Tamriel Foundry

How does gear come to be categorized as damage or sustain?

I hope this is the right place for me to ask what could potentially be a really dumb question but I'm wondering how I can easily differentiate between sets for the purposes of categorizing them into damage or sustain. Certainly some sets clearly offer benefits to one or the other but are there other considerations? Is it as simple as 'a set that increases damage is always a damage set'?

Again, sorry if this is a very basic question; I'm trying to gain a better understanding of the game's core mechanics so I can be a little more independent when it comes to creating or changing builds and my brain keeps getting snagged on this so I could really use some clarification.

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4 Replies
  1. #1


    Moderator1308 Posts


    It really depends on context. There are many ways in which sets can contribute to damage and sustain; even the notions and scope of damage and sustain are up for interpretation. If higher damage shortens the fight, (reasonably) minimising the stress on long-duration sustain, does it mean that it does both? I could give you an overview with some specific commentary.


    Broadly, sets with stats that change the damage of your skills and weapon attacks, which include max magicka/stamina, spell/weapon damage, spell/weapon critical and critical modifier, could be considered damage sets, e.g. Hunding's Rage and Julianos.

    However, there are also sets that add spell damage to skills of a particular damage type, e.g. flame in Silks of the Sun, which could be considered damage sets.

    There are trial sets that provide Minor/Major Slayer buff, in addition to other bonuses, e.g. War Machine and Roar of Alkosh (which also debuff targets hit, enabling potentially higher damage).

    Additionally, some sets offer conditional chances to proc an increase in spell damage, e.g. Burning Spellweave and Scathing Mage, which could also be interpreted as damage sets.

    Furthermore, sets with bonus to apply debuff conditionally, e.g. Infallible Aether and Morag Tong, could also be seen as damage sets as they enable you and others to do more damage.

    Then you also have the Molag Kena monster set, which adds a lot of damage, but kills your sustain under most circumstances. In this case, you would question that if you maintained the buff, will you end up losing damage because you have to resort to heavy attacking so often? If you only proc it on occasion, then is it worthwhile to slot it at all? How does it compare to other sets that could be used to replace it? What uptime could you realistically achieve in a long combat event for a net positive damage gain?


    Similarly, sustain sets are also difficult to categorise.

    Broadly, sets with stats like max magicka/stamina, magicka/stamina recovery and reduce cost of skills, e.g. Seducer, Alteration Mastery and Willow's Path, could be seen as sustain sets.

    Additionally, there are some sets that directly restore resources (magicka/stamina) conditionally, e.g. Bloodthorn's Touch (old Adroitness) and Vengeance Leech.

    Some sets offer increased regen of resources conditionally, e.g. Shroud of the Lich and Bone Pirate.

    There is also a set that increases the amount of resource restored, i.e. Arch-Mage. But does it enable you to do more damage overall because of the better sustain, or will a set like Infallible Aether or the Maelstrom Staff+Blockade combination work better because you do more damage from your heavy attacks, which could offset the increased frequency of said attacks due to a perceived, inferior sustain to the Arch-Mage?


    Then, there are sets like Moondancer, Vicious Ophidian and Amber Plasm that offer a bit of both.


    As you can see, it is difficult to categorise sets into a binary of damage or sustain. Even if you do, their impact on your performance varies depending on your setup (incl. CP), rotation, group support (if any), nature of combat (stationary or mobile, presence and frequency of mechanics), among other things. To assess the optimal for your character, you need to evaluate the effective damage or sustain gained from the sets/bonuses based on your own rotation and any other support you receive.

    If it sounds like a lot of work, you can always just 'borrow' someone else's interpretation and run with it. It won't be the optimal for your character, but it would be a decent approximation.

    Hope this gives you something to ponder on.

    e pluribus unum

  2. #2


    Contributor3062 Posts

    Increasing your damage-per-attack is commonly viewed as being damage-oriented. So are what amount to extra attacks from proc sets.

    Increasing your magicka/stamina recovery is commonly viewed as being sustain-oriented. So is lowering the magicka/stamina cost of skills.



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  3. #3


    Member7 Posts

    Thank you both for the responses. I suppose I was looking for a "set X fits into group A" type answer but I wasn't seeing the overall picture as well. For the last couple of patches I have indeed been following build suggestions but I really want to be able to take a look under the hood myself if that makes sense. I have a better understanding now and will keep this in mind going forward.

  4. #4


    Moderator1308 Posts


    The "set X fits into group A" approach could still provide a decent approximation for sets, but I figured I'd focus on the wider implication because as you have noted in the OP, you wanted to better understand the mechanics to be more independent for future decision making.

    If you require further clarification, please don't hesitate to follow up.


    e pluribus unum


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