PvP Basics Guide by the talented NovalithESO via his blog Elder Scrubs Online

Table of Contents


So first and foremost, we will discuss the things you want to try to do BEFORE you go into Cyrodiil. This will consist of the following 4 things:
1) Food or Drink Buffs
2) Potions
3) Siege Weapons
4) Skills

1. Food or Drink?
The first thing you're going to want to determine is if you want Food, or you want Drink. Provisioning buffs are vital to your performance in Cyrodiil, but food and drink do two different things, and they don't stack with one another. Food buffs increase your resource totals, and drink buffs increase your resource regeneration. Each have their use, but I have found that food buffs are more popular. Higher Health means you're going to have an easier time surviving. Higher Magicka means more damage with magicka based abilities. Higher stamina means higher damage with stamina based abilities. More damage is something that a lot of people go for currently. That said, with the extreme burst currently in Cyrodiil being toned down with the Imperial City update, we may see some people switching to drink buffs in order to let them last longer in fights before they run out of steam.

(For convenience sake, I will be using the term “food” to refer to both food AND drink from now on, but the choice is ultimately yours to make)

Next you need to choose quality. Purple items give Health, Stamina, AND magicka buffs. Blue items give 2 resources: Health and Stamina, Health and Magicka, or Stamina and Magicka. It may seem like a no-brainer, but there is still one thing to consider: The Blue foods give more of each resource/regen than the Purple. Here is a direct example: With VR10 Purple Food, you get: 3150 Health, 2880 Magicka and Stamina. With VR 10 Blue food, you get 3854 Health, 3210 Magicka or Stamina.

So how do you decide? It's a matter of preference. But, here is my recommendation: For a Magicka build, don't even consider the Blue items. You use ALL three resources. Magicka for damage, Stamina for CC break and Dodge roll, and health just to stay alive. In my opinion, you should always aim for the purple food as a magicka build. For a stamina build, you can consider the blue Health and Stamina option. Magicka is not something you use often, depending on your build or your class. You may not use it at all, in some cases. As such, you'll benefit more from having a bigger buff to your Health and Stamina at the cost of no Magicka buff. You can still go for all three (and very many do), especially on a nightblade using Dark Cloak. But if you're not using your magicka all that much, you can consider the blue food as something to buy even when you're not cutting corners to save some gold.

2. Potions

In terms of Potions, there are a few strong options. Please be sure to refer to my last article on Buffs and Buff Stacking to see the kinds of buffs that potions give and what skills you might have to cover those buffs instead.

The first, and probably the most overall popular right now, is Tri-Pots, potions that restore Health, Magicka, and Stamina, and also give Major Fortitude, Intellect, and Endurance. These are the best for resource management and survivability, and pretty much everyone benefits from them, so they are widely used and widely available.

The second option that sees some decent use is a Detection Potion. These bad boys let you see stealthed or invisible players at an increased range, and the best ones also can provide a buff such as Major Sorcery or Major Brutality to increase your damage.

The Final option, and one that is probably MUCH less popular than the other two, is an Invisibility potion for those who are not already playing a Nightblade. I don't think I need to go too much into detail on this one, it makes you invisible which can really throw someone off, particularly if you're not playing a nightblade and they aren't expecting it.

Regardless of if you choose one of the potions above, or some other potion you feel will be more helpful, always make sure you've got enough of them!

3. Siege Weapons

The last item on our checklist of things to have when getting ready to PvP in Cyrodiil is Siege Weaponry. Whether you're on offense or defense, it's important to have siege weapons ready to deploy when they're needed. Siege Weapons can be purchased from Siege Vendors in Cyrodiil, and must be in a quick slot to be deployed. It is important to note that while you are operating a siege weapon, you will be completely vulnerable to attacks from other players.

There are five different types of Siege weapons, most with a few different variations. Each has its own use, and if you're really dedicated, you may carry around a few of each to make sure you have what you need when the time comes.

Trebuchet – These long range siege weapons are best used to break down keep walls. They come in Firepot, Iceball, and Stone Variety. The Firepot Trebuchet adds a Fire DoT on enemies it hits. The Iceball Trebuchet snares enemies it hits. The Standard Stone Trebuchet is most effective at blasting down walls and has no other effect.

