1-shot speedy stamina Nightblade build

Class : Nightblade
Weapons: 2H/Bow
Race : Take your pick, I like Khajit
Mundus : The Steed
Food/Drink: Max tri-stats help you hit harder; tri-recovery lets you go more bursty and less sustain in build
Potion: Tri-recovery (helps if you are on the ropes)
Designed for: Solo PVE, Thieving, Gathering, Dark Brotherhood stuff

Versions of the build

  1. Max Burst build
  2. Max Sustain and Survival build
  3. Dizzy Swing spammer build

Note tooltips in the builder are out of date, use ESO skillbook for up to date skill descriptions

Typical rotations (for Max Burst build)
Ultimate Open

  • Channel, Mark, and Forward Momentum buff in sneak
  • Position behind target
  • Hit Shadowy disguise to make next attack crit
  • Open with Incapacitating Strike from stealth
  • Shadow Disguise-Dizzying Swing
  • Either heavy weave with Killer Blade or light weave with killer blade til dead

Routine open

  • channel, mark, forward momentum
  • cloak/dizzying swing from stealth (usually this 1-shots trash)
  • finish with light weaving killer blade

Packs Open

  • forward momentum, channel, mark
  • arrow barrage
  • bombard (before arrow barrage lands)
  • light weave bombard and renew arrow barrage as needed to thin the herd
  • swap to 2H bar to finish low life people with Killer Blade spam

Design philosophy
The bread and butter move here is Shadowy Disguise-Dizzying Swing. It is a thing of beauty. When you Shadowy Disguise, you go invis and your next attack crits. Dizzying Swing hits harder than anything else I have found short of an ultimate, stuns for 3.5s, and knocks target down. Bosses will go immune to the knockdown for 20s, but all other trash can be chain knocked down like this. You cant even break free from knock downs. This is why you can not break free when Clamoras knock you down. If you do the standard open I have above, I have seen hits of 44K from stealth which one shots stuff. When you go invis, whatever is chasing you stands around and stops whacking on you, which lets the 1s casting time Dizzying Swing land. Every time you cloak you trigger the Shadow Barrier passive which gives you a major resolve and ward (phys and magic resistance) for 6s with 25% duration increase per piece of heavy (thus the 5-1-1 armor build).

I would also like to point out a really cool feature of Shadowy Cloak. If you are sneaking, and you hit Shadowy Cloak just before you get in detection range, when you are in detection range you will not be de-stealthed as long as you are within the duration of your invisibility (3s). Invisibility prevents de-stealthing for its duration. So any attack that you must land by sneak for additional bonus can be landed even from the front as long as you Shadowy Cloak just before you enter detection range. This takes away all of the positional headache.

When you crouch, it takes a little while to enter stealth and sneak. If you hit crouch and hit Shadowy Cloak, you are temporarily sneaking for the invisibilty duration from Shadowy Cloak. At the end of that duration, there is a detection check, and usually this means you must be in range and it must have line of sight on you. If you range it, or turn a corner, you are stealthed/sneaking. This is the way you dump agro on the run then. Hit crouch, hit cloak, get distance/turn a corner. You can repeat this multiple times until you get range or turn a corner.

The first time I discovered this I was giggling and my son asked what was going on. BOOM! 1-shot one of them. The other is running at me. I cloak. It goes WTF? and stands around, until it too is smacked by a crit dizzying swing and finished with a few killer blades.

You go through magicka here. Mainly it is Shadowy Cloak spam. This is why the tri recovery and Khajit passives matter. You are not just occasionally using magicka. More magicka equals more Shadowy Cloak cheesy goodness.

We need an assassination ability on both bars to activate passives. The bind here is the 2H bar, which has to have either Killer Blade or Mark.

You want Shadowy Disguise and Concealed weapon on the same bar since if something destealths you while you are running invisibly, you can immediately Shadowy Disguise and restealth. This helps when running from stuff, and if you bar swap, it is hard to pull off

The back bar is for packs. The 2H bar is really good at taking down singles, but bow is the way to knock down packs. I prefer Arrow Barrage over Endless Hail because it has a wider area and lets you maneuver around more. You also can do it from a longer range. I like Bombard over Acid Rain because it will root them in the Arrow Barrage for 4s, which is enough to make a big dent in their life total. Whatever makes it to you can then be killed quickly with Killer Blade. If the pack is really nasty, you can circle strafe with Bombard spam and kite them in the Arrow Barrage. Note there is a setting in I think combat abilities that lets you immediately cast a ground target at your cursor positon, and this really speeds up the use of Arrow Barrage, and makes it possible to move and land it quickly.

