This is a PvP Survival Guide for the newer players to Cyrodiil, as I'm pretty sure most of the information I write here is already well known to the better players. This guide was written by DeanTheCat on the official Forums.

The first thing to remember is:

Memento Mori

Yes, that's right. Memento Mori. "Memento Mori" is latin, which means " Remember that you will die". Death comes for us all in Cyrodiil, and the sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you can start getting better at surviving and even winning a few fights of your own. No, that Templar is not going to stop Jesus beaming you, nor is that Nightblade going to stop instagibbing you from sneak. These are all part and parcel of life as a soldier (Or PFI, but I won't write what that acronym stands for. Hint: It's a term from "The Witcher") fighting in Cyrodiil.

So... how do you stop dying that often? Survival in Cyrodiil follows a few basic unwritten rules.

PvP Unwritten Rules

1) Sneak. Sneak when you are alone, sneak when you are not sure if enemies are around, sneak sneak sneak sneak sneak. Sneaking allows you to observe enemy movement with a low chance of being spotted and killed on the spot. Sneaking is what allows even the best players to be ambushed and killed, as you can't really prepare for an attack that you can't see. An additional benefit of sneaking is that any physical attack that you initiate from sneak that hits the back of an enemy carries a massive damage bonus as well as a 3 second stun. Dirty fighting, I know, and definitely not the most courageous way of fighting, but if it keeps you alive...

2) Situational Awareness. One of the top leading causes of death in Cyrodiil is due to players not paying attention to their surroundings. I can't even begin to count the number of times I managed to sneak kill a whole row of players operating siege weapons without them even noticing their comrades have fallen. Thing is, it's really very easy to get tunnel vision. Always keep one eye on your back, always expect an attack at any time. Cyrodiil isn't safe. Always be prepared for a fight. If you are playing in first person mode, I highly recommend switching to third person, as the difference for your survival is night and day. Speaking of siege weapons, get off that siege when it's reloading. There is absolutely no point in just sitting there and waiting for it's reload, as siege weapons in Tamriel are enchanted with an auto-reloading enchantment, meaning as soon as you fire your shot, you can get off the siege weapon and put up wards/heals/anything that keeps you alive.

3) Know your enemy. So... you just got into a fight. Next second you are dead. Then you are wondering what the heck just happened and see a bunch of attacks in your death recap. It's frustrating, I know, you feel like you got cheated and you didn't have a fair chance of fighting back. Thing is, Cyrodiil isn't fair. 1v1s are rare as heck, usually only found in preset duel settings (Legend guild for NA, Arena guild for EU). However, even though combat isn't fair, if you put your time into studying the skills your enemy uses in Cyrodiil (I'll include a section on common skills in Cyrodiil), you will begin to understand what the heck just happened. Understanding your opponent and his/her limits is the key to winning fights in Cyrodiil, as every single character has a weakness. All you have to do is find that weakness, and exploit it to turn even the most fearsome fighter into a meek kitten.

4) Stay calm. I can't stress this enough. Stay calm and think rationally. Patience is your best friend. Fighting and winning is far more then just getting a good build, mashing a few buttons and watching your enemies' corpses hit the ground. Oh, so that sorc just bolted away and is using /laugh at you from a distance. Stop and think. What is that sorc trying to achieve? In this case, the most likely reasoning is that sorc is trying to taunt you into chasing in, chasing him into fighting on territory and ground that is favorable to him rather than you. Who knows, you might chase him, then suddenly find that your "prey" has suddenly become the predator, when 5 of his friends suddenly appear from stealth and rip you apart, then proceed to /sweep on your corpse. Don't let your emotions and feelings get the better of you. If you do, you'll be unable to fight at full strength and will be nothing more then a walking sack of 900 AP.

5) Don't run your horse out of stamina. Cyrodiil is large. I'm pretty sure you want to get from... let's say Alessia to Sejanus where there is a massive battle ongoing quickly. However, don't let your horse run out of stamina. Your horse's stamina bar is like the horse's HP bar. As long as your horse has stamina left, you cannot be dismounted from attacks made to you while riding. However, once you get hit while your horse has no stamina, you'll fall like a sack of potatoes from that horse and be locked into a 5 second long dismount animation that cannot be CC-broken. Really, it's more then enough time for anyone to kill you, even by just using light attacks.

6) Avoid running with the zerg. Safety in numbers, I know. However, you can be pretty sure that nobody is going to be watching your back. It lulls you into a false sense of security that you are safe, while in reality, it's quite easy for a experienced player to murder you right there and then, and your allies will be none the wiser. Go with players that you trust, people you know will watch your back. A duo or trio of skilled players working in perfect synchronization are more then capable of going 3vX, where X is a whole zerg.

