Welcome to our ESO Magic Nightblade DPS Build called Umbra. On this page you will find an updated guide on the class, gear, champion points and everything you need to know for Magicka Nightblade DPS.
Table of Contents
- Leveling (1-50)
- End Game PvE (Group and Solo)
[Last updated for Morrowind]
The purpose of this build is to dip our feet into the Magicka Nightblade class, gaining access to great skills that can be applied in a multitude of ways. While the Caster Nightblade did become a much harder to play class in Morrowind, we are now justly rewarded with good damage and healing potential, allowing us to still excel in solo and group play alike.
Should you play this build?
+ Freedom of choice, synergizes well with almost any play style and can be taken anywhere in game to do well in.
+ Access to fantastic self healing and above average resource management, making them one of the top picks for solo players or those who don’t like to depend on others.
– With the rework to Grim Focus, the Nightblade DPS (end game) rotation is now harder than ever. Unlike before however, it actually rewards the player for being able to properly follow it.
Since the Magicka Nightblade comes with a ton of its own healing, we won’t be needing to focus on leveling a Restoration staff. If you do plan on PvPing with this class though, you may want to level one up as a “back bar” option once you hit level 15.
Bringing tons of potent damage this Destruction staff finds its way into any Magicka build’s hands. Most DPS builds as a Magicka Nightblade will use one on both bars, making leveling a cinch.
- Force Shock (Direct damage | morph to Force Pulse) – While the Nightblade does have its own spammable ability, Force Shock offers the group and ourselves much better utility. Force Shock has 3 separate damage components, and deals direct damage. When paired with a special passive, it will have a 20% chance PER damage component to proc the respective affliction; Burning, Concussed, or Chilled. These debuffs all offer truly staggering amounts of damage and utility to the group, making this very important if we plan on playing in groups later on.
- Walls of Elements (AoE DoT | morphed into Elemental Blockade) – An early magic AoE that helps leveling clearing trash mobs or grinding. It also plays a vital role in our DPS for end game DPS in both single target and AoE encounters.
- Assassin’s Blade (Single Target Execute | morphed into Impale) – A potent execute meant to be spammed at and below 25% Health on a mob, also grants a minor amount of Magicka return when killing mobs due to a passive, helping sustain while grinding.
- Grim Focus (Buff + Single Target Direct Damage | morphed into Merciless Resolve) – A focal point of the Magblade play style, this buff grants us Minor Berserk as well as an extremely powerful damage component after participating in active weaving. This requires 5 attempted Light or Heavy attacks before it may be fired for the Spectral Bow. After shooting, if you get another 5 Light or Heavy attacks done in the time you may shoot again!
- Veiled Strike (Direct damage | leave unmorphed) – Since we’re going to be getting a better spammable ability from Siphoning, we’ll only want this skill on our bars so we can generate XP for the Shadow tree, until we unlock Path of Darkness. If you plan on PvPing however, you’re free to morph this to Concealed Weapon.
- Path of Darkness (AoE DoT | morphed into preference) – A decent ground AoE to be paired with our Wall of Elements. It also grants us some passives from the Shadow tree, and Major Expedition while in it. Twisting Path boasts a larger radius and more damage, but Refreshing Path is the go to morph if you plan on focusing on more solo play/healing.
- Strife (Single Target Direct Damage + HoT | morphed into Swallow Soul) – The main spammable of this build, a ranged single target ability that also heals based on damage done in form of a heal over time. Morph this into Funnel Health if you’re looking for more utility in groups.
- Cripple (Single Target DoT | morphed into Debilitate) – An extremely underrated morph, this skill operates as a decent damage over time and snare. This morph removes the one target cap and allows us to apply it to all mobs we want to. If a target dies with this ability on them, you’ll refund 50% of the cost used to cast. Use the Crippling Grasp morph if you prefer single target DPS.
- Siphoning Strikes (Resource Management | morphed into Siphoning Attacks) – Even after the massive nerfs to this ability, we’ll still be using it for the explosion of Magicka it gives after the duration ends. Recasting this early will also give us Magicka back, based on how long it lasted. Actively Light or Heavy attacking with this will also restore a meager amount of Magicka back, but it’s still worth doing so.