Concealed weapon is not really used, since it is magicka based. This is in the build for the 25% move bonus while sneaking which makes doing thief stuff much better. Even better is vampire or the Night’s Silence 5pc set bonus, which removes the speed penalty. If you have The Steed mundus on top (another 10% movement), and you either use Channeled Acceleration (12 major expedition, does not break sneak) or Charging Maneuver (breaks stealth but lasts over 30s), you can be sneaking close to mount speed. That is my primary source of joy for Nightblade. The other morph Surprise Attack is the main skill used in the meta-DPS build.

If they destealth me on my dizzying swing, I just cloak again and do another. Every time you cloak you trigger the passive which gives you a major resolve and ward (phys and magic resistance) for 6s with 25% duration increase per piece of heavy (thus the 5-1-1 armor build).

This is a stamina build, so every ability that costs stamina or light and heavy attacks will have their damage scale with stamina and be increased by weapon damage. This is why Flawless Dawnbreaker is on the 2H bar, to up damage by 5% for the ability, and another 3% from the Fighter’s Guild passive. Forward Momentum is a Major Brutality, for another 20% weapon damage. It also heals you over time, and you can punch it to clear snares and immobilizations. It lasts a nice long 30s too, so you can fire and forget.

Channeled Acceleration not only gives you a 12s Major Expedition (30%) speed buff without breaking stealth for magicka cost, but it also gives you a 36s long Minor Force (12% crit damage). That lasts a long time. Typical non DLC builds will use Rearming Trap from the Fighter’s Guild line to do damage and get this Minor Force buff, but Channeled Acceleration lasts longer and can be put on the back bar.

Reaper’s Mark has a 50m range, costs no resources to use, applies Major Fracture and Breach (-5280phys and magic resistance for 20s). It also heals you for 5597 if it dies, and when it dies you get a Major Berserk (25% damage ) for 5s. So if you mark something in a pack and it dies faster than the rest, you will have a big damage boost, which helps with bombard spam.

The ultimate open is disgusting. You have all those buffs running and a guaranteed crit on it when you use it. Because Incapacitating Strike is on the bow bar with Camouflaged Hunter, not only does it have the weapon crit rating of over 2000, but also if you land it from sneak you get a Minor Berserk (more weapon damage). That ultimate does 1459 base disease damage, and it buffs your damage by another 20% for 6s, and it will silence for 3s if you hit it with over 120U. The passive on it means that if your target has a negative effect (mark counts here) you heal 100 magicka/stamina per light/heavy attack. So while you are bowing, it gives you some resource return if you light or heavy weave.

I thought some about poison arrow. It is a nice single target execute. But really, if there is just one, you should be on bar 1 with your 2-hander knocking the snot out of it with your Killer Blade execute. The bow bar is about blasting packs. My typical tactic is to open from sneak with barrage/bombard, then lightweave bombard until something gets close, then dodge roll through the pack to get close to the casters. Renew barrage, switch to the 2-hander and execute the casters.

I thought about putting swapping positions with Fearless Dawnbreaker and Incapicating Strike. Where I need more sustain is on the bow bar for the Bombard spam, and you get that if Incapacitating Strike is on the Bow Bar and you bothered to mark something in the pack. Because this build stacks so much percent damage, you get big hits if you put Dawnbreaker on the 2H bar.

If you actually are facing undead/vampires/daedra you likely want to use the Flawless Dawnbreaker to smack them silly. Damage on that gets boosted, and it is AOE.

The alternative build max sustain gives up Mark and Channeled Acceleration for Leeching Strikes and Relentless Focus. Focus is a long 30s buff which will grant at 5 stacks of light/heavy attacks a -15% damage received buff, and witll give you a spectral arrow which hits for over 1600 base disease. This is a huge smack. It heals you if you are close (7m). Leeching Strikes returns 1452 health and 102 stamina per light/heavy attack, and you get another 4K or so stamina back when the 20s buff falls off. This is health and stamina sustain. Sometimes you can go toe-to-toe with this rig.

