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Getting Further Into Cyrodiil (For Those Who Want More Than Ocassional Visits)

Hello. I previously tried writing a guide for those who were on the fence about trying Cyrodiil, which really only managed to cover some of the most obvious basics for those who have little or no idea how the Alliance War works in the game or how it is different from the 1-50 storylines and VR adventure zones. It was kind of long and I had to choose which things I thought would be most helpful.

But, for players not entirely new to Cyrodiil, there was a lot of basic stuff that was left out. So if you already know your way around well enough that the first guide isn't necessary, or if you wish that that guide and the comments had offered a little more for those who know the difference between a wayshrine and a transitus shrine, this follow-up might help. There is still quite a bit missing, but you can pick it up in time.

Like last time, skip to whatever seems interesting or helpful.

Also as before, if you have additional suggestions along these lines or spot any errors that need to be corrected, please add this information in the comments. As always, this guide and any other ideas I share are just my own opinions and observations. Only use what works for you, and leave the rest.

Situational and Environmental Awareness

It is easy to lose track of what is going on around you with people filling up your chat window with updates and requests for battles, group invitations, and so on. If you are in a battle, it isn't hard to get tunnel vision and to focus only on the direction you are currently facing.

One of the things that can make a difference in how you fare in Cyrodiil is how well you can keep up to date with what is happening, both from chat info and from your own character's field of vision. This may sound obvious, but many combatants never see that group of enemy players rushing toward them from behind or the side until there is no chance of escape.

Turning to look around every so often, quickly checking your map every to see which resources or keeps are being flagged (that is, showing the little glow that indicates they are under heavy attack), and getting the gist of where people are headed and how things are unfolding by chat updates sounds like common sense, but if you are still fairly new to Cyrodiil it can seem overwhelming during really busy periods.

If you are grouping, many AvA groups offer (or require) that you use a third party audio chat program. These can be very useful in getting real-time updates when typing is impossible or too slow. These programs are free, easy to set up, and if you wish you can mute your microphone and just listen.

Also, pay attention to the physical environment. Enemy players can't stealth (crouch and disappear from view) in water deep enough for swimming, but rocks make a great ambush spot. Some players rely solely on being stealthed to stay hidden, but if an enemy player is using a spell such as Magelight that won't work. Yet physical obstructions like rocks, trees, hills, walls, etc also hide you, even from scrying eyes. They can also be used as shields for obstructing ranged attacks.

And speaking of eyes, if you are stealthed and an enemy player is stealthed, your "eye" on the screen will partially open if you get too close to each other. If you see this happen, watch out!

Working in Groups and with Other Players

You don't have to work in groups. If you are a solo player, you can stay ungrouped all of the time. But you will be working with groups if you spend much time in Cyrodiil and want to get ahead in Alliance ranks by earning AP.

Helpful solo activities including setting up or repairing forward camps inside important and potentially vulnerable keeps controlled by your alliance, sneaking next to and destroying the forward camps of enemy alliances during battles to keep their players from resurrecting near the fight, and reporting on the movements of groups of enemy players.

Groups of players, however, whether or not they are officially working together using the in-game grouping tool, are essential to AvA play since this largely consists of taking or defending keeps, keep resources, and Elder Scrolls.

This means that even as a solo player working with or near others in combat, you need to be aware of how your actions are going to effect others. Running toward a small group of stealthed allies when being pursued by a large force of enemy players, healing stealthed allies who are within the range of vision of enemy players or enemy NPCs, placing forward camps in non-strategic areas (the number any alliance can have up at any one time is limited) when multiples battles are ongoing, and so on can adversely effect your fellow alliance members and their chance to be successful in their respective missions or objectives.

A few other examples:
  • Keep in mind that you cannot use a mount while you are considered to be "in combat". Since beta/early access and as of the writing of this guide, those who use healing spells in an Alliance fight are kept "in combat" longer than others, so if you mount right away and ride off quickly the healers will be left trailing behind on foot.

  • People cannot simultaneously use abilities/attack and run siege weapons at the same time. Guarding them, healing them, and using barriers to protect them from counter-siege is important.

