Hello Tamriel Foundry, I am Benefactor, member of Entropy Rising and moderator for the Nightblade theorycrafting forum. I have been given the privilege to give my impressions of the Nightblade class in The Elder Scrolls Online. The Nightblade is one of the best choices for players who want to assume the role of the stealthy assassin or the mobile skirmisher.
While many may find the Nightblade class lacking in many ways I find that they are viable to fill almost any role, but truly excel at dealing single target damage. This article outlines some of their key abilities that can help new players get started with the Nightblade class.
Races, Racials, and Stats
While this article is about the Nightblade class the race that you choose can have an impact on how successful you are as a Nightblade. For the beta period I have tended to play as a Altmer to increase my Magicka pool as most of the class abilities use Magicka but after playing for a while I realize that many of the passives Nightblades have are geared more toward a Stamina based build. There are other races that are vastly superior at complementing the abilities and passives the Nightblades use. After much consideration I personally will use Khajiit race at launch for the critical chance and stealth radius increase. Several other worthy races to think about include the Bosmer which share many passives with the Khajiit or the Redguard if you’re going for Stamina regeneration based build.
When it comes to attribute points all races start off with the same base attributes. Each level you are given a single point to put into Health, Stamina, or Magicka. I find that it is much better to place all of your points into Health which would give +15 per point compared to either Magicka or Stamina which would only be +10. You can offset the difference of your Magicka and Stamina by enchanting your armor with Magicka and Stamina glyphs.
Weapons & Armor
For my armor I like to go for 5 pieces of medium armor with two pieces of heavy. Medium armor gives Critical Strike and Stamina Regeneration which is very useful for a Nightblade that uses their weapon abilities. Having 2 heavy pieces gives a little more protection without giving up too much of the advantage of medium armor. Other viable armor styles you could go for is 7 medium for even more critical chance or some into light armor for the magikca recover. This greatly depends on the type of Nightblade you plan to be.
When it comes to choice of weapons I always go for dual wield. At first the abilities for the dual wield tree might appear to be weak in comparison to other weapon trees but it can hold its own and you can get a higher dps in the long run. Twin slashes is great for the bleeding effect. Flurry provides a lot of hits in a small amount of time. Whirlwind is a great AOE ability that if used correctly with enough enemies around can be used continuously as a death by a thousand cuts. But the two great abilities from the dual wield tree are sparks and hidden blade. Sparks allows you to mitigate one enemy’s attacks almost completely for 4 second. Hidden Blade gives dual wielders a great snare that can be used at a range and also does a decent amount of damage. If your second bar is a ranged weapon this can help tremendously.
The Assassination tree just like its namesake suggests is the tree that will help you to deal out the most damage towards your target as quickly as possible.
First let’s take a look at the passives for this tree. The passives really help out a stealth based class that focuses on critical hits. I would recommend getting everyone of them to make the most of every sneak attack.
Assassin’s Blade (Active)
This ability is an instant cast that provides a good amount of damage. Where this ability really shines is when it is used as a finisher as it does 300% more damage when a target is low on Health. This ability only gets better when you morph it.
The two morphs this ability has are Impact and Killer’s blade. Impact has an increased range to the ability that allows you to use it at a much further distance and makes it much easier to execute an enemy that is running away. Killer’s Blade on the other hand allows you to restore 15% of your Health if you kill an enemy with it, While this may seem good at first it is in my opinion obsolete once you gain Mark Target later on.
Teleport Strike (Active)
Teleport strike is the gap closer for the Nightblade. It allows you to quickly get up close to your enemy before they realize what hit them. While sadly the stun only works on monsters and not players it is still a great ability for PvP as it allows you easily catch enemies as they try to get away.
The Morphs for teleport strike are Ambush and Lotus fan. Ambush allows you to get an increase to your next attacks damage while lotus fan adds an AOE component that snares enemies it hits 60% and adds a bleed effect. In my opinion lotus fan is the way to go as it gives you a much needed AOE component to a class that lacks a whole lot of AOE.
Death Stroke (Ultimate)
As far as ultimates go this ability has to be the best damage ultimate that Nightblades have as it reduces the enemy healing while also dealing great damage that scales nicely with level. It does all of this for just 50 ultimate which is incredibly cheap as far as ultimate’s go. If you don’t use it and continue to charge your ultimate it will do even more damage for a maximum of 275%.
