Welcome to Gilliam the Rogue’s End Game Stamina Nightblade Build PvE DPS. This is a build that he created and posted on The Elder Scrolls Online Official forums here. I wanted to share it here because I know a lot of people are looking for good Nightblade builds. He’s the best theory crafting Nightblade that I know and this detailed information comes from him, not me. Here’s his build in all it’s glory.
Hello and welcome to my in depth look at the stamina Nightblade class for ESO! My name is Gilliam and I’m the founder and guild lead of Order of Mundus, a NA (DC) PvE/Raiding guild that currently and has held top ranks in all trials since patch 1.6! I’m going to be assessing the pros and cons of my main class in a PvE perspective today, applicable to any slice of the subject (raiding/dungeons/solo) and providing my personal build and insights on why I do so. Let’s get right to it!
- This build has been extensively tested with mathematical data and in game trials to determine the maximum yield for DPS, or damage dealing, role for stamina nightblades.
- Not only will you be pulling insane numbers, but you’ll be bringing some utility to the group so your team members will hit harder too!
- This build has an insanely high skill cap, even I have room to improve in some areas, so if you like personal growth and progression, you’re going to love this build.
- It’s versatile, you have access to ranged and melee skills. With a few bar swaps you can easily go to running some pretty powerful group healing as well. I often heal group pledges while topping charts damage wise with this build.
- Almost endless resources with smart play. Thanks to a few skills and tips, you’ll have some breathing room before you have to rely on other sources of stamina replenishment to dole out the hurt.
- This is a very difficult build, there’s a lot of mastery to go through and is not a instant gratification build. Prepare to work hard to get to the top.
- Due to being a primarily melee build, you’re going to need a high mechanical awareness of the fight. The more comfortable you are with the mechanics, the easier it’ll get. Expect to make mistakes early with this build.
- Competitive DPS is reliant on a lot of buff/debuff management. Muscle memory will help here a lot, as well as running addons like FTC or Srendarr to see visual data on your DoTs. Failing to keep everything up will severely hurt your damage output.
- The final form of this build requires you to have the Maelstrom Bow, so you’ll have to unfortunately clear the hardest content in game to get it. Without it you can still pull okay numbers, but don’t expect to wow any crowds till you have one.
DPS Parse Video (nearly 30k DPS Bloodspawn)
Bar One | Dual Wield – Source of bread & butter and execute
- Steel Tornado: An insanely powerful AoE, rumored to be receiving some tweaks/nerfs in the future. With a 12.5m radius at max range, and two innate execute passives- this thing makes you top charts in any AoE situation. Use this when you know you’ll be fighting more than 3 enemies at a time.
- *Interchangeable with*
– Rending Slashes: A hefty DoT in form of bleed damage, so it cannot be used on all mob types. Many mobs are immune to this damage source, so make sure to do your homework ahead of time. When utilized it provides great damage, even worth keeping up through long execute fights. We take this over Blood Craze because of the initial damage bonus Rending does.
- *Interchangeable with*
- Rearming Trap: A newly founded power source for high crit builds, this adds a staggering 12% critical hit damage for 6 seconds, and rearms after it ends for a total of 12 seconds as long as a mob has hit it. Does a nice DoT to daedra, and procs the Exploiter passive on mobs while they are in it.
- *Interchangeable with*
– Resolving Vigor: The best and only universal stamina heal in game. I can easily pump out 4-5k HPS per target with this thing, keeping myself and group members alive through moderate damage. I always run this in PvP/Solo PvE.
- *Interchangeable with*
- Surprise Attack: Your main ability, you’ll be casting this whenever all your DoTs and buffs are up. Does a nice amount of damage, and increases the damage of your’s and other’s further physical penetrative attacks. Also gives you Major Ward/Resolve from our shadow passives, giving us an exact 8% damage reduction. Also stuns the target if casted from stealth, allowing for insane burst damage in PvE and PvP alike.
- Killer’s Blade: A pretty decent execute. Only cast this when the target is below 25% health (24.9% to be exact). Don’t forget to keep up your execute scaling DoT’s when you’re doing this though! Pretty straightforward here, nothing fancy.
- Camouflaged Hunter: An indefinite source of Major Savagery, even though our potions give it to us. This ability should be casted once every 15 seconds when you are doing one of the following; Starting a fight, fighting daedra of any number, fighting more than 3 mobs with AoE abilities. I sometimes even keep this up on single target non daedra fights, but if it falls off it’s not the end of the world. It must proc at least twice every cast to outweigh the operational loss of casting it. The main reason we take this over Evil Hunter is because many fights allow us to get off sneak attacks at the beginning, offering large amounts of burst damage.