7) Self-sustainability is key. I know, you love to pack the biggest weapon you can find, swing it as hard as you can at your opponent, and watch the pretty numbers (Assuming you are using an add-on that displays damage numbers). However, if you focus completely on offense without a thought to your own self-preservation, it shouldn't come as a surprise when you get to enjoy horse simulator every 5 minutes. The best players mix offense and defense together, each with their own personal style. For example, I focus on cloaking and (mostly) dodging, my friend Legendary Mage focuses on his wards and Kris focuses on permacloaking and leeching health. All these styles still have the same common goal in mind: Stay alive long enough to kill people. There is no use having a weapon like Mehrunes' Razor, when you are dead before you can use it. This isn't a PvE dungeon where you will have a dedicated healer and tank protecting you, if anything, any competent foe will focus down your healer first.

8) There is no cowardice in living to fight another day. Know when to retreat. If you see a fight is not going your way, don't be afraid to disengage if an opportunity presents itself. Don't ride senselessly to your death. I'm pretty sure you want to get more AP to buy that shiny Ravager set piece, and the best way to do that is to stay alive longer. Less time on horse simulator = More time fighting and earning AP.

That's pretty much it for the basic rules. It will take time to get used to, as PvP is a totally different ball game from what you are used to in PvE. However, it never hurts to be armed with extra knowledge, and thus I shall cover some of the more commonly used abilities and tactics in Cyrodiil and how to fight them.

Common PvP Abilities:

1) Bolt Escape - I think this ability needs no introduction, as it's already so famous and iconic. This ability is countered by charges and immovable effects (Potion or ability). Critical Rush and Ambush excel at keeping up with a bolting sorcerer, but if you are a sorcerer, you could just simply bolt after him anyway... In any event, when attempting to chase a bolting sorcerer, holding block while charging or using an immovable effect first is essential, as the sorc could just streak through you (If he took that morph) or turn around and hit you with a Crystal Fragments proc.

2) Shadow Cloak - Another iconic move, this ability seemingly has a near endless list of counters, yet only a few people seem to slot the common counters to this ability. Any AoE damage breaks the Nightblade who cast this out of cloak, detection potions reveal Nightblades and sneakers, while Radient Magelight provides a 10m anti-stealth field around you as well as protecting you and your allies from sneak attacks, reducing their damage by 60%. Revealing Flare works as well, but if you took the damage morph of the ability (Scorching Flare), the Nightblade can simply cloak to dispel it (Assuming he/she is using the Dark Cloak morph). Finally, Piercing Mark if applied on the offending Nightblade, will ensure that he is visible for the next 20 seconds unless he purges it off.

3) Radiant Destruction (aka Jesus Beam) - The Templar's newest toy given to them in 1.6, it's a ranged channeled execute that deals insane damage to enemies below 50% HP which bypasses dodgeroll. Ways of fighting this ability includes purging this ability off (It's counted as a DoT), cloaking it, blocking or *Evil chuckle* casting Eclipse on the casting Templar. Interrupting this ability with a bash, venom arrow or crushing shock also works.

4) Reflective Scales (aka Flap Flap) - Used by Dragonknights to kill unaware players to dare attack the Dragonknight with projectile attacks, this ability once casted, ensures that the next 4 projectiles that hit the Dragonknight are reflected back to the attacker. This is an undoubtedly powerful skill, but it can be fought. Using non-projectile ranged attacks like Daedric Curse, Lightning and Restoration stave heavy attacks and Jesus Beam, one can damage the Dragonknight from range. Another solution is to forgo range attacks and engage the Dragonknight in melee, though this is far more risky as the Dragonknight has a whole arsenal of abilities designed for Close Quarter Combat (CQC). Another way to use projectile attacks on a Dragonknight with scales active is to use Defensive Stance or your own Reflective Scales to play a game of ping pong with the Dragonknight as projectiles can only be reflected twice.

5) Dragon Blood - A heal that heals the Dragonknight for 33% of missing health, this ability is severely reduced in effectiveness once a healing debuff has been applied.

6) Snipe - This ability releases a slow moving projectile at the target, at insane range, which deals massive damage if it connects. Counters to this ability are dodgerolling, blocking, using scales or interrupting the archer in question. This ability has a clearly audible sound as it travels through the air, which is your cue to dodge out of the way to avoid the snipe.

7) Uppercut - This melee range attack from a two-handed weapon deals massive damage coupled with a stun and empower buff when it connects. This ability can be countered by blocking, dodging or applying hard CC to the attacker. A dodge is still best used to dodge through the attacker, as the ability will then miss, and he/she has to waste time turning around to reacquire you.