I tossed in a Dizzying Swing spammer alternative build. Here you give up killer blade, move Reaper’s Mark to bar 1, and now you have room for another passive on the bow bar. You give up the quick execute of Killer’s Blade. Light weaving Killer’s Blade is really fast and a good way to return resources on execute, so do not do this lightly. But if you are 1-2 shotting everything, you can go this way. I do like target cycling with Killer’s Blade on packs though, so generally I keep it.

Why Khajit

  • 5% pick pocket, which matters if you are doing that
  • 100 health and 85 stam/magicka recovery helps with sustain
  • 825 to max health, stamina, and magicka helps with larger pools, a bigger magazine before you are dry
  • 10% crit damage and -3m stealth detection. The former helps in this crit heavy build, the latter helps with all aspects of sneaking

On Thief and Dark Brotherhood Stuff
As I go though houses and stuff while questing, I usually thieve and murder. Yes, that is pretty black morally. But you get a lot of money. Typically I will pick pocket twice, then Blade of Woe the people in the house. That is 3 loots from them, and it takes them out of the equation for looting. Then I grab everything I can find.

If you do not really care about experience, just force locks on doors and chests. It goes a lot faster. This is particularly useful if you see a chest near a merchant that paths…you force it for a quick open and off you go.

As I speed stealth across zones, I run across lots of likely people just waiting to be robbed and murdered. All of this is more income to me. Yay!

Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood DLC let you do more of this with fewer consequences. It also is pretty exciting dealing with evading guards until you can hit the hideout to clear bounty.

Off Balance, and when to heavy
If you block a heavy or open with Concealed Weapon, your target goes off balance. This is when you heavy attack, as it will then get knocked down, your heavy will do 75% more damage, and bring back more stamina. The passive Follow Up from 2H ups your next ability’s damage by 10% if it follows a fully charged heavy. So if you just clobbered it with Dizzying Swing, you can land a heavy (takes 2-3s for it to stand back up), and clip with either another Dizzying Swing, or a Killer Blade. Cloak-dizzy-heavy-dizzy takes longer to complete, and cloak-dizzy-heavy-killer is less total time. Cloak-dizzy-light-killer-light-killer is very fast and because you execute you get resources back. If resources are not an issue, light weave. If something might block, light weave.

With the bow, if I am running dry on stamina I heavy weave. Typically this becomes necessary on massive blind shooting for things like Dolmens where you want to get your tags in for trash to get drops, so you just hold down left click to chain some heavies, and clip that with bombard in the direction you think they will spawn.

Armor Skills
I am going 5(med)-1-1. You want some heavy to deal with the extension of Shadow Ward, and Undaunted helps your max pools with 3 different armor types. I am only Undaunted 3, so I have a long ways to go. People are toxic in the dungeon finder, so this may be a slow road. I will be 6 medium-1 light until light armor finally skill caps at 50. I will go 5-1-1 when Undaunted is up. 7 medium is very good for this build as all your crit stuff goes up, stamina cost and recovery improves, and stealth radius goes down. Who knows in the end I may just use 7 medium for max burst.

The Crafting Mess
This character is a gatherer. I have hirelings that bring back stuff. The level of stuff brought back and what I gather in the field tracks points in the craft skill, so I max it out. I also do daily writs for cash, and having higher levels seems to yield better stuff. This character does not deconstruct…alts which are skilling up do, or my Templar does.

For Alchemy, I go max on Keen Eye. Herbs sell well, and it is worth going out of your way a bit to pick them. I also tend to run out as I run up alts. I take medicinal use to extend potion duration. Enchanting is similar in that I max out Keen Eye (I always need runes) and there his no Hireling for it as well.

Blacksmithing, Clothing, and Woodworking all are similar. I only go 1/3 in Keen Eye as I am usually swimming in these mats, and I will chase shineys all day long if I up the radius on those. Go 3/3 on hireling for max return.

This is my provisioner main. It happened this way because I am stealing lots of stuff and I can use stolen recipes for food, so naturally this character had more recipes than anyone else. I give this character any new recipe, and he can make whatever buff food or drink needed. Max abilities there.

Jewelcrafting will just have max skill and detection. I am starving for JC mats now.

Update 25Jun2019- added notes on sneak and Shadowy Cloak, which describes how you can land a sneak attack from the front. Updated rotation to abuse this.

Thanks for the cool guide!

Thanks! Updated a few things.