ESO Nightblade Stamina Guide - Best Damage Builds
ESO Nightblade Stamina DPS build
Stamina Nightblade (sometimes called Stamblade) can offer a high damage output, excellent sustain and survivability. It's not the most accessible class for the players to learn, but it can be extremely satisfying. Rotations can be a bit more complicated than with some other classes, but it's not going to be that bad. The build that we're going to describe utilizes dual wield on the main bar and a bow on the secondary bar. It can deal a lot of damage over time, as well as a significant direct burst. It's a PvE DPS build designed mainly for dungeon and trial runs (including veteran level). Let's go right into this Scalebreaker updated guide!
Nightblade skill lines
The three class-specific Nightblade skill lines are Assassination, Shadow and Siphoning. As the name suggests, Assassination is the mainly damage-focused tree. It's arguably the most important one in this build. You can get additional survivability, crowd control and utility for the Shadow tree. Siphoning brings mostly healing and sustain.
Depending on the final shapes of your skill bars, you might be using active abilities from all of those trees. You're going to need passives from each of them.
Dual Wield Skill Bar
Rending Slashes/Blood Craze – it is one of your main damage over time sources. It has a small initial hit that also slows the enemy for 4 seconds, but the DoT component is more critical here. Both options are Dual Wield skills that are morphed from Twin Slashes. Rending Slashes deal slightly more damage, Blood Craze provides some healing over time.
Barbed Trap – it's a morph of Trap Beast in the Fighter's Guild skill line. It is another wonderful damage over time ability, just remember about the 1.5 seconds arming time. Besides dealing damage, it also immobilizes the target for 2 seconds and buffs you with Minor Force, providing +10% critical damage (and you will crit a lot with this build). It used to be called Rearming Trap and had a slightly different effect.
Relentless Focus – this buff lets you acquire stack with light (1 stack) and heavy (2 stacks) attacks. Each stack (up to 5) reduces the incoming damage by 3%. When it's fully stacked, it transforms into Assassin's Scourge (often called Spectral Bow) – a powerful attack that will also heal you for 33% of the damage done. It will consume the defensive buff though, so the choice is yours. However, usually, it's worth to proc it. It's morphed from Grim Focus in the Assassination tree.
Surprise Attack – it's a spammable single target damage ability. If you hit your enemy from behind or from the side, you will also reduce their physical resistance by 5%. If you use this from stealth, you will stun the target for 3 seconds and set them off balance. It's a morph of Veiled Strike in the Shadow skill line.
Killer's Blade – this is your primary bar execution skill. It's spammable since it has an instant cast and relatively low Stamina cost, but it has a pretty underwhelming damage unless the target is at 25% HP or lower. That's when Killer's Blade gain extra 300% damage. Use other abilities when your team is getting the boss below this Health threshold. Then, you can start spamming this skill. It will also heal you if the enemy dies in the next 2 seconds you hit them with Killer's Blade. This ability is a morph of Assassins' Blade in the Assassination tree.
Flawless Dawnbreaker – this ultimate ability is only slotted for the extra stats provided by Fighters Guild skill line. You can situationally use it for additional AoE damage, but it's not going to happen very often. It's a morph of Dawnbreaker – the Fighters Guild ultimate.
Bow skill Bar
Resolving Vigor – that's your primary self-healing skill. It restores a significant amount of HP over four seconds. It's morphed from Vigor in the Assault tree.
Poison Injection – a really strong ranged damage over time skill. The DoT hits harder, the lower HP the target has. This feature makes it a passive execute. It's a morph of Poison Arrow in the Bow skill line. Of course it deals poison damage.
Consuming Trap/Soul Splitting Trap – the second trap in our build is uses Magicka, but the damage is calculated off of the higher stat – in our case, Stamina. It's perfect for this build's resource management. Both of these skills deal a lot of damage over time. Consuming Trap restores all three essential resources if the target dies while being affected by it. Soul Splitting Trap doesn't provide sustain, deals a bit less damage, but it can hit multiple targets.
Dark Shade – another skill that costs Magicka, but scales off of Stamina. It summons a shadow version of you, that will attack your targets, also sometimes using an AoE attack. It also inflicts Minor Maim – a 15% damage reduction. The clone lasts 18 seconds. It can't be attacked nor killed before it expires. It's a morph of Summon Shade from the Shadow tree.
Arrow Barrage/Endless Hail – these are the two morphs of Volley in the Bow skill line. Arrow Barrage deals more DPS but has a shorter duration. Endless Hail deals overall more damage, but it's spread out over longer duration and has a slightly smaller AoE. You should only go with Endless Hail if you have issues with Stamina sustain, otherwise, choose Arrow Barrage.