8) Crystal Shard - The iconic "Purple rock of doom". This ability sends a moderately fast moving projectile at the target that deals massive damage as well as knocking down and stunning the victim for 2 seconds after it connects. This ability can be dodged, blocked or reflected back at the caster. If the ability is hard casted, interrupting the cast works well too.

9) Soul Assault - See #3; Same means to counter it.

10) Dark Flare - See #8; Same means to counter it.

11) Meteor - Meteor creates a ring of blue runes around the feet of the victim, along with a distinct sound effect. When the runes shrink into nothing, the meteor connects, dealing massive damage as well as sending the target and nearby allies into the air, while also applying a ground DoT. Meteors can be cloaked, blocked and reflected, but they cannot be dodged(Only applies to Ice Comet Morph. Shooting star has a small window of time).

12) Magicka Detonation - This ability deals high AoE damage to anyone within the "Red ring of doom". The damage can be mitigated somewhat by blocking, but purging is useless, as purging will only cause the ability to explode early. If this ability is casted on you, please do your allies a favor and don't go near them. As this ability has a cast time, it can be interrupted while it's still being cast to stun the caster.

13) Aspect of Terror - A signature skill of the Nightblade, this ability goes through blocks and dodgeroll to CC the target. Drinking an immovable potion or using the ability Immovable will prevent fear from taking effect. Otherwise, the only real thing you can do about this is to always be ready to CC-break, thereby meaning that you should have decent stamina regeneration and/or the Way of the Arena 5 piece item set.

14) Daedric Mines - The famous purple mines cast by Sorcerers, Daedric Mines have a 3 second arming time after being cast, but once armed, they deal high damage to anyone who dares step into them along with a root. Ways of fighting this ability include using ranged attacks, or using Immovable effects (Potion or ability). Either way, if you do decide to try and attack in melee, ensure you have a means of healing yourself from the spike damage from the mines.

15) Dark Talons - The iconic Dragonknight exclusive root, this ability is simply countered by dodgerolling. Purge effects can be used to remove the DoT or the damage debuff inflicted by this ability.

16) Encase - The sorcerer version of Dark Talons, but with an additional flaw. By simply jumping into the air, you can avoid being caught by this ability. Same counters as Dark Talons.

17) Fossilize - This Dragonknight's long duration CC is a 20 second long disorient with a twist. It roots you after the disorient effect ends, so remember to dodgeroll after CC-breaking. This ability goes through blocks.

18) Defensive Posture - This skill reflects the next spell projectile to hit the caster back at the attacker. This ability is visible on your opponent as a blackish-greyish gleaming stone-like sheen to their armor. Counter this ability by using non-projectile magicka attacks, physical attacks or by simply light attacking the target with a staff. Activating your own Defensive Posture or scales will also cause your spell projectiles to hit the target, as projectiles can only be reflected twice.

19) **Conjured Ward** - The signature Sorcerer shield/ward, this skill creates a buffer around the caster, absorbing a high amount of damage before shattering. While the ward is active, critical hits cannot be achieved on the caster. Counter this ability by attacking the stamina pool of the (usually frail) caster using CC effects or the Shieldbreaker Set (IC Tel-Var Stone set).

20) **Shadow Image** - This Nightblade skill places a static shade at the Nightblade's location, which fires a bow at the target, inflicting minor maim, reducing the damage the target does by 15%. The skill can also be activated again, teleporting the caster back to the shade. This skill can be countered by placing area denial on the shade, with good options being a Lingering Flare, Volcanic Rune, Caltrops or Daedric Mines.

Common PvP Tactics

1) Ganking - Usually enjoyable on the end of the person doing the ganking, not so much on the end of the person being ganked. Ganking is the act of waiting in sneak in groups of 2 to 3 for a unaware target to pass, before leaping out of sneak and engaging the target. The victim often has little to no chance to react or survive such an attack. Usage of Radient Magelight as well as constantly maintaining some stamina on your horse is the best protection against gankers. Also, if you suspect a trap, dismount and sneak. It may take you longer, but it is better to arrive late then arrive dead.

2) Tower Farming - Tower farming is usually done by organized groups looking for some easy AP. If you spot enemy forces capturing a resource, then fleeing into the tower, do not capture the resource. Instead, set up sieges to attack the tower, as this will force the enemy group out of the tower, ruining their attempts at a tower farm. If the resource has already been captured, the best solution is to leave them alone, as if they don't get the easy AP they came for, they will attempt to push out of the tower to re-capture the resource, which is the best time to strike them, as they are no longer protected by the walls of the tower. Alternatively, you could gather a bunch of friends, assigning some to fire firepot trebuchets at the upper levels of the tower, denying access to the tower farming groups. The rest should stack up at the door, cast Rapid Maneuvers and as many damage shields and wards as possible and enter the tower at the same time. Once in, head up to the upper floors of the tower and set up flaming oil and start pouring.

