ESO Nightblade PvP Guide - Assassinate Your Targets
ESO Nightblade PvP Guide
Nightblade is one of the most popular PvP classes in Elder Scrolls Online. After all, it's equivalent to all the rogues, assassins, and thieves in other online games – this kind of characters often excel in fights against other players. Especially if you can get a jump on your enemies. Nightblade is great for ganking other players in Cyrodiil, but can also work really well in Battlegrounds.
That being said, Nightblade doesn't have to be played like a traditional rogue. This class has access to multiple builds that often significantly differ in terms of playstyle. In this guide, we're going to talk about two builds – one is Stamina-focused, with two-hander and bow as the weapon choices. The second is a Magicka Nightblade setup that uses a staff on the back bar. Let's get right into this Scalebreaker updated guide!
Stamina Nightblade Build for pvp
It is an entertaining, high-damage setup that interestingly combines mobility and DPS. Thanks to the recommended race choice and sets that we're using, we get a lot of damage from dodge rolls. The main strengths of this build are mobility, crowd control, and direct damage, but it also provides some damage over time.
Two-Handed Skill Bar
Executioner/Killer Blade – you need to choose one of these as the primary finisher in this build. Both deal a lot of extra damage to low HP targets. You can start using Executioner when the target gets below 50% of their Health – this ability is also a bit cheaper to use. This skill is a morph of Reverse Slash in the Two-Handed line. Killer Blade only deals bonus damage to targets below 25% HP, but it can also provide some healing and a better synergy with some class passives. It's a morph of Assassin's Blade in the Assassination skill tree. The choice comes down to personal preference.
Ambush – this is the best gap closer ability that you can get for this build. It also increases the damage taken by its target by 8% for 8 seconds and empowers your next light attack. Its base ability is Teleport Strike in the Assassination skill line.
Surprise Attack – the main spammable single-target damage skill. If you hit your enemy from a flank or from behind, you will also decrease their physical resistance by 5%. Used from sneak or invisibility also applies a 3-second stun and sets the target off balance. It's a morph of Veiled Strike in the Shadow tree.
Rally – this morph of Momentum in the Two-Handed skill line is our main self-heal on this bar. It's not only a powerful heal over time, but it also provides increased weapon damage and Stamina recovery. Moreover, you get an additional burst of healing when the ability ends. You can reactivate it earlier to get an earlier but smaller heal. It's not exactly resource-efficient, but you can sometimes save yourself from death this way.
Relentless Focus – it's a great versatile ability. This morph of Grim Focus from the Assassination skill tree provides damage reduction as well as a potential burst of damage and healing. Upon activation, you can stack this skill with light and heavy attacks. The maximum amount of stacks is five, and each one provides a 2% damage reduction. The fully stacked ability changes into Assassin's Scourge – a disease damage attack that heals you for 33% damage done. Keep it up at all times, even if you're not using the offensive portion.
Incapacitating Strike – this is our main ultimate in this build. We use it for the initial burst, as well as the 6% increase of damage taken that it applies to the target. Furthermore, it passively provides extra Stamina and Magicka sustain. It costs only 70 ultimate, which makes it much easier to use than a lot of other ults. It's a morph of Death Stroke in the Assassination tree.
Bow Skill Bar
Poison Injection – this is our main ranged damage over time, which also deals increased damage to lower HP targets. It brings a lot of value and helps you soften up a target from a distance. It's morphed from Poison Arrow in the Bow skill line.
Resolving Vigor – our ranged bar also needs a healing ability, so here it is. This morph of Vigor in the Assault skill line provides a considerable heal over four seconds. Unlike Rally, though, you should never reactivate it because it won't do anything other than consuming Stamina.
Shadowy Disguise – it allows you to become invisible for three seconds and ensures that your next attack will be a critical strike. Combine it with a powerful damage skill to get a powerful opening strike. It's often followed up with Surprise Attack for both the damage and a stun. Of course, it can also be used defensively. It's morphed from Shadow Cloak in the Shadow tree.