- Ultimate – Soul Harvest: Probably one of my favorite ultimates in game, this thing has a ton of uses. The main reason we use this over Flawless Dawnbreaker is because while we lose 8% weapon damage from FDB, we gain 2% crit from our Assassination passive, and 10 ultimate per kill we get. This means in AoE situations you’re getting an insane amount of ultimate. Not only this, but once we near the end of the fight, instead of saving up large sums of ultimates for bigger ones only to shoot them off as the boss dies, or only once, we can cast this for a measly 50 ultimate. It does some serious damage, and boosts all damage against the affected target by 20% for a little bit. Paired with executes, you can dish out some serious damage in a short period of time. Also applies a healing debuff, so if you see a pesky healer mob in PvE or player in PvP, smack em real quick with this and watch them struggle to keep themselves up.
Bar Two | Bow –
- Relentless Focus: Provides 8% damage across the board and 10% stamina regeneration. Pretty straightforward to keep up. Main reason we use it on this bar is to maintain Assassination passives at all times. Until CP cap is raised it is currently not beneficial to cast the 2ndary effect of this ability. Once CP cap is raised to allow capping of Mighty and Thaumaturge, I may try out Merciless Resolve over this for the bonus damage. We’ll see!
- *Interchangeable with*- Reaper’s Mark: Applies Major Breach and Fracture, ensuring you and your group deal maximum damage regardless of spec. The main reason to run this over Relentless Focus is if you have a group member keeping Combat Prayer up 100% of the time, or there’s a lot of small HP targets in a fight that you can utilize this ability’s main purpose for. If the target this is placed on dies, not only do you get almost instantly healed to full (60% health return on kill) but you also get a 25% damage boost for a little bit. I love running this in vDSA or vMA.
- Poison Injection: A pretty moderate DoT that doesn’t truly reach it’s potential until 50% and below. Regardless it is operationally worth keeping up 100% of the fight, and will become more powerful once CP cap is raised.
- Scorched Earth: Wow, what a spell. This thing is monstrous, I have been waiting a long time to be able to say this ability was worth running all the time. Paired with the Maelstrom Bow, this thing becomes the best universally accessible DoT in the game, ramping up to 6k a tick near the end of it’s duration. On top of that, it provides AoE damage too, and a massive amount at that. This ability is easily in my top 3 damage sources on breakdowns of fights. The reason we take this over Arrow Barrage is because the 2ndary damage effect also gains from the Maelstrom Bow. It also applies burning and procs explosion on enemies vulnerable to fire damage, and pairs nicely with Engulfing Flames. It’ll hit slightly weaker than Arrow Barrage (due to 25% from mighty and only 1% from ele expert), as well as less targets since the AoE radius is slightly smaller, but overall does more damage due to the lingering burn benefiting from the Maelstrom Bow’s enchant.
- Razor Caltrops: Alone this ability is worth running just for the DoT it provides, even on single target. Scales best with stamina Nightblades as it provides us an indirect source of resources, and paired with our high crit it deals great damage. Also increases the potency of % proc chances, such as Camouflaged Hunter. I run Razor over Anti -Calvary because of the initial application damage it does, and most fights I use it on don’t last long enough for Anti to get its full operational value.
- Siphoning Attacks: The saving grace of our resources. This ability alone allows us to ignore running regen or cost reduction anywhere in our build. I keep this ability up whenever I drop below 50% resources on single target fights, and up 100% on AoE fights. The main reason is Razor Caltrops and Scorched Earth both can proc this sucker, and when the RNG gods favor us, procs non stop.
- Ultimate – Shooting Star: Unfortunately for us, Nightblades don’t really have a good big hitter ultimate like Banner/Overload/Nova. Veil of Blades has been nerfed too many times and doesn’t scale well as stamina, so all we’re left with is Shooting Star. On single target fights this thing is pretty weak compared to a caster version, but it’s the best we have to start off a fight. It also provides 20% damage on your next casted attack, which isn’t much but it’s still something. It gets consumed on your next light attack weave, but hey, free damage. The main power of this ultimate is the ultimate return for targets hit. Up to 72 ultimate if you hit the maximum amount, paired with Soul Harvest’s ult on kill, I can drop multiple meteors before the first one even finishes the DoT in some situations. I often get asked why I take this over Ice Comet, as at first glance it seems like Ice Comet would deal more damage. Even if the ultimate gain wasn’t there, we’d take it. Fire damage has a chance to cause burning, which provides additional damage. More mobs are weak to Fire than to Ice resistance wise, AND if you run with a Dragonknight, their Engulfing Flames debuff that increases damage by fire by 7% also applies to the raid. Boom, Shooting Star now beats Ice Comet in every way shape or form, except no snare. That is what we call, #worth.