The Shadow tree is what really sets the Nightblades apart from other classes as it is the only tree that focuses on attacking from stealth and incapacitating your target before they know what hit them.
Again these passive abilities truly help out a stealth based user as it makes your shadow based abilities last much long. The one passive that truly stands out for this tree is Shadow Barrier which gives you a very nice boost to both Armor and Spell Resistance when coming out of stealth and is truly useful to those who use medium or light armor.
Shadow Cloak (Active)
Shadow Cloak is one of the Nightblades ability that stealth users will be relying on quite a lot. It allows you to go into stealth in the middle of combat to either slip away from the combat or get a stealth attack off which will always be a critical hit.
The two morphs this ability have are Shadowy Disguise and Dark Cloak. Dark Cloak removes one damage over time effect while Shadowy Disguise tremendously increase your critical strike chance after coming out of the cloak. Shadowy Disguise is like having two guaranteed critical strikes every time you use it. For those that consider Dark Cloak instead be aware that there are other abilities such as purge from the alliance tree that remove negative effects much better than it.
Veiled Strike (Active)
Veiled Strike is a great opener to combat as it both sets an enemy off balance and stuns them if you hit them from stealth. As it sets your enemy off balance you can follow this with a power attack that will knock your enemy on the ground for a few extra seconds. This can be used in combination with Shadow Cloak to begin again.
Surprise Attack and Veiled Strike are the morphs for veiled strike. Surprise attack reduces the enemies armor by 40% when hit allowing every hit after to do even more damage. Concealed weapon on the other hand increase movement speed while in stealth. Both of these morphs are good and it really depends on your particular play style and what other abilities you have slotted on which you should get.
Consuming Darkness (Ultimate)
Consuming Darkness is a great ultimate that allows you to snare enemies while mitigating damage and when in a group allow the whole group to get stealth attacks off, which if you remember always crits. What makes this ultimate even greater is the morphs for it. There is veil of blades which also adds damage toward your enemy for as long as they are snared and bolstering darkness which add a healing effect to the synergy both of which are great morphs.
The siphoning tree is the tree that gives Nightblades sustainability with Crowd control abilities mixed in with snares and self-heals. Overall this tree is a mixed bag that allows Nightblades the diversity it needs to be effective in a variety of different situations.
The passives for this tree while at first may not seem to be huge can lead to Nightblades survivability. The catalyst passive increases all potions effectiveness by 10% including potions such as detect invisibility, critical strike potions, and regular restore Health potions. The soul siphoner passive increase healing that is done to you by siphoning abilities making both strife and siphoning strikes much more effective. Finally but not least you have the transfer passive which gives you up to 2 ultimate when damaging your enemy and even works with damage over time abilities like cripple allowing you to use your ultimate much faster.
This ability is the Nightblades main instant cast self-healing ability. While it does a decent amount of damage to your enemy it also heals you depending on how much damage you do. Without this ability the Nightblade would be much less able to self-sustainable.
The morphs for strife are funnel Health and swallow souls. Funnel Health also heals a nearby ally while swallow souls increase healing done to yourself while the ability is slotted. The choice you make for this skill really falls upon what type of role you wish to play whether that is a healer or a dps/tank.
Agony is a single target snare that takes a few seconds to cast and does damage after the effect ends. This ability isn’t the best snare in the game but can be useful in certain situations when you need to focus on one target at a time. This ability has gone though many iterations and in its current state leaves much to be desired.
When morphing agony you can morph it into either Malefic Wreath or Prolonged Suffering. Malefic Wreath adds AOE damage when the effect ends while Prolonged Suffering deals damage for longer over a longer period of time. In my opinion neither morph makes the skill much more desirable.
Soul Shred (Ultimate)
Soul Shred is an AOE ability that does damage while stunning the enemy but the main advantage to it is the synergy that allows allies to heal themselves. The morphs for this ability are Soul Siphon and Soul Tether. Soul Siphon allows you also heal several allies while Soul Tether allows you do more damage to a single target. The morph that you choose will entirely depend on the role that you wish to play in your group.
Have Your Own Build Ideas?
Do you have your own build ideas? We now have theorycrafting forums for each of the classes. Be sure to visit the Nightblade Theorycrafting forum for insight on some of the other builds being developed by TF community members. Check them out and if you have your own well thought out build feel free to share. If you’re not entirely sure what class you wish to play be sure to check out Phazius’ and Erlex’s Q&A streams to ask questions.