Shuffle – it's a morph of Medium Armor ability called Evasion. It provides a reduction of AoE damage taken and immunity to immobilizing effects.
Shadow Image – lets you summon a ranged shadow clone of yourself. Its attacks inflict Minor Maim – reducing the target's damage output by 15%. The shadow is stationary and can only attack enemies within its range. This skill is a morph of Summon Shade in the Shadow skill line.
Soul Siphon – this is our secondary ultimate that we use to keep ourselves and our group alive in a difficult situation. It provides a strong instant heal and even more healing over time. Moreover, it also creates a synergy that can be activated by allies to deal some damage to a nearby enemy and heal even more. We're not going to use it too often - it's mostly a panic button that can provide a lot of value to your whole group. This ability is morphed from Soul Shred in the Siphoning tree.
Leeching Strikes – a great option if you need extra self-healing and Stamina sustain. When it's active, you can restore these resources with light and heavy attacks. This skill is morphed from Siphoning Strikes in the Siphoning skill line.
Channeled Acceleration – a nice buff that increases movement speed and critical damage. You can use it on your ranged bar. It's a morph of Accelerate in the Psijic Order tree. It has a channel time of 1.3 seconds, so you're unlikely to refresh it in combat.
Turn Evil/Ring of Preservation – both morphs of Circle of Protection in the Fighter's Guild tree provide defensive buffs and increased Stamina recovery that can be used both by you and your group. Turn Evil also fears enemies in the area for five seconds, while Ring of Preservation adds a bit of healing over time.
Toxic Barrage – you can use the morph of Bow ultimate in your back bar. You'll lose the defensive options from Soul Siphon, but instead, you're getting access to more ranged AoE damage and DoT.
Temporal Guard – if you're never using Soul Siphon, this is a great secondary ultimate. Even if you never activate it, you'll get value from the passive 8% damage reduction. You can also use it to reset your position and resources in a fight. It's a morph of Undo in the Psijic Order skill line.
Assassination: Master Assassin provides even more damage in the Shadowy Disguise. You get extra Stamina sustain from kills and assists thanks to Executioner. Pressure Points provide an extra critical chance, and Hemorrhage makes these crits hit harder.
Shadow: Refreshing Shadows increase your recovery of all three resources. You get short defensive buffs by using Shadow abilities thanks to Shadow Barrier. For another defensive option, Dark Vigor increases your max HP. Finally, Dark Veil increases the duration of your Shadow abilities by two seconds (a lot of extra value for Shadowy Disguise).
Siphoning: 20 Ultimate every time you drink a potion is always useful. Magicka Food and Soul Siphoner can work on the Bow bar (or if you're going with some more Siphoning skills), so you might go for them, but it's not necessary.
Two-Handed: Forceful lets your light and heavy attacks deal portion of damage to extra targets (not that useful in PvP). Heavy Weapons will provide us either armor penetration (with a mace) or a chance to proc bleed (with an ax). Balanced Blade and Battle Rush help a lot with Stamina management. Follow Up is only useful when you use fully charged heavy attacks.
Bow: Long Shots provide extra damage when you're shooting from a long distance. You get an extra critical chance with your bow from Accuracy. Ranger decreases Stamina costs of the bow abilities. Hawk Eye lets you stack up to 25% additional bow damage with light and heavy attacks. Major Expedition provides 4 seconds of a movement speed buff after a dodge roll. With this build, we're going to have it up almost all the time.
Medium Armor: Dexterity increases your critical chance. Wind Walker helps with Stamina management. You can also decrease your sneak cost and detection area with Improved Sneak. These three passives scale off of the number of medium armor pieces that you're wearing – you can consider going with all seven. Moreover, you want the extra weapon damage from Agility. Athletics are also significant because they decrease the Stamina cost of a dodge roll (faster sprint is nice too, but it's less impactful).
