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WiP: ESO Theorycrafting - Introduction to Skills and Traits

  • Member
    February 7

    In our last ESO introduction, we introduced the concept of Buffs by digging into the Bull Netch skill and had a brief overview on using Item Sets in order to help build the character we want to play. Continuing with the Warden damage-dealer role, this time we'll be taking a look at another ubiquitous skill a Warden damage-dealer might find helpful, Bird of Prey, and explore Item Sets a bit more by analysing traits.

    We'll continue using ESO SkillBook, ESO Sets and UESP.

    By entering the command !skill bird of prey into the Dwemer Automaton bot, the following data is returned:

    Breaking it down, we can see Bird of Prey gives us a Major Buff when we activate the ability and a Minor Buff that is always active as long as it is slotted.

    Major Expedition - Increases movement speed by 30% for 6 seconds.

    Minor Berserk - Increases damage done by 8% while slotted.

    Bird of Prey is slightly different than Bull Netch in that the most desirable buff is passive. While Major Expedition is nice, what we really want is that 8% boost to damage while the skill is slotted. This means that we can put this on our bar and never even activate the ability yet still get an increase to our damage done as long as we keep it slotted.

    Furthermore, this skill like Bull Netch before it benefits from the Animal Companions passive skill, Advanced Species:

    Just by having Bird of Prey slotted, even if we never use it, our damage while using the weapon bar upon which the skill is slotted will be increased by 8% from Minor Brutality and a further 2% from the Advanced Species passive skill. Add Bull Netch to that bar and our damage done increase goes up to 12% just by having those two skills slotted. Of course, if we activate Bull Netch, we'll also be getting the 20% boost to Weapon Damage from the Major Brutality buff.

    If we choose not to slot Bird of Prey but still want that Minor Berserk buff, we need to bear in mind there are not that many ways of getting it.

    If we wanted an active ability on our bar but still wanted Minor Berserk, we might think about going after Slimecraw:

    It's a Monster Set, so again we need to bear in mind it's only obtainable from the group dungeon, Vet Wayrest Sewers I. If that is a bit out of our reach or we don't want to play any group content yet, we could use Camouflaged Hunter from the Fighter's Guild skill line - another skill which would sit passively on our bar outside of PVP content:

    Not a bad skill at all! Although the Minor Berserk buff is situational in that it relies upon certain criteria being met, we also get a new buff called Major Savagery if we choose to slot this skill. Major Savagery will really help our damage output. As theorycrafters and character builders, we need to make an informed decision. Is slotting this skill a good tradeoff for losing Bird of Prey? What if we slotted both Camo Hunter and Bird of Prey? Do we have a source of Major Savagery in our Warden toolkit we could use instead? We'll tackle that in our next article, but for now it's a reminder that knowing our buffs and where else we can get them really opens the door to character building in ESO.

    All that said, we can't overlook the Major Expedition buff from Bird of Prey depending on the content we plan on doing. We might not activate the ability as much during combat in PVE, but in a Battleground sometimes a tactical withdrawal is a useful option, so having a source of Major Expedition slotted can be very handy. Players who like to build a character around movement speed can have fun overland and in PVP, and will need a source of Major Expedition to hit the 200% movement speed cap.

    Traits

    As we have seen, a major buff can be stacked with a minor buff to increase aspects of our character, and we can wear multiple sets which provide bonuses to our character's abilities. In addition to these things, every piece of armour we wear, jewellery we wear, and weapon we use can be forged or found with a trait. Traits are special properties that can enhance an aspect of our character. The UESP page on Traits shows us what is available and the properties of those traits:

    That's a staggering amount of possibilities for any build and character. For our damage-dealing Warden, having the Divines trait on our armour pieces, Infused and Bloodthirsty on our jewellery pieces, and Infused/Sharpened on our weapon pieces will help increase our damage. However, that would only apply if building for maximum damage output which, when running solo content, can come at the expense of survivability. By knowing our traits and what we want to do with our character, we can build him or her to be what we envision. 

