ESO Nightblade DPS Build

Nightblade’s (NB) are the ultimate damage dealers in Elder Scrolls Online (ESO).  I’ve been asked to produce a high-end DPS build using magicka and here’s the most powerful one I could create.  So let’s check out the ESO Nightblade DPS Build Blade Runner.

Complete update ESO 2.0 build here.

 Table of Contents


Build Objective

“Veil on me.”  What’s the red circle of utter destruction that I see NB’s using?  It’s the Veil of Blades ultimate and probably the best pure DPS ability in the game.  Veil also has a huge damage reduction for you and your team.  So why did I call it Blade Runner?  It’s simple, the whole build centers around gaining as much ultimate as fast as possible and continuing to drop Veil of Blades. Veil of Blades

The character I’m using is King Foltest, a Khajit Nightblade.  I like to PvP a lot and use bow so Khajit race choice fits, but I were to chose a race solely for this build, it’d have to be High Elf.  But who doesn’t want a cat person as their character?  Regardless of race, this build still can crank out reliable DPS on a group or single target.

Just like all of my builds, it has strengths and weaknesses.  The build isn’t meant for solo play.  You’ll be reliant on a healer since you’ll be constantly life tapping (trading health for magicka) and wearing all light you run the risk of insta death.  But in a well coordinated group this build can absolutely devastate enemies.  Here’s a quick run down of the pros and cons.

+ Amazing DPS single target or area

+ Awesome range

+ Incredible ultimate generation

– Squishy e.g. easy to kill if Veil isn’t active

– Not fun to play solo


Blade Runner SkillsBar 1 | Restoration – Used for buffing, boss finisher  and self-heal

  • Inner Light (morph of Mage Light)- 20% critical chance and good passives with Mages Guild maxed.  It’s a no brainer for a magicka based class to use.
  • Incapacitate (morph of Haste) – Ever heard of weaving e.g. animation canceling?  Yes it’s cheesy but can add 300 or so DPS to your character.  With Incapacitate plus Destruction Staff returning magicka, the faster you can get off a heavy the more damage and resources you’ll be getting back.
  • Reaper’s Mark (morph of Mark Target) – This is just too powerful not to bring along.  The upside is it’s a major debuff to a target, self-heal, and increases your damage after you kill the target.  The downside is it lowers your resistance too.  The idea here is that you’ll never get hit by the target your marking because a tank or some other player will be their center of attention.  If playing solo, be careful who you mark.
  • Healing Ward (morph of Steadfast Ward) – It’s a tough choice between this or Healing Springs.  I personally like Ward as a defensive bubble.  If I’m real low and cast this say around 30%, I can absorb a lot of damage before my health even moves.  Additionally, if a teammate is about to die, bubble them and keep on casting Funnel Health and Sap Essence.  No I’m not a healer, but I can pull 400+ heals per second with two abilities in a large group.  Ward is just too powerful not to use in my opinion.
  • Impale (morph of Assassin’s Blade)- A range finisher that hits like a truck (love it).  I put it on my back bar because I assume I’ll only be using it for boss fights (spamming it).  I’ve tried it with bar two and didn’t like the result.  I was forced to constantly swap back and forth over and over.  So I put it on the back bar only for boss fights really.
  • Veil of Blades [Ultimate] (morph of Consuming Darkness) – Oh yes, the mother of DPS ultimates.  Drop it like it’s hot on you, the tank, or primary target.  You can drop it and go back if you want, but the damage reduction is increased for you so stay in it if you’re being attacked.

Bar 2 | Destruction – Primary bar used for DPS, ultimate generation, and massive destruction

  • Inner Light (morph of Mage Light) – I keep it on bar two so it doesn’t turn on and off.  Plus the passives for Mages’ Guild gives great magicka generation.
  • Funnel Health (morph of Strife) – This over Swallow Souls?  Oh yes my friend.  Remember I said this build was for group play, with that in mind you get WAY more ultimate from this morph than Swallow.  You’ll generate ultimate for damage, healing yourself and the group.  The damage from this ability comes off the top and when it crits, I can get 600 or so damage.  You can literally spam this for high DPS in between heavy attacks.
  • Sap Essence (morph of Drain Power) – Really, Sap or Power Extraction?  Yes, once again GROUP play not solo.  Extraction allows you to hit more targets, but Sap heals you and the group.  Though not the best heal in the game, ultimate generation counts for every enemy you hit,the healing you receive, and the healing your group receives.  So yeah, two Funnel Healths and a Sap Essence on a large group and Veil’s ready.
  • Elemental Ring (morph of Impulse) – What would a staff build be with a derpy Impulse spamming fire ring?  Well it wouldn’t be complete and thus I have to use it.  With a flame staff and Elemental morph, you can once again get damage that generates ultimate plus a DoT that’ll continue to generate it.  You want to keep Veil up at all times and these abilities will help you do that.
  • Spell Symmetry (morph of Equilibrium) – I’m constantly out of magicka because of my Impulse spamming non-sense.  I’ve tried having Spell Symmetry on bar one but it didn’t work.  I play with a group so I can tap here and there with a reliable tank/healer keep mobs in check.  Don’t use this if you have someone targeting you or your taking heavy damage.  It takes practice to time this ability correctly, so be patience and expect to screw it up a couple of times.
  • Soul Harvest [Ultimate] (morph of Death Stroke) – This ability over Flawless Dawnbreaker?  Oh yes, remember the title of the build is Blade Runner and we want it up at all times.  This adds passive ultimate generation for kills and nearly EVERY boss has some type of adds.  I can see swapping this out for a true solo fight, but I just love having it on for that crazy amount of ultimate generation.  Plus it is a heal debuff and very low cost.  I’ve been at 20% health, no magicka and just used it to save my life a time or two.