Catapult- This Siege weapon has shorter range than the Trebuchet, but still deals strong damage and comes in a few interesting Varieties. There is the Meatbag Catapult which deals a DoT to the area hit, the Oil Catapult which snares enemies hit, and the Scattershot Catapult, which deals damage over a large area with many small projectiles.

Special Contribution from reddit user pfoxinator: You should mention that the meat bag catapult is a good counter to heals. It's the most misunderstood and underrated siege engine, pair it up with fire ballista to ensure kills. Healers can't power through this combo, they have to use Purge to clean it up.

Ballistae – This gigantic crossbow fires a massive bolt that can damage structures and enemy players alike. It's range is shorter than the Trebuchet or the Catapult, but it is a great option for versatility. It has a Standard version, a fire version for a flame DoT, and a Lightning Version which is effective against groups of enemies, but less so against walls.

Battering Ram- This siege weapon is designed just to knock down doors, and that is what it does. This weapon is best deployed right up against the door in question, and is best operated by 6 people, but can also be operated by as few as 1. If you are on the defensive, it is important that you do not let the enemy set up and use the battering ram, as it greatly reduces the amount of time they need to get inside your keep.

Oil Pot – This weapon is used to dump burning hot oil onto enemy players below. It is often an excellent counter to enemy battering rams, and is also used in defense inside the keep after a door or wall gets broken down.

In addition to the variations above, there are three siege weapons that can only be obtained by destroying Dark Anchors in Cyrodiil. These three ColdHarbour themed siege weapons are the Cold Fire Trebuchet, the Cold Stone Trebuchet, and the Cold Fire Ballista. They all hit harder than their standard counterparts, and are very strong if you can get your hands on them.

You may also want to buy Keep repair items, but I will be covering that in depth later, and you can buy those at the keep you just took anyway. Still, if you like to be prepared, pick up wall and door repair items during your preparations!

One last key point regarding Siege Weapons: When the Siege weapon is fully reloaded and ready to fire, you can also press X (On PC) to “stow” the siege weapon, and you'll be able to re-deploy it at another location whenever you want. Assuming It doesn't get destroyed.

4. Skills

The final part of preparation I'm going to cover is your skill setup. Obviously people take on different roles and aim for different objectives, so I can't give a definitive “Cyrodiil Build” for anyone. But what I can do is give you an idea of what you need to think about when setting up your bar for assaulting keeps.

You're in a Group
It's very important to remember that you are in a group. There are no one man armies here, the numbers just get too big too quickly to do anything meaningful on your own. If you have group buffs, they are strong contenders for putting onto your bar. If you have synergy skills and you are confident they'll be used, then that's another great option. Healers usually have access to most of the group buffs, with things like Blessing of Protection/Combat Prayer or hitting your opponent with Drain Essence.

Your enemies are in a group, too
So just like group buffs are great when taking a keep, AoE Damage spells are great for taking down the enemy when they're all kinds of bunched up. Even better, AoE CC that can then be joined with some AoE Damage will really help you and your allies control the battlefield a little better.

Siege Weapons Hurt
Siege weapons are used not only to take down keep walls, but also to hit enemy players while they're assaulting the wall. As such, it's important to get someone (or a few someones) who have the Siege Shield ability to protect your valuable siege weapons long enough to take down the walls and get inside. There are a number of other great abilities in the support tree as well, so be sure to check them all out.

Keeping Distance has its Benefits
Just a very optional idea, but being able to contribute to damage while staying out of range of the enemy siege weapons is a plus, and so is being able to send damage up (or down) a keep wall at the enemy is invaluable. So, perhaps consider picking up a Bow or a Staff to add some range, if you need to.

If you keep those key ideas in mind, you should have no issue coming up with a few ideas for builds. Spend some time in Cyrodiil with a guild, test out your ideas, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Most players are going to be happy to help, because they are going to be your allies, your guild mates, or your friends.

