Forums » Elder Scrolls

Ranking the Races

    • 8 posts
    July 20, 2014 11:13 PM EDT

    Here, I will be ranking the races, 10-1. This will be from a purely mechanical standpoint, and if you disagree, please explain why in the comments. Also, never let anything anyone tells you about the mechanics of the race to stop you from playing them, by all means play magicless Altmer, without further a due, here is the list: 

    #10 Khajiit

    This hurts me the put the cat people at last place on the list, it really does. Flavor wise, their awesome, but mechanics wise, they have nothing, nothing. I don't consider skill bonuses important in the least, the females are short, the bonus unarmed damage is only useful until about level 5, and night eye is awful. This is the only race with no mechanical reason to play. That said, play one, seeing as cat people are awesome.

    #9 Bosmer

    At this point, we are entering the mediocre races, with Bosmer being the worst of them. The resistances are alright, but not to important, seeing as trouble with poison is rare (at least in my playthroughs) and disease is stupidly easy to get rid of. Command animal is nice, but the only real time it's truly relevant is in the early game when bears are terrifying and against mammoths early-midgame. Also, the males are short. 

    #8 Redguard 

    Again, one of my favorite races, but sadly, not very good either. It was a toss up between them and the wood elves, but the Redguard's greater power is slightly better. See above for my opinion on poison resistance. Adrenaline rush, it's cool, but the "cooldown period" of the stamina bar once it runs out means that it doesn't mean infinite power attacks and sprinting without effort. BUT, if you space your power attacks properly, and "stop and go" when sprinting, will be effectively infinite, just not as awesome as before.

    #7 Argonian 

    Well not one of my favorites, their cool. Resist disease is meh, higher unarmed damage is nice, but it didn't save the khajiit. Waterbreathing however, waterbreathing is nice. Yes, it can be replicated by spells and potions, but when you have 10 hp, I doubt you have time to cast it before you make your speedy escape into the water, and you don't always have potions unless your an alchemist. Waterbreathing, is in a lot of ways, one of the best escape tools in the game, as long as there are no slaughterfish, your invincible in the water. Histskin is a cool greater power, and can get you out of a lot of dangerous situations, I rank these guys very highly on the "hard to pin down and kill" list, the only thing that puts them this low is that other races are either slightly better at it, kill other's while being tough to pin down, or don't even need to run away and hit panic buttons to begin with. 

    #6 Orismer 

    This one was close, but the orcs lack of a passive power of any kind lost them the higher place. They are tall however, the second tallest race in the game. And they have one of the better greater powers in the game. Entering "hulk smash" mode is great, and I have not yet died while in it. Not much else to say. 

    #5 Imperial 

    I's surprising even myself putting Imperial's this high on the list. I put voice of the emperor on par with berserker rage, outright winning you fights through shenanigans of "voice, wait, smack, repeat" but it only works on select opponents. They are shorter than orcs, but Imperial luck I find slightly better. If you, like me, search every nook and cranny for stuff, it can add up quite nicely, that said, orcs are better once you're done finding the equipment you want, but that's only nearing the end of the game, and even then the advantage is slight.

    #4 Dunmer 

    Here we get into the races that are really good. Dark elves, cool. I like them. Ancestors wrath is sooo mediocre, but hey, its a little buff, and a little extra damage, can't hurt. And lighting opponents on fire is nice. The real thing that place the Drow (I can call them Drow right?) this high is the FIRE RESISTANCE. 50% is huge, nice protection from lots of dragons, and whoever is dumb enough to sling flames at you. It can also help offset one of the disadvantages of being a vampire. Between this and the Nord's resist frost, I consider this one more useful. Also, starting with sparks might help take pressure of the purse early game.

    #3 Nord

    Yup, these hardy citizens of Skyrim are this high up. Why? Because they are (arguably) the only race with a good passive and good greater. Frost resistance is sweet, it's Skyrim, I'ts cold, and lots of things like to chuck icicles at you, dragons, necromancers, the list goes on. And then there's battle cry.Doesn't really make sense mechanically because it's almost always used as a panic button instead of an attack, but I am not complaining, battle cry is great, it's life saving. It is better than voice of the empire if you don't want to abuse the system. Also, Nords are tall, so good stuff there. And Being a viking is awesome to. 

