Welcome to our ESO Stamina Dragonknight DPS Build called The Butcher. On this page you will find an updated guide on the class, gear, champion points and everything you need to know for Stamina Dragonknight DPS.
Table of Contents
Brutal Butcher Leveling
[Last updated for Horns of the Reach]
This build gives the Stamina DK the tools it needs to start getting into end game PvE or PvP content, as well as giving it some flavor outside of the classic stamina build in today’s meta. While you’ll still be running the classic Dual Wield + Bow (you can opt to run 2h if you prefer PvP), we have some great and unique abilities exclusive to the Stamina DK to make it feel awesome. Don’t be discouraged in the beginner levels, once you start to get access to the later skills you’ll start seeing how truly powerful the Stamina Dragonknight remains.
Should you play this build?
Stamina Dragonknights have been and currently are a powerhouse for both end game DPS in PvE and juggernauts in PvP. If you’re looking for a hearty character to crush skulls and drink mead with, this build will help get your skills and ideas rolling for a truly powerful butcher.
As a Stamina build we have three major options to chose from for weapon progression. We’ll list the three here, and give you pros and cons of where each of these excel. Remember that this build is primarily preparing you for end game PvE, so there might be some missing suggestions if you plan on PvPing. Experiment and find what skills you like the most.
Dual Wield blends high damage, with plenty of survivability. Many skills will have morph options that either diverge into straight up damage, or offer the player some utility in form of healing or amplifications. Dual Wield boasts the most end game damage, but at the expense of being exposed to a lot of damage due to being melee range. These skills and passives will be the most important to look out for;
- Flurry (DoT spammable | morph to preference) – Since the Dragonknight doesn’t have a true spammable, we’ll want to nab this skill early on to help progress the skill line. If you find yourself alone without a healer a lot, the Bloodthirst morph will help you immensely in terms of staying alive. Rapid Strikes boasts more damage however.
- Whirlwind (Direct Damage AoE | morph to Steel Tornado) – By far the strongest spammable AoE in the game, with the biggest radius at that once we can morph it. The base skill is pretty lack luster at the start but quickly ramps up into a powerhouse. This makes grinding truly a joke by cutting through hordes of enemies at unbelievable speeds.
- Blade Cloak (AoE DoT and Damage mitigation | morph to preference) – A newfound skill for Stamina builds that helps us stay alive through the harshest of content. Reducing AoE damage by a whopping 25%, many dungeons and trials are also tailored to work with this skill, giving Stamina DPS a way to stay alive.
Two Handers fit in ESO’s “meta” from a more PvP aspect, but have slowly been receiving tweaks to help them feel stronger in PvE content as well. Two handers work wonderfully if you prefer a beefier approach at content, staying alive at the expense of raw damage.
- Uppercut (Channeled spammable | morph to preference) – Unfortunately Two Hander’s spammable is a bit clunky, and gives the weapon skill line a bad vibe at level one. If you can manage to get over it though, once we start getting later in levels the skill line will explode in power. You’ll still want to grab this at level 1 to help speed up leveling your Two Handed skill line.
- Cleave (AoE spammable | morph to preference) – While usually laughed at from “end game” players, this skill has received a bit of a buff recently, helping it perform much better in the game. This helps the Two Hander carve through packs of enemies, and has a defensive morph option called Brawler, which I highly suggest.
- Momentum (Heal over time | morph to Rally) – A rather potent heal over time that also grants us Major Brutality while it’s active. The cool thing about it is that you can swap to a completely different weapon, and still retain the benefits. The Rally morph adds a burst heal option, that grows in power based on how long you’ve let it run.
Bows are truly versatile tools in Elder Scrolls Online, giving players ranged damage options, as well as support damage for melee builds. The major flaw of Bows remain to be their lack of defensive power, having the user instead rely on kiting and out ranging their opponents. This weapon skill line fits best as a support option in the meta, used as something referred to as a “back bar” option; due to its high amount of damage over time skills.