Entering Cyrodiil

The first time you enter Cyrodiil, you will be able to take a quest that will serve as a Tutorial for Cyrodiil PvP. This tutorial is very useful, and I recommend it to new players for 2 reasons: It lets you get some hands on experience with Siege engines, and it gives you a skill point when you complete it. You can also skip the quest by talking to a specific NPC after accepting the quest (it will be in your quest log info), but you will still receive the Skill Point.

Once you have completed the tutorial, you'll be able to take additional quests from boards in one of your two camps. There are 5 different types of quests, and you can take one of each at a time. I recommend having them, but don't be too concerned with trying to get them completed. Just have them in your quest log, and if you complete one, you can turn it in for some Alliance Points and Experience.

Once you have your quests (or not, you do you boo boo) you will likely want to find a group to roll with. If you're in a guild, maybe you already have one and that's why you're here in the first place. But if you AREN'T in a guild, or just don't have a group, your best bet is to just hang out in Zone Chat. Odds are it won't be long before you start seeing people either looking to form a group, or looking for people to join their group. They will often times give some word or character to type into /z in order to be invited. If you start seeing “Type X for group” Just press enter, type /z X, and press enter again! With luck you'll get an invite, and you're halfway there!

Regardless of how you found a group, or IF you found a group, you can always find some action. Open up your map, and you will see all of the objectives on the map, color coordinated by which faction owns them (Red for Ebonhart Pact, Yellow for Aldmeri Dominion, and Blue for Daggerfall Covenant). You can also see which objectives are currently under contention. If there is fighting in a given area, the map will have a little crossed swords marker, again color coordinated. If all three factions are present, it will be three crossed swords, one of each color. You can also get an idea of how serious the effort to take objective is by mousing over it on the map. This will bring up a list of how many siege weapons are present from each faction. Once you've decided where you want to go, it's time to ride!

Travelling through Cyrodiil

Fast Travel
Cyrodiil is pretty massive, so naturally you'll want to fast travel as much as possible. But Cyrodiil has a different fast travel system than that of the rest of the world. There are only 2 of the standard wayshrines in Cyrodiil per faction, and are both located in your “home camps”. If you want to leave Cyrodiil, you MUST use these wayshrines. Travelling within Cyrodiil requires the use of Transitus Shrines. Remembering this difference in Nomenclature will really help you avoid headaches in the future.

Transitus Shrines can teleport you to any Keep or Outpost that you control, so long as there is an unbroken supply line between your current location and your destination. To best illustrate what I mean by “Supply Lines”, look at the picture below:

external image Map.png

If you can trace a line from your starting position to where you want to end up, and only use the lines that are your factions color, the you well be able to teleport there. If the line is another color, or grayed out with a little padlock symbol on it, that route is locked and you cannot fast travel there. This could be because the next keep in the line, be it your destination or just the next hop in the chain, is under attack. This prevents players from using it as a fast travel hub in any way. Additionally, the first keep of each faction, directly outside their gates, cannot be fast traveled to by members of the enemy faction. This I illustrated by the image above, as the Aldmeri Dominion controls the very first EP keep, it doesn't appear to be under siege, but the AD cannot fast travel to it.

Horse or Foot Travel
Whether you're moving to the next objective to Siege, or you're hunting down sky shards, fast travel can only get you so far. The rest of the time, you're going to have to travel on foot or on your mount. Believe it or not, there are drastically different approaches to travel depending on your group size.

For a large group, you want to stay with the group no matter what. That means if you have to sprint non-stop to keep up, so be it. Because when you're with 10 other players, you're not a target for ganking, and that's what you have to worry about during overland travel more than anything. It isn't overly common in my experience, but it happens enough to be a legitimate concern. It is important to note that if you can't keep up with your group for whatever reason, you're better off NOT sprinting on your mount. While it is possible to continue sprinting while on your mount indefinitely, being hit while you're mounted and out of stamina will lead to an unbreakable Knockdown CC that lasts long enough to all but guarantee you're going to lose.