    #2 Altmer 

    Behold! The race that I love to hate and hate to love! I like high elves, I don't like the individuals. Fluff aside, these guys are fantastic for any build that wants to use magic. You often see builds that are kind of like: stats 1/3/2 until you reach 200 magicka, than 0/3/3. Well, for anything like that, you just got five free points. Which is super awesome, effectively 50 extra hp is nothing to turn your nose up at. The other highborn ability, is alright, can be nice for when you really need more mana, but it suffers from adrenaline rush syndrome (which is a thing now). Plus, they are the tallest and fastest race, which is a huge plus.

    #1 Breton 

    Was there ever any doubt? I'm on the fence with Bretons, fluff wise, there cool I guess, wouldn't mind making a samurai Breton. I digress. "Why do you think they are the best race, Teapot?" Glad you asked, two words, magic, resistance. 25% magic resist is pretty much 25% resist on 60% of damage you will take. And dragonskin is nice, but not gamebreaking. For everybody, this is nice, but for defensive builds such as Mason's The Bronze Sentinel it is almost mandatory. The gals are short, but are you really, are you really going to not play them because the females are slightly slower than everyone else? 

    This has been Teapot Salty, and this is my opinion on what the best races are. 

    • 856 posts
    July 20, 2014 11:25 PM EDT

    Interesting, but since the Magic Resistance cap can be reached without the need to play a Breton (although that +25 makes it a lot easier), I'm surprised you have it ranked number 1.

    The Orsimer should be ranked higher. Their power can not be duplicated in the game except by lowering difficulty - it is the melee equivalent of lowering the difficulty two ranks. Yes, once per day only, so save it for the boss room and all is good.

    I understand Altmer, as you mentioned, 5 free levels of magicka is sweet. They are also the tallest, fastest runner, and their whirlwind sprint goes a tad faster too. I'm not sure if height is a modifier to damage received or dealt (but it has been with other BGS titles), but if so there's another reason.

    Nords are placed well too. Lots of things in Skyrim with cold attacks. Battlecry can be used a bit offensively too. Just today I used it on a group of tough bandits to split them up - and also make them run back through the oil I had just ignited. Once they were split up, I cornered and killed the toughest, and was able to kill another before they had a chance to regroup.

    I agree with Khajiit, although it is my favorite race to play, perhaps it is not. (No, it really is.)

    • 622 posts
    July 20, 2014 11:26 PM EDT
    ... Expect a fully detailed response on why Argonians are better then Bretons when I get home
  • July 20, 2014 11:30 PM EDT
    I was under the impression that the thing about taller races being better was a myth.
    • 8 posts
    July 20, 2014 11:34 PM EDT

    I look forward to it! 

    • 856 posts
    July 20, 2014 11:41 PM EDT

    I've tested the whirlwind sprint myself. I used existing races and then made a much taller and much smaller character, just to check it further.

    I'm fairly certain about the run speed - it seemed to be true to me, but I never tested it. However, both Mason and Ponty (back in the 'sprinting' challenges) verified it - I considered either of them reliable sources, and if they both agree, it is almost a certainty.

    I don't think height affects damage, but it has in previous BGS titles. I haven't seen anything conclusive, but as I mentioned, I inclined that it does not change damage in Skyrim.

  • July 20, 2014 11:46 PM EDT
    Hey, my guys made the top ten, so I'm happy. :P
    • 8 posts
    July 21, 2014 12:12 AM EDT


    • 8 posts
    July 21, 2014 12:13 AM EDT

    The magic resist cap, that is using the advanced atronoch right? Regardless, if your build isn't based around hitting the cap, breton is usually the best. 

    • 1441 posts
    July 21, 2014 2:35 AM EDT
    Yes! Bretons are number 1! High Rock! High. Rock! Cheers for the descendants of Manmer! Whoo!
  • July 21, 2014 4:38 AM EDT

    It's also useful as a defensive measure, given that it halves physical damage taken in addition to the boost to offense. The only type of character it's not as useful for is a 100% magic-user, because it doesn't boost magic damage...but it's still great to protect your fragile wizard body.

    The point about different races being good at different things is salient. Example: Altmer are ridiculously powerful Mages and Mage-hybrids, but if you don't use magic at all their abilities are worthless.

    • 622 posts
    July 21, 2014 4:46 AM EDT

    You completly dumbed down the Argonians, mate! Hands down, Argonians are the best race for Skyrim and let me explain why in a few paragraphs. I'll try not to be biased, but no promises 

    While not as much as the Khajiit (who you completely mutilated, fyi), Argonians do more unarmed damage then any other race and this makes the race the prime choice for a monk or unarmed fighter. Even better then the Khajiit. Why? One word: Histskin. Hit that 'Oh shit' button for a full 60 second of free health regeneration! With certain enchantments, you can dumb this time down to 4 seconds. FOUR SECONDS. 

