This guide is now in maintenance mode. I will continue keeping it relevant, but I don't have time to do much of my own testing. Chances are some information might be little bit outdated or incorrect when it comes to absolute minmaxing.
- 2019/08/15 - Updated for Scalebreaker
- 2019/06/19 - Added necessary skills for Necromancer, more small changes for new patch and rotation tips.
- 2019/05/22 - Small changes for Elsweyr
- 2019/03/06 - Total revamp guide and update for Wrathstone patch
- 2018/10/23 - Updated for Murkmire
- 2018/07/17 - Updated weapon section (different trait/enchantments), added links to various (good) bow builds
- 2018/07/17 - Updated and rewrote several parts (sustain, classes)
- 2018/06/02 - Updated and rewrote first part of guide for Summerset patch
- 2018/01/04 - Rewrote skills and warden section.
- 2017/12/29 - Added information about Acid Spray (negative) value regarding stamina sustain
- 2017/12/24 - Rewrote Champion points setup, Stamina sustain, Racial choice and Weapon setup parts
- 2017/11/24 - Reworded weapon/trait part slightly
- 2017/11/23 - Added Dark Deal as viable skill choice on Sorc
- 2017/11/22 - Marked Imperial as good race choice. Reworded race/class choice to define better and worse options (than from best to worst)
- 2017/11/21 - Changed Warden Rotation. Added Warden parses. Added recommended gear to Warden, NB and Sorc
No information below is in any way based on experience using bow/bow setups in high level (score pushing) veteran trials. Everything said is based solely on my own experience and testing and different people can get different results. Everyone should be well aware that ranged stamina builds ( = bow/bow) lack on DPS, utility and survivability to either magicka dd, stamina melee dd or both to small or significant degree depending on content and user's capabilities.
Purpose of this guide is to tell people how to do well on bow builds and can't and is not supposed to rival min maxing builds and experience of min maxing build creators. If something in the guide is contradiction to their ideas and their ideas are well explained and tested (not always the case!) it is generally better to believe them.
Orc, Bosmer, Redguard, Khajiit, Dunmer, Imperial
All listed races are viable with very small difference. Orcs are by small margin the best. Bosmer and Redguard are the two sustain choices, Bosmer better for classes utilizing many class skills, Redguard for other (but its minor flavor, it really doesnt make much difference). Khajiit fit more higher crit chance builds, which can limit set and class options. Dunmer offer nothing interesting compared to Orc. Imperial are by small margin the weakest option.
Dubious Camoran Throne or Artaeum Takeaway Broth on damage races. Stamina+Health (blue) food on sustain races. Lava Foot Soup option on Imperial (any class) or best on Orc Necromancer.
Shadow or Lover
Getting high enough penetration is important. Lover is the easy choice and preferable on low CP. Shadow with penetration gained elsewhere (Sharpened weapon, gear or CP) is the best
Poison Injection, Arrow Barrage and Consuming Trap are must have skills on all builds. Ballista (better morph of bow ultimate) is viable alternative (or the only option) for main ultimate across all classes. Minor Force buff source is crucial on all builds with Trap Beast (any morph) being the best option, but Tzogvin set or Channeled Acceleration (psijic) skill are okay alternatives.
Acid Spray is great addition because of the damage it does on single target with AoE damage and usefulness as spammable as bonus.
Same thing said for Acid Spray can be said for Shadow Silk. This undaunted skill deals slightly more damage than Acid Spray, for same cost and also in AoE. While not as useful as Single Target or even AoE spammable, it offers potent synergy for allies.
Regarding spammables the pool is bigger than it used to be with many choices of class or nonclass. Snipe being the best in damage dealing potential, but limiting with cast time while others spammables offer instant casts and useful passives. Notable Warden's Cutting Dive or Fighters Guild Silver Shards give access to strong passives which can make them useful to have even in current meta where there is less time to cast them.
Nightblade must have skills are Relentless Focus, Dark Shade and Leeching Strikes, but for some situations using Killer's Blade or Incap strike ultimate are viable option.
Sorcerer will always slot Bound Armaments on front bar (but preferably on both bars) for the passives it gives. If you can or have to stand in melee range, Hurricane is very good skill that offers even useful armor and speed buff. Critical Surge for some amazing self heals is always recommended when bar space allows it or content demands it. Greater Storm Atronach can be used as (superior) alternative to Ballista.
Warden skill bars will always include Subterranean Assault and Bull Netch. Cutting Dive as mentioned above, if needed instant spammable, and Wild Guardian as superior ultimate choice.
Templar will always have Power of the Light (but be careful, skill is a mess and can easily result in loss of DPS, only the debuff is really worth it), Restoring Focus and Repentance. Having any Aedric Spear skill on front bar (and if possible even back bar) for the passive is highly recommended too.
Dragonknight has no obvious must have skills. Venomous Claw or Noxious Breath can be very useful and the first one even significant DPS gain, but both limit user to melee range. Flames of Oblivion has greater range (still not very large) so that is recommended skill to always slot and use when situations allows. If forced to melee range, ultimate Dragonknight Standard can be used as alternative to Ballista.