- 5 Night Mother’s Gaze: Currently the tooltip for this set is out of date. Back in 1.6 ZoS mentioned they were going to buff the 5 piece by 50%, and they did. However they forgot to update the tooltip, meaning players thought it was pretty lack luster still. At legendary v16 this offers 5.86% damage(3870 armor reduction)for physically penetrative abilities (I say that since some magic dealing abilities use physical penetration, like our execute). Not only does it give us more damage on our abilities than Hunding’s Rage does, but it also works for anyone attacking that target. I would only use 5 piece Hunding’s Rage over this set IF someone else in group was running it. This set also has no ICD, and the first ability to proc it also benefits from the reductive damage, meaning it has a 100% operational value. As I said before, even in solo circumstances, this set outperforms Hunding’s Rage damage wise.
- 3 Agility: The only 3 piece jewelry set worth running at the moment for DPS, leaves us no other choices. Endurance can be a cheap substitute, as well as Ravager, but both will pale in comparison to all Agility. I run all 3 Robust for maximum damage.
- 2 Nerieneth: While not as good as it is on a caster spec, this 2 piece is still the best source of damage in game for us. It procs on all non DoT’s, including steel tornado. On AoE fights this pulls insane DPS, and even on single target I average ~600-800 dps from this proc alone. In small man PvP and no death vma attempts I use 2 piece Bloodspawn instead, but I keep this for fighting zergs as well.
- 2 Hunding’s Rage: I use this over 2 Maelstrom daggers because this is actually better. Maelstrom daggers only offer 189 weapon damage between them both, while 2 piece Hunding’s Rage daggers offers 174 weapon damage for 5 seconds every 6 seconds, 714 poison damage (scales with stats, gets higher than that) and a chance to proc poisoned effect, as well as 3.14% critical chance. Simply having the enchants on the daggers themselves outweigh the damage from the Maelstrom Daggers, so the crit bonus makes it even juicier. If rapid strikes got a buff I could see using these daggers on a NB but as it stands only DK’s really benefit (and a stupidly large amount at that) from these.
- 1 Maelstrom Bow: This bow is the reason stam DPS is even a thing still, without this we’d be leagues behind casters in PvE. The enchant works even after you swap off the bow.
Traits on armor: Currently all divines paired with the Shadow stone is the largest damage gain. Nothing else comes close to comparison, even infused on the larger pieces. Each piece is a 7.5% increase, and Shadow is 12% CHD(how hard your crits hit for). With 7 Divines that’s 52.5% bonus on 12%, totalling to 18.3% CHD.
Traits on weapons: Currently all precise traits on weapons. I run 2 precise daggers and 1 precise bow, however the bow’s trait isn’t the end of the world since you’re only on the bow bar for a few seconds at a time. The reason we take precise is because paired with Shadow, the CP node Precise Attacks/Elfborn, and Major/Minor Force, the dps value of critical strike skyrockets. This build runs 83.9% weapon crit with a 1.95 CHD modifier without Major/Minor Force. This is why running low weapon damage is okay, because we crit and crit harder than fully stacked weapon damage builds do.
*I’ve recently gotten my hands on a nearly perfect setup of Essence Thief, and I tested it more again since my last testing in the PTS. I’ve noticed its proc rate is much more inline with the tooltip, but I’ll have to gather more data before I post anything. However, initial testing has proven promising to be BiS with this set. Stay tuned!
This is my CP distribution for the current 501 CP cap. I spent a lot of gold trying to perfect this setup, and it’s not min/maxed to the decimal point for every encounter, but this is the one I use most of the times.
I split my points between Tower and Lover mainly for cost reduction and regeneration for stamina, as those are the two most important values for my DPS. Cost reduction is much more effective than regeneration in a pure DPS situation, as it provides its benefit immediately on cast, rather than waiting for a 2 second tick to happen. Regen is better for defensive situations where you need to block/sprint/dodge roll, as cost reduction does not affect those. I run the exact number I do so I can get the Synergizer passive in the Lover, and then focus on Warlord. I put 2 points into dodge roll reduction because vMA and PvP, but you can put them in cost reduc/regen if you want too.