    Let's look at their skills: +10 Lockpicking, +5 Alteration, Light Armor, Pickpocket, Restoration, Sneak. Have you ever seen a more mixed set of skills in a race? Argonians are perfect for pretty much EVERY playstyle. Mage? No sweat, you got Retoration and Alteration! Thief? 10+ to Lockpicking and +5 to Sneak, Light Armor and Pickpocket! Warrior? Light Armor, yeah!

    Also, LIZARD MEN. Whoops, there's the bias... 

  • July 21, 2014 4:55 AM EDT

    Right, I mean a pure Warrior- no magic skills whatsoever. And even the best rogues screw up some times; I wasn't implying Berserk was the best rogue skill, just that it was still useful.

    • 1467 posts
    July 21, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
    Alright let's start from the top.
    Khajiit (9) I have I agree with you here, as cool as they are in theory (night eye seems great but sadly Skyrim isn't exactly a realm of darkness.) they are fairly lame in practice.

    Bosmer. (10) Actually scratch what I just said these guys are worse then the cat-people (non-lore wise) all of their powers and passives are next to useless and the fact that they're short lowers them further in my eyes.

    Redguard: (8)nothing to say, you covered it all.

    Argonian: (3) I won't get into the debate about these guys (i refuse to accept ay belief that says they're not the best.) But honestly Histskin is simply a great ability. It's like taking a bunch of potions or using all you magic on healing and then some you could argue that everyone can get health regen but not like an argonian can. I personally would rate this 4th maybe 3rd for pure versatility (who doesn't use health)

    Orsimer:(4) Beserker Rage is easily (IMO) the best ability in the game (Dragonskin close 2nd) because there is no way to replicate it. Not to mention how useful taking half physical damage is great but figuring compared to Dark Elves and Bretons who have great passives while these have none I would rank them 4th.

    Imperial:(7) Again nothing to say agree with you %100 maybe push it down simply because I feel others are more useful

    Dunmer: (6) I feel that the passive is great but Ancestor's Wrath really pulls it down. I mean seriously a rather low cost spell once a day for free sign me up, not.

    Nord: (5) Battlecry is good but not the best and while the %50 frost is good Dunmer beat it with the fire resist. Would rate it lower but 2 pretty good abilities are better then 1 good 1 bad.

    Altmer:(1) Actually I have to give this one first place. +50 magicka and the regen is great and the ability to start with Fury is pretty damn good. Considering what i said with the Argonian you can tell i like the Regen effects a lot so that gives him a boost over the Breton.

    Breton (2): Bretons are excellent defensive mages and warriors but lack the Altmer's diversity and pure magicka levels, this slightly lowers it IMO even if they can defend extremely well against Mages.
    • 12 posts
    July 21, 2014 8:20 AM EDT
    Altmer are definitely my favourite race
    • 1483 posts
    July 21, 2014 9:52 AM EDT

    Most of the races are quite equal when it comes to gameplay. I'll try to list them from 10 to 1 but only the first three are the ones that stand out

    10. Argonians. Waterbreathing is situational and disease resistance kinda loses its meaning when you can just chew some Hawk Feathers to cure yourself. Histskin power is great but without something to augment it, it grows quite weak on higher levels and difficulties when it just can't heal the player in time. Skill bonuses support almost any playstyle but without any combat and crafting skills that boost is almost not noticeable.

    9. Nords. Battle Cry power - considered an attack by civilians so you can't use it around any non-hostile people, is essentially a Fear effect which I dislike because enemies get scattered and it becomes harder to track them. Skill bonuses are geared only towards warrior playstyle along with useless speech addition. Good thing about Nords is height but considering that the vast majority of the enemies you face are Nords that bonus is rendered obsolete. Frost resistance is helpful against Necromancers though.

    8. Imperials. Imperial Luck bonus is bugged, Voice of the Emperor is a good "oh, shit" button but it doesn't remove the problem, just gives you some breathing space and after 60 seconds its done, you can't use it again. Skill bonuses include nice boosts to some slow-leveling skills like Restoration, Heavy Armor and Destruction and can support both mage and warrior playstyles.