If you're going to use 5 medium, 1 light, and 1 heavy armor setup, you can also go for some passives in Light Armor and Heavy Armor skill lines. However, don't prioritize them too much, since they will only provide a bit of value.
Fighters Guild (only useful if you're running Ring of Protection/Turn Evil): Intimidating Presence reduces Stamina cost of your Fighters Guild ability. Slayer can provide +3% weapon damage on one of the bars. Banish the Wicked and Skilled Tracker are mostly PvE focused, but they can be used in Cyrodiil.
Psijic Order: Clairvoyance is the mandatory cost reduction passive that's useful in every line that you're using. Spell Orb might sometimes bring a bit of extra damage. We're not going to block that much, but Concentrated Barrier is still worth taking. Deliberation is also useful for the short windows of reduced damage taken.
Undaunted: Undaunted Command can be useful if you get to activate any synergies. Extra max resources from Undaunted Mettle are also really nice.
Assault: Combat Frenzy is really great for the ultimate generation in any form of PvP. Continuous Attack and Reach can help you out in Cyrodiil.
Support: Combat Medic provides extra healing in Cyrodiil, and Battle Resurrection lets you resurrect other players quicker in the PvP areas.
Alchemy: Like any other build, we're going to want the extra 30% duration of potions from Medicinal Use.
Of course, you'll also want to get all the racial passives, no matter what race you're playing.
Stamina Nightblade Race for PvP
Since this specific build is exceptionally reliant on dodging, Wood Elf is the best choice, due to the movement speed and penetration boost that they get after dodging. Bonuses to max Stamina and Stamina recovery are also beneficial. Immunity to poison is less critical but can help against many Stamina-focused builds.
There are some other potential strong choices, though. Khajiit provides extra critical damage and proper resource management. Orc has extra Health sustain, max Stamina, and weapon damage. Redguard and Imperial are also tremendous for resource management.
The Ritual: Mighty - 75, Precise Strikes – 72, Piercing – 25
The Atronach: Shattering Blows – 20, Master at Arms – 72, Physical Weapon Expert – 6
The Shadow: Tumbling – 56, Shadow Ward – 13
The Lover: Mooncalf – 64, Arcanist – 56
The Tower: Warlord – 56, Sprinter – 6, Bashing Focus – 19
The Lord: Quick Recovery – 23
The Lady: Hardy – 37, Elemental Defender – 37, Thick Skinned – 48
The Steed: Ironclad – 65, Resistant – 59, Medium Armor Focus - 1
As we mentioned, this build is extremely focused around dodge rolls. It is why we recommend using two gear sets that empower this activity. Eternal Hunt makes our rolls leave a detonating rune on the ground. The rune deals a decent amount of damage and immobilizes enemies. Hide of Morihaus lets you deal damage and knockdown enemies as you roll through them.
In terms of traits, we're going to use two or three Well-Fitted armor pieces to decrease the dodge roll cost further - it's a rarely used trait, but we suggested it, because of the very specific way that this build works. The rest is going with the Impenetrable trait. The best enchantments are either Tri-Stat or Stamina, so go with either one of them or a mix of the two. We recommend Infused Jewelry with Weapon Damage or Stamina Recovery enchantment. Nirnhoned two-handed mace is our main weapon of choice, to get as much burst as possible. Infused Caustic Arrow bow (the one from Dragonstar Arena) with Weapon Damage enchant is probably the best here.
There are a few options for a good monster set to round things out. Selene and Velidreth are significant damage boosts, and Morihaus set make them hit more reliably. If you need some more defense, Bloodspawn can grant resistances buff and some ultimate generation. The Troll King can provide extra healing and Health regeneration. After you test the build-out, you can decide which one is the most useful to you, but all are good choices.