  • Use the proper channel for the chat window and give useful details. If your message is intended for people nearby, use /say or /yell. It can be confusing to hear someone type in /zone that "Enemies are right behind you" when the person sending that message is a different battle on the other side of the map. Sending the message "Five EP/DC/AD south of Chalman" is more helpful to individuals and groups trying to decide where their help is needed than "Enemy players at Chalman".

Consideration of others is also easier when you think in strategic terms.

Thinking Strategically

This isn't a crash course in how to devise or implement strategy for the Alliance War, but rather a companion section expanding the advice for situational awareness and working with groups.

Strategic and tactical thinking isn't something you can only learn in the military. It just means being aware of your objectives, knowing what tools and resources you have to attain those objectives (and how they work!), and the options those resource leave you to achieve your objectives as well as the plans you devise accordingly.

Much of this will come from what you learn from the example set or instructions suggested by more experiences players, but here are a few specific examples that will help you (and by extension your allies):

Sieging a Keep:

Some of this was mentioned briefly in the previous guide and is expanded here.
  • Regular ballistas and stone trebuchets are appropriate for inner and outer keep walls and towers at keep resources. These (and fire ballistas if you run out of the other two) are also useful for inner and outer keep gates. The gates are the big wooden doors you could ride a mammoth through. Stone trebs are most useful when you want to hit the inner walls of a keep wall while other siege weapons attack the outer wall.

  • When sieging keep walls, you tend to attack near side doors (called posterns). While it is OK to hit a gate directly with siege weapons, aim at the wall just next to a postern rather than the door itself. This also applies to doors for resource towers.

  • Siege weapons that hurl oil pots (oil pot trebuchets and oil catapults), diseased meat, and so on are less useful or ineffective against walls and gates. They are useful for snaring, debuffing, and doing extended damage to enemy players. See the two previous bullets about what works (best) for walls and gates.

  • Consider the landscape before setting up siege to attack a keep. Higher ground is easy to defend, and if the walls of the keep are in range of your siege weapons this makes counter-attacks harder for the defenders. Fighting uphill or attacking a gate give an advantage to defenders even though gates are weaker than walls, so neither is advisable unless the keep has few enemy players defending it.

  • Remember that enemy players cannot fast travel to a keep once a section of its walls has taken heavy damage (more than 50%), if all three of the keeps resources have been taken, or if a needed link in the transitus network has been cut. Capturing an outpost behind enemy lines, for example, can cut off a connected keep as effectively as hammering the keep's walls or taking its farm, lumber mill, and mine. If anyone of these tactics for cutting off reinforcements has occurred and the keep is cut off, the most effective focus is on getting down a section of outer wall, a section of inner wall, and capturing both flags. The rest can wait. Use the right siege on the right targets and move quickly.

Forward camps:

The short and sweet is this -- forward camps win and lose battles.

If you are at a battle and see on the map that there is no forward camp nearby, put one down. Same if you are one of the last ones through before it is used up. Keeping up FCs can be the difference between your alliance winning and losing.

If you can't afford a forward camp buy siege repair kits to keep up FCs. They are cheap and restore a large portion of an FC's strength. Otherwise an FC can decay and collapse in around half an hour. Heavily used FCs will disappear fairly rapidly regardless of decay, so again, when one goes down it must be replaced right away or the numbers game stacks up quickly against your allies.


Farming refers to farming for AP by using tactics that lure enemy players repeatedly into situations in which they can be quickly and easily killed. This often happens around keep resources. One common example is capturing a resource, taunting players to come to the resource for a fight, fleeing into the tower, and letting the defenders recapture the flag for that resource.


If you capture (or "cap") the flag of a keep resource (by standing near it), the resource will be captured by your alliance. This means your siege won't work on the resource tower. The enemy players can hide inside and set up oil pots by the door, so that those who rush inside are killed rapidly by massive burning damage as well as AoE attacks by enemy players.

If enemies enter the tower and set up oil pots inside, knock the tower down and kill everyone inside before "capping" it.

There are variants on this farming approach, such as luring players to a location like a keep resource, fleeing the flag, and then returning in force when the pursuers are all gathered together (such as near that same flag by the tower) while spamming AOE attacks.