Anything from the Shadow tree is nice if you don’t have resource management issues, as it enhances a lot of the quality of life stats, but nothing really big for PvE.
I focus mainly here on pure damage reduction, a good split between Elemental Defender/Hardy lets me get away with lower health in some of the more brutal PvE situations like HM Serpent or vICP/WGT. I also take some point for Thick Skinned for the DoT reduction some mobs throw out. Most of the Warrior is based purely on preference and playstyle, but the main focus is getting that 120 passive from the Lady, as it gets used a little bit in PvE. The rest is just quality of life stuff, maybe spend some points into healing received if you want.
This is the tree that’s not much about choice and more about math. I spent a lot of money respeccing to find the highest damage output values, and this is what I found out to be the greatest yield. The good (and bad depending on your perception) thing about this is this build will scale really well with CP if it’s left in its current state. This build does Magic, Elemental, and Physical damage so we benefit greatly from almost every single node in this section, but that also means we have to split quite a bit between them all. I will continue to update this section as CP cap slowly gets raised or if it is reworked.
From a pure DPS perspective the current top race for this build is Khajiit. However, their 8% critical bonus is currently bugged and will not be fixed until Thieves Guild or later, meaning we pretty much don’t have any offensive passives that are fully utilized. The 10% stealth damage and 10% stam regen is nice, but it’s pretty minimal in comparison.
Let’s break down the net values of the higher up races;
1) Khajiit- 8% crit *if it was working* is a bonus chance to crit with all weapon crit based attacks, which is all of our kit. With this build’s current CHD setup 8% crit is worth 7.6% flat damage in perfect math with no buffs, 8.56% flat damage with minor force (rearming trap), and an 11.36% flat damage value with both major (aggressive warhorn)and minor force. This alone makes them the top damage dealing choice. If you’re curious how to find the damage % value of crit or crit hit damage, all you have to do is take critical strike multiplied by critical hit damage. In this case 8% crit multiplied by my base 1.95 CHD, but remove the 1 since it stands for base damage. My crits unbuffed deal 195% base damage- 100% of the base attack + 95% extra, so we look at the 95% or .95. Minor force is 12% and Major is 35% so simply add those values to the base CHD.
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.
10% stamina regen is pretty nice, but overall still failed to bring us where we used to be. Before Nightblades had 30% stamina regen and 15% from werewolf, now we get 15% stamina regen and only get the passive stamina regen while the ultimate is slotted, and I have long since cured my werewolf, as there is no benefit in running it anymore in PvE (it used to be great for a couple fights, but now is outshined)
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 385 damage, therefore 385 dps. When compared to an average parse of 20k (pretty low for me) that’s only a ~2% dps gain.
The main power of Redguard lies in its incredible stamina management, although as a NB we don’t have that much of an issue thanks to Siphoning Attacks. 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- ~2/3rds 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. Since our build has some range in it however, that 4% doesn’t get the full values, putting orcs to roughly 5-6% raw damage value when paired with the stamina gain. Pure damage wise they are 2nd to Khajiit, but expect a little bit more resource management in intense situations.
Anything else I didn’t mention pretty much has no benefit, or so little of one that it’s not worth comparing. From seeing how large Khajiit’s gain is if their passive was working, you should expect a pretty noticeable difference between a good race choice and a poor one. It’s still not the end of the world though, to each their own!
As I’ve mentioned in earlier sections of this build, I run the Shadow Stone with full Divines traits. Below is a snip of the breakdown on why I chose to do this from a post I made in a different thread. I’ve editted it to fit this patch and my new gear setup, beware though, there is a lot of math.
A lot of people are aware of the armor trait setup back in 1.5 where you ran 4 Divines and 3 Infused, but since then a few Mundus stones have been buffed or changed, and this meta is no longer universally accurate. You now want to take 7x divines over 4x divines 3x infused if you’re using the Shadow or Thief stone. Here’s some simple math to determine effectiveness.
Legendary Divines = 7.5% increase of Mundus stone
Shadow = 12% increase to critical strike damage
Thief = 11% critical strike chance
Apprentice/Warrior = 166 spell/wep damage(before amps)
Tower/Mage = 1280 magicka/stamina (before amps)
Divines per legendary piece
Shadow = .9% CHD
Thief = .825% Crit chance
Apprentice/Warrior = 12.45 SD/WD(decimal is added after all calculations are completed and is rounded down until it increases to a whole number, in the case of two divines you’d get 16, but with 3 you’d get 19.)