Incapacitating Strike – this our primary ultimate in this build. It's cheap and worth using. It deals some direct damage, but more importantly, it applies a powerful debuff. The affected enemy will receive 20% damage from your attacks for six seconds. Moreover, if you had at least 120 ultimate while using it, you will also silence the opponent for 3 seconds.
Furthermore, it provides extra sustain with light and heavy attacks just for being slotted in your skill bar. The damage amplification is significant for a DPS build like this one. Incapacitating Strike is a morph of Death Stroke in the Assassination tree.
Ring of Preservation - it creates a circle that assists the allies that are inside it. This ability heals them over time, increases their Stamina recovery and provides buffs to both resistances. It's morphed from Circle of Protection in the Fighters Guild skill line. You can use it on your bow bar, instead of Resolving Vigor if you don't want to unlock the Alliance skills through PvP.
Razor Caltrops – another damage over time AoE ability. This one also slows your enemies. It can be used alongside Arrow Barrage or Endless Hail to plough through multiple enemies at the same time. It's a morph of Caltrops in the Assault tree.
Leeching Strikes – this is a good option if you need additional healing and Stamina sustain. It's morphed from Siphoning Strikes in the Siphoning skill line.
Deadly Cloak - this semi-defensive ability is a morph of Blade Cloak in the Dual Wield tree. It provides Major Evasion - a 25% reduction of damage taken from AoE sources. It also deals a small amount of DoT to surrounding enemies. It might be a worthy addition to your Dual Wield bar.
Steel Tornado - another Dual Wield skill, this one is a morph of Whirlwind it can be useful if you need more AoE damage since it can help you clear adds quickly.
Assassination: Executioner provides extra Stamina sustain when your targets die shortly after getting hit with Assassination skills. You get an extra weapon and spell critical chance with Pressure Points. Hemorrhage passively increases your critical damage by 10% and provides a crit chance buff to you and your group when you hit critically. These three are extremely important, and you should prioritize them. You can also use Master Assassin, but it's not going to be useful for group PvE content.
Shadow: You can get extra Stamina and Magicka recovery from Refreshing Shadows. Shadow Barrier provides a nice resistance buff. It's worth having even if you're not going to wear too much heavy armor. Dark Vigor offers a bit of extra max HP, which is always nice to have. Dark Veil is especially crucial if you're using Dark Shade.
Siphoning: Catalyst provides 20 ultimate each time you drink any potion – it's handy. If you're running Leeching Strikes on one of your bars, you can also take Magicka Flood, Soul Siphoner and Transfer, for extra resource generation. If you're not using any Siphoning skills, these last three are useless.
Dual Wield: Slaughter increases your Dual Wield ability damage to enemies below 25% HP (it also applies to light and heavy attacks). You will always want the Dual Wield Expert for the additional off-hand weapon damage. Controlled Fury reduces the cost of Rending Slashes by 15%. You can get extra damage against CCed enemies with Ruffian. Twin Blade and Blunt provide excellent bonuses that depend on the type of weapons that you're using.
Bow: You can make your long range arrows hit harder thanks to Long Shots. Accuracy provides extra critical rate with this weapon type. Ranger reduces the Stamina cost of your Poison Injection and Arrow Barrage/Endless Hail by 15%. Hawk Eye lets you collect stacks that empower your bow skills. Finally, you can get extra mobility from Hasty Retreat.
Medium Armor – you're going to wear at least five medium pieces, so these will be useful. Dexterity provides an extra weapon critical chance for each piece of medium armor. Wind Walker works similarly, but it increases Stamina recovery and reduces Stamina cost of abilities. You can get an extra 15% weapon damage from Agility, which is valuable. Athletics and Improved Sneak are a lower priority, but you can get them eventually.
Heavy Armor – skip it, if you're not wearing any heavy pieces: Resolve provides a bit of extra resistances. You can increase your max HP with Juggernaut. Constitution brings some extra sustain. All those buffs will be pretty minor because they scale off of the number of heavy armor pieces that you're wearing.
Fighters Guild: Intimidating Presence reduces the Stamina cost of the Fighters Guild skills. Slayer is the main reason to get as many Fighters Guild skills as you can because each slotted one provides 3% weapon damage. Extra ultimate generation is always useful, so make sure to get Banish the Wicked. Skilled Tracker can also be helpful in PvE, to get the occasional additional damage from Barbed Trap and sometimes Flawless Dawnbreaker. The last two passives only work when you're fighting Undead, Daedra or Werewolves.