- Snipe (Channeled spammable | morph to preference) – Similarly to Two Handed, this spammable is rather clunky. It doesn’t boast immense sustained damage, but offers great burst from a range or in stealth in PvE. If we decide to make the bow our primary bar, this will be our spammable ability, and so start learning how to weave with it as soon as possible.
- Volley (AoE DoT | morph to Endless Hail) – One of the best forms of damage in the game, helping kill both singular enemies and large groups. The power comes from the fact that it does not require the caster to actively have the bow out after casting. Simply cast once and swap to a different weapon, and it will continue to deal high damage.
- Arrow Spray (AoE spammable | morph to preference) – If you want to go full bow build, this will be your best friend for fighting large groups of enemies. It also helps your kiting potential by snaring enemies, so that they cannot reach you.
- Poison Arrow (DoT | morph to Poison Injection) – Another phenomenal damage over time skill that can have its power retain after being casted. Simply hit a target with it, and swap to a new weapon, and the poison will still tick away at your enemy.
- Controlled Fury – This passive helps reduce the cost of our skills, helping our Stamina pool stay hearty enough while we play.
- Twin Blade and Blunt – The purpose of this passive is to give us passive damage amps while dual wielding. I suggest pairing two daggers for immense damage and healing potential.
- Heavy Weapons – The same idea as Twin Blade and Blunt, this will passively augment our power based on what weapon you use. I suggest going with a Sword for maximum damage.
- Balanced Blade – This passive will reduce the cost of your Two Handed skills, helping sustain tremendously.
- Battle Rush – Killing an enemy will grant a burst of Stamina Regeneration, helping your Stamina pool stay hearty in between fights.
- Ranger – The bow’s source of cost reduction, this skill helps reduce the load on our Stamina bar so we can keep in the fight.
- Hawk Eye – A very potent passive that increases all damage dealt by bow attacks (abilities and Light/Heavy attacks) by 5% per stack. Each Light or Heavy Attack adds a stack for 5 seconds, up to 5 times. This is the most important source of damage for bow builds, and helps the support aspect of the bow soar as well.
- Searing Heat – A great passive that helps the duration of our DoTs and our most powerful ultimate last longer.
- Nothing in this tree is vital to leveling, but they all help our survivability in their own ways.
- Battle Roar – This passive will help your sustain quite a bit when dropping an Ultimate, making sure we can stay in the fight!
- Mountain’s Blessing – Whenever you activate an EH skill, you’ll get Minor Brutality and some ultimate, helping our DPS!
- Wind Walker is a stellar source of resource management, helping reduce the cost of all Stamina abilities, and giving us some much needed Stamina Regeneration.
The goal of this setup is to enable some strong healing from Vampire’s Kiss. While the set offers us no regeneration or damage increase, the heal on kill will help us tide over taking on massive packs of enemies while grinding. If you’re playing with a Templar or healer you can drop this for a damage set like Hunding’s Rage. Eternal Hunt serves as our primary form of resource management while leveling as well. Make sure to stop at the Mage’s Guild or check your inventory while grinding to constantly equip up to date jewelry and get it fitted out with Stamina Regeneration + Cost Reduction.
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
Mage (Blue Tree)
Focus on filling up Mighty, then pumping up Thaumaturge. Feel free to spend some points between Precise Attacks and Piercing as well. Check the DPS portions below for a finalized look at CP.
Warrior (Red Tree)
A healthy split between Hardy and Elemental Expert will help reduce damage greatly and improve survivability. Once those hit ~40 each start splitting between Iron Clad and Thick Skinned.
Thief (Green Tree)
Tenacity and Mooncalf are our big focuses here. After those hit ~50 (cap at 76) start putting points into other nodes like Break Free, Sprint, Dodge Roll, etc.
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 (Stamina Dragonknight), here are the best choices;
- Redguard remains the best overall choice for both sustain and damage, no doubts about it.
- Khajiit remains the highest raw damage producing race, but only if you can sustain your Stamina bar enough to cast skills.