Tower/Mage = 96 stam/magicka
Infused bumps resource enchants from 868 to 1041 on big pieces(173 increase) and 351 to 421 on lesser(70 increase).
Now each ability in game has a unique coefficient that multiplies itself to its respective stat. This in turn increases the listed tool tip damage. For example; Surprise Attack and Concealed Weapon have a .128625 : 1 ratio for resources. For each point of stamina (surprise attack) or magicka (concealed weapon) you gain that much tooltip increase. Since calculations ignore decimals until they add up into whole numbers, you need 8 magicka or stamina to gain anything. They also have a 1.35091 weapon damage (surprise attack) or spell damage (concealed weapon) scaling that. Every 1 SD/WD increases its tooltip by the stated amount. Now lets find the effectiveness of an increase in accordance to this skill.
Shadow = complex, living number. Depends on how much tooltip you have. Let’s use my character’s tooltip as an example. Fully buffed my tooltip is 9388. My crit hit damage multiplier without divines is 1.8446. Therefor on a target with no armor I’d deal 17317 damage. Divines is a .9% (or .009) increase to my CHD with shadow, so that number becomes 17401. +84 damage. Now since this only applies on critical strikes, we must now factor in critical strike chance. I have 83.9% critial strike so we multiply that number by the added damage to find the true numerical value that shadow adds to our kit; 84 x .839 = 70.476 or 70 damage.
Thief = again, a complex living number. This will depend on your crit hit damage, as they are directly related. Lets compare the efficiency of base CHD and my CHD just to see the differences. Base CHD is 1.5, mine was 1.766 (no divines). .825% chance to deal 50% more damage is .4125% (less than 1) increase to overall damage. With high tooltips, that’s nothing to laugh at. Now with my CHD that becomes .632% overall damage per Divines. Shadow’s value was .9% x 83.9% which is .755% per Divines. Quite close.
Apprentice/Warrior= Static number, with some minor boosts based on context. 12.45 SD/WD offers 16.819 tooltip to SA. However, there are passives that increase your WD by a % (Major/Minor Brutality, WW passives, Templar passives, etc) that can change the importance. Let’s look at it from a universal situation where anyone can have access to Major/Minor Brutality. 25% increase overall means you’re getting 15.563 WD which translates to 21.024 TT increase per divines. 21/9388 is a .224% increase and a 37.086 damage increase on criticals. Overall it’s efficiency is .31% damage increase per Divines, half of Thief’s.
Tower/Mage= Again, a static number with some minor boosts depending. 96 stamina/magicka would be a 12.348 TT increase so SA/concealed weapon. There are also passives that increase magicka/stamina by %’s that can increase this value. Again lets look at it from a universal level where CP offers a 25%(@3600 cap) bonus to each tree’s resources (Warrior = health, Mage = magicka, Thief = stam). 96 becomes 120 and that turns to 15.435 TT increase on SA/concealed and a 27.258 increase on criticals. Overall its value is .225% damage increase per Divines.
Now that we’ve found the values of divines for these Mundus stones, lets look at infused. Luckily this is a much simpler thing to discuss since you pretty much see everything that’s going on at eye level.
Now lets use the old meta x4 divines x3 infused on large pieces (helm chest legs). 20% increase to the largest possible enchants in game (v16) boosts the enchant from an 868 magicka/stam to 1041. 173 increase in accordance to SA/concealed would be a 22.252 TT increase. Let’s give this the same treatment as we did Tower/Mage and add the universal increase of 25% more if at 3600 CP cap. We’re now at 207.6 magicka/stam and a 26.703 TT increase for SA/concealed.
All of these numbers are subjective to other amps that I’ve chosen to ignore since they’re not universally obtainable (racials, build exclusive, etc) that can change the effectiveness of these. Pretty much a TL;DR it depends. The answer to the question is based on the context of the question. PvP and PvE call for very different things, and each changes the effectiveness that each of these stats offer. It’s up to the user of this information to determine the answers for them self. In PvE however, there is no doubt that Shadow is the best source of overall DPS for stamina Night blades.
With this build I run Weapon power and crit potions, as well as Bi Health-Stam food to put me at just enough health to survive most one shots, and more stamina. The potions are mandatory since we have no form of Major Brutality in our kit, which is a large difference. I plan on uploading some videos of example parses on boss fights, as well as breakdowns on rotation and weaving. Expect to see this updated based on comments from you guys and new content changes!
You can contact Gill in game PC North America @Gilliamtherouge — and thanks Gill for you wealth of knowledge and insight into Stam NB.