Greetings, Gilliamtherogue here with my Stamina Nightblade guide! I've gone to extra lengths to explain a lot of what I have already written at Deltia's site, which was also designed to give suggestions for players of ALL backgrounds. Note that due to constant balance changes, some of the mathematics or suggestions might be outdated here. Refer to this link for always updated information; http://deltiasgaming.com/eso-stamina-nightblade-dps-build/
There are also tons of spoilers to shield your eyes from walls of text (There's a lot of information in this thread, in hopes you LEARN instead of just copy). Enjoy!
This build is designed to offer Nightblades a DPS slot as the Stamina role in both end game dungeons and trials. There will also be solo options listed, to help players dip their feet into harder content like Maelstrom Arena, or solo dungeons and overland content. Currently only the Dual Wield and Bow combo build is here, but there are options for both group and solo play included. Expect the Bow/Bow build to be added in the future.
*denotes an interchangeable option
Example of bar setup. Click spoiler for more details!
Dual Wield Bar | Main Damage Bar
1. Steel Tornado (morph of Whirlwind | Dual Wield skill line) - The tried and true AoE damage skill in the game, boasting immense range, power, and even execute potential. Use this over your single target spammable when you're fighting more than 3 enemies in a grouped up area. Always try to position yourself in the center of the pull to maximize the number of targets hit.
*Rending Slashes (morph of Twin Slashes | Dual Wield skill line) - An extremely potent single target DoT available from Dual Wield. This ability can be applied to an infinite amount of targets, so try and hit each enemy with this when you're fighting groups the size of 3 and under. It also has immense up front damage and a snare, helping you kite enemies when you need to back off to heal. Use this over Steel Tornado in single target or low density boss fights.
2. Relentless Focus (morph of Grim Focus | Assassination skill line) - A potent tool to help Stamina Nightblades gain Minor Berserk and Endurance for 20 seconds, granting them 8% damage boost and 10% Stamina Regeneration. After 5 Light or Heavy attacks it can be reactivated for a high damaging shot, as many times as you can get 5 LA/HA's off in the 20 seconds. Expect to only get 2-3 shots off per cast of Relentless due to the complexity of our rotation.
3. Surprise Attack (morph of Veiled Strike | Shadow skill line) - The Stamina Nightblade's spammable which packs a punch. Offering great damage that's easy to weave, it also applies Major Fracture to enemies to make them take more Physical, Poison, and Disease damage. It also enables Major Ward and Resolve for a bit after casting, and 3% Max Health for slotting to help us be tankier!
4.Killer's Blade (morph of Assassin's Blade | Assassination skill line) - Once a target hits 25% Health, this will replace our spammable. Boasting much higher damage and less of a cost, this means 25-0% is easier to manage for us than the first 75%. Don't forget to keep up your DoTs like Poison Injection, Endless Hail, Trap Beast, and Rending Slashes though!
5.Deadly Cloak (morph of Blade Cloak | Dual Wield skill line) - Now boasting a staggering 25% AoE damage reduction, this skill helps Stamina builds stay in the fight in harsh combat. Many skills in dungeons and trials have also been updated to be considered AoE damage, giving us much needed tankiness.
*Flex Option; Resolving Vigor (morph of Vigor | Alliance War Assault skill line) - A solid AoE heal over time accessible to anyone who's ventured into Cyrodiil for a while. The healing potential this skill enables is massive, as well as giving some added group utility.
Ultimate Option 1 (Classic) Flawless or Smiting Dawnbreaker (morph of Dawnbreaker | Fighter's Guild skill line) - A potent AoE Ultimate that can be casted in a cone in front of you, dealing high burst and a decent DoT that lasts 5 seconds. Flawless offers more passive damage, while Smiting offers more Ultimate damage and a stun to targets hit. This will also do bonus damage to Undead, Daedra, and Werewolves.
Ultimate Option 2 (Ultimate Generator) Soul Harvest (morph of Death Stroke | Assassination skill line) - Used primary as a passive slot for 2% Critical Strike Chance and 10 Ultimate whenever we get a killing blow. It can also be used once a target gets low health instead of saving larger chunks of Ultimate, giving us a nice damage boost (20% for 6 seconds).