3) Baiting - Usually done by Sorcerers, this tactic offers a seemingly enticing target as a bait to would be attackers, while the bait's allies await in sneak. As soon as anyone takes the bait, the hidden players attack the victim, often instantly gibbing their target. This strategy is the main reason why one does not simply chase sorcerers, as you can never be sure if there is an ambush waiting or not. The best counter for this sort of strategy is simply common sense. If it is too good to be true, it most likely is.

4) Decoy sieges - A more advanced tactic used by the better players in Cyrodiil, decoy sieges involve a single player bringing a keep wall to 51%, then proceeding to place a ton of oil pots down, then flagging the keep. This gives the false illusion to the enemy that the keep is under attack by a large amount of siege weapons, thus diverting enemy forces to the keep in question whereas a real attack is staged somewhere else on the map. This strategy is countered by having constant scouting patrols of your alliance's keeps.

5) Transitus breaking - Another advanced tactic, transitus breaking is when a group of players captures every resource around a keep or captures an outpost, in order to break the teleportation link between keeps, thus preventing reinforcements from reaching the front lines. This strategy can have a large impact on the Cyrodiilic map, as any keep that lacks defenders will quickly fall to any decently organized group. Once again, the strategy is countered by having constant scouting patrols.

Additional knowledge worth knowing is the basics of how to fight as an alliance, as an alliance that works well together can repel the two other alliances, despite constant assaults on that alliance.
1) Resurrect your fallen allies. If you see the corpses of your allies lying on the ground and it is safe to do so, resurrect the fallen. Every single fighter who can lift a blade or cast a spell matters in a fight. A single player is enough to turn the tides of battle. Who knows, that player that you resurrected may just set up a hidden flaming oil or fire balista, and that one pour or shot wipes the enemy zerg. Also, players tend to be grateful to those that resurrect them, and constantly resurrecting your allies will ensure they remember, and the next time you meet your end in Cyrodiil, you can be sure that they will resurrect you.

2) Call out enemy positions in /zone. Information is key to winning the campaign, and the more information you can provide, the better it is for your alliance. For example, you see a bunch of Daggerfall Covenant soldiers setting up siege at Kingscrest Lumbermill. They are aiming their sieges at the keep, but they haven't actually fired yet. Call them out in /zone. Early warning in /zone ensures that allies will come to your aid, and you won't have to fight all those enemies alone. Besides, people will love you for it. A good early warning scouting report turns the tides of battles. It's the difference between defending the keep solo vs defending it with 10-20 allies by your side.

3) Don't reveal sneaking allies. A very common mistake that most players make in Cyrodiil is that when they are being chased, they head to allies in sneak. This action often results in the death of the allies in question. Think about it, if they are alive, they could resurrect you after the enemy zerg has passed, or if it is a small group of enemies chasing you, they could launch a surprise attack on the back of the group, turning the tables on the enemy and wiping them in one attack. Another side effect of revealing sneaking allies is that it is a surefire way to ensure that they won't resurrect you the next time you die.

4) Buy your own siege engines and use them. Siege is king on the battlefields of Cyrodiil (20k damage Cold Stone Trebuchet anyone?), and a well placed shot from one of these engines of war makes and breaks armies. Siege weapons are the key to taking and defending keeps. Siege weapons basically pay for themselves, even though they may have a seemingly steep upfront cost at first. An example would be that you are assaulting Arrius Keep. There are a lot of enemy defenders on the wall, raining spells and arrows on your forces, while you are unable to fight back due to the wall. If none of your forces brought sieges, there is absolutely no way to destroy that wall and expose the defenders to retaliation. However, if you brought sieges, you could break down the wall, then storm the breech with your allies, and massacre the defenders on the wall, earning a ton of AP in the process, pretty much earning far more then you spent with the investment of the siege engine. Another point to note is that if someone else has placed siege, please do not steal it from them, as players who place and operate multiple siege engines are usually well-versed in siege warfare, and know the weakpoints of keeps and where to strike for optimal effect. Taking away siege from such players often harms your allies rather then helping them, as a slow siege of an enemy keep means that enemy reinforcements have more time to arrive. More enemies at a keep means that your forces will have a much harder time taking said keep as for every minute the siege goes on, the advantage slowly shifts towards the defending force rather then the attacking one.