    To summarise, there are some skills like Bird of Prey whose usefulness can be missed at first glance. An ability on our bar needn't always be one we activate a lot to still get a huge benefit from having. By digging a bit deeper into the skill, we can make informed decisions about the pros and cons of slotting an ability. Traits also go a long way to help shape our character so that we create something to truly suit our playstyle.

  • February 7

    Oooh interesting, see this is probably the prime example of a skill I (as an uneducated player) would instantly scroll over just looking at that basic passive. Like, 30% movement speed is nothing really, at least not when I could be replacing it with a damaging move or heal or something useful, so the morphs wouldn't be something I look at to start with and probably wouldn't be something I consider until really late in to my playthrough. But 10% bonus for doing nothing, plus that Bull Netch synergy (which I probably shouldn'y say becuase of actual Synergies) makes it really interesting to get a blanket boost to damage for relatively little. 

    Cool stuff Phil :D

  • Member
    February 7

    Dude, I was exactly the same. I tried it, wasn't that impressed by the movement speed only lasting a few seconds, so took it off my bar. It wasn't until much later that I noticed how it appeared across loads of builds out there that I started to dig into why it was ubiquitous. Hopefully too, we can see a pattern forming here: Thanks to the Advanced Species passive, the more Animal Companion skills we load onto our bar, the more our damage increases. This gives the Warden a very strong class identity because, most of the time, my main front bar is loaded with animal skills including the Ultimate Bear skill.

    Edit: i do need to check something as I'm pretty sure this skill used to help stamina recovery too. Need to log in and test if it's a hidden bonus or something which got nerfed.

  • Member
    February 7

    I wanted to share a quick video of the Warden I use while working on this project. She's pretty much a traditional ranger-type, currently set up for solo content such as VMA.I've chosen to use a simple Crown Fortified Meal as my food buff so as to show no fancy provisioning skill is required and am using basic Crown Tir-Resto potions which I have accumulated for free from daily rewards as a sort of panic button.

    As you can see, my rotation is sloppy and my damage is not particularly high, and there's a lot of room for improvement. To be fair, I haven't done anything more than casual content since the nerfs of Dragonhold landed, but hopefully, the video shows the versatility of a Warden in the hands of a not-very-skilled player.

  • Member
    February 7

    Updated with the following, which I hope rounds out this article while still keeping the pace set in the first one:

    ...

    If we chose not to slot Bird of Prey but still want that Minor Berserk buff, we need to bear in mind there are not that many ways of getting it. We could use Camouflaged Hunter from the Fighter's Guild skill line - another skill which would sit passively on our bar outside of PVP content:

    Not a bad skill at all! Although the Minor Berserk buff is situational in that it relies upon certain criteria being met, we also get a new buff called Major Savagery if we choose to slot this skill. Major Savagery will really help our damage output. As theorycrafters and character builders, we need to make an informed decision. Is slotting this skill a good tradeoff for losing Bird of Prey? What if we slotted both Camo Hunter and Bird of Prey? Do we have a source of Major Savagery in our Warden toolkit we could use instead? We'll tackle that in our next article, but for now, it's a reminder that knowing our buffs and where else we can get them really opens the door to character building in ESO.

    All that said, we can't overlook the Major Expedition buff from Bird of Prey depending on the content we plan on doing. We might not activate the ability as much during combat in PVE, but in a Battleground sometimes a tactical withdrawal is a useful option, so having a source of Major Expedition slotted can be very handy. Players who like to build a character around movement speed can have fun overland and in PVP, and will need a source of Major Expedition to hit the 200% movement speed cap.

    Traits

    As we have seen, a major buff can be stacked with a minor buff to increase aspects of our character, and we can wear multiple sets which provide bonuses to our character's abilities. In addition to these things, every piece of armour we wear, the jewellery we wear, and weapon we use can be forged or found with a trait. Traits are special properties that can enhance an aspect of our character. The

    shows us what is available and the properties of those traits:

    That's a staggering amount of possibilities for any build and character. For our damage-dealing Warden, having the Divines trait on our armour pieces, Infused and Bloodthirsty on our jewellery pieces, and Infused/Sharpened on our weapon pieces will help increase our damage. However, that would only apply if building for maximum damage output which, when running solo content, can come at the expense of survivability. By knowing our traits and what we want to do with our character, we can build him or her to be what we envision. 