Ultimate Option 3 (Survivability) Rend (morph of Lacerate | Dual Wield skill line) - A simple yet effective DoT attack that has a minor cleave to it. The power of this skill comes from the immense healing it provides; healing for 50% of the damage you inflict per tick. This means in AoE or Cleave fights, the more targets you hit; the harder it will be for you to die.
Bow Bar | Support Damage & Buffs
1.Rearming Trap (morph of Trap Beast | Fighter's Guild skill line) - A universal powerhouse to any Stamina (and even some Magicka) builds. Enabling great damage via Minor Force for 12 seconds, as well as a hefty single target DoT to the enemy it procs on. It can also root minor enemies in place for a bit, and will deal massive bonus damage to Undead, Deadra, and Werewolves.
2.Poison Injection (morph of Poison Arrow | Bow skill line) - A truly superb DoT ability that also acts as an execute on targets at or below 50% Health. It can be casted from a range as well, helping keep up pressure when you need to retreat from the battle for a moment. The damage the DoT deals will also be amplified by the Hawk Eye passive, even after swapping off the bow bar. Always make sure to actively light attack on this bar!
3. Endless Hail (morph of Volley | Bow skill line) - Another classic DoT ability, but this one functions as an AoE as well. Paired with a Maelstrom Bow, this skill instantly becomes our most important form of damage, even after swapping to our Dual Wield bar. Place this where most of the enemies you will be fighting are, or where a boss is. Keep in mind that Hawk Eye will also boost this even after swapping, so always weave before and after applying it!
4. Razor Caltrops (morph of Caltrops | Alliance War Assault skill line) - Updated in Morrowind to be a universally accessible skill (there is no cap on how many players can use this), Razor Caltrops adds immense AoE damage potential to every Stamina build around. The duration allows it to line up perfectly with our other back barred DoTs. The cost can be excessive though, so make sure you have a robust enough Stamina pool before going to your back bar.
*Flex option; If you're not comfortable with Caltrop's insanely high cost, or having the trudge through Cyrodiil to get it; treat this slot as a flex spot. Put anything you'd like here, such as Blur (Assassination skill like) or Vigor (Alliance War Assault skill line).
5. Leeching Strikes (morph of Siphoning Strikes | Siphoning skill line) - Reworked to return only Stamina on hit, it also grants an explosion of Stamina after the ability ends, or if recasted; based on how long the duration was. Try to keep this up as much as possible and weave Light or Heavy attacks between abilities to help out your resource management.
Ultimate Option 1 (Classic) Ballista (morph of Rapid Fire | Bow skill line) - One of the best single target ultimates in the game, this skill has a lot of potential. The ultimate itself does great damage, and can be empowered by the Hawk Eye passive, meaning you should always try to cast it after reaching 3 or more stacks. It will continue to fire even if you swap off your Bow bar, so try and make use of Dual Wield's bonus damage by immediately swapping bars after casting.
Ultimate Option 2 (High AoE) Shooting Star (morph of Meteor | Mage's Guild skill line) - An ultimate that won't scale as well as others in terms of raw damage, it still boasts the most AoE damage potential out of Stamina's available ultimates. Paired with Soul Harvest on your main bar and the ultimate return for hitting targets, you can toss out Shooting Stars like candy.
Ultimate Option 3 (Surviability) Veil of Blades (morph of Consuming Darkness) - While this skill won't scale well with us in the Champion Point system (it deals Magic damage), it will help our group stay alive through harsh punishment. During the duration it offers you and 5 allies inside the circle Major Protection, reducing all damage taken by 30%. Low Health targets can also synergize it to temporarily gain invisibility and heal over a 4 second duration.
In this section you will find a multitude of options, trying to give every player an idea of what gear to go after. Always try to experiment and find what works best for you, as there is no real universal "best". Keep in mind that most DPS builds will run very similar gear sets, but there are always deviations depending on the class and play style.