5) Protect allies that are operating siege engines. A siege engine operator has little to no awareness of his/her surroundings, and therefore a prime target for an enemy Nightblade assassination. Protecting these vulnerable operators is the key to ensure that the keep wall falls in any decent amount of time, as a dead operator cannot fire the siege engine.

6) Don't argue with people in /zone. Infighting inside the alliances does nothing but breed distrust and mutual animosity. You are all in it for the fight, for good or evil. Don't waste your time with these trolls and instead focus on what is important, which is to say fighting and having fun.

Imperial City Tactics

With the advent of 2.1 (Also called 1.7 by most players, myself included), the gates of the Imperial City have been opened. The Imperial City and the sewers that extend beneath the City bring unique dangers and challenges not found anywhere else, along with a measure of risk vs reward in the form of the Tel-Var stone system. Therefore, a section dedicated to surviving and braving the dangers of the Imperial City have been included.
1) Always carry a Sigil of Imperial Retreat. Sigils of Imperial Retreat are stones that allow the user of the stone to teleport back to the sewer base of the alliance that the user belongs to. These life-saving stones have an 8 second cast time, and will pull the user out of stealth when used. However, once the channel is complete, the user teleports back to base, leaving nothing but a cloud of purple mist where they once were. This Sigil is therefore invaluable in protecting your Tel-Var stones from would be thieves, as you lose 80% of your Tel-Var stones on PvP death. There is nothing more frustrating then losing 1k+ Tel-Var to an enemy, just because you didn't have the foresight to retreat with these Sigils. However, there is a hefty price tag on these Sigils. They cost 10k Alliance Points from the Tel-Var General Goods Merchant in your base, or can be found at random from chests scattered throughout the Imperial City.

2) Beware of Sweeper Bosses. Sweeper Bosses (Or FOEs as I like to call them) are extremely powerful and deadly enemies, often requiring 10 or more players to take down. These FOEs once aggroed, will relentlessly chase their target across entire districts of the Imperial City, not stopping till they or their target is dead. Therefore, engage these enemies with extreme caution. They are easily recognizable by having a unique name in addition to having 3 Diamonds on their health bar. FOEs in the Imperial Sewers will have a banner on their backs, along with randomized travel paths. Tread carefully, lest your next step may be your last. However, a creative player may intentionally draw aggro from these walking apocalypses, only to train them into a large group of enemy players, thereby borrowing the strength of the FOE to wipe a much larger group.

3) Form warbands of 4-8 players. Running around in a zerg in the Imperial City will net you next to no Tel-Var stone gains, as all Tel-Var stones gained is split among all members of the party. For example, if a monster were to drop 4 Tel-Var stones, and there were 24 people in the party, 4 players would get 1 Tel-Var stone, while the rest of the party gets nothing. The same distribution is applied to Tel-Var stones earned from a player kill. Therefore, to ensure some rewards for your trouble while not being too few to fall apart at the first sign of danger, a warband of 4-8 players is recommended. A warband of 4-8 coordinated players is more then capable of wiping any enemy, be it daedra, men or mer.

4) Have some form of snare removal. Snares are deadly in the close quarters of the Imperial City/Sewers, and therefore some means of freeing yourself from snares is imperative. Skills that offer snare removal are Shuffle, Rapid Maneuvers, Forward Momentum and Purge.

5) Scout Ahead. It pays to be cautious, and sending a member of a group who specialises in stealth to scout the area pays off. A scout can mean the difference between walking into an ambush and losing your Tel-Var stones, or turning the tables on the ambushers by ambushing them instead. This also applies when engaging daedra. Always have one eye on your back to look out for incoming enemy alliance players.

6) Do not fight under an enemy alliance's spawn point. Fighting at such a position means that the enemy will be able to almost instantly return to the battle, which means that you will be fighting a neverending stream of opponents, and you will inevitably fall by the weight of sheer numbers. Stay away from enemy spawn points if you can help it, and minimise time spent near one should you be unable to prevent yourself from approaching one. The spawn points are easily identified by Alliance Banners flying on the walls of the building where the alliance spawns at.

7) Enemy players are not your only enemy. Daedra fill the streets of the Imperial City, and as a result, chasing mindlessly after an enemy opponent may result in you running headfirst into a pack of daedra, thereby meeting your swift and ignominious end. Constantly weigh the risk vs the reward, and know when to give up the chase. It is better to let the opponent go, then risk losing all your Tel-Var stones.

Well, this concludes my guide to the basics of Cyrodiil, and I hope it helps you become a better player. After all,

"Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

May your road lead you to warm sands.

Dean the Cat

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