Group Composition

Updated: June 2021

Introduction

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.

Stamina Speeder

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.

Healers

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.
  • Alternative sets:
    • 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.
  • Monster Sets:
    • 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”.

Champion Points

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.

Role Class Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Weapons
Leader NB Mechanical Acuity Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Damage Dealer 1 NB Mechanical Acuity Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Damage Dealer 2 Warden Spectre’s Eye Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Damage Dealer 3 Warden Spectre’s Eye Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Damage Dealer 4 DK Spectre’s Eye Vicious Death Balorgh VMA Resto
Stamina Speeder Sorcerer Powerful Assault Mechanical Acuity Balorgh Various Options
Healer 1 Templar Spectre’s Eye Worm Cult Symphony Master’s Resto
Healer 2 Necromancer Spectre’s Eye Curse Eater Nightflame Master’s Resto
Healer 3 Necromancer Spectre’s Eye Curse Eater Nightflame Master’s Resto
Healer 4 NB Transmutation Combat Physician Earthgore n/a
Cleanser 1 Sorcerer Spectre’s Eye Spell Power Cure Earthgore VMA Resto
Cleanser 2 Sorcerer Spectre’s Eye Meritorious Service Earthgore VMA Resto

 

Conclusion

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.