The video below will show some of the more popular sets and give them context of power;
- Infector (found in Morrowind Overland events) - A new 5 piece set that dropped with Morrowind, it's BoE and comes from many overland activities. Sharpened weapons will always be a pain to find, so if you can't nab them go for the Shoulder and Helmet paired with jewelry instead.
If you don't have access to Infector, there are a multitude of powerful BoE Stamina sets in the base game. Spriggan's (Bangkorai) offers immense penetration but may become redundant in group play, Witchman (The Rift) offers healing and resource management, as well as many other sets.
- Hunding's Rage (6 trait craftable) - A solid staple in Stamina DPS, helping your healing and damage dealing capabilities tremendously. While other sets like Nightmother's and Spriggan's might boast more raw damage to some players, Hunding's flat amps helps the newer player who isn't pushing out insane base DPS.
You'll have some free slots available to you with this setup. I highly suggest getting some Health bonuses from either Monster sets or a crafted set like Ashen Grip (2 trait craftable) to help survive.
Non Trials End Game
- Nightmother's (6 trait craftable) OR Spriggan's (obtainable from Bangkorai overland events) - Both of these sets offer a great amount of damage to players who are comfortable with the game's combat mechanics. They both offer a large % damage boost, meaning if you're pulling lower numbers you'll want a set like Hundings to replace them.
- Agility (Imperial City or LFG rewards) - A powerful 3 piece set that has a 50% bonus to all of the set bonuses, helping it give a massive boost to Stamina and Weapon Damage.
*If you don't mind grinding dungeons, Leviathan (Crypt of Hearts I & II) offers an insane amount of Weapon Critical. Paired with the Major Savagery buff from potions you'll be near 100% easily.
- Any Monster set (Undaunted chests & any dungeon) helps fill in each slot, whether it be two 1 pieces, or one 2 piece set. If you need Health, try mixing two 1 pieces such as Valkyn Skoria and Mephala's, or if you want more damage go for Kra'gh's, Velidreth, or Selene's.
Best in Slot (BiS Boys)
- Kra'ghs (Fungal Grotto I) or Velidreth (Cradle of Shadows) both offer great damage to the end game player. Velidreth offers more burst damage and cleave potential, while Kra'gh's offers more single target and passive damage.
- Two Fanged Snake (Sanctum Ophidia Normal or Veteran) - The best Stamina set in the game in terms of raw damage, enabling a disgusting 5000 Physical Penetration, equating to 10% flat damage increase. While not the easiest set to get, it will help tremendously. In a group with a lot of Stamina DPS though, try using sets like Nightmother's or Sunderflame to help everyone instead of just yourself.
- Vicious Ophidian (Any Craglorn Trial Normal or Veteran) - Unparalleled resource management and set bonus efficiency nets this set on any good guide. Again, it'll be harder to get than other sets, but the power it enables is immense.
- If you can get away with the low sustain, War Machine (Halls of Fabrication) offers the most damage of the Minor Slayer sets, and pairs fantastically with Nightblades spamming Soul Harvest. It will also buff your group's damage as well, giving the Nightblade a reason to be ran in a trial.
- Maelstrom Bow (Veteran Maelstrom Arena) - Hands down the strongest weapon in the game for Stamina builds, enabling an absurd amount of damage. The grind is long, but it's totally worth it.
Food: Bi Health & Stamina food offers the most damage by far, as well as helping our Health pool be sturdy enough. If you prefer more sustain however, try Dubious Cameron Throne (a holiday event recipe). You'll need to spend some Attribute points in Health to make sure you're healthy enough though!
Potions: Weapon Power potions (Blessed Thistle + Dragonthorn + Wormwood) to ensure your Savagery and Brutality are up indefinitely. This can get pricey, but try to always use them when fighting tougher content or bosses. You can use junk Stamina potions you find for non serious content.
This segment shows the optimal CP setup for a player who is well knowledged in animation canceling and their rotation.
If you're still learning your rotation or don't have access to groups, try taking a few points out of Thaumaturge and Precise Strikes, and bumping up Piercing and Physical Weapon Expert.
