A sub section of the ESO group focused entirely on build discussions.
Welcome to the site's first ESO character build in quite some time. Hopefully this sparks some other folks to start posting builds of their own!
As a general note—I am not going to post “meta” builds here; there are plenty of websites and channels where you can find those builds. For me personally, I’d rather post thematic builds that are fun and creative and can still be effective across a lot of game content. I think that lore, creativity and storytelling are strengths of this community, and I hope to start seeing builds from folks that bring those strengths to life.
Disclaimer: I attribute a healthy amount of the ideas in this build from Hack the Minotaur’s recent Cold-Blooded build. He is an EXCELLENT content creator and ESO build creator, I highly recommend checking out his channel and website.
THE CHARACTER CONCEPT
Since Greymoor was announced, I’ve wanted to put together a build that exemplifies what we know of the Volkihar clan. Based on TES5 lore, we know that Harkon and his brood have lived for thousands of years, so we know that they are around in some form or another in the 2nd Era.
What do we know of the Volkihar? They love blood, and they love ice. Their breath is described as able to freeze their victims’ blood in their veins; many of them purportedly live within the ice of frozen lakes, and they are able to burst forth from the frozen depths to capture unsuspecting travelers attempting to traverse the ice. From that foundation, it was not a big leap to develop a blood-and-frost themed build. The build offers a great combination of damage, crowd control and self-healing, and I’ve found it to be a ton of fun and very effective.
(Image Credit: https://wiki.rpg.net/index.php/File:GhostTown.jpg)
(Quick note: Let me answer all of the “will this work with a wood elf” questions at once: The answer is "yes." You can change whatever you want. Being a magicka warden and a vampire are required, and the gear sets are what bring the build to life, but go nuts and use this build however you choose!)
Class: Magicka Warden.
The warden is the only class in the game that offers a full frost magic toolkit. While a nightblade may seem like a more stereotypical vampire, wardens are really the only choice for a cryomancer-vampire.
Race: Breton/High Elf
A high elf would probably work better, but from a lore standpoint it seemed more logical for a Breton to fall in with the Volkihar clan (Castle Volkihar is near the border to High Rock). High elves offer slightly better damage, and Bretons offer better sustain; this build has no problems with sustain at all, so Breton is like a 2nd choice mechanically but 1st choice for lore. As I mentioned, any race can work, some will just have slightly better stats than others.
Key Skills: Warden class skills; Destruction staff; Light Armor passives; Mages Guild; Vampire skills.
These skill lines are the ones used in the skill bar, and light armor is the primary armor weight used. There are a set of passive abilities that all characters should have, such as Undaunted passives, alchemy and provisioning passives, your racial passives, etc.—by learning the basic mechanics of the game you will quickly learn what these are!
A bonus with this build is that if you are leveling a new warden, you can get the primary damage skills you need (Blood for Blood, Deep Fissure, Unstable Wall of Frost, Winter's Revenge) by level 10 or 15 pretty easily. So you can run those skills as you level, and use your other six skill-bar slots to work your way up to the higher-level buff and support skills that will make you much stronger when you're fully leveled.
Mundus stone: Shadow/Lover.
These are both viable options, buffing critical damage and penetration respectively. If you are running around solo I would use the Lover stone, in groups I’d use the Shadow (because your tank will be debuffing enemy armor).
Food/Potions: You will be getting Major Sorcery and Prophecy from your skills, you can just use cheap Magicka trash potions, which is a nice way to save money! For food, the ideal is Artaeum Picked Fish Bowl, but it’s very expensive to make. Standard bi-stat blue food like Solitude Salmon-Millet Soup works 97% as well. For immersion, you can use the Purifying Bloody Mara drink, which is another health/magicka boost consumable, and - well, it’s blood and you're a vampire, so drink deeply...
5x Hollowfang’s Thirst: The 5-piece bonus on this set creates an exploding ball of blood whenever you do critical damage or critical healing, that returns magic to you and allies, and increases your healing received. EXTREMELY effective for sustaining health and magicka, this set procs constantly. Set is obtained in the Unhallowed Grave dungeon from the Harrowstorm DLC, normal or veteran difficulties.
(If you don't have access to Harrowstorm, it’s sad that you won’t have balls of exploding blood. But you can use any other magic DPS set here that offers some recovery, I’d recommend Bright-Throat’s Boast and using Purifying Bloody Mara drink to activate the Bright Throat bonus.)
5x Winter’s Respite: The 5-piece bonus on this set creates a massive field of ice on the ground whenever you cast a ground-effect ability, that heals you and allies for about 2400 per second for 10 seconds. It also procs constantly as you are doing your rotation. Obtained overland in Western Skyrim, or on guild traders. Easy to get.
2x Iceheart: Bonus for this monster set procs a healthy ice shield that protects you and does AoE frost damage. It used to be stronger but it’s still quite solid. Like the sets listed above, this one has extremely high uptime. Helm obtained in the Direfrost dungeon on veteran difficulty, shoulder piece obtained with Undaunted keys.
I set this up with dual frost staves, and a frost enchant on the front bar staff. Frost staves and enchants are objectively bad choices for a damage dealing character, compared to fire or shock. But this build is all about AESTHETICS and IMMERSION. Plus, the frost staves provide add a ton of crowd control value; this is not just appropriate for the theme of the build, it’s also really effective and fun when you are soloing to just paralyze everything you fight.