An example of a good equipment setup looks like this:
Head and shoulders: Selene Set (either two medium, or one heavy and one light)
Chest, boots, pants, belt, gloves: Eternal Hunt (remember about the Well-Fitted trait on at least two pieces)
Necklace and two rings: Hide of Morihaus
Weapon 1: Maul of Morihaus (Nirnhoned and Damage Health Poison IX)
Weapon 2: Caustic Arrow bow (Infused and Weapon Damage enchant)
Remember that dodge rolls are both a defensive and offensive tool in this setup. Unlike many other builds in the current meta, we're not that focused on applying damage over time. That being said, applying Poison Injection from the range is a tremendous non-committal source of damage. If you're engaging from range, you can apply the DoT, maybe weave in a light attack and swap bars. Then use Ambush for dashing to your target. If you need Incapacitating Strike, you can definitely use it. If not – go with Surprise Attack. After that, rolling through your targets to utilize both set bonuses might be a good idea. By then, the target should be low enough to start the finisher spam.
If you want to get as much burst as possible, you can engage with your melee weapon. Use the Shadowy Disguise to sneak up to your target and open up with a heavy attack or Surprise Attack. Then go into Incapacitating Strike and start the standard damage rotation (Surprise Attack into the light attack and so on) until the target is in the %HP threshold of your finisher, then start using Killer's Blade or Executioner instead of the Surprise Attack.
In general, it's a great fun setup that provides a lot of room for skill expression. You can use Shadowy Disguise to hide from enemies during combat and use that time window to heal as much HP back as possible. It's exceptionally efficient if you decide to run the Troll King set. You have access to a ton of burst damage, while also being really difficult to kill (dodges, invisibility, and sound healing options let you live a long time if you use them well). It's great for players who love the classic "burst and hide" assassin gameplay (even if it uses a two-handed mace, that's not exactly a weapon associated with this playstyle). It's based on short windows of damage and then returning back to safety (either through running away, or invisibility). It's pretty difficult to play against, so you might get some additional value from frustrating your opponents.
Magicka Nightblade PvP Build
It is a squishy, high damage, glass-cannon build that offers a lot of mobility. If you like this kind of risky, glass cannon playstyle, you will enjoy playing it. This setup has access to decently substantial damage over time, but more importantly, it can burst enemies really hard. We recommend using a destruction staff on your main bar and restoration staff on the back bar.
Destruction Staff Skill Bar
Lotus Fan – the Magicka-focused morph of Teleport Strike is our main gap closer in this build. It also applies Minor Vulnerability to your target and deals some damage over time. It's an Assassination line ability.
Swallow Soul – it's a morph of Strife in the Siphoning tree. It deals damage over time to your target and heals you for 35% of it. You're going to use it in basically every rotation.
Elemental Drain/Debilitate – Elemental Drain reduces the target's spell resistance and applies Minor Magickasteal to the enemy, making it so you and your allies can restore additional Magicka by damaging the affected enemy. It's a morph of Weakness to Elements in the Destruction Staff skill line. Debilitate also provides Minor Magickasteal, but instead of reducing spell resistance, it deals a significant amount of damage over time and slows the target. It's a morph of Siphoning ability called Cripple. Pick whichever one you like more.
Merciless Resolve – the Magicka morph of Grim Focus in the Assassination tree is useful for us. The stacks of damage reduction are okay, but they won't make us tanky on their own. The Assassin's Will (often called Spectral Bow) component is crucial, though. After getting all five stacks of this ability, you get access to a potent offensive spell that also heals you. It will help a lot when bursting down enemies. If you want to 100-0 someone, make sure that your rotation includes fully stacking Merciless Resolve and using the damage component.
Mass Hysteria – it's a reliable AoE crowd control tool that can fear up to six targets for three seconds. It can be used both offensively – to get a time window in which you can safely dump all your damage, or defensively – to buy a bit of extra time as you're getting away. It's morphed from Aspect of Terror in the Shadow skill line.
Soul Harvest – our main ultimate is a morph of Death Stroke in the Assassination tree. It deals a burst of damage and then increases the amount of damage you deal to the target by 20% for 6 seconds. It also reduces their healing received and Health recovery. Finally, it has a passive effect that provides 10 ultimate every time you kill an enemy. You're going to use for increased burst to kill enemies even faster.