- Orcs and Imperials mix a good bit of damage and defensive stats for the solo player or PvPer, while Woodelf remains rather low on the totem pole for PvE.
- 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.
- 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 Stamina Dragonknight you’ll likely want to find the Serpent stone or the Warrior stone.
- 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 Stamina Dragonknight, you’ll want to spend most of your points into Stamina, and possibly a bit of Health. There should be NO points spent into Magicka, other than very very niche moments.
Brutal Butcher End Game
[Updated for Horns of the Reach]
With this build you’ll be topping the single target DPS charts out of all Stamina builds in the game, meaning you’ll be insanely powerful in helping your group melt through bosses and content. Pay close attention to the abilities we’ve chosen, and look at their flex in and out options so you can achieve this!
(Click to see abilities and all passives you’ll need for min/max DPS)
Dual Wield (primary damage bar)
- Steel Tornado (AoE Direct Damage | morph of Whirlwind) – Our main form of AoE damage for trash pulls and boss fights with adds. This thing hits hard, and continues to gain in damage based on missing health. Use this when there are 4 or more targets in a 9 meter radius.
- ALT SLOT ; Rending Slashes (Single Target DoT | morph of Twin Slashes) – A decent DoT ability that can be applied to numerous targets, making it quite nice. It’s usually one of the weaker DoTs in our kit, but it’s still definitely worth keeping up. Run this on boss fights instead of Steel Tornado.
- Venomous Claw (Single Target DoT | morph of Searing Strike) – The Stamina DK’s class DoT, this thing is a beast. It grows in power based on how long it’s been up, so make sure you never reapply this before 10 seconds have passed. It lasts 10.5, but only deals damage in 2 second intervals, meaning as soon as 10s has passed, you should try and reapply it. It can also be applied to numerous targets!
- Flames of Oblivion (Self Buff + DoT | morph of Inferno) – Passively gained from slotting this ability comes Major Savagery, a 10% Weapon critical increase. While this is great at first glance, this is rather redundant since we’ll be using Weapon Critical potions. The active component of this skill deals an extremely heavy hitting shot to a nearby enemy every 5 seconds, for a total of 3 times. Does great single target damage if a Magicka DK is in group running Engulfing Flames. You can treat this as a flex spot if you’d like.
- Rapid Strikes (Single Target Channel | morph of Flurry) – The main spammable of this build, this ability is great in and of itself. Swap to the Bloodthirst morph if you need the extra healing in solo performance or if you’re running with newer players. I highly recommend this for solo play. In group PvE we use Heavy Attacks as a spammable, so don’t run this if you have a dedicated healer.
- Noxious Breath (Conal DoT | morph of Fiery Breath) – A really undervalued skill that does a lot more than meets the eye. One of the few sources of AoE applicable Major Fracture, this shreds the armor of any target hit by 5280, offering a massive damage boost. On top of that, the DoT it provides is quite potent in cleave situations, although it is rather lack luster in Single Target application.
- Deadly Cloak (AoE DoT + Buff | morph of Blade Cloak) – A great source of defense for Stamina builds, lowering incoming AoE damage by 25%, and offering some nice AoE burst damage every 3 seconds.
- Resolving Vigor (AoE HoT | morph of Vigor) – Served more as a utility slot, a form of defensive capability is preferred here. Vigor is my go to slot, as it’s a great self and group heal when you hit allies with it. While you won’t solo heal any trials with it, you can keep yourself up through some brutal punishment. Use this in solo application where you don’t have a healer.
- [Ultimate] Flawless Dawnbreaker (Conal Direct Damage + DoT | morph of Dawnbreaker) – While this is a decent damage ultimate, we will almost never cast it. Our main ultimate is on our other bar and is so powerful that the only time you should ever cast this is when the fight will end before you can get your other ultimate up. We slot this mainly for the 8% Weapon damage passive bonus. Take Dawnbreaker of Smiting for solo play if you need a nice burst ultimate + stun.
Bow (more DoTs!)