Goal = Health 2500 > Weapon Damage near soft cap > 2200 or more Magicka

Blade Runner Gear TableBlade Runner Gear SetsArmor Weight – Seven light pieces, nothing complex here.  You’ll need all the magicka, spell crit and reduced cost that you can get.  With seven light, all my passives I’m sitting at 65% spell critical (yea that’s good).

Traits – Standard setup here, infused on large pieces divines on the rest.  I like weighted on my staffs since now Restoration and Destruction return magicka.

Set Bonuses – Three sets on this guy and 11 out of 12 pieces have some type of set.  I go with three piece PvP Dominion’s for 10% spell critical.  A four/five piece on Twlight’s Embrace (five when Resto equipped) for great damage and extra healing.  Lastly we have a three piece Willow’s for even more spell critical and magicka. Foltest Stats

Glyphs – One can really mix and match their glyphs depending on their race choice.  For Veteran Rank content I recommend 2500+ health.  Especially if you want to try Dragonstar arena, you’ll need that much so you’re not constantly one-shot.  After that, try to max out magicka.  You’ll want high weapon damage because Impulse scales off of that damage and heavy Destro attacks.

Jewelry – Two of the pieces are set bonuses leaving the Necklace with some freedom.  I use all weapon damage increase glyphs on my jewelry and they are all “Healthy” to get me to that important 2500 mark.

Mundus – I really like the Thief with four pieces of divines traits you’ll be getting roughly 6% critical chance increase.  No diminishing returns on critical so why not?

Attributes – I play PvP with this character and use stamina for my Bow attacks so my attributes don’t exactly match.  But if I were to solely play this, I’d go 24 magicka and 25 health.

Race – Once again, Khajit is just my race but I’d probably go with High Elf, Dunmer or Breton if I were to strictly play this build.

Consumables – Keep some tri-stat food on you at all times as well as spell critical/power/magicka pots.  These sell for roughly 10k but can add an enormous amount of DPS.  If you want to hit that 1000+ DPS mark, you’ll need all of these materials for sure.

Vamp/Werewolf – I don’t use either for this current build.  Vamp really comes down to the ultimate Bats.  If you need a second powerful ultimate, Vamp is great.  Since this isn’t a sneaky sneaky build nor a “Bats” build, it doesn’t make sense.  Werewolf bonuses don’t come anywhere close to out weighing the cons.  I know ZOS is working on changes, but in it’s current form, stay away.


Mainly you be on bar one to pop Incapacitate and mark one target with Reaper’s Mark.  Swap to bar two and Funnel Health as you close the eso 2014-09-30 10-18-24-34distance.  Once within 6m, use Sap Essence PRIOR to Elemental Ring.  This will increase you weapon damage thus increasing Elemental Ring damage.  Pop Impulse (or ring) and check your Ultimate.  You seriously might be close to a Veil depending on the amount of enemies hit.  If not, keep rotating between Funnel and Impulse to generate ultimate.  Swap to bar one as soon as you reach or near 200 ultimate and drop the red circle of death.

If you get in trouble, start blocking and go to bar one.  Cast a quick Healing Ward then start targeting your marked target.  Killing this Repear’s Marked target will basically heal you to full while Healing Ward is shielding you.  If it’s not up, cast it on a target that’s just about to die and bang, full health.

For a solo boss without adds, rotate between a Funnel Health, heavy attack and Impulse.  Remember that Impulse can generate a DoT which adds to our ultimate and Veil is our number on priority.  Keep your buffs up like Incapacitate and Sap Essence for weapon damage.  Once the boss nears 35%, life tap via Spell Symmetry to get a full bar of magicka.  Spam Funnel Health until 25% and BANG switch to bar one for Impale spam.  For even more DPS, use a spell crit/power potion for huge burst damage.