Restoration Staff Skill Bar
Degeneration – this morph of Entropy in Mages Guild is a powerful single target damage over time spell. It also increases your spell damage by 20% and lets you restore even more Magicka with light and heavy attacks against the affected target. It's useful as it provides a powerful DoT and the extremely valuable damage buff.
Rapid Regeneration – the primary healing over time ability that can also affect a single ally. It lasts five seconds and restores a lot of Health during this time. It's morphed from Regeneration in the Restoration Staff skill line.
Harness Magicka – a powerful shield that caps at 50% of your max Health. It also restores some of the Magicka cost when blocking damage. It's a morph of Annulment in the Light Armor tree. It's one of the most critical defensive tools in this build since it can provide a substantial instant shield.
Shadowy Disguise – it's an invisibility skill that also ensures that your next attack hits critically. You can use it to sneak onto an enemy and start with a powerful burst. It's also a great tool to reset the fight and strike back. It is a morph of Shadow skill called Shadow Cloak.
Phantasmal Escape – a robust defensive tool that provides Major Evasion (25% reduction of AoE damage taken) for 26 seconds. It also cleanses snare and immobilization effects as well as makes you immune to these effects for 4 seconds.
Shooting Star – our secondary ultimate is a morph of Meteor in Mages Guild tree. It's a high-cost powerful damage skill that provides AoE burst and damage over time as well as 2-second stun. Moreover, it restores some ultimate for every enemy hit with the initial blast.
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Assassination: Master Assassin provides extra damage when you're sneaking. Hemorrhage and Pressure Points provide a general DPS increase with extra critical chance and crit damage. Executioner helps with Stamina sustain. You're going to need all of them.
Shadow: Dark Veil extends the duration of Shadow abilities by 2 seconds. Refreshing Shadows increase the resources sustain. Shadow Barrier and Dark Vigor provide additional defense.
Siphoning: Catalyst generates free ultimate when you drink a potion. Transfer provides 2 ultimate every time that you cast a Siphoning skill. You get extra healing power from Soul Siphoner. Magicka Flood provides additional max Magicka.
Destruction Staff: Tri-Focus makes your inferno staff hit harder. Penetrating Magic lets you ignore some of the enemy spell resistances (it works on Destruction Staff light and heavy attacks). You will be able to burn enemies more often thanks to Elemental Force. Ancient Knowledge increases the damage of your single target abilities by 8%. Destruction Expert can restore 3600 on a kill with a destro staff.
Restoration Staff: Essence Drain and Cycle of Life empower your fully charged heavy attacks with additional healing and Magicka recovery. You can heal low HP targets even more efficiently with Restoration Expert. You get extra healing power from Restoration Master. Absorb provides a bit of Magicka when you block attacks.
Light Armor: Grace provides more mobility and snare resistance. Evocation helps a lot with Magicka management. Spell Warding increases your magic resistances. Prodigy and Concentration both provide a lot of DPS with spell penetration and critical chance.
Assault: Combat Frenzy provides 20 ultimate for killing an enemy player. Continuous Attack and Reach can increase your attack speed and ability range in Cyrodiil.
Support: Battle Medic and Combat Resurrection can be beneficial in Cyrodiil.
Undaunted: Undaunted Command lets you regenerate resources while activating synergies. Undaunted Mettle provides a small increase in max Health, Stamina, and Magicka.
Alchemy: Medicinal Use for the extended duration of potions.
You also want to get all the racial passives that you have available.
PvP Magicka Nightblade Race
Breton is definitely one of the safest bets since their Magicka management capabilities are second to none. Argonian provides more healing and extra resource sustain. If you're interested in a more damage-focused race, you can go with Dark Elf, Altmer, or Khajiit.