- Rearming Trap (Single Target DoT | morph of Trap Beast) – An extremely efficient and powerful ability. Place this at your feet and anything that walks into it will take hefty DoT, as well as empowering you with Minor Force for the duration. After the first application ends, it will rearm, so try and keep mobs inside it.
- Poison Injection (Single Target DoT | morph of Poison Arrow) – A pretty legit DoT that gets even more damage potential around 50% and below. It is operationally worth keeping up 100% of the fight, so I usually start off a fight with a fully charged heavy attack and this for some decent initial damage.
- Endless Hail (AoE DoT | morph of Volley) – One of the most impressive skills in the game when paired with the Maelstrom Bow, this ability easily finds its way in the top 3 damage dealing skills on parses when used properly. Each tick ramps up in power with the Maelstrom Bow enchant, so make sure to keep this up all the time! Cast this when Poison Injection has ~2s left on it’s duration.
- Molten Armaments (Self Buff | morph of Molten Weapons) – A huge reason Stamina Dragonknights do so well in the patch after Morrowind, this thing gives a filthy 40% bonus to fully charged Heavy Attacks, which is what we use instead of a spammable. Keep this up 100% of the time for tremendous damage!
- Razor Caltrops (AoE DoT | morph of Caltrops) – Reworked to last 12 seconds, this skill can now be used by ALL players with no more limitations. This ability does immense single target and AoE dps, but it costs a lot. Luckily for us since we’re Heavy Attack monkeys we get enough Stamina to sustain it with no problems.
- [Ultimate] Standard of Might (AoE DoT | morph of Dragonknight Standard) – Arguably the best ultimate in the game, boasting amazing AoE and single target DPS from the skill itself, 15% damage mitigation while instead, and 15% damage increase for yourself. It also applies Major Defile to anything inside. This thing is pretty nuts.
(see the trait section in Consumables section for gear traits instead of relying on pictures)
- Hunding’s Rage (6 trait craftable) this is a basic craftable set that is easy to access and all of the set bonuses applies to our healing. Night Mothers Gaze is more damage and Twice Born Star will give you more stats, but this is a reliable main five piece if you’re looking for a direction.
- Twice Born Star (9 trait craftable)– A still relevant super powerful crafted set that preforms well and almost any arena. You’ll want to use the Warrior and Thief or Lover Mundus stone for best results.
- Night Mothers Gaze (6 trait craftable)– Using two body pieces and weapons gives a comparable amount of benefit as some two piece helms. This is what I used to farm Veteran Maelstrom Arena until I could get the newest gear.
- Spriggans (Obtained from Bangkori Overland) – The most damage producing Overland set for stamina builds and very easy to get.
- Agility (obtainable from Imperial City or daily LFG event) – A reliable 3 piece set that gives really nice bonuses. While you won’t have insane stamina management compared to Vicious Ophidian, it’ll help you dip your feet in the deep end of vMA.
- Leki’s (obtained from PvP reward bags)
Option 1 – (Optimal Solo DPS)
- 5 Twin Fanged Snake – Obtainable from Sanctum Ophidia normal or Veteran, this set enables insane Physical Penetration and DPS in return. This is mainly because there aren’t too many Stamina builds around in raids these days bringing utility like Nightmother’s and Sunder, so we take the selfish set. This thing is MONSTEROUS in terms of damage performance, so it’s definitely worth nabbing.
- 5 Vicious Ophidian – Obtainable from any of the Craglorn Trials (Aetherian Archive, Hel-Ra Citadel, and Sanctum Ophidia) on their Normal or Veteran versions. This set is one of the big contributors to Stamina DPS being a thing. The same 2-4 bonuses of Nightmother’s Gaze with the added benefit of Minor Slayer, AND unparraleled resource management.
- You’re free to use Hunding’s Rage as well here, since we don’t really need the Stamina return or cost reduction.
- Maelstrom Bow – Obtain in Veteran Maelstrom Arena, this makes Endless Hail into a godly skill. Increasing the damage every half second, stacking ontop of itself up to 20 times, this offers great single target and AoE damage alike.