This build isn’t too complex but can hit that 1000+ DPS if played correctly.  I’m currently at VR 10 and I can hit this in a group with all of our buffs running.  It’s not the most durable build, but in a group it’ll shine bring.  Keep that red circle of death up as best as you can and you’ll be the DPS King or Queen for your party.

I hope you enjoyed this build and please leave a comment.  What are your thoughts on this?  Does it sound fun?  Thanks for reading and yes, I do use staffs in this game 🙂


  1. kiltedpiper on September 30, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Interesting build. I have been working on some alternate build aspects for my NB Healer, and this could be pretty cool. I am really bad at remembering to use ULT, and this could help “teach” me to do so. I played around with Mark after you last NB build, and like it, it even works for solo play, as long as you get the target down quick, but as you point out here, the tank should have him tied up. I would like to see more about if Haste really helps with the heavy attack Fire Staff, return magicka part (update 1.4), or if something else would be better there. Also, it didn’t register with me that the heals also helped build ultimate, and is that why you chose to go all the way to 5 on twilights embrace, or just to help survivability? Thanks Deltia.

    • Deltia on September 30, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Thanks for the comment. Twlight’s is a hard choice and are better ones once I reach VR 14. But the four piece bonus comes in handy and five piece is great when using Funnel Health and Sap Essence. I’d probably go with Seducers or Warlock later on but it’s high risk high reward.

      • J Coulthard on August 21, 2015 at 10:19 pm

        Hey deltia, will this build still be viable in the upcoming update 7?

        • Deltia on August 22, 2015 at 9:10 pm

          When I update it yes.

  2. […] Blade Runner […]

  3. Asteldian on October 1, 2014 at 5:41 am

    Afk, dirty staffer! On a serious note, it is a sound build and I shall send my friend here to make use of it. Only question I have is whether the benefit of weighted and the dot from a fire staff outweighs the extra 7% crit you can get from the dominion ice staff?
    The only thing I would probably do differently is change the neck to a magicka one instead of healthy and this is simply because jewellery does not give you the 1.5 ratio for health that other parts do

    • Deltia on October 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      I haven’t tested it with Ice staff but can can image that would be a good benefit. I personally don’t need another slow with Ice either so I stick with fire to get massive ultimate. Though I can’t really say definitively since I didn’t test it.

  4. Deltia's Gaming | Character Creation on October 9, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    […] Another simple concept to talk about, yet master, is the art of doing damage.  One, “DPS job is to do the most damage possible without taking damage.”  Sounds simple, but it’s not.  Doing damage as a melee has new challenges due to your range.  Even damage at range can be a struggle because you’ll need to close the gap.  Two, “You can’t heal a boss to death.” At some point in battle, EVERYONE is going to need to provide damage.  So while this might be your primary role, everyone will be joining in at some point.  If you want a preview of a full on DPS build, check out Blade Runner. […]

  5. Getting Better: Evaluation Time on November 12, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    […] – The gear I was using is mostly in my previous build, Blade Runner.  I was using 4/4 Twilight and Destruction Mastery with rings of Soulshine.  You can click on the […]

  6. […] Original build can be found HERE. […]

  7. […] Punto uno, “Il lavoro del DPS è infliggere il maggior danno possibile senza prendere danni”. Suona facile ma non lo è. Infliggere danni in mischia è una sfida a causa del raggio d’azione. Anche danneggiare dalla distanza può essere una lotta perché talvolta ci si deve raggruppare. Punto due, “Non potete curare un boss fino alla morte”. In alcune fasi della battaglia, TUTTI dovranno infliggere danni. Quindi mentre questo può essere il vostro ruolo primario, tutti si uniranno a voi ad un certo punto. Se volete una anteprima di una build tutta sul DPS guardatevi Blade Runner. […]

  8. Fabio on May 10, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    hello deltia, im watching ur vids for a while especially for templar, sorc and nightblade, wanted to play a redguard templar but lately nightblade seemed more appealing for what im planning to play on eso. u have any good build in mind for redguard nightblade using bow and 1h and shield, bow being the primary weapon im not much of team player while questing and leveling so a build mainly for solo lvling and questing and tackling alone the bosses would be good, hope u can help me 😀

    • Deltia on May 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      Specter Nightblade

      • Fabio on May 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm

        thanks gnna try specter then 😛

  9. Copesetik on December 3, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Hey Deltia i was glancing through your recent Nightblade builds and they all look primarily Stam based? is there any reason you have abandoned Magica Nightblade builds?

    • Deltia on December 4, 2015 at 12:41 am

      I haven’t abandoned any build, the Umbra Nightblade is updated.

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