Necromancer is one of richest classes skill wise. Blighted Blastones, Detonating Siphon, Skeletal Archer and Pestilent Colossus are must. Venom Skull is useful instant spammable. Other options are Necrotic Potency for ulti regen in trash heavy fights, Boneyard if you want to give someone or yourself synergy, Expunge and Modify can be slotted for slight cost decrease of abilities and access to own purge and Mortal Coil or Summoner's Armor if you want some more sustain. Reanimate ultimate is worth mentioning too for the impact it can have in difficult content (even more than any damage ultimate).
The absolutely best option for gear build is having Relequen
set on body (always active) with Tooth of Lokkestiiz
on weapons (active only on front bar), Master Bow
on backbar and Velidreth
(in order of power)
Traits and Enchantments
- Alternatives to Relequen (when missing it or doing content not suitable for relequen) are Tooth of Lokkestiiz (if not used already), Deadly Strike, War Machine (warden), Twice-Fanged Serpent, Vicious Ophidian, Strength of the Automaton (sorcerer or templar), Hunding's Rage.
- Alternatives to Lokkestiiz is Deadly Strike, War Machine (warden), Briarheart, Tzogvin
- The only useful alternative to Master Bow is VMA Bow. VMA bow used to be the best option, but with change to shorter rotation and the nerfs it got, it fell behind. It is still strong enough to be used if Master Bow is missing or if you keep using Endless Hail and it offers greater AoE damage than Master Bow.
- Alternatives to Velidreth monster set is Stormfist monster set for better range reach and sustain, but it is also possible to have 2 single pieces of monster set (one weapon damage and one penetration).
- All armor traits should always be divines with Stamina enchants (unless needing more health)
- Jewelry traits are slightly toss up between Infused and Bloodthirsty. Generally 3 bloodthirsty wins on dummy, but having Infused is barely noticeable loss and can be useful in other situations for obvious reasons. So decide on your own.
- Weapon traits slightly depend on build choice. Backbar bow is always Infused with Weapon Damage enchant. Frontbar bow can be Precise or Sharpened with (preferably) Double DoT alchemical poisons or Absorb Stamina/Poison enchantment. Since your goal is to reach at least ~5900 penetration and thats assuming you play in groups with all necessary debuffs, your class or gear choice affects if you can afford to use Precise at all. Simple way to put it, if you aren't Necromancer and no piece of gear on you gives any penetration, go with Sharpened.
BOW MECHANICS AND OTHER DETAILS
Because of lack of time I am unable to test and look for best rotations for all types and classes. Over last 2 years bow/bow reached big enough renown to be included with various seriousness on various sites and youtube build videos. I recommend to look there for best performing rotations. I will describe only general idea of rotation you can put and adapt for any class and in some cases rotations I got used to and customized for content I am doing, classes I play and skills I like to use.
Basic Bow rotation for all classes
Arrow Barrage, Poison Injection <--- Use each of these skills every 10s. Always on backbar.
Consuming Trap, Lightweight Trap <--- Use each of these skills every 10s. On any bar you want (frontbar is better, but might not have space and so on)
Acid Spray or Shadow Silk or both <--- You can use each of these skills twice in 10s. Acid Spray needs 4s before reapply for full damage (3 skill casts) and Shadow Silk 5s (4 skill casts). Using both of them twice can make rotation quite difficult or confusing, so do mind that.
If your goal is simple static rotation it means you have around 10 skills to cast (9 if you are slow or with high latency) so if with options above and any other useful class skill or ultimate you are still not having enough skills to use, fill rest with spammable of choice.
Spending the least amount of time on backbar results in more DPS, you can achieve that by always starting and ending frontbar rotation with light attack and shuffling most skills to front.
Being able to weave light attacks between skills is MANDATORY for good DPS on bow (generally tho everywhere in ESO)
Barrage - Poison Injection - Archer/Siphon - Acid Spray - BB - Lightweight Trap - Acid Spray - Soul Trap - BB - Acid Spray
* Use Ult when its ready by dropping one Acid Spray
* You rotate archer/siphon casts, it resulted in more dps for me than recasting siphon early, but obv casting it dynamically as it explodes would be better.
Possible simple alterations:
* You can replace 2nd Acid Spray with Shadow Silk, or first and third if you switch 3rd one with BB.
* You can also rotate archer with barbed trap if you want to use melee trap rather than ranged one
* And last, you can completely drop second Acid Spray from rotation if you have bad connection and/or just cant cast 10 skills.
Barrage - Poison Injection - (Netch 1/3 or Shadow Silk 2/3)- Sub - Acid - Lightweight Trap - Sub - Soul Trap - Acid - Sub
* Use Ult when ready instead of Sub Assault or Acid Spray
* Every 3rd rotation recast Netch, other rotations cast Shadow Silk
Possible simple alterations:
* Feel free to experiment and switch up Acid Sprays, Shadow Silks and Sub assaults. Silk > Acid > Sub in power, but Silk needs 4 skills in between, Acid 3 and Sub 2
Long Shots Passive explanation
None for now. Too many things changed to link to any old source and most werent updated yet.
- It affects only bow abilities (including light attacks)
- It is additive with all other % bonuses, notably CP (and others like Hawk Eye, Minor Berserk, ...).
That means for example on build with 10% (mighty), 18% (thaumaturge), 8% (minor berserk), 25% (hawk eye) going from 0m range to 23m range (12% long shots) will increase damage of your volley by 7.5% and not 12%.
The distances in picture are measured by the last position each skill with reported distance could be used. The red lines are the last position before long shot buff gets increased by 2%.