- 2 Piece monster set- I suggest Velidreth (Cradle of Shadows) for AoE fights and Kra’ghs (Fungal Grotto I) for single target sustained fights. Spawn of Mephala (Fungal Grotto II) is also an AMAZING option if targets aren’t running around too much.
Option 2 – (Unique/group buffer)
- 2 Spawn of Mephala – Obtainable from Fungal Grotto II, this Undaunted Set makes it so any time you deal damage with a fully charged heavy attack, you spawn an AoE of webs that deal Poison damage to anything sitting inside. This is a great single target and AoE set, and offers us some extra Stamina as well.
- 5 Sunderflame – Obtainable from City of Ash I or II, this set was recently scaled up to c160 with One Tamriel. Each time you deal damage with a fully charged heavy attack, you deal extra fire damage to the target AND reduce their armor by an earth shattering 3440. This benefits everyone attacking that target, and is vital in coordinated groups to rip targets’ armor to 0.
- 5 Nightmother’s Gaze – Again, 6 piece craftable set. Reduces armor by 2580 whenever you crit, helping you and your group do more deeps!
- Maelstrom Bow – Obtained in Veteran Maelstrom Arena, this makes Arrow Barrage into a godly skill. Increasing the damage every half second, stacking ontop of itself up to 16-20 times, this offers great single target and AoE damage alike.
The Mage (Blue Tree)
- Mighty – 49
- Precise Strikes – 44
- Piercing – 51 (go to 0 if lots of debuffs, spread throughout all nodes)
- Thaumaturge – 56
- Master at Arms – 20
The Thief (Green Tree)
- Tenacity– 76
- Mooncalf– 76
- Rest free points
The Warrior (Red Tree)
- Elemental Defender – 49
- Hardy – 49
- Iron Clad – 61
- Thick Skinned – 61
- Free points if you want less in Thick Skinned.
Consumables, Race, and Mundus
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.
Race: Redguard remains the best overall choice for both sustain and damage, no doubts about it. Khajiit remains the highest raw damage producing race, but only if you can sustain your Stamina bar enough to cast skills. Orcs and Imperials mix a good bit of damage and defensive stats for the solo player or PvPer, while Woodelf remains rather low on the totem pole for PvE. Any race can be done with this build, but if you’re looking to maximize your effectiveness then you’ll want to pick out of the listed races.
Mundus: The best Mundus for PvE damage is by far the Warrior Stone for most Stamina builds. If you find yourself playing solo a lot however, or don’t play with top notch groups, Lover is a fantastic option as well.
Traits on your Weapons: Horns of the Reach has reworked traits a lot. Your Main Hand on your Dual Wield bar should ALWAYS be an Infused Weapon with a Poison enchant. If you find yourself lacking a lot of penetration (which you should be okay with since you have Major Fracture!) use Sharpened on your Off Hand. Otherwise you can use Nirnhoned or Precise on your Off Hand if there’s enough penetration! Sharp > Nirn > Precise > Infused for Off Hand. Back bar bow trait does’t matter!
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.
The Stamina Dragonknight is definitely one of the easiest rotations in the game, despite it being the best DPS overall. Here’s a brief look at how to afk heavy attack to victory!
- Apply Buffs. These include; Molten Armaments (20s duration), Flames of Oblivion* (15s duration), Deadly Cloak* (15s duration).
- Begin placing DoTs. Always start by placing Trap Beast (12s duration) on your enemy, to ensure Minor Force is up. Immediately press Endless Hail (10s duration) as you place Trap Beast , and then Light Attack weave a Poison Injection (10s duration). Light Attack weave again with a Razor Caltrops* (12s duration) and bar swap immediately. Heavy Attack weave in between applying Rending Slashes, Noxious Breath, and Venomous Claw. DoT order on front bar is Claw > Rending > Deadly Cloak > Noxious.
- The only Light attacks we’ll be doing in this build are on our bow bar, otherwise ALWAYS Fully Charged Heavy Attack.
- 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, or Heavy Attack even more.
* 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.