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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Strategy Guide

Author(s): Greg Wright
First Published: 31-05-2012 / 00:00 GMT
Last Updated: 26-11-2018 / 06:32 GMT
Version: 1.2 (????) 11-12-2018 / 07:54 GMT

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Guide Guide Info

Suggested Builds

Legendary Breton Build

Now that information on the races, attributes, skills and perks have been divulged, and you have an entire walkthrough to get your character up and running, it’s time to put it all together. The suggested build presented below is designed for power and resilence, and that calls for a Breton (an Orc will do equally fine as a substitute, with a Nord or Dark Elf being somewhat weaker - but still viable - alternatives). The major perk focuses (aside from the obligatory - and not inconsequential - investments in the crafting skills) will be on One-Handed weapons, Archery, Sneak and Light Armor, with a scattering of perks spent in Block, Alteration and Restoration. Further ease-of-life and less important perks can be picked up (and suggestions will be made to that effect) as you level up, and the build will have various leveling plateaus detailed, depending on how much time you care to invest into it.

Breton Notes

Bretons, with their base 25% Magic Resistance, are worthy of special note for how they can function build-wise. With the Agent of Mara and the Lord Stone, they effectively have 65% Magic Resistance with no gear whatsoever. If you simply invest one item to add to this, they’ve got more than they could ever need.

Alternatively they can invest perks in Alteration tree to get +30% Magic Resistance from the aptly-named "Magic Resistance" perk, which will allow them to drop The Lord Stone and still enjoy 70% Magic Resistance and pick up The Atronach Stone for a flat 50% Magic Absorption. The two stack, giving a Breton a 50% chance to negate hostile magic outright, and a 70% resistance to anything that gets past that. Other races will have to sacrifice some offense to get their Magic Resistance up to snuff.

Level 61 "General" Build

This build includes just the basics, and leaves a few nice things on the table, as necessity demands. Still, it’s more than capable of taking on Master difficulty, and won’t require too much extra effort (beyond what levels you’ll naturally get leveling up your crafting skills and doing the quests advocated in the "How to Build a Phenom" section of the guide) on your part.

Level 81+ "Legendary" Build

For those that are willing to do a bit more work, the Level 81+ build has fewer compromises, better defense, and a few convenience perks. Level 81 used to be the level cap in vanilla, and as such even if you don’t have the Legendary Edition, Special Edition or the internet (how are you reading this, by the way?) and are playing an unpatched version of the guide, this build works for you. Going over Level 100 will give you more perks and attributes to play with More carry weight? Always nice to have. Hate picking locks? Throw some perks into Lockpicking to waste less of your time. For better or worse, though, power gains are greatly diminished after this point.

Attributes

The attribute spread for this build should be fairly obvious; you don’t need Magicka, so it won’t be touched, Health will be given priority, but it’s worth raising Stamina a bit, at least at first. For the Level 61 build a 500/300 split works fine. Further gains should see both invested in equally (600/400 at Level 81) until you hit 700/500 at Level 101. After this point, nothing really matters too much, but you should have enough Stamina to carry quite a bit, sprint great distances and get through most any battle, so invest in Health exclusively.

Attributes Lv. 61 Lv. 81 Lv. 101+
Magicka 100 100 100
Health 500 600 700+
Stamina 300 400 500

Alchemy

As one of the crafting skills, the minimum necessary investment is five ranks in "Alchemist", and one in "Physician" and "Benefactor". If you’re planning on leveling up past the Level 61 point, investing in "Poisoner" will increase the rate at which your Alchemy Skill Level increases. "Green Thumb" will help you keep your stocks up if you should want to use potions or poisons regularly, and "Snakeblood" will provide a useful 50% resistance to poison, which is a fine defensive consideration. For heavy-duty alchemy enthusiasts, "Purity" is an extravagant - but useful - purchase.

Level 61 Perks Ranks Additional Perks Ranks
Alchemist 5
Physician 1
Benefactor 1
Poisoner 1
Concentrated Poison 1
Green Thumb 1
Snakeblood 1
Purity 1

Alteration

While not terribly interesting for its spells, Alteration’s perk tree contains many great defensive perks that anybody with free perks should look at. The Level 61 Build can’t get everything, but should at least invest in "Novice Alteration", "Apprentice Alteration", and spend three perks on "Magic Resistance". If you make any gains above Level 61 (it’s hard to see how you wouldn’t), immediately drop them into "Adept Alteration", "Expert Alteration" and finally "Atronach". Your character will show their appreciation by not rolling over and dying when beset by magic in higher difficulties.

