Magicka Sorcerer Sorcerer

Welcome to my Magicka Sorcerer guide! This guide will teach you to summon lightning and pets to destroy your enemies with the power of daedric magic

This guide is mostly designed for PvE group play but can work to some degree for solo play as well. (For extensive solo play, you may need to make a number of adjustments for survivability)

For a nontraditional but incredibly effective and easy-to-use alternative build, check out my Heavy Attack Build guide as well!


Starting Gear

See Leveling Gear below for a detailed example setup. These sets are all craftable! Ask for help in guild chat or Discord if you'd like someone to make them for you. You will want:


Skills and Passives

Skills

I'm listing way more skills than will actually fit on your bars, just to emphasize how many good options there are. See Example Bar Setups below for specific examples of bar setups, but ultimately you can just pick whatever skills you like best!

Choose a spammable

This is the skill you'll be casting most often, while your DoTs are still running

Slot Crystal Fragments on your bar, at least to cast it when it procs. In addition, you can optionally slot a second spammable as your main spammable

  • Crystal Fragments  Crystal Fragments (Class → Dark Magic → Crystal Shard)
    • The highest-damage spammable. Can proc randomly when we cast any skill on the same bar (including Frags itself), to make our next Frags cast more powerful
    • Has a slightly inconvenient cast time. If you prefer an instant cast spammable, try one of the below options, and just cast Frags only when it does its powerful proc
  • Force Pulse  Force Pulse / Crushing Shock  Crushing Shock (Weapon → Destruction Staff → Force Shock)
    • Use Force Pulse to cleave to additional enemies and Crushing Shock for a ranged interrupt
  • Elemental Weapon  Elemental Weapon (Guild → Psijic Order → Imbue Weapon)
    • Technically the highest damage option other than Crystal Frags, but requires good light attack weaving to be effective; consider a different spammable if you aren't well-practiced at this. (Also requires leveling the Psijic skill line to unlock it, which can take some time)

Choose one or both pets (optional)

Pets are a playstyle almost unique to sorcerers! They will do lots of damage passively just by being summoned, and also have an ability you can activate by casting the skill again

Note that pets need to be slotted on both your bars, or else the pet will un-summon when you swap

  • Summon Volatile Familiar  Summon Volatile Familiar (Class → Daedric Summoning → Summon Unstable Familiar)
    • Great passive damage while the pet is summoned. You can also cast it while the pet is out to get some nice AoE damage
  • Summon Twilight Matriarch  Summon Twilight Matriarch / Summon Twilight Tormentor  Summon Twilight Tormentor (Class → Daedric Summoning → Summon Winged Twilight)
    • Also good passive pet damage. Matriarch gives you a big heal when you cast it while summoned, while Tormentor does slightly more damage

Note: Using pets is a great way to put out lots of easy, passive damage, and it also allows higher damage in general than a setup with no pets. For me, pets are half the fun of playing a sorcerer, but some people find them inconvenient and obtrusive. Use whichever playstyle you like best!

Choose a high-damage core class skill

These will make up a significant portion of our damage and will essentially define the rhythm of our rotation. (I recommend using just one of these; managing both is possible but rather challenging)

Use Daedric Prey if you're using both pet skills, and Haunting Curse if you're using neither or just one. Bound Armaments is a bit less beginner-friendly but otherwise another great option

  • Daedric Prey  Daedric Prey / Haunting Curse  Haunting Curse (Class → Daedric Summoning → Daedric Curse)
    • Does a big burst of damage after 6 seconds. Prey also increases your pets' damage, and Curse lasts 12 seconds and does two bursts
    • For optimal damage, cast Prey consistently every 6th skill. If you're using Curse, cast it every 12th skill
  • Bound Armaments  Bound Armaments (Class → Daedric Summoning → Bound Armor)
    • Excellent damage skill, but requires good light attack weaving to use effectively
    • For optimal damage, ideally cast this every 4th skill if you're weaving well; otherwise just cast it whenever you've hit four light attacks to proc it

