Heavy Attack Builds (One-Bar Oakensoul)

Welcome to my heavy attack build guide! HA builds are an excellent way to get very high damage with much less effort and practice than a typical DPS build

This page will briefly showcase one-bar HA builds for all classes. This guide is mostly designed for PvE purposes and will work very well in both group and solo play


Basics

  • Our weapon of choice will be the lightning staff. Lightning staves' channeled heavy attacks are the strongest for HA builds, and the Tri Focus passive uniquely allows them to cleave to nearby enemies as well
  • The Oakensoul ring will provide us with a truckload of buffs, including the Empower buff, which will give a whopping 70% boost to our heavy attacks
    • Oakensoul comes with the cost of preventing bar swapping; thus we will only be using one skill bar. We'll hardly want a second skill bar anyway though, since our long heavy attacks will leave us less time to cast so many skills
  • The rest of our gear will be aimed at increasing the damage of our heavy attacks. We will use two 5-piece sets that do just that!

See Gear below for the full setup

Building without Oakensoul is possible as well, though somewhat less ideal. See No-Oakensoul Setup below for adjustments to make if you don't have the DLC required to get this mythic


Why Use an HA Build?

Heavy attack builds have proven to be a great option for:

  • Newer players who want to do solid damage right off the bat
  • Players who haven't gotten the hang of light attack weaving
  • Healer and tank players who want to try a DPS role without having to learn new rotations in depth
  • Focusing on the mechanics of challenging content without worrying about a complex rotation
  • Anyone just wanting an easy-to-use setup or a fun new playstyle!

If any of those is you, these builds are just what you're looking for!

Pros

  • Very easy damage! No need for tedious weaving or a proper rotation. Just hold the heavy attack button and things will die!
    • (For those interested in numbers, I've hit 85-95k dummy parses with heavy attack builds on all classes, and around 60% of that damage comes from just heavy attacking)
  • Easy sustain! Since HAs last extra long, we'll be casting skills at half speed, leaving extra time for resource recovery. Never run out of resources again!
  • Built in survival buffs! Oakensoul's buffs include damage mitigation and recovery to help keep us alive
    • (Specifically: Major Resolve and Minor Aegis, Fortitude, and Protection)
  • Minimal difficult farming! Most of the gear in this guide comes from fairly easy base game dungeons (plus an antiquity piece and a single optional monster set piece)
  • No expensive potions needed! Oakensoul provides all the offensive buffs we would normally get from potions
    • (Specifically: Major Brutality/Sorcery/Savagery/Prophecy, and even Minor Heroism)

Cons

  • Lower damage cap than a traditional build (but normally rivals all but the very best of non-HA DPSers)
  • Limited bar space. Our one-bar setup means we'll have less room for things like utility skills and heals

Note on Stats

  • We can run either a stamina- or magicka-based build, take your pick! We'll be casting skills slowly and so generally won't run out of either resource
    • One stat or the other might be slightly more optimal if you have a Max Stamina or Magicka bonus coming from your racial passives or one of your 5-piece gear sets. Either way, simply picking your favorite stat won't be too detrimental to the build
  • The important thing is to build fully into one stat or the other and not mix; our skill damage scales based on the higher value of those two stats, so we want to build a single stat as high as possible

Gear

Sergeant's Mail is the top-performing set for heavy attack builds. We'll pair this with either Deadly Strike or Storm Master. Deadly is a bit stronger than Storm but may be a little more difficult to obtain

As mentioned above, we'll be using the Oakensoul mythic and a lightning staff for maximum damage

Example Gear Layout

Small deviations from this layout (such as different traits, a different weight of Slimecraw, or swapping sets between different pieces) may offer slightly less damage (or defense) but certainly won't make or break the build

Gear Slot Type Set Trait Enchant
Light Head Head Light Slimecraw Divines Divines Max Stamina/Magicka Max StaminaMax Magicka
Medium Shoulders Shoulders Medium Deadly/Storm Divines Divines Max Stamina/Magicka Max StaminaMax Magicka
Heavy Chest Chest Heavy Sergeant's Mail Divines Divines Max Stamina/Magicka Max StaminaMax Magicka
Medium Hands Hands Medium Deadly/Storm Divines Divines Max Stamina/Magicka Max StaminaMax Magicka
Medium Waist Waist Medium Deadly/Storm Divines Divines Max Stamina/Magicka Max StaminaMax Magicka
Medium Legs Legs Medium Deadly/Storm Divines Divines Max Stamina/Magicka Max StaminaMax Magicka
Medium Feet Feet Medium Deadly/Storm Divines Divines Max Stamina/Magicka Max StaminaMax Magicka
Necklace Neck Sergeant's Mail Bloodthirsty Bloodthirsty Weapon/Spell Damage Weapon DamageSpell Damage
Ring Ring Sergeant's Mail Bloodthirsty Bloodthirsty Weapon/Spell Damage Weapon DamageSpell Damage
Ring Ring Oakensoul Ring Bloodthirsty Bloodthirsty Weapon/Spell Damage Weapon DamageSpell Damage
Staff Weapon Lightning Staff Sergeant's Mail Precise Precise Poison/Flame PoisonFlame


Notes

  • Match your armor enchant to which stat you're building into
  • Pick either jewelry enchant, regardless of whether you're specced into stamina or magicka
  • Similarly, use either weapon glyph. Poison and Flame will work about equally well
  • The Slimecraw piece can be changed for any other set piece if you don't want to run the veteran dungeon (or spend Undaunted keys for the shoulder piece). However, it is one of the game's absolute easiest vet dungeons

Alternative Gear

A few alternatives to Deadly Strike and Storm Master. Some of these can more powerful, but harder to use or harder to obtain. If you want to fully optimize your build, consider some of these options. If you aren't too concerned with perfect optimization, any of these (including Deadly or Storm) will do just fine

  • Noble Duelist's Silks: Generally the highest-damage option (unless you're running with a thoroughly optimized group, in which case Deadly is strongest), but requires staying in melee range
  • Infallible Mage: Another great option providing a useful debuff
  • Order's Wrath: A craftable option. Usually not quite as strong as the other options, but still good

Sergeant's Mail is stronger than all of these sets and should not be swapped out


Using Your HA Build

With all our buffs to heavy attacks, HAs will make up the vast majority of our damage (usually 60-75%). Therefore our focus in this section will be doing as much HA damage as possible; this build significantly dilutes the importance of skill casts

  • Hold down your heavy attack button constantly throughout the duration of the fight
    • Do not release your HA button between HAs or to cast skills. Perma-hold that button!
    • Blocking is one of the few reasons to let go of HA. Note that you cannot block while holding HA
  • During each heavy attack, you can (optionally) cast a single skill. Don't try to cast multiple. HAs last just over 2.5 seconds, so you'll be casting skills roughly that often
    • Cast that skill in the middle of the heavy attack, rather than between HAs. This will "queue" the skill to go off when the HA finishes so that you don't have to time your skill casts precisely between HAs

This clip demonstrates how to cast your skills. Hold down HA continuously, and press a skill button once in the middle of the HA

Weaving

General Rotation Tips

Since most of our damage comes from heavy attacking, for casual play there is absolutely no need for a structured skill rotation. If you do want to optimize your rotation, you can check out the tips below; otherwise just skip down to the Skills section

All the rotations below will follow essentially the following format. (This format is more or less applicable to any rotation, heavy attack build or otherwise)

  1. Certain classes have a particularly high-damage skill on a short cooldown (e.g. Necromancer's Blastbones or Sorcerer's Prey). These skills do very significant damage, so if you're one of those classes, you want to cast that skill on cooldown consistently
    • On these classes you'll benefit from a distinct 3- to 6-second "rhythm" of casting that skill in a consistent pattern, e.g. every third cast. See details below for each class
  2. In between these casts (if any), keep your DoTs running by casting them whenever they're about to run out
  3. Whenever no DoTs are running out, cast your spammable if you have one slotted. (If you don't, cast a skill with decent upfront damage, or just don't cast anything at all)
  4. Cast your ultimate whenever it's ready. Occasionally it's useful to save your ultimate (e.g. when you have a difficult boss fight coming up soon), but in general just cast it when you have enough ult

Skills and Rotations by Class

HA builds can be used on any class! Sorcerers and Wardens are the top performers for heavy attack builds, but others are also more than capable of excellent damage

I intend for this section to briefly showcase many of the basic features and mechanics of each class, which are applicable to both heavy attack builds and traditional builds. After all, what better way to learn a class's mechanics than on a simple build?

Click the tabs to view setups for different classes

Arcanist Arcanist

Example Bar Setup

Writhing Runeblades Tentacular Dread FlexInspired Scholarship Barbed Trap FlexEvolving Runemend    The Tide King's Gaze

  • Writhing Runeblades Writhing Runeblades: Our spammable. Also generates a Crux which will enhance our next Tentacular Dread Tentacular Dread cast
  • Tentacular Dread Tentacular Dread: Applies a debuff to increase our damage done to the enemy. If we have any Crux, that will get consumed to immensely enhance this debuff
  • Inspired Scholarship Inspired Scholarship (flex): Enhances our class skills (i.e. most of the skills we're slotting) to make them do extra damage. Also assists in generating Crux
  • Barbed Trap Barbed Trap: Very nice single-target DoT
  • Evolving Runemend Evolving Runemend (flex): Nice burst heal. Also generates a Crux to enhance our next Tentacular Dread Tentacular Dread cast
  • The Tide King's Gaze The Tide King's Gaze: Powerful ultimate to deal AoE damage to our foes

Useful Flex Skills

Example Rotation

  • We'll start off by casting our DoTs and then spam Writhing Runeblades Writhing Runeblades for the rest of the rotation
  • Our Runeblades casts will build up Crux so that Tentacular Dread Tentacular Dread casts with full power. The following static rotation will work well for the above setup

Tentacular Dread Heavy Attack Inspired Scholarship Heavy Attack Barbed Trap Heavy Attack Writhing Runeblades Heavy Attack

Writhing Runeblades Heavy Attack Writhing Runeblades Heavy Attack Writhing Runeblades Heavy Attack Writhing Runeblades Heavy Attack


No-Oakensoul Setup

Dropping Oakensoul is entirely viable if you're still farming the mythic or don't have access to the DLCs needed. You'll need to manage your buffs quite a bit more, and you'll miss out on Oakensoul's survivability buffs, but otherwise you won't necessarily be missing out on much damage. Depending on your class, you may also need to level the Mages Guild skill line (a rather substantial task) to acquire the crucial Empower buff

  • For this setup, substitute Oakensoul and Slimecraw for a full two-piece monster set. Maw of the Infernal, Stormfist, Selene, and Iceheart are excellent base game options
  • I still recommend using only one skill bar for simplicity. It can be possible to get a bit higher dps with two bars, but only with significant effort that is against the spirit of this simple guide
  • We will need an alternative source of Empower and (ideally) the other powerful offensive buffs that Oakensoul provides: Major Brutality/Sorcery, Major Savagery/Prophecy, and Minor Force. These can be acquired via various skills in your toolkit, and the Major buffs can be applied with potions as well. Empower is the most important, but the others are significant damage boosts as well

Empower

Major Brutality/Sorcery

Major Savagery/Prophecy

Minor Force


Character Setup

Race

  • First and foremost, play whatever race you enjoy! Racial differences are fairly minimal
  • However, if you want to optimize, Dark Elf Dark Elf, High Elf High Elf, and Khajiit Khajiit have potential for a little bit more damage output than other races

Attributes

  • 64 Stamina or 64 Magicka, depending on which stat you've decided to build into
    • Since our damage scales off our highest of the two stats, we want all our points in a single stat

Attributes

Attributes

Mundus Stone

  • The Lover  The Lover
    • Gives you extra penetration to shred through enemies' defenses. This is a great option for (1) when you're leveling, or (2) when you're not with a particularly organized group. When in doubt, Lover is likely the way to go
  • The Thief  The Thief
    • Increases your critical chance, which is another excellent stat for maximizing damage. This is the best option when you have skill points, Champion Points, and group support invested into maxing out your penetration already

Consumables

Foods/Drinks

Bi-stat food (Max Health+Stamina or Max Health+Magicka) will be our food of choice. Since we'll have plenty of sustain, we have no need for anything more complex. The foods listed below are for CP 150+; similar but differently named food exists for lower levels

Potions

For the most part, we have no need for potions. We'll have little trouble with sustain, and Oakensoul provides all the offensive buffs we could get from potions

  • Crown Tri-Restoration Potion Crown Tri-Restoration Potion (occasionally available from daily rewards) is an optional possibility for extra health recovery, and for the (likely rare) times when you need extra sustain
    • You can also equivalently use craftable tri-stat potions or even just the health, magicka, or stamina potions looted from the wild
  • Note that the Nightblade's Catalyst passive gives ultimate generation for drinking a potion. Unlike other classes, Nightblades have some extra incentive to use potions

Champion Points (level 50+)

A rough progression of what CP nodes to start with once you hit level 50. You'll be able to use more of these nodes as you gain experience and accumulate more Champion Points. Fill each node completely before moving on to the next one

Warfare Warfare

  • Start with Precision and (in the Extended Might sub-tree) Piercing
  • Then add these four slottables: Weapons Expert (in the Extended Might sub-tree), Deadly Aim, Fighting Finesse, Master-at-Arms. (Make sure you add them to your Champion Bar or they'll have no effect!)
    • For optimized group play, you can also swap out Fighting Finesse for Backstabber to get slightly more crit damage
  • This will work well for all classes and races, but for certain ones you can make the following adjustment for somewhat better results in organized, well-optimized groups:
    • Nightblades, Templars, and Wardens, as well as any class in Khajiit race, have a critical damage passive already and can swap Fighting Finesse out for Wrathful Strikes
  • Next grab Tireless Discipline, and also the non-slottable CP from the Extended Might sub-tree (i.e. skip any CP with the "Add to Champion Bar to activate" note)
  • Finally add the rest of the non-slottable CP throughout the Warfare tree

Fitness Fitness

  • Take these three slottables: Rejuvenation, Boundless Vitality, Fortified. (Make sure you add them to your Champion Bar or they'll have no effect!)
  • Grab Sprinter, Hasty (in the Wind Chaser sub-tree), and Hero's Vigor
  • Take the rest of the non-slottable CP throughout the Fitness tree, including those in the three subtrees
  • At some point during the above step, take one more slottable CP of your choice (Celerity (in the Wind Chaser sub-tree), Bloody Renewal, Spirit Mastery are some of the most useful ones)

Craft Craft

  • Use whatever you'd like here; these points mostly don't affect your combat skill. There are lots of options for crafting, stealth, movement speed, and more in this tree
    • Some early nodes I find good for very general usage are Steed's Blessing, Breakfall, and Wanderer

Build Summary

Build summaries for a magicka-based sorcerer and a stamina-based warden. For other classes, simply substitute in the skills you want

Magsorc HA Build Stamden HA Build

Written by @IIIlIlIIlllIIlllIIll (Updated 10/2023 - U40)