Level 61 Perks Ranks Additional Perks Ranks
Novice Alteration 1
Apprentice Alteration 1
Magic Resistance 3
Adept Alteration 1
Expert Alteration 1
Atronach 1

Archery

This is a tough one to cut corners on, as many Archery perks are excellent. Still, Archery is the best way to kill at a distance in Skyrim, and even a partial compromise is still a ten-perk investment. Five ranks of "Overdraw" one rank of "Eagle Eye" and two ranks of "Steady Hand" will get you to a great start, but it’s hard to not also suggest "Power Shot", as the stagger chance does work quite often, and "Quick Shot" is a no-brainer, as it’ll increase your fire rate considerably. It’s a shame to limit yourself there, as three ranks of "Critical Shot" will further boost damage and you’ll likely fall in love with "Ranger" when you get it, but those can all be stretch goals. Archery is the rare tree where every perk is worth getting… save "Hunter’s Discipline", which is kind of just on the way to better things.

Level 61 Perks Ranks Additional Perks Ranks
Overdraw 5
Eagle Eye 1
Steady Hand 2
Power Shot 1
Quick Shot 1
Critical Shot 3
Hunter's Discipline 1
Ranger 1
Bullseye 1

Block

A handy skill for damage mitigation, it only requires a modest investment, one you could realstically decide to pass up in favor of dual-wielding (in which case drop two ranks in "Dual Flurry" and one in "Dual Savagery"). Still, the case has been made for Block elsewhere, so it won’t be reiterated here. If you invest in Block, invest in "Shield Wall", "Deflect Arrows", "Elemental Protection" and "Block Runner". The last perk makes using a shield much less tedious, and gives you a chance to actually catch up to annoying mages and archers while keeping your guard up.

Level 61 Perks Ranks
Shield Wall 1
Deflect Arrows 1
Elemental Protection 1
Block Runner 1

Enchanting

Another crafting skill, so you know this is going to take a bit of an investment. If you’re playing a Breton, you can easily take the short route through this tree and get five ranks of "Enchanter", and a rank each in "Insightful Enchanter", "Corpus Enchanter" and "Extra Effect". With your Alteration perks, The Atronach Stone, Breton Blood and Agent of Mara, you should have all the Magic Resistance you need. If you want more protection, or if you want to tackle Legendary difficulty and aren’t afraid to level up a bit more, get "Fire Enchanter", "Frost Enchanter" and "Storm Enchanter" and make some gear with elemental resistances, too.

Level 61 Perks Ranks Additional Perks Ranks
Enchanter 5
Insightful Enchanter 1
Corpus Enchanter 1
Extra Effect 1
Fire Enchanter 1
Frost Enchanter 1
Storm Enchanter 1

Light Armor

For reasons discussed earlier, Light Armor is a more worthy skill to invest perks in… although if you’re stuck with vanilla for some reason, you’ll want to go with Heavy Armor, because in vanilla Daedric weapons are the best out there. Anyways, regardless of what armor you invest in your goals are the same; get an Armor Rating of 567, and get the "Unhindered" perk (Light Armor) or "Conditioning" (Heavy Armor).

Assuming you have access to the "Dragon Armor" perk in the Smithing tree, though, get one rank in each of the following Light Armor perks: "Agile Defender", "Custom Fit", "Unhindered", "Wind Walker" and "Deft Movement".

Level 61 Perks Ranks
Agile Defender 1
Custom Fit 1
Unhindered 1
Wind Walker 1
Deft Movement 1

One Handed

All you really need to bring One Handed up to snuff are the obligatory five ranks in "Armsman", but given how much extra damage you’ll get out of Power Attacks, it’s hard not to recommend "Fighting Stance" and "Savage Strike". If you decided to neglect Block, you can save those four perk picks and instead invest in "Dual Flurry" and "Dual Savagery". If you level up further, consider investing three ranks into whatever weapon type you prefer the most - "Hack and Slash" (axes), "Bone Breaker" (maces) or "Bladesman" (swords).

Level 61 Perks Ranks Additional Perks Ranks
Armsman 5
Fightning Stance 1
Savage Strike 1
Hack and Slash 3
Bone Breaker 3
Bladesman 3

Restoration

A bit of an optional skill, but free, powerful healing is a fine way to supplement your defense, and it only requires an investement of two perks… not counting the enchanted armor you’ll need, of course. Get a rank in "Novice Restoration" and "Regeneration". If you want to invest a bit more, "Respite" will give you a means to quickly recover your Stamina, as well.

Level 61 Perks Ranks Additional Perks Ranks
Novice Restoration 1
Regeneration 1
Respite 1

Smithing

The last of the crafting skills, your investment will change dramatically depending on your leveling goals and what version of the game you have. If you’re stuck with vanilla you’ll need to go the heavy armor route: "Steel Smithing", "Dwarven Smithing", "Orcish Smithing", "Ebony Smithing" and finally "Daedric Smithing"… more for the more potent weapons than for the armor.