If you don't have a large group, or if you're going solo, the same advice of not sprinting applies, but you may also opt to go on foot, potentially even sneaking. You'll want to be particularly careful around choke points. Regardless of your decision, your best survival tool is going to be situational awareness. Most people are impatient, and aren't going to just be sitting in stealth and waiting. If you're lucky and vigilant, you will often times be able to see them just before they go stealthed, making you much less likely to get caught completely off guard.

Siege the Keep

You've prepared your consumables and gotten your quests. You found a group, and you've made the long trek to that enemy objective. You are ready, this is what you've been training for. Maybe you got into a VOIP room with your group, or maybe your leader is just really good at communication in zone chat. But sometimes we aren't that lucky. So I'm going to tell you what to LOOK for while you're attacking an objective to try to stay alive, break down those walls, and claim that keep for the glory of [redacted]!
Mini Objectives
I'll touch briefly on the 3 objectives surrounding each keep. For every keep in Cyrodiil there is a lumbermill, a mine, and a farm. These are guarded by enemy NPCs all the time, and enemy players sometimes. They are important to take, and in many cases when you run with a group they will capture one or all of these objectives before going to assault the keep itself. Each one gives a buff to the keep defenses so long as the faction which controls the keep also controls the objective.

The Mine provides a bonus to the strength of the keeps walls, making it harder to break down. The Lumbermill provides a bonus to the strength of the keep doors, and the farm provides a bonus to the NPC guards. If they control all three, they get all three buffs.

The Keep

So I'm going to put a small picture I drew as a sort of visual aid. It is not to scale. It is not GOOD. But it was the easiest way I could come up with to give you a top-down view of the general layout of a keep, and kind of let you at least somewhat visualize the process as we go through it hear. Bear with me, my MS Paint skills are far from good.

external image Keep%2BAnatomy.png

There are two options for you at this point. Option one, is having and deploying your own siege weapon. If you choose to do this, your job is to hit those walls as much as possible. Try to aim for the same area that your allies are aiming, as your goal is to take down a specific wall segment to allow your assault team to move inside. Once inside the first wall, the strategy is similar but things can get a bit more hectic. A lot of the Siege operators will first go up onto the ramparts (the top of the outer wall) and clear out the enemies there before they set up to start bombarding the next wall. This serves two purposes: It removes the enemies from their vantage point on top of the wall, and it gives your siege weapons an elevated position, making it a bit more difficult for the enemy to reach them or drop burning oil on them.

It is worth noting that while battering rams are extremely efficient at taking down doors, many players forgo them for the safety and convenience of a catapult, Ballista, or Trebuchet. This is because Battering Rams are extremely susceptible to burning oil and enemy players in general, and because it takes 6 players to operate a battering ram at full efficiency. If you want to use a battering ram, be sure you have a group of people who KNOW that you plan on trying to use one and are on board with it, otherwise you're just going to die and lose your siege weapon.

The process is then simply repeated until you break down the second, inner wall, and the rush inside begins. But before we cover that, let us look at what happens if you don't take up the Trebuchet.

If you don't choose to operate a siege weapon, you have one job: Protect the siege weapons. Don't let enemy players get near them, as they can light them on fire to destroy them. Throw up Siege Shield if you have it slotted to help defend from the enemies own siege weapons. And overall just be vigilant. Call out groups of incoming enemies, heal people who are taking damage while operating a siege weapon, and just be defensive.

Regardless of if you're operating a siege weapon or just trying to keep everyone alive, once the first wall comes down, you want to try to rush in as a group. This is one of the most dangerous parts of a siege, as enemy players will often use the last few moments of the wall's health to set up for your assault. Burning oil, Fire Ballistae, and other equally deadly methods of trying to break your siege will all come at you full force once you start to pour over that crumbled stone. Your best bet is to try to get “inside” the walls themselves as quickly as possible. There will undoubtedly be players waiting for you there, but at least with walls and a roof, you're safe from most siege weapons (unless someone set up a ballista to shoot inside those rooms. I've seen that before).
If you manage to clear out enemies and secure another position to begin assaulting another door or wall, then you're back to the same old process until the next wall comes down. This is, once again, one of the most dangerous parts of the Siege process, as once again enemies can set up and prepare for this. Once the inner wall goes down, you need to get inside and upstairs quickly if possible. There are going to be people trying to drop burning oil on you, and you want to clear everyone from the top level to prevent an endless rain of oil and ranged attacks. If you manage to clear out the top level, you should head down the stairs to try to take the two capture points within the keep. To capture it you simply need to stand by the flag, but “simply” isn't really all that simple. You will be under assault by enemy players and NPCs, so you'll be fighting them off the whole time. It is times like this that AoE Spells are useful, as by now the enemy will be bunched up, desperately trying to defend their keep. Once you take them down, and claim both flags, the keep is yours. Clear out the remaining rabble, and start the party!