Learn the signs and tactics of these and other farming methods, what counter-tactics are available, and most importantly, when to simply avoid the farmers and deny them their prize.

Where to Attack, Where to Defend:

The main reason, from a strategic point of view, to capture keeps is to 1) gain more alliance points by having more keeps (especially those in your "home" territory), 2) crown a player from your alliance emperor by controlling all the keeps that surround the Imperial City, and 3) open up the gates guarding the temples of the Elder Scrolls so that the scrolls can be taken. After the update introducing the Imperial City as a playable area, additional value will be added to controlling particular keeps.

If you know and understand how keep control works for crowning emperor, gaining points for your alliance, and opening/closing temple gates, then where and when you should die trying to capture or defend a keep or when and where to just let a keep go makes more sense.

For example, there is a keep by each temple gate, and then one near to both of them forming a triangle. That last one is kind of a linchpin. If linchpin keep is captured by enemy forces, and then the keep by one of the gate is captured, that gate is opened. It doesn't matter whether the linchpin keep and the gate are captured by the same alliance. Either way, the gate is open to all. If all three of those keeps are captured, both gates are opened. If the linchpin keep is closed, even though the two keeps right by the temple gates are captured, both gates will close.

Small-Group and Dueling PvP

There is enough for this topic to fill several posts with advice, but I will be (relatively) brief. Three quick things right away, though:
  • It really is true that you need to die a lot in order to get better at PvP. I mean, not just randomly running into enemy fire and dying, but trying to fight as best as you can and getting destroyed over and over the first 2 or 3 or 20 times.

  • You can be knocked off of a mount by enemy attacks. The more stamina your mount has, the more damage it takes to knock you off. If attacked while riding a mount, dismount right away. The animation of you falling off of your mount and then getting up is all the time many stealthed enemies need to kill you.

  • Don't forget to block (hold down right and left mouse buttons or use whatever hot key you've assigned for this). It is really easy to forget this option while you are roll-dodging and running for cover, but when you can't get away or if you are timing your attacks and waiting for opportunities to counter-attack, remember to keep your guard up!

On a more generalized note, there is a temptation on the part of some players new to PvP to want to start spamming everything on their ability bar right away when they find themselves one-on-one (or one-on-two-or-three) with an enemy player, just kind of hoping that the other player(s) will die. Experienced players will know how to avoid/counter this by roll-dodging, blocking, moving away/behind cover, and using abilities that nullify or reverse what you are doing. Many will use crowd control to snare you, knock you back, or knock you down.

In Cyrodiil such PvP encounters largely depend upon having a build and gear set to match a play style for fighting other players. Are you a Dragonknight with heavy armor, a sword and shield, and enchants on your armor and jewelry for health and magicka bonuses? That says you want to outlast and wear down your opponent in up-close melee combat long enough to kill them by dropping DoT-heavy AoE and close-ranged class abilities to burn them down.

Maybe you are a Nighblade decked out in medium with a bow with enchants and potions to boost weapon critical chances, who uses class and weapon abilities to hide for stealthed damage bonuses, to hit your target from a distance/knock them back, and to negate a massive part of their armor protection.

Whatever the case, your build (how you spend points leveling up on health, magicka, and stamina, which skill lines you develop, and which abilities are on your bars) and your gear need to fit a planned approach to surprising, locking down, weakening, or evading your opponent while rapidly inflicting damage and/or increasing your survivability.

There are many posts in these forums and on other sites (as well as many videos) that explain and show off PvP builds for ESO, and even if you copy one of them at first you will eventually customize it or replace it based on your own experiences.

When two players are evenly matched in terms of some combination of their effort spent in planning and understanding their builds, of their choice of gear, and of their level, it comes down to resource management. Whoever only has weapon attacks left and is waiting for that badly needed magicka or stamina to replenish to use an ability is largely at the mercy of their opponent.

OK, so, that's it for this sequel. I hope it helps. Again, take what is helpful and leave the rest. I hope it helps. And the best advice of all for visiting Cyrodiil is this: Have fun. Mistakes will happen. It's OK. Enjoy yourself and you will learn and get better.
Edited by tinythinker on January 29, 2016 12:32PM
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