    To summarise, there are some skills like Bird of Prey whose usefulness can be missed at first glance. An ability on our bar needn't always be one we activate a lot to still get a huge benefit from having. By digging a bit deeper into the skill, we can make informed decisions about the pros and coins of slotting an ability. Traits also go a long way to help shape our character so that we create something to truly suit our playstyle.

  • February 7

    Just thought I'd mention that the Traits page and Slimecraw are both nearly unreadable for me (at least the smaller details). Well Slimecraw is unreadable, Traits just give me a wee bit of a headache. Not sure if it's a moniter size issue or something but worth mentioning :)

    I'll also say in a more positive/meaningful light that this is really interesting now, kind of jumping in and picking apart the various ways the Warden can achieve Minor Berserk and the pros and cons of each option is pretty cool, it also seems like the sort of thing that you can easily jump back to later on if you talk about a few key sets and how they can be better/worse than Slimecraw (and so on and so forth). Definitely sort of expanding in my head a little bit (and kind of making me want to run a Warden again :P). 

  • Member
    February 8
    Thanks Deebs , I'll see what I can do about sorting the image resolutions out in a few days. There's probably a better way than what I'm doing to make it easier on the eye. It's nice to know this series is not overwhelming with info dumps, and just by leaving something there to revisit later on we can become more familiar with a concept without becoming too confused. Tbh, I think Slimecraw is a nice set to get early on if you're a damage dealer without a source of minor berserk or want your build to focus on other things beside damage yet still have a solid punch behind it. Wayrest I is one of the earlier dungeons and so isn't terribly challenging, so this set is a nice early goal while deciding on another set. This is where ESO Sets really shine because we can see what builds the content creators have released that use this set and compare the different builds, really dig into why this or that build use it.
  • February 9
    Thanks Deebs , I'll see what I can do about sorting the image resolutions out in a few days. There's probably a better way than what I'm doing to make it easier on the eye.
    It's nice to know this series is not overwhelming with info dumps, and just by leaving something there to revisit later on we can become more familiar with a concept without becoming too confused. Tbh, I think Slimecraw is a nice set to get early on if you're a damage dealer without a source of minor berserk or want your build to focus on other things beside damage yet still have a solid punch behind it.
    Wayrest I is one of the earlier dungeons and so isn't terribly challenging, so this set is a nice early goal while deciding on another set. This is where ESO Sets really shine because we can see what builds the content creators have released that use this set and compare the different builds, really dig into why this or that build use it.

    I'll admit sets aren't something I've ever managed to dabble in, other then that one time you sent me a set for movement speed and I was playing around as a super fast Nightblade, but yeah I've never gotten far enough to where I feel the need to worry about them. Suppose that's probably not the best thing since it's not like it's super hard to even make some decent crafted sets (even without doing anything like using guild crafting areas and all that). So yeah it's just something that makes logical sense to me, but I don't comprehend because I've never explored it. 

  • Member
    February 10
    It surprises me you're not more into item sets, Deebs. I mean, when building a character and establishing what makes a character different from another, sets can play a huge role. A character's race, Mundus Stone, Class and skills play a huge role in making up a complete character, but the remainder is driven by sets. Let's say you have rolled a Redguard stamina Templar and really into that sort of Yokudan ethos of sword singing and that sort of stuff, you might really like to get the Sword Singer set: https://eso-sets.com/set/sword-singer Chasing that set and having it as one of your sets could be a a good compliment to your character in terms of mechanics and theme. Plus, it's a good motivation to do some content in the Alik'r and immerse yourself into it all. Likewise, maybe you're rolling a Dunmer stamsorc and want a fun, thematic set. Perhaps Defiler? https://eso-sets.com/set/defiler imagine a Daedra-worshipping Ashlander geared up in this set and summoning a monster each time the set procs? Or why not wear both sets? You'll notice the difference in damage output, most assuredly. Definitely encourage you to explore the huge number of possibilities with your character building eye :)