- Drain Power (AoE Direct Damage + Heal | morphed into Sap Essence) – The main AoE spammable of this build, that boasts both solid damage as well as group healing. While it deals less damage than Impulse tooltip wise, the extra range, healing done, and source of Major Sorcery allows this skill to be truly versatile and efficient.
- Executioner – Offering us a bit of Magicka back after landing a killing blow with an Assassination ability, it’ll help sustain our resources while fighting.
- Hemorrhage – This passive allows for some spectacular damage on Critical Strikes, which applies to damage AND healing, helping us gain some power.
- Pressure Points – Every Assassination ability slotted will net us 2% Weapon and Spell Critical Strike Chance, helping boost our damage and healing potential quite nicely in longer fights.
- Refreshing Shadows – A nice boost to Health, Stamina, AND Magicka Recovery, making this passive an easy pick.
- Shadow Barrier – Activating a Shadow ability will grant us Major Resolve and Ward for a short duration, helping us take 8% less damage from all sources. A nice boost to our defenses with no downsides!
- Catalyst – An incredibly simple, yet powerful passive; granting a nice jump in Ultimate every time you drink potions. Try casting an ultimate and then immediately drinking a potion for maximum efficiency. While grinding you’ll find yourself able to toss off an ultimate every pull thanks to this passive.
- Magicka Flood – A massive boost to Max Magicka simply for slotting a Siphoning Ability, this will help us sustain, do more damage, and heal more all in one.
- Evocation & Recovery – These passives both operate the same way, granting Cost Reduction and Regeneration respectively for the passives for each piece of Light Armor worn. These passives really help us keep in the fight longer with little to no down time between pulls.
- Destruction Expert – A truly powerful passive that refunds a massive amount of Magicka when getting kills with Destruction Staff damage. Have enemies die in your Blockade of Fire and you’ll be way more Magicka than you’ve spent.
- Ancient Knowledge – Simply holding a Destruction staff will augment your abilities’ power. Inferno (Flame) staves will bolster Single Target abilities by 8% damage, while Lightning (Shock) staves will bolster Area of Effect abilities by 8%. I suggest using two Inferno Staves for single target encounters, while using 1 Inferno and 1 Lightning staff for AoE pulls in end game. For leveling just use one of each.
Find yourself a friend as soon as possible so you can get your hands on great gear. Crafted sets are by far the strongest way to level up in ESO, so hold onto that quest money to pay the bills, or start learning crafting yourself!
(If you don’t plan on PvPing with this character, instead of using a Restoration Staff, use a Lightning Destruction staff.)
- Magnus’ Gift (4 trait craftable) – The 4 piece of this set offers us a bunch of Magicka Regeneration, helping us with staying power in combat.
- Seducer (3 trait craftable) – This set also offers an immense amount of Magicka sustain, in form of 8% cost reduction.
- If you want a more offensive approach you can try Julianos (6 trait craftable) as well.
- Generic – This refers to any jewelry you can find. Major quests like Main Story and Guild quests will usually give jewelry, as well as randomly dropping in Tamriel.
Ability Bar Progression
(Click the picture to see what abilities they are and where to find them!)
Keep in mind that these are just a guide line. Experiment with what abilities you like and where you want to place them. Just always make sure to have your 2 desired (or more!) weapon’s slotted and at least 1 ability from their skill line on a bar at ALL TIMES. This is because you can progress any weapon skill line in the game, as long as you have an ability slotted.
Champion Point Progression
In this tree you’ll want to focus on pumping up your Elemental Expert first and netting 30 points in the Apprentice to get 12% Spell Critical. After you hit 120 points spent into the Apprentice you’ll net Arcane Well, and you can start focusing other nodes like Thaumaturge. Check the finalized allocation on the end game CP section.
Here we’ll want to focus a nice split between Hardy and Elemental Defender to help take of loads of damage. Once we get about 11% reduction in each we can start pumping up Ironclad and Thick Skinned. Check the finalized allocation on the end game CP section.
Start pumping points into Arcanist and Tenacity at equal rates. These will both have 100 in them when done. You’re free to spend the last 10 points where ever!