Undaunted: You want Undaunted Command to get extra resources when you activate synergies. Undaunted Mettle provides 2% of max Health, Stamina and Magicka for every weight of armor that you're wearing. It's worth taking even if it stays at 2% and you can get more if you want.
Alchemy: As usual, the extra duration of potions from Medicinal Use is nice to have.
You also want to max out all your racial passives.
Of course, you can run this build with any race that you want, but some of them will work slightly better than the others. The recommended race is Orc because it provides max Stamina, maximum Health, additional self-healing and some weapon damage. Other races worth considering are Redguard, Imperial, Dark Elf, Wood Elf and Khajiit.
The Mage (blue)
The Ritual: Piercing - 34, Mighty - 49, Thaumaturge - 51, Precise Strikes - 61
The Atronach: Physical Weapon Expert - 9, Master at Arms - 66
The Thief (green)
The Shadow: Tumbling - 72, Shadow Ward - 4
The Lover: Tenacity - 75, Mooncalf - 75
The Tower: Warlord - 44
The Warrior (Red)
The Lord: Quick Recovery - 19
The Lady: Hardy - 64, Elemental Defender - 64, Thick Skinned - 51
The Steed: Ironclad - 72
In terms of traits and enchantments, you want to have Divine trait and Stamina enchantment on all your armor pieces. For jewelry, it's Bloodthirsty or Robust with Weapon Damage enchant. First weapon set is Nirnhoned on the main hand and Sharpened on the off-hand for the armor penetration– enchants don't matter since we're using poisons - Damage Health Poison IX. In the second set, it's optimal to use an Infused bow with Weapon Damage enchantment.
Head and shoulders – Kra'gh monster set. It provides a nice DPS boost with its set bonus. Depending on which armor passives you want more, you can either go with two medium, 1 medium and 1 heavy or 1 heavy and 1 light. Usually, people run either seven medium or five medium with heavy helm and light shoulder armor.
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Chest, belt, shoes, pants and gloves – Perfect Arms of Relequen. It is our main set that provides some critical chance and a stacking damage over time with each light and heavy attack. It's a trial set that drops in Cloudrest.
Two rings and necklace – Mechanical Acuity.
Weapon 1 – two Mechanical Acuity weapons. You want the final pieces of the set in the weapon slot, to only proc the full set bonus on your main skill bar. It procs the guaranteed critical strikes for 5 seconds. It is also why you shouldn't be getting daggers – the value of extra crit rate that a dagger provides diminishes, when you get windows of guaranteed critical strikes from your set.
Weapon 2 – Caustic Arrow bow, for extra damage against enemies affected by Poison Injection. You can get it in the Maelstrom Arena.
Of course, you won't be able to instantly get all that powerful gear. At the beginning, Hunding's Rage is a really good, craftable set that you can definitely use for quite some time - just make sure to use the right traits and enchantments as you craft it. Later, you can also try and go for some Cradle of Shadows runs to get Velidreth and Widowmaker sets to replace the crafted armor. Another great choice is Spriggan's Thorns that drops in Bangkorai. We also recommend considering Briarheart set before you can get the trail armors.
We're prioritizing the Divine trait on our armor because it empowers the Shadow Mundus Stone that provides extra crit damage. The food that we're using is Artaeum Takeaway Broth or Dubious Camoran Throne. Stamina is the only attribute that you should your points into if you want to optimize damage output.
The rotation is relatively easy, especially for a Nightblade build - it doesn't take a lot of playing to master it. You have to make sure that your Relentless Focus is active when you're engaging and then go with a full bow rotation. Then you swap bars and proc the Assassin's Scourge. After that, use Rending Slashes and start spamming Surprise Attack. When the target gets below 25%, switch to Killer's Blade. Remember to weave in light attacks between abilities for extra damage from animation cancelling and always recast Relentless Focus after consuming the stacks.
ESO Stamina Nightblade build
Nightblade is one of the best choices if you want to play a Stamina-based damage dealer. However, it's probably not the best class for a beginner. Even this PvE build, which is relatively simple for a Nightblade, has a pretty complicated rotation, at least when compared to various DPS builds of some of the other classes. At the same time, this playstyle is really engaging. That's the reason why there always are tons of Stamina Nightblades running around.
Remember that the setup that we described is just a guideline. If you feel like different race, gear setups or skill combinations work better for you, make any adjustments that you want. You can optimize it to get more burst damage or stronger DoT with different Stamina builds. Create your perfect combination for vet dungeons and trials!
Nightblades can also be played in different roles. You can easily create a Magicka DPS setup that relies on Spell Damage, or even role-play with your character as a tank or healer. Of course, you're going to need significantly different builds.
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