~The Mage (Blue)~
Mighty – 49
Master-at-Arms – 40
Precise Strikes – 52
Piercing – 49
Thaumaturge – 40
If your group is applying a lot of Physical Resistance Reduction buffs or you’re running a lot of innate Penetration, you can lower Piercing. Remember that if you add up all sources of Pen+Reduction and it’s over 18200, you’re not gaining any benefit. If this is the case, start pumping up nodes like Master at Arms, Thaumaturge, and Physical Weapon expert.
~The Thief (Green) (Preference tree, feel free to use other stuff)~
Tenacity – 49
Mooncalf – 43
Warlord – 40
Sprinter – 19
Tumbling – 56
Shadow Ward – 23
~The Warrior (Red) (Feel free to change this around a bit too based on content you're doing)~
Elemental Defender – 49
Hardy – 49
Ironclad – 61
Thick Skinned – 61
Free 10 points
Keep in mind that each encounter has its own different damage types. Some dungeons, trials, or boss encounters don’t deal Physical damage; so Hardy may become useless. If you’re trying to optimize your mitigation always learn what sort of damage bosses deal, and change your CP accordingly.
The rotation of the Stamina Nightblade is very difficult and requires a good grasp of weaving and animation cancelling via bar swapping. Below you'll find a rough guide line to help point you in the right direction of how to play the Stamina Nightblade in a controlled DPS environment.
1) Apply Buffs. These include; Relentless Focus (20s duration), Leeching Strikes (20s duration), Deadly Cloak* (15s duration).
2) Begin placing DoTs. Always start by placing Endless Hail (10s duration) on your enemy, as it has a 2s wait time before dealing damage. Immediately press Trap Beast (12s duration) as you place Endless Hail , and then Light Attack weave a Caltrops* (14s duration). Light Attack weave again with a Poison Injection (10s duration) and bar swap immediately. Light Attack weave a Rending Slashes (9s duration).
3) Begin “spam” mode; repeatedly Light Attack or Heavy Attack weaving Surprise Attack. You should be able to get off 2 or 3 in quick succession. Cast Spectral Bow (successful Light or Heavy attack procs of Relentless Focus) whenever you can.
4) By now some of your DoTs and buffs are fading. Bar swap back and repeat steps 1-3. If Stamina is running low look for a healer throwing Orbs or Shards, drink a potion, and/or begin Heavy Attack weaving instead of Light Attack weaving.
* denotes an optional step that not every player will want to do. These can be considered extra steps until you are comfortable with the “base” rotation.
Traits on your Weapons: Traits are highly contextual in terms of what is best. A lot of values change based on group composition, buffs, debuffs, and what kind of player you are. Below is a breakdown of what traits I suggest depending on some of these variables;
-If using Dual Wield; Nirnhoned on your main hand and Sharpened on your off hand is ideal in most situations. If you add up all sources of Physical Resistance Reduction and Penetration, and that number is above 15000, then do not use Sharpened. Instead use Precise.
-If using Two Handed; Nirnhoned on your main hand is ideal.
-Bow Bar; Nirnhoned again is ideal. This simply helps all of our damage over time effects get a bit stronger while on this bar. The only skill that will retain this trait after swapping off, is Rearming Trap Beast.
Enchants/Poisons on your Weapons: Enchants again are contextual. Below will explain the most powerful choices.
-If using Dual Wield; Poison Damage on your main hand and Berserker (Increase Weapon + Spell Damage) on your off hand are ideal for enchants. Your Poison enchant will proc every 4 seconds, and your Berserker will be a buff that lasts 5 seconds on a 10 second ICD (internal cooldown).
-If using Two Handed; Poison Damage or Berserker is ideal. Poison damage helps your single target burst, while Berserker will be better for AoE damage and self healing.
-Bow Bar; Damage Health Poison IX is ideal. These are a crafted poison that require Fleshfly Larva, Nightshade, and Violet Coprinus. These should have two components, “Deals X Poison Damage per second for 4.5 seconds.” as well as “Deals X Poison Damage per second for 6.4 seconds. (10s cooldown)” The 4.5s and 6.4s will only be that high if you have Rank III Medicinal Use passive. If you aren’t keen on constantly spending money to get these poisons you are free to use an Absorb Stamina enchant instead. You will deal MUCH less overall damage however.
