind a scroll gate), the total amount of AP that they gave up with their deaths (average tends to be about 1600 for their first death, then less each subsequent one if they die within 5 minutes of respawn) gets added to “the tick pool”. If a keep/resource/outpost is taken there is an offensive tick (O-Tick). If there has been no death within a certain amount of time (ranges from 45 seconds to 3 minutes depending on where you are) then there is a defensive tick (D-Tick). When a tick happens, the total tick pool gets divided up between all of the players within range (who are members of the alliance that owns the keep/resource/outpost). Most ticks range from a few hundred to a few thousand, though prolonged fights can generate ticks in the tens of thousands. The largest tick I’ve ever seen was for 118k AP at Bleakers. Long long ago, 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.

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.

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 are repairing, try to get the major mending buff as it applies extra “healing” to repairs as well, saving you on the cost of repair kits. The extra AP from repairing a wall while you have major mending 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, and kill the boss – then get back to your group or fight location. You should never leave a good fight or a potential tick to get the buff, as the amount of AP you’ll lose out on may very well be more than 20% of what you’ll make in the next hour. Always save your AP buff renewals for times when your group is on break, or you know there will be a lull in fighting for a few minutes. If you are not in a group, or want to take a change that you won’t get stuck in a long load screen, you can allow the delve NPCs to kill you then respawn at the wayshrine. This is usually a faster way to get out of a delve unless you’re far from your own faction’s control with nowhere to transit to.

Now that you understand how AP works, it is very important to understand that there are very different play styles. Playing for AP farming is very different from playing for map control, winning fights, taking keeps/resources/outposts/villages, or any other play style. When you play for AP, the most important thing is how much AP you will make. If you can make 10k more AP per hour by repeatedly bombing, dying, and running back than you can by waiting and ganking (but never dying), then you choose the first method. Every player has to figure this out for themselves – what is the best method for making AP based on their skills, build, and preferred style of play.

When looking at the map and deciding where you want to make AP, you need to consider where your opponents will be, where will they be coming from (running back after being killed), who else will be there (other factions and your own faction), the likelihood of how long you’ll live, how many kills you’ll get, what percentage of AP you’ll get for those kills if shared with other people, what the terrain will be like, and a lot of other things. When you see popular streamers going for emperor, they usually don’t understand AP farming and just try to play their 1vX (I call it 1vPotato as they don’t fight skilled players, they only look for easy kills) style as usual. That style will make good AP most of the time, though a true AP farmer is easily capable of making more.

One of the easiest ways I used to make AP (that tended to drive other people crazy as they couldn’t figure it out) was to run two people, one a tank (yes, I know I’ve said that there are no tanks in PvP) and the other a magicka nightblade with a fire staff. The tank would lure people to the edge of cliffs (you can find a LOT of them in Cyrodiil), and the nightblade would knock them off with a flame reach. The important thing to note there is that the two players would not be grouped, and the tank would not do any damage to the opponents, so the nightblade would get all of the AP. This works just as well with other classes, though takes better timing and positioning as a nightblade is able to stealth easily while multiple opponents charge at the tank (who would stand there and block at the edge of the cliff). The best such AP farming moment I ever had was 28 different players who all ran sporadically in to a particular location just north of Bleakers, most of whom died by being knocked off a narrow ledge with a meteor, and the rest with flame reach. That was about 50k AP in 2 minutes.

In order to understand a lot of the ways AP works, a person has to spend many hours testing every skill. Over time and different patches, AP gains have changed based on damage, healing, synergies, buff application, debuff removal, and debuff application. The results of the below have changed over time, and I will not share past and current test results – though this has always been a very important series of tests at each major patch that relate 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 excel sheets for each skill in every tree available to any character on which I’ve wanted to make AP:

  • Do damage to a target that someone else of your alliance kills. What percentage of the the damage needed to kill them did you do, and what percentage of the AP did you get? If shields were applied to the target, does the total damage to kill them include shield damage?
  • Do damage to a target that someone of another alliance kills (If you’re AD, damage an EP player that a DC player then kills). What percentage of the the damage needed to kill them did you do, and what percentage of the AP from their death did you get? If shields were applied to the target, does the total damage to kill them include shield damage?
  • Cast or use a skill that enables a synergy that someone else of your alliance uses before they kill a target. Does using the synergy equate to a percentage of the the damage needed to kill the target, or of healing on the friendly player, and what percentage of the AP did you get?
  • Apply a debuff to a target that someone else of your alliance kills. Does the debuff equate to a percentage of the the damage needed to kill them, and how much of the total AP from their death did you get?
  • Apply a debuff to a target that someone of another alliance kills (If you’re AD, apply a debuff to an EP player that a DC player then kills). Does the debuff equate to a percentage of the the damage needed to kill them, and what percentage of the total AP from their death did you get?
  • Heal someone else of your alliance who then kills a target. What percentage of the damage that they took did you heal or what percentage of their total health did you heal (two separate tests) and how much of the total AP did you get? If you shielded instead of healed, how does that affect the numbers?
  • Apply a buff to someone else of your alliance who then kills a target. Does the buff equate to a percentage of the healing done, and what percentage of their AP did you get?
  • Remove a debuff from someone else of your alliance who then kills a target. Does the debuff removal equate to a percentage of the healing done, and what percentage of their AP did you get?

Then, for each of the above, you also have to consider (and find out) for the beneficial activities (healing, shielding, synergies, buffing, or removing a debuff from a non-grouped same-faction player), how long after you apply them will the link from you to the other player last. It may be solely for the kill in question, it may be for a period of time (perhaps until they exit combat), or it may be for a particular range (from one end of the Alessia bridge to the other).

You also have to consider which skills, abilities, synergies, buffs, and debuff removals can apply to people who are not in your group, and when they are performed, do you gain a percentage of the player on whom you cast, or are you treated (for the purposes of AP gains) as an equal member of that player’s group. If that latter, then a new series of tests need to be performed per the paragraph above related to how long will the link from you to the other group last. Another very important consideration for situations where multiple conditions apply, and you gain links to multiple groups who both participate in a kill. In that case, is it possible that you can double-dip in the AP gains and be considered as a full member of multiple groups gaining AP for both?

The last consideration is related to guards. Are there skills or abilities that you can use that affect guards at a keep or a resource? If you use the right ones, and guards do damage to opposing players, might that damage be considered as coming from you for the purposes of AP calculations?

If anyone would like to discuss AP farming techniques, I’m happy to do so in Discord (see the links on the main page).

There are apparently a few people who don’t seem to understand how the emperor system works.

The short short version: You have to be top of the leader board (with at least 50k AP), 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 (destro ult or bats are the easy answers) 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.
 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 enchants (on jewlery) or sets (like Seducer for magicka builds) 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 50-60k 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 person at the top of the leader board drops campaign, then the next person (number 2) becomes top, and the next time that all 6 keeps are taken that person becomes emperor.

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 three or four 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 at times when they were having trouble! With the mass exodus of players in early 2016, and most of the larger guilds now having disdain for playing in large groups, 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 emperor 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, though that is looked down on and someone who does that on purpose will usually not be respected (though most people don’t really care what others think of them so it is a viable way to crown emperor).

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, and will only organize or participate in large organized 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.

There are a lot of complaints about lag (since the lighting update over 2 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 everyone who is 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 the first six players being hit 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.
  • Ultimates such as Meteor (Mage’s guild) that hit an area also include 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 is not instantaneous – so multiple ultimates can go off from one person. Only one of them will 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 can significantly exacerbate the lag if someone (or multiple people) spam 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 (more than three 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.