Tips and Miscellaneous
- Race is a very important choice in ESO if you plan on making your character as powerful as possible. Almost all of the content in the game can be done by anything, but if you plan on playing in level capped dungeons or harder versions like Veteran, you’ll want to research what race fits best for you. For this build in particular (Magicka Nightblades), here are the best choices;
- Dunmers offer the highest damage production when looking at stats. 7% Flame, 2% Shock, and 2% Frost damage all play a role in this build, with 9% Max Magicka and 6% Max Stamina to boot. Tack on 3.15% Flame damage reduction and this build makes playing as a Vampire totally viable.
- High Elves offer a lot of great stats as well. 4% Flame, Shock, and Frost damage all are nice, but is a bit weaker compared to the Dunmer version. We will have slightly more Max Magicka from our 10% boost passive, as well as 9% Magicka Recovery, helping us sustain. If you play as a Vampire however, Dunmer wins in every shape and form.
- Argonians boast the best resource management in the game from their potion passive. They also have 9% Max Health and 3% Max Magicka giving them wonderful stats, and 3% Healing Done AND Received. Tack on 2.25% damage mitigation towards Poison and Disease, making the Argonian is the best PvP race around.
- To discover skill lines you’ll need to equip their respective pieces of gear or interact. Interacting with a Anvil will unlock Blacksmithing, while getting a kill with a Two Hander will unlock the Two Handed Skill line. Equipping at least 3 pieces of an armor weight (Light, Medium, or Heavy) will unlock that skill line. Try unlocking all skill lines as soon as possible so you can get an idea of what you want to do with your character.
- Consumables are a very important aspect of ESO, there is ZERO reason to not have a Food or Drink buff, or to drink potions in combat. They’ll help raise your stats and combat effectiveness, so try and find Food, Drinks, and Potions within your level range as you play. You can always craft, or find a friend to craft you some!
- Weaving is an obscure and often misunderstood mechanic in Elder Scrolls Online. Start by looking up guides or talking with players about what this phenomena is, and practice early. Understanding the game’s combat system will ensure you will have fun AND remain efficient while playing. Be wary though, due to the complexity of this mechanic, many players often share misinformation about it. Always try to get as many opinions and sources as possible to ensure you have a more well rounded view.
- Weaving as a Magicka Nightblade is CRUCIAL to be able to perform well due to our Merciless Resolve ability. If you do not take kindly to the animation system in this game, DO NOT play the Magicka Nightblade and expect high DPS.
- Mundus Stones are a unique mechanic to ESO that offer your character a free boon for having active. Simply interact with a Stone to gain a permanent effect. You may interact with a Mundus Stone whenever you want, and replace whatever stone you interacted with before, with a new one.
- As a Magicka Nightblade you’re going to want to use the Thief or Atronach while leveling. Atronach helps our Magicka Recovery while we level up, but Thief becomes more important in end game for damage production.
- Attribute Points are another way to increase your character’s power as you level up. There is no real “best” way to spend these, but usually you’ll want to focus on your character build’s main stat; either Magicka or Stamina. Health points are also important so you don’t die, so if you find yourself dying too quickly in combat, you can bolster that up as well.
- As a Magicka Nightblade you’ll want to spend most of your points into Magicka, and possibly a bit of Health. There should be NO points spent into Stamina, other than very very niche moments.
[Last updated for Morrowind]
This build will bring players interested in the Magicka Nightblade from a solo or group PvE perspective up to par with other classes. The Magicka Nightblade has superior flexibility when it comes to bar and gear allocations, making them a wonderful class for just about anyone. They know can pull stellar damage as well in group settings, helping increase their importance in end game.
Inferno Staff (Sharpened) – Main source of damage
- Blockade of Fire (AoE DoT | morph of Wall of Elements) – A centerpiece of power for any caster build, for good reason. This thing does fantastic damage and gains even more damage when targets are afflicted with the Burning Status. Keep this up at all times, regardless of AoE or Single Target. We need a Destro ability slotted on each bar to gain our 8% damage passive, so that’s why it’s on our single target bar.