If you have a patched version of the game (or the Legendary Edition or Special Edition) you might as well follow the light armor path: "Steel Smithing", "Elven Smithing", "Advanced Armors", "Glass Smithing" and "Dragon Armor" to get the superior Dragonbone weapons and excellent Dragonscale Armor, the latter of which allows you to invest in the arguably superior Light Armor tree. If you plan to level up past Level 61, you can go for aesthetics rather than brute necessity, but in this case the light armor path is still superior, as it reaches "Dragon Armor" in five perks, as opposed to the six perk the heavy armor path requires. If you’ve got perks to burn, you might want to invest in "Arcane Blacksmith" to allow you to improve already-enchanted arms and armor… like Daedric artifacts.

Level 61 Perks Ranks Additional Perks Ranks
Steel Smithing 1
Elven Smithing 1
Advance Armors 1
Glass Smithing 1
Dragon Armor 1
Arcane Smithing 1

Sneak

The best defense is a good offense, and multiplying your damage is an obvious way to attain a good offense. Also, you bypass the need for defense if the enemy never knows you’re there. Sneak is just a great skill. Get a rank in "Stealth", "Backstab", "Deadly Aim", "Muffled Movement", "Light Foot", "Silent Roll", and "Silence". Some of those perks there are the best perk investments in the game outside of the crafting skills.

Level 61 Perks Ranks
Stealth 1
Backstab 1
Deadly Aim 1
Muffled Movement 1
Light Foot 1
Silent Roll 1
Silence 1

Equipment

The crafting gear was mentioned in the "How to Build a Phenom" section, earlier, but what, exactly, should you build once you have the awesome power of the crafting skills at your command? Suggested loadouts for the Legendary Breton Build can be found below.

Dragonbone Bow

Obviously you ought to aim for nothing short of the best, and that’s Dragonbone. With all the perks, an Archery Skill Level of 100, and four pieces of gear enchanted with "Fortify Archery" +48% (192% in total) this weapon can top out at over 700 damage. Brutal. Such a bow could shoot down anything that dares to darken your skies.

Dragonbone Sword

The sword part is optional - use whatever One Handed weapon(s) you prefer. The Dragonbone, however… well, that’s just the highest-damage weapon you can make, and with the suggested perks, a One Handed Skill Score of 100 and four pieces of gear enchanted with "Fortify One Handed" +48% (192% in total) you’ll be smacking foes around for over 660 damage.

Dragonscale Helmet

Enchant this bit of headgear with the "Fortify Restoration" and "Fortify Archery" enchantments to make Restoration spells cost 29% less and bows deals 48% more damage.

Dragonscale Armor

This bit of armor can also bear the "Fortify Restoration" enchantment to shave off another 29% of your Magicka costs (for a combine total of 58% with the helmet), which alone should be enough to allow you to heal a good bit under ideal circumstances. The second enchantment is less clear, but it’s hard to go wrong with "Fortify Health", which can add up to 74 points of Health.

Dragonscale Gauntlets

Gauntlets are vehicles for pure offense; stick Fortify Archery and Fortify One Handed on these and enjoy the damage boosts.

Dragonscale Boots

Sadly, you can’t put "Fortify Archery" on these, but "Fortify One Handed" is a no-brainer. After that, you can consider getting the "Muffle" property on your boots to help you sneak, or boosting one of your resistances with an elemental resistance enchantment. If you’re a Nord or a Dark Elf, go with the former, otherwise go with the latter.

Ring/Amulet

Your choice what to enchant here, it’s purely aesthetic, anyways. You should make two pairs of these, one for offense, one for defense. On the former enchant them with "Fortify Archery" and "Fortify One Handed", which on the latter enchant them with "Fortify Restoration" and an elemental resistance. This will get your Restoration costs down to nothing when worn with your helmet and armor, and if you put a different element on your boots, ring and necklace you’ll enjoy up to a 56% resistance to all elements.

Spellbreaker/Dragonscale Shield

This one is fairly easy; Spellbreaker is a great shield, and you can just use that if you go out and get it. If you’re not a Breton, however, and want somewhat more Magic Resistance, make your own shield and enchant it with "Fortify Block" and "Resist Magic".


Guide Information

  • Publisher
    Bethesda Softworks
  • Platforms
    Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Genre
    Action Role-playing
  • Guide Release
    31 May 2012
  • Last Updated
    26 November 2018
  • Guide Author
    Greg Wright

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