A contribution from reddit user NollyReserves, and one I should not have overlooked:
"You should add that side doors on the keeps doesn't take damage from Ballistas and trebuchets. You have to hit the walls around them or the stairs that led up to the door..." This is very relevant during the second phase of the siege, after the outer wall has been taken down, because many times this "side door" is exactly what you want to take down.
The repair party, I mean. That big hole in the wall you ran through? Yea that's still there. The doors you broke down? Still broken. So go to the newly spawned siege merchant In the keep and go buy some wall and/or door repair items. Quick slot them, and go back to the wake of destruction you left behind. The process doesn't take long, but it is arguably the most important part of successfully assaulting a keep. If you don't do this, then the enemy can literally just run in and start their siege at the last phase.

Another quick note here: If you are in a guild, and you participated in the siege, you can go to the guild vendor and “claim the keep” for your guild. This is first come, first served, and offers a few things: Your guild's name shows up on the tooltip when someone highlights the keep, your guild store can be accessed from that keep (by anyone on your faction), and the siege merchant wears your tabard.

One final point regarding Siege basics: Each Keep has unique terrain and geography around it. I am not going to go keep by keep but I can give an example of one in particular where the geography was an effect on your planning. Chalman keep has a mountain directly to the north of it. If you set up your siege efforts along the Northern wall of Chalman keep, your enemies (be it the same faction your assaulting, or another one altogether) won't be able to come up behind you and catch you in a pincer attack. This simple fact, the presence of a mountain, is enough to make assaulting Chalman from the north the best bet in almost all scenarios. Keep that in mind, and your Assaults will go well.

Everything Else

There are a handful of other things I want to cover, but this article is already over 4000 words long, and for the most part these don't need huge explanations.

Opening Enemy Gates
If you capture the keep right outside of an enemy gate, that gate will open and you will have access to the area inside up to their actual “base”. Each gate has a sky shard and a temple with an elder scroll behind it. When the gate is opened, if the enemy still has their Elder Scroll, expect HEAVY defenses.

Taking an Elder Scroll
If the Scroll is in the enemy temple, you cannot pick it up unless their gate is open and your faction has at least one of your own elder scrolls. So if you managed to stay behind the gate when it closed, or if your faction doesn't have any of its own scrolls, you won't be able to pick it up. If the scroll is held in a keep somewhere, only the later restriction applies.

Carrying an Elder Scroll
If you pick up a Scroll, your goal should be to get it to the farthest possible keep under your control, and drop it off there for safe keeping. If you picked up one of your own scrolls to return, run it back to its home temple.

Becoming Emperor
To have an emperor crowned, your faction needs to take control of the six inner keeps surrounding the Imperial City. Once you've taken all of them, the person on your faction who is currently in the lead for emperorship will be crowned emperor. If I am not mistaken, Emperorship is determined by AP earned in the current campaign. To depose a current emperor, you must lose each of the 6 inner keeps. Once they have all been taken from you, you lose your emperor, regardless of if a single enemy faction took all 6 keeps or not.

Contact Me**

I realize that I am far from perfect, and I am more than willing to listen to corrections, opinions, and criticism. So long as you're able to keep it civil, I'm open to a discussion! You can contact me through Email, Twitter, the comment section here, or any other way you can find me. I'm happy to make additions, corrections, and deletions, so long as I feel they are legitimately warranted. If anyone has concerns, feel free to speak up!

Email: nova@elderscrubsonline.com
Twitter: @NovalithESO

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