The Ritual: Thaumaturge – 20
The Atronach: Shattering Blows – 26, Staff Expert – 22, Master at Arms – 72
The Apprentice: Elemental Expert – 56, Elfborn – 31, Spell Erosion – 20, Blessed – 23
The Shadow: Tumbling – 66, Shadow Ward – 20
The Lover: Arcanist – 49, Mooncalf – 49
The Tower: Warlord – 64, Sprinter – 21, Siphoner – 1
The Lord: Quick Recovery – 37
The Lady: Hardy – 49, Elemental Defender – 37, Thick Skinned – 31
The Steed: Ironclad – 61, Resistant – 55
Similarly to most PvP builds, this setup prioritizes the Impenetrable armor trait. The best enchantments are Magicka or Tri-Stat. We recommend the Arcane trait and Spell Power enchant on jewelry. The destruction staff should be Nirnhoned with Weapon Damage enchantment. For the restoration staff, we recommend going with either Infused, Defending, or Precise trait, once again with Weapon Damage enchant.
Pretty much every PvP Magblade currently uses the same two five-piece sets. The craftable Shacklebreaker provides a bit of extra damage alongside max resources and resources sustain. Bright-Throat's Boast brings significant amounts of max Magicka and Magicka recovery. As for the dungeon monster set, go with the Magicka-focused one that you like the most. Iceheart, Grundwulf, and Bloodspawn are some of the great options. Optimally, you should have five light, one medium, and one heavy armor piece. Going with six or seven light items is also decent.
An example of full Magblade PvP gear looks like this:
Head and shoulders – Grundwulf
Chest, belt, pants, gloves, boots – Shacklebreaker
Necklace, two rings and both weapons – Bright Throat's Boast
The most important thing about playing this build is learning to go in and out of stealth to deal as much damage as possible, while not taking too many hits and keeping your resources high. The best way of killing an enemy is by applying DoT pressure and weaving in light attacks while stacking the Merciless Resolve. Then use Mass Hysteria as crowd control, hit the target with Soul Harvest and consume the Resolve stacks. The Spectral Bow provides a lot of burst and amplifying by 20% with Soul Harvest is really important.
This build doesn't have a typical finisher ability that you could spam on low HP targets, but it has a really potent burst range with this combo. If you need an extra high damage spell, you can swap bars and use Shooting Star – it costs a lot of ultimate, though. Focus on keeping the damage over time spells on your enemies and stacking Merciless Resolve as much as possible. You're going to have to learn when you're able to burst a target to 0 and complete the kill. Feeling it out will require some practice, so keep that in mind.
Nightblade in PvP
Nightblade offers a lot of possibilities in PvP. These two builds are just some nice and efficient examples. You can, of course, significantly change them or even play something completely different and still find success.
That being said, most setups will utilize a lot of mobility and cloaking mechanics, as well as high damage output. Nightblade is one of the most mechanically-intensive classes in ESO. The gameplay is a bit difficult, but it's also enjoyable and satisfying. Try one of these builds out and see for yourself!
If you're interested in playing Nightblade, you might also want to take a look at some PvE builds. That being said, if you're going to try a completely different role, like tank or healer - you might want to try another class.
You can also browse our blog to find tons of guides and other content related to Elder Scrolls Online, as well as all the other most popular MMOs. You can also follow us on social media - we share some of our articles and special offers there! ESO is currently one of the biggest MMORPGs. ZeniMax maintains this large playerbase, by continuously developing the worlds and adding new content. Recently there was a huge update called Elsweyr Chapter, followed by a smaller one - Scalebreaker.
What is the best Nightblade build in ESO?
The best Nightblade builds are focused on Stamina DPS and Magicka DPS. This class excels at utilizing invisibility and dealing vast amounts of damage. It's one of the best damage classes in the whole game.
What is a ganker in ESO?
Ganker is a player that tries to kill other players in Cyrodiil. They will often try to sneak onto their target and burst them down as quickly as possible. Gankers can work alone or in groups, but they usually attack a single player. Nightblade is an excellent ganking class because they are very mobile, deals a lot of damage, and can utilize stealth very effectively.