- Funnel Health (Spammable | morph of Strife) – The classic Funnel is back in style for the Morrowind Update for two very important reasons. The cost of this skill is cheaper than any other spammable around, making it extremely powerful in longer fights. The other great thing about this skill is that it will apply the HoT to an additional player, which helps keep allies alive through extremely punishing content such as Halls of Fabrication.
- Force Pulse (Single Target Direct Damage | morph of Force Shock) – Force Pulse offers more damage for the user and the raid than Funnel Health, but costs over 700 Magicka more than Strife. If you’re using more Recovery based options then Force Pulse will perform much better for you and your raid from all the support this skill boasts.
- Crippling Grasp (Single Target DoT | morph of Cripple) – A decent single target DoT that also procs our Transfer passive for some extra ultimate, and gives us 8% Magicka for slotting at least one Siphoning ability. This also grants us Major Expedition, allowing us to avoid damaging mechanics and move from point A to B faster.
- If you’re doing solo or 4 man content and really struggling with resource management, take the Debilitate morph instead.
- In AoE situations such as large trash pulls you’ll want to swap this to Siphoning Strikes so you can retain your Resource management and Siphoning passive.
- Merciless Resolve (Self Buff + Single Target Direct Damage | morph of Grim Focus) – Another iconic Nightblade skill, that grants us Minor Berserk for 20 seconds after activating. On top of that, after 5 successful Light or Heavy attacks it transforms into a new ability that may be cast at a target for EXTREMELY high damage. After you fire the Spectral Bow, if you manage to get another 5 Light or Heavy attacks you can fire this bad boy off again, helping your damage potential skyrocket. Most rotations will see 2-3 Bow casts per Merciless activation, when done properly.
- Inner Light (Self Buff | morph of Magelight) – Any good Magicka build will have this slotted; 10% Spell Critical, 7% Max Magicka and 2% Regeneration is just too good to pass up. Plus you can activate it to Empower your next cast.
[Ultimate Choice 1, Ultimate generator/Executor] Soul Harvest (Single Target Direct Damage | morph of Death Stroke) – Ultimate generation, burst, passive bonuses, and debuffs. This ultimate does so much more than people give credit for, and synergizes especially well in solo or small group content. Every kill you get with this on your bar, you gain 10 Ultimate. At a measly 70 Ultimate cost you can deal high damage, increase all damage done by 20% on the target, and apply Major Defile to it as well. Try casting a Shooting Star, drinking a potion right after, and using Soul Harvest immediately when fighting bosses for immense burst.
[Ultimate Choice 2, AoE encounters] Fiery Rage (AoE DoT | morph of Elemental Storm) – The sheer damage and burst potential of this ultimate is baffling. Boasting a massive range and massive damage, this thing wreaks havoc upon anything in its wake. Place this on groups of enemies that don’t clump up or trash pulls and watch your numbers soar. We use this on our Front bar for AoE encounters to ensure our Ancient Knowledge passive retains, and because our AoE bar will have Soul Harvest to get that juicy Ult on kill.
Inferno or Lightning Staff (Sharpened) – Ground DoTs + AoE
- Impale (Single Target Execute | morph of Assassin’s Blade) – Used only once targets reach 25% Health and below, this skill becomes a mach truck in raid environments. This will replace our Funnel Health or Force Pulse spammable after the threshold on boss fights, helping boost our already good DPS.
- Sap Essence (AoE Direct Damage + Heal | morph of Drain Power) – Nightblades have something that most other Magicka classes don’t have, a powerful spammable AoE. Sap Essence does a lot of great things, it deals nice damage, heals you and 5 other allies based on targets hit, grants Major Sorcery, and procs the Transfer passive when used. While it is beaten damage wise by Impulse, it covers a larger area meaning it can effectively deal more damage if there are extra targets to hit.
- Twisting Path (AoE DoT | morph of Path of Darkness) – Twisting Path is one of the weirdest abilities in the game in terms of internal calculations. By all visible and technical means, it is a Damage over Time. However the way the game calculates the damage is instead as Direct Damage, making it extremely powerful for two reasons. Master-at-Arms now buffs Direct Damage attacks from CP, helping increase the power of this skill immensely. It also procs the item set called Scathing Mage, making it have over 70% uptime in almost all encounters, with as high of uptime as 90%! This helps the Nightblade have a unique and truly powerful gear option.