(Image Credit: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/arKvL)
SKILLS AND GAMEPLAY MECHANICS
Fully buffed (and using the Lover Stone) the build gives you about 46k magicka, 2800 spell damage, 57% crit chance, 12k penetration and 1250 magic recovery. If you use Sated Fury spell damage will amp to near 3500 and as an Altmer you can approach 4k, and that doesn’t count buffs like Minor Courage from pals.
- You get up close and personal with this build. You will keep up your ground DoTs (Unstable Wall and Winter’s Revenge), then use Deep Fissure on its 3-second delay while spamming Blood for Blood in between. Meanwhile, also keep up your self buffs, Blue Betty and Lotus Blossom, for Major Sorcery and Prophecy, and use Ice Fortress for armor if needed. Bird of Prey boosts damage by 10% just being on the bar (8% for Minor Berserk and 2% as another Warden animal skill). Arctic Blast is another solid DoT that can stun enemies, but if you prefer you can also use either morph of Frost Touch (Clench for the immobilize, Reach for the DoT) in this spot.
- You use Northern Storm as your Ultimate, it not only does tons of damage and slows/chills everyone around you, but it boosts your magic pool (and hence your damage) by a ton for 30 full seconds after activation. Ice Comet is there on your front bar to boost your magic pool passively (thanks to the Mages' Guild Magicka Controller passive)—and also for the occasional entertainment of dropping an ice comet on someone’s head.
- If you use Sated Fury, your spell damage can get up to the 3600 range fully buffed. I am able to use that skill without a problem, but I just don’t find it very fun to use. So I prefer keeping Blood Mist on the bar instead, which is a great emergency skill, reminds me of the fight against Harkon in TES5, and looks super creepy as a bonus. It's our call, the big spell damage boost from Sated Fury is enticing!
- Overall I was getting 25-30k DPS without perfecting a rotation. As noted at the top, this is not a min max damage build or anything close to it, but it does plenty of damage for solo play and would be sufficient (but not really ideal) in most vet dungeons.
HOW DOES THE BUILD HEAL YOU/PROTECT YOU?
- Your biggest heals come from a) the Winter’s Respite set, which should be giving you a near-constant ice field around you that heals you for about 2400 hps, and b) the Lotus Blossom skill, which heals you by about 1500 every time you light attack while it is active. That’s 4k passive healing per second, it is more than enough for most situations. For burst, your options are using Sated Fury (which gives a huge burst heal when you turn it OFF, after it’s been ON for a few seconds and it’s drained your health a bunch) and Arctic Blast, which is a nice 5k heal along with its short-but-strong damage over time effect. I liked having Arctic Blast on the front bar.
- With Ice Fortress up, you’ve got about 20k physical and spell resistance, which is plenty. Your Iceheart shield will be at about 5800, and it will be popping up very frequently. You’re tanky.
HOW DOES THE BUILD CONTROL ENEMY MOVEMENT?
- Crowd control is where this build shines. Between Unstable Wall, Winter's Revenge, your frost enchant, Northern Storm, Arctic Blast or Frost Clench…enemies just grind to a halt within a second or two of coming near you. You are also applying the Chilled effect at a very high rate; this effect, in addition to increasing your crowd control, also applies Minor Maim which reduces enemy damage by 15%, which is nice.
FINALLY, HOW DOES THE BUILD FEEL?
- It feels powerful and dominating; you are a true Volkihar badass generating massive quantities of exploding blood and ice around you constantly. To be effective you need to be a bit more deliberate and slow in playstyle, as your Winter’s Respite heals require you to park in place for a good 5-10 seconds at a time. This also feels very fitting for an ice-based, crowd-control focused character.
Exact CP distributions are flexible and somewhat up to individual preferences in this game, I’ll provide mine.
Basically you want to prioritize the magic damage and damage over time perks in the blue trees, and the green and red trees are fairly standard for lightly-armored DPS characters.
Note that I put no points in Tenacity, because I never heavy attack on this build. your main spammable uses health, and given that fact plus the huge magic return of the Hollowfang set, I found it impossible to run out of magicka. The points in Bastion beef up your shield from Iceheart by 15%.
Lord: Quick Recovery 23, Bastion 37
Lady: Hardy 43, Elemental Defender 43, Thick Skinned 48, Light Armor Focus 14
Steed: Ironclad 66
Ritual: Thaumaturge 37
Atronach: Master-at-Arms 72
Apprentice: Elfborn 61, Elemental Expert 64, Spell Erosion 36
Tower: Warlord 51, Sprinter 31
Shadow: Tumbling 44, Shadow Ward 44
Lover: Arcanist 100
Outfits are 100% cosmetic in ESO, which means that they are both everything and nothing to a build.
Credit to @Alivayana for the Royal Vampire vibe, this and hundreds of other outfit ideas are posted on the forums in the Outfit Megathread. Anyone who's played TES5 Dawnguard will recognize the Vampire Royal Armor look from Harkon family closet.
Chest: Ebony medium
Legs: Celestial light
Helm: Invisible, of course
Shoulders: Telvanni light
Hands: Sunspire heavy
Belt: Moongrave medium (really anything)
Feet: Ancient Elf medium
Staves: I used Sapiarch and Psijic, again use whatever looks creepiest to you
That pretty much sums it up! Post your comments, and even better, start posting your builds! Talk soon -Avi
(Image Credit: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/images/488737)