Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Battlemage - A Massacre In Skyrim

No matter what game I'm playing, I always find myself trying to discover the ultimate hybrid build - that perfect balance between offense, defense, and utility.  Usually, this is a vain pursuit as it's not often that I find myself in games that allow for as much flexibility as Skyrim does - but alas, here we are.  After nearly 100 hours of game play, I think I've got it.

A crucial step in developing your character is making your way to the Lover's stone and receiving that blessing as soon as possible.  The +15% to ALL skill experience will prevent you from out leveling one sign's abilities over another.  If you don't know where the stone is, adventure around a bit.  If you're lazy or ready to give up, a quick google search will point you to it.  Until you can get the Lover's blessing, go with the Warrior's stone.  That will provide you the maximum benefit, as the magical abilities listed below will level quickly through their own use.

I HIGHLY suggest playing a Breton for this build - not only for the increased magic resistance, but also for the extra magicka and the 25-level Conjuration skill they start with.  All other races will initially be at a disadvantage, and will have to catch up accordingly.

It's important to note that this build doesn't utilize sneak at all.  You run around, an unstoppable powerhouse of destruction and generally lay waste to an entire room of enemies fairly quickly.  Timing your blocks will be key, as with all melee's.

Also key is finding the right follower, I highly suggest another magic user that summons, and can support you with ranged spells.  There are plenty of such followers around Skyrim.


Heavy Armor

You'll notice that armor skills don't raise very quickly unless you stand around getting hit a lot.  However, your enemies usually die before they get many hits off on you.  Once you progress your overall character a few levels, you can stand around weaker enemies and let them hit you, while healing yourself with restoration spells.

Take Heavy Armor perks when they become available to you, but not at a cost to other perks.  I'll say this again, go ahead and buy Heavy Armor perks only when you have EVERY OTHER perk relevant to your character purchased.

When selecting Heavy Armor perks, take the first point in Juggernaut, and then work your way up the right-hand side of the skill tree, taking Well Fitted, Tower of Strength, Matching Set and Reflect blows perks when they become available.  Don't bother with the left side of the tree, if you find your character moves too slow, get a horse.


There really aren't any words to describe how crucial shield-blocking is in Skyrim.  Well timed blocks make or break most fights for melee characters.  Your goal here is to get to the Elemental Protection perk at Block level 50, as this will allow you outright ignore magic-based enemies until you've killed everything else.  Once this perk is purchased, you can select others throughout the block tree at your discretion.  Much like Heavy Armor, only take Block perks when you have ensured your offensive and support capabilities have been maxed.


Your main source of damage comes not only from conjured minions, but also from conjured weapons.  Your first perk point should be in Novice Conjuration, with the intention to get yourself to the Mystic Binding, and Apprentice Conjuration perks as soon as possible.  The easiest way to do this is to summon your familiar at the beginning of every fight, and ensure he see's combat versus an enemy by standing back a second or two.  If he dies, summon him again until you're out of magicka, this will build your conjuration the fastest until you get bound sword (Conjuration 25), which when cast in/during combat will provide you with 3/4 of a skill level in Conjuration per cast until level ~50.

The combination of Mystic Binding for improved bound weapon damage, and your summoned minions will provide exceptional damage output.  Bound sword, your primary source of damage, will benefit from One Handed perks in the warrior tree.

*Note - My favorite minion is the Flame Atronach, which assists not only by dealing fire damage to everything around it, but also by laying down ranged-attacks against dragons and other foe's that can otherwise be hard for melee-based characters to engage.

Oblivion Binding and Soul Stealer are two excellent perks related to bound weapons.  Oblivion Binding ensures you almost never have to worry about summoned or undead enemies again, while Soul Stealer will provide you a nearly infinite pool of soul shards for enchanting.


The real beauty of this build comes from the perks in this tree and their synergy with Bound Weapons.  Bound Sword is your primary source of damage and will benefit from all sword-applicable perks.  As such, you should take them all when they become available.  This especially includes Armsman, Fighting Stance, and Bladesman.  Again, take these perks as they become available.  If it wasn't already clear, your offensive capabilities should be the focus of your perk points with your utility abilities being your second focus and defense your third.


Starting at the bottom with Novice Restoration, you can more or less ignore the higher-level casting cost reduction perks until you feel the novice spells are becoming more trouble then they are worth to you when casting (It's taking you too long to heal yourself).  Focus on Regeneration, Dual Casting, and Respite for combat healing.  As a general rule, avoid anything related to wards as they're completely useless.  The Recovery perk can be a nice addition to a battle mage that doesn't want to enchant their heavy armor with magicka regeneration or fortification.

Everything in this tree is good.  However wait until later levels to start purchasing it.  DO NOT waste perks in Enchanting before level 25, not only will you not be level 100 and unable to dual-enchant your equipment, but you'll find yourself almost gimping your combat abilities by taking non-essential perks at a time when they really can't benefit you.  

*NOTE - With Soul Stealer, you will level enchanting fairly quickly as a result of a nearly unlimited supply of soul shards at your disposal.

You can do a lot with enchants, and in this build its important to pick things that suit your play style.  It's also important to note you'll probably be level 30 or so before you'll have enchanting to a point where it'll be extremely useful. 

*NOTE - One downside is that you can NOT enchant your bound sword, which could leave you feeling a little weaker then anticipated.  The bound sword will do more damage then anything else you'll find (that isn't already enchanted.)  .So be on the lookout for another one handed sword that you'd like to make your own.

Leveling Up

You should aim for 200  points of magicka, and an even dispersal of health and stamina for shield blocking and power attacks.

The build requires a 'buffing' before combat, however its really not as cumbersome as it sounds.  You can handle most fights on your own by simply assigning bound sword to your right hand, and a shield to your left.  Bringing in the bound sword once enemies see you will guarantee a conjuration skill increase, as will hacking away at them with it once its summoned.

This plays a lot like a standard One Handed/Shield fighter, but with the magic from the conjuration school backing you up, you'll find that you're really a powerhouse in almost all situations.

One last thing, there are a few quest reward conjuration spells, the most notable being 'flaming familiar'.  I won't spoil it for you, but you need this spell.  It's not very damaging, but it's hilarious.