    7. Khajiit. Claws can be useful even on later levels as shown by a few builds here. Night Eye is useless in vanilla game, however I have lighting mods and it has its uses. Skill bonuses have a large emphasis on thief playstyle but can also support warriors. The problem I have with Khajiit is that annoying clipping of the tail with almost any armor in the game. Seriously, try wearing Nightingale Armor on a Khajiit!

    6. Dunmer. Ancestor Cloak is plain useless and looks worse than regular Flame Cloak. Bonus spell is found in Helgen. Skill boosts are a nice blend between mage and thief playstyles though and with Alchemy as a crafting skill.

    5. Bretons. Resist Magic is nice. Dragonskin is not worth it IMO. Magical attacks on Master are quite devastating and even 50% of them can be deadly. Dragonskin works best when combined with Atronach Stone but it's not the point here. Skill boosts are those of great mages, except there is that useless Speech bonus. They also don't have Destruction bonus. Starting Familiar spell is rendered obsolete on higher levels and their females are short.

    4. Redguards. Resist Poison ability is great and skill boosts support both mage and warrior playstyles 

    3. Orcs. The only race without active effect boost they more than make up for it with their huge height, amazing racial power, bonuses to two crafting skills and huge Heavy Armor boost. Orcs make great two-handed combatants and their skills reflect that.

    2. Bosmer. Command Animal and poison resistance are amazing when it comes to Falmer caves. Skill bonuses are geared towards thievery but they can be played as fast, non-stealthy archers with support from Alchemy for poisons and potions. 

    1. Altmer. Tallest, fastest, +50 magicka, Highborn power, skill boosts to all magic skills they make amazing mages. But despite having no bonuses in combat skills, two-handed Altmeri warriors are just awesome, hitting enemies while staying out of reach. Starting Fury spell can be effective even on level 50 with right perks

    • 8 posts
    July 21, 2014 3:22 PM EDT

    Did I mention that skill bonuses are useless? Skill bonuses are useless. 

    • 622 posts
    July 21, 2014 4:09 PM EDT
    Then this list is obselete if you believe that. Might as well throw Altmer at the bottom then.c
    • 1441 posts
    July 21, 2014 4:11 PM EDT
    Height affects weapon swing speed
    • 1483 posts
    July 21, 2014 4:17 PM EDT

    I don't think height affects weapon speed. It does affect weapon reach though. You can hit people from farther away with a greatsword when playing an Altmer rather than a Bosmer

    • 1483 posts
    July 21, 2014 4:25 PM EDT

    Backwards power attacks as an Altmer. Try it 

    • 8 posts
    July 21, 2014 5:00 PM EDT

    I'm... gonna have to disagree with you there. Skill bonuses are useless because anybody can match your +10 from grinding, whereas it's much harder to get that 50 extra magika, or constant waterbreathing, or battle cry, or magic resistance. You can get most of them by focusing your build to do that, but in doing so, you sacrifice other benefits, whereas skill bonuses, you don't sacrifice anything to make you breton just as good at two handing as a nord. 

    • 622 posts
    July 21, 2014 5:16 PM EDT

    You're not talking about skill bonuses though, you referring to racial abilities. Yes, you can easily get 50+ magicka with a non-Altmer race by Level 10, but it's still a huge leap in that early game.

    • 47 posts
    July 21, 2014 6:39 PM EDT

    Just my opinion..

    #10 Khajiit - Unless I'm  playing unarmed, these are useless to me.

    #9 Bosmer - Resist poison/disease can both be made obsolete by becoming a werewolf.

    #8 Imperial - I enjoy playing them, but they don't really have any bonuses.

    #7 Dunmer- One of my favorite races, but their bonuses are lacking. Fire resist is nice, but that's all imo.

    #6 Redguard - Very mediocre, however adrenaline rush can be useful.

    #5 Argonian- Histskin is worthwhile, and it's nice to not waste an enchantment on waterbreathing

    #4 Nord- Maybe I have a thing for the human races, but the frost resist, and battle cry can save you

    #3 Orc- Two words, berserkers rage.

    #2 Altmer - The magicka bonus, and highborn are both very useful for a mage, and the height bonus helps as an Altmer warrior.

    #1 Breton - Magic resist and dragonskin are useful. The magic resist is the best bonus in the game.

    • 8 posts
    July 22, 2014 2:24 AM EDT

    You raise a lot of good points. And I want to believe your list over mine (the races I like are higher up, barring Khajiit), but, I don't know....