-Traits on your Armor: All Divines boasts the best DPS. You’re free to have Infused on large pieces if you want to enchant for Max Health to help survivability, or Stamina to help a tiiiiny bit with sustain.
Race Choices, and Their Importance
From a pure DPS perspective the current top race for this build is Redguard. Khajiit was our best bet, but due to over nerfs of the Shadow Mundus and Major Force, we've taken a big hit.
1) Khajiit- 8% crit is a bonus chance to crit with all weapon crit based attacks, which is all of our kit. In small man groups that aren't very hardcore, this is worth roughly 7% DPS if you're keeping up Minor Force. The math is derived from 8% crit x (.5 base CHD + .1 Minor force + .1 NB passive + .18 Precise Strikes) assuming 100% penetration, which is quite easy to accomplish with Twin Fanged Snake.
10% stealth damage is pretty minimal, as many situations you cannot stealth attack at the beginning due to true sight mobs and whatnot. Plus that 10% only goes to one attack, so when you compared that one 10% bonus vs the say, 100 you did, that means it was only worth 1% of that spell, which is further mitigated since you likely did more than just do the same attack over and over. This is a decent passive for solo content (aside from vMA) or small dungeons, as well as PvP.
10% Stamina regeneration is extremely lack luster in PvE builds, since we run the base Stam regen. This is roughly 50-80 Stamina regen, which is almost unnoticeable.
2) Redguard- 10% stamina with this build will net you around 3000 stamina. Since each ability has a unique coefficient of how it scales damage wise to stamina, I will make very rough estimates on explaining the mathematical value of this. Our hardest hitting ability by far will be Surprise Attack. SA’s stamina coefficient is each 1 point of stam = .128625. That means you’d need at least 8 stamina to gain 1 tooltip damage, so 3000 x .128625 is 385 damage. If we only gained this damage on SA, we’d get much less than 385 DPS because we are casting more abilities than it, so it’d be mitigated by other spells. Since the stamina does apply to other abilities, for simplicity’s stake I will say each ability gains anywhere from 100 to 400 dps. We run 6 active damage dealing components (non situationals), an average of 200 dps means we gain 1200-1500 dps.
The main power of Redguard lies in its incredible stamina management, after the Thieves Guild nerf to Siphoning Attacks this is a great option. 10% stamina regen is canceled by the Khajiit’s, but the stamina on hit is the real nice one. I’d suggest going Redguard if you’re looking for a mix of PvP and PvE or have regen issues.
3) Imperial- Same exact raw damage values as Redguard, but instead of having higher regen you have higher health and a small heal passive. I’d take Imperial over Redguard only if you plan on making your NB tank/DPS/and PvP.
4) Woodelf- ~3/5th of the value of Redguard from the stamina + the stealth amp. Woodelf however, has insanely high regen. Overall it’s less than Redguard *in combat* but outside of it, or when not working with a purely offensive build, it can be an okay choice. I’d pretty much only run Woodelf if I planned on doing group PvP with it.
5) Orcs- The same DPS value from the stamina as Woodelves, but a little bit of health on top of it. You trade regen for health on this build, as well as an interesting passive of 4% melee damage. The main issue with this passive is that it doesn’t apply to DoT’s. Since PvE is all about DoT damage instead of burst damage, that 4% is heavily mitigated. They also receive 12% sprint speed and 5% healing received.
If I didn't mention a race it means that mathematically speaking they boast little to nothing to this class in a PvE DPS environment. Keep in mind you're free to play whatever race you like, as the only thing you'll prevent yourself from doing is pulling competitive DPS. You can still clear content without optimal races though!
Unfortunately due to over nerfs of the Shadow Mundus, the Warrior or Lover now boast the most damage. Take Lover if your penetration is lower than 15000 outside of a group or solo. Warrior will buff all of our damage and healing though, and with ease of access to penetration I always end up using it personally. Even at 100% critical strike chance, the Warrior has higher Critical Strikes and DPS than Shadow. You can refer to this as proof;