- Siphoning Attacks (Resource Management | morph of Siphoning Strikes) – The skill that negates a lot of issues of resource management. After activating, the next 20 seconds make it so any Light or Heavy attack refunds a small bit of Magicka, and after the duration (either 20s or upon recast) it will grant and explosion of Magicka based on how long it lasted. Try to keep this up 100% to help with the resource struggles of Morrowind.
- Destructive Clench (DoT | morph of Destructive Touch) – While I’d usually vomit at the prospect of running this ability, we are required to run a Destruction staff ability on this bar to enable our 8% AoE damage bonus when paired with a Lightning Staff, making it extremely important to have on. The initial hit upon cast will also explode in an AoE radius, helping AoE damage potential.
- Harness Magicka (Shield | morph of Annulment) – In today’s day and age of end game PvE, a way to stay alive is vital to your ability to contribute. Mechanics are designed to now make everyone have to be able to stay alive on their own for a moment, and Harness practically doubles our effective Health when on. It will also restore Magicka back if absorbing Spell damage based attacks (Magic, Fire, Frost, and Shock damage).
- Inner Light (Self Buff | morph of Magelight) – Any good Magicka build will have this slotted; 10% Spell Critical, 7% Max Magicka and 2% Regeneration is just too good to pass up. Plus you can activate it to Empower your next cast.
[Ultimate Choice 1, Most encounters] Fiery Rage (AoE DoT | morph of Elemental Storm) – Since we don’t have a Destro staff ability on this bar, we’ll lose 8% damage in single target when we go into execute, which is a pretty large loss. Slotting Fiery Rage absolves that issue. If you want a harder rotation you can swap Cripple and Impale’s allocation and ignore this loss completely, freeing up a different ultimate.
[Ultimate Choice 2, Niche application)Shooting Star (AoE Direct Damage + DoT | morph of Meteor) – Boasting insane burst, lingering damage, free stats for slotting, and an AoE knock up, this ultimate is fantastic. It refunds ultimate based on enemies hit, so try hitting large clumps of enemies to stun them and melt ’em down. Use this over Elemental Rage when enemies stack up nice and close or you have a pure single target fight.
- Scathing Mage (Obtainable in Imperial City Prison) – Absolutely trouncing Julianous thanks to Twisting Path and Force Pulse, this set is an absolute beast. Only requiring a 58% up time to be on par with Juli, this is easily up 70-80% of fights on single target.
- Maelstrom Fire Staff (Obtainable in Veteran Maelstrom Arena) – A really nice bonus in damage from the Spell Damage boost and extra damage with Light Attacks to enemies in our Wall of Elements.
- Grothdarr (Obtainable from Vaults of Madness) – This set is straight up ridiculous. Granting some nice Max Magicka as a 1 piece, the 2 piece of this set is INSANE. The up time is fantastic, as it procs off ANY damage. With this you’ll be a living Lava Geyser, causing mobs to get melted right before your eyes. Keep in mind this is melee bound, so you’ll have to be face to face with enemies to capitalize on the power.
- Interchangeable with Valkyn Skoria (Obtainable from City of Ash II) – While much less damage than Grothdarr, this set is is still pretty powerful. The main reason you’ll want to use this is if you can’t be bound to melee range all the time, or you need some extra health.
- Moondancer (Obtainable from Maw of Lorkhaj) – A source of Minor Slayer, granting 5% damage boost in instanced PvE areas. It also boosts our Max Magicka.
- Infallible Aether (Obtainable from any Craglorn Trial) – Another source of Minor Slayer, and gives ~3.2% Spell crit instead of 1k Max Magicka. After the crit nerfs, this is slightly weaker than Moondancer.
- Twice-Born Star (Obtainable from 9 trait crafters, Craglorn) – Enables the use of two Mundus stones. Pair this with the Thief and Shadow for spectacular results in damage. The extra Health and Stamina also make this a fantastic option for raid environments as well, where high damage and mechanics go out on the regular. The nerf to Major Force has brought this set down in DPS performance, but the extra health goes a long way.
- Interchangeable with Julianous (Obtainable from 6 trait crafters, Wrothgar) – A really simple but effective set that offers nice damage. This is stronger than TBS now after the Homestead update, but you’ll have less health.
- Mother’s Sorrow (Obtainable from Deshaan zone events) – Offers a disgusting amount of Critical Strike rating, allowing us to hit almost 90% crit chance which is insane for a caster build. The Jewelry and Helmet/Shoulder pieces are relatively cheap and easy to find as well.
This CP allocation is for the player comfortable with the rigorous Magicka Nightblade rotation in groups, averaging at least 2 Spectral Bow shots per Merciless Cast, and with at least 70% uptime on all DoTs. If you aren’t capable of that yet, try taking points out of Elfborn and pumping them into Staff Expert to help the Heavy Attack damage for your resource management.
The Mage (Blue)
- Elemental Expert – 49
- Elfborn – 56
- Master-at-Arms – 56
- Staff Expert – 29
- Thaumaturge – 20
The Thief (Green)
- Arcanist – 100
- Tenacity – 100
- Free 10 points
The Warrior (Red)
- Elemental Defender – 49
- Hardy – 49
- Iron Clad – 61
- Thick Skinned – 28
- Quick Recovery – 7
- Expert Defender – 11
- Bastion – 5
If you’re doing content with more damage over time, take points out of Expert Defender and Bastion and pump up Thick Skinned. Make sure you put your points into Elemental Defender and Hardy FIRST, committing them before placing any in Ironclad/Thick Skinned (there is currently a bug where if you do not do this, you will get less mitigation than intended).
Consumables, Race, Mundus, and Misc
Armor Weights: Most players will see all 7 Light as a damage advantage due to the importance of resource management. 5 Light 1 Heavy 1 Medium still offers the highest raw stat damage, as well as some nice mitigation. If you want a blend of each try 6 Light 1 Heavy, but make sure you have the Juggernaut and Constitution passive from Heavy Armor!
Food: Bi Health & Magicka food offers great healing capabilities, as well as helping our Health pool be sturdy enough. If you prefer more sustain however, try Witchmother’s Brew (a holiday event recipe). You’ll need to spend some Attribute points in Health to make sure you’re healthy enough though!
Potions: If you’re not using Sap Essence, you’ll need to use Spell Power potions (Corn Flower + Lady’s Smock + Wormwood) to ensure Sorcery is up indefinitely. If you are using Sap (aoe encounters only), then you can use any potions that return Magicka.
Poisons: If you struggle with Resource management more than others, you’ll want to use Drain Magicka poisons (Lady Smock + Bugloss, if you want some healing you can add Columbine as well) to help that. Place this on your back bar to override your Berserker enchant, but do not override your Maelstrom enchant. If you don’t have a Maelstrom staff, feel free to place this on your front bar.
Race: Dunmers offer the highest damage production when looking at stats. 7% Flame, 2% Shock, and 2% Frost damage all play a role in this build, with 9% Max Magicka and 6% Max Stamina to boot. Tack on 3.15% Flame damage reduction and this build makes playing as a Vampire totally viable.
High Elves offer a lot of great stats as well. 4% Flame, Shock, and Frost damage all are nice, but is a bit weaker compared to the Dunmer version. We will have slightly more Max Magicka from our 10% boost passive, as well as 9% Magicka Recovery, helping us sustain. If you play as a Vampire however, Dunmer wins in every shape and form.
Argonians boast the best resource management in the game from their potion passive. They also have 9% Max Health and 3% Max Magicka giving them wonderful stats, and 3% Healing Done AND Received. Tack on 2.25% damage mitigation towards Poison and Disease, making the Argonian is the best PvP race around.
Mundus: The Thief boasts the best damage production for any Magicka build around, no questions about it. It will also help your healing as well, which is another great strong point of the Magicka Nightblade.
Vampire or Werewolf?: Vampire does exceptionally well with this build if you are a Dunmer, due to the extra Fire damage mitigation. The extra 10% Magicka Recovery can help a lot in today’s meta, making it a valid choice. If you’re doing a Trial or Dungeon with a lot of fire damage, you’ll want to make sure to be Stage 1 before entering!