Choose some DoTs

Fill up the rest of your skill slots with DoTs, and optionally utility skills (see below)

  • Unstable Wall Of Elements  Unstable Wall of Elements (Weapon → Destruction Staff → Wall of Elements)
    • Great AoE DoT
  • Barbed Trap  Barbed Trap (Guild → Fighters Guild → Trap Beast)
    • Provides Minor Force to increase your crit damage, as well as applying a DoT
  • Hurricane  Hurricane (Class → Storm Calling → Lightning Form)
    • Excellent AoE DoT skill. Also provides Major Resolve to protect you and Minor Expedition for a nice speed boost
    • Strictly a melee skill; if you want a fully ranged setup, skip this skill
  • Lightning Flood  Lightning Flood (Class → Storm Calling → Lightning Splash)
    • Good AoE DoT
  • Anti-Cavalry Caltrops  Anti-Cavalry Caltrops (Alliance War → Assault → Caltrops)
    • Decent AoE DoT; mainly useful if you need a stamina skill for better magicka sustain

Choose some utility skills (optional)

Miscellaneous skills you can use for buffs, recovery, and extra damage

  • Mages' Wrath  Mages' Wrath (Class → Storm Calling → Mages' Fury)
    • Nice execute skill. Toward the end of a fight, you can spam this skill instead of your spammable for extra damage
  • Bound Aegis  Bound Aegis (Class → Daedric Summoning → Bound Armor)
    • Passively increases our max magicka and protects us with Minor Resolve. (No need to cast this skill, we just have it for the passive buffs)
  • Inner Light  Inner Light (Guild → Mages Guild → Magelight)
    • Another skill that passively increases our max magicka. Also provides Major Savagery and Prophecy to increase our weapon and spell crit stats. (No need to cast this skill, we just have it for the passive buffs)
  • Dark Conversion  Dark Conversion (Class → Dark Magic → Dark Exchange)
    • Great sustain skill. Gives back a ton of magicka both immediately and over time. Also provides some healing
  • Critical Surge  Critical Surge (Class → Storm Calling → Surge)
    • Excellent heal over time skill that heals us as long as we're doing critical damage. Also provides Major Brutality and Sorcery for some nice stat boosts

Choose ultimates

Very high damage skills you can cast when your Ultimate meter is full. Slot one on each bar (either two different ones, or the same one on both)

  • Greater Storm Atronach  Greater Storm Atronach (Class → Daedric Summoning → Summon Storm Atronach)
    • One of the best single-target ultimates in the game! Does a lot of damage, and provides a synergy for allies to get the excellent Major Berserk buff
  • Flawless Dawnbreaker  Flawless Dawnbreaker (Guild → Fighters Guild → Dawnbreaker)
    • You can optionally slot this on your frontbar for the Slayer passive in Fighters Guild, with Atronach on your backbar. (You won't normally actually cast Dawnbreaker; it's just there for the passive stat boost)

Example Bar Setups

Pet setups are simpler to use and generally do more damage, but the no-pet option is powerful as well

Skills marked "Flex" in particular can be replaced with other skills. You may want to swap out a damage skill for a sustain or heal skill, a magicka skill for a stamina skill, or simply a skill you don't like for one you enjoy more

I'm using Crystal Fragments as the spammable for these setups, but consider using a different one if Frags feels too clunky (swap out a flex skill, keeping Frags to cast it when it procs)

Setup 1 (2 Pets)

Crystal Fragments Daedric Prey FlexInner Light Summon Volatile Familiar Summon Twilight Matriarch    FlexFlawless Dawnbreaker

Barbed Trap FlexCritical Surge Unstable Wall Of Elements Summon Volatile Familiar Summon Twilight Matriarch    Greater Storm Atronach

  • Front Bar: Crystal Fragments, Daedric Prey, Inner Light (flex), Summon Volatile Familiar, Summon Twilight Matriarch || Ultimate: Flawless Dawnbreaker (flex)
  • Back Bar: Barbed Trap, Critical Surge (flex), Unstable Wall of Elements, Summon Volatile Familiar, Summon Twilight Matriarch || Ultimate: Greater Storm Atronach

Setup 2 (No Pets)

Crystal Fragments Barbed Trap FlexHurricane FlexMages' Wrath FlexInner Light    FlexFlawless Dawnbreaker

Haunting Curse Unstable Wall Of Elements FlexLightning Flood FlexCritical Surge FlexInner Light    Greater Storm Atronach

  • Front Bar: Crystal Fragments, Barbed Trap, Hurricane (flex), Mages' Wrath (flex), Inner Light (flex) || Ultimate: Flawless Dawnbreaker (flex)
  • Back Bar: Haunting Curse, Unstable Wall of Elements, Lightning Flood (flex), Critical Surge (flex), Inner Light (flex) || Ultimate: Greater Storm Atronach

Priority Passives

All passives are useful for something, but these are the passives that will be most relevant to combat

Daedric Summoning

  • Everything: Rebate Rebate / Power Stone Power Stone / Daedric Protection Daedric Protection / Expert Summoner Expert Summoner

Dark Magic

  • Everything: Unholy Knowledge Unholy Knowledge / Blood Magic Blood Magic / Persistence Persistence / Exploitation Exploitation

Storm Calling

  • Everything: Capacitor Capacitor / Energized Energized / Amplitude Amplitude / Expert Mage Expert Mage

Destruction Staff

  • Penetrating Magic Penetrating Magic / Elemental Force Elemental Force / Ancient Knowledge Ancient Knowledge / Destruction Expert Destruction Expert

Light Armor

  • Everything: Grace Grace / Evocation Evocation / Spell Warding Spell Warding / Prodigy Prodigy / Concentration Concentration

Medium Armor (only if wearing some medium pieces)

  • Dexterity Dexterity / Wind Walker Wind Walker / Agility Agility / Athletics Athletics

Fighters Guild

  • Slayer Slayer / Banish The Wicked Banish The Wicked / Skilled Tracker Skilled Tracker

Undaunted

  • Everything: Undaunted Command Undaunted Command / Undaunted Mettle Undaunted Mettle

Assault

  • Continuous Attack Continuous Attack

Racial

  • Everything

Alchemy (if using potions)

  • Medicinal Use Medicinal Use

Example Rotations

You can use these "static" rotations to practice the basic 6-second rhythm of a sorcerer's rotation, as well as light-attack weaving. Once you're comfortable with these ideas, you can consider switching to a "dynamic" rotation (i.e. casting your skills on their individual cooldowns, instead of in a specific order), which will tend to be more optimal and yield higher damage if you can perform it well

Skill casting has a cooldown of one second, so your goal should be to cast a skill (and then a light attack!) roughly every second. Casting a bit slower can also be helpful while you're learning to weave and do your rotation

Light attacks are marked with LA, and weapon bar swaps are marked with WS

Note: Remember to weave a light attack between every skill to maximize your damage

Setup 1 Rotation (2 Pets)

Using this bar setup. (Substitute any alternative skills in as needed):

Crystal Fragments Daedric Prey Inner Light Summon Volatile Familiar Summon Twilight Matriarch    Flawless Dawnbreaker

Barbed Trap Critical Surge Unstable Wall Of Elements Summon Volatile Familiar Summon Twilight Matriarch    Greater Storm Atronach

  • We're using a 18 second rotation to sync with Daedric Prey's 6 second cooldown, and since several of our DoT skills last for around 18 seconds
  • Cast Daedric Prey every 6 seconds. In between, cast your backbar DoTs, then Familiar on your frontbar, and then cast your spammable for the rest of the rotation
  • Whenever Frags procs, ideally cast it immediately, even if DoTs are running out; that proc does a huge amount of damage. This may throw off your rotation slightly, but just resume your rotation as normal afterward
  • Make sure to cast Familiar on only your front bar to give it a chance to proc Frags

Daedric Prey Light Attack + Weapon Swap Barbed Trap Light Attack Critical Surge Light Attack Unstable Wall Of Elements Light Attack + Weapon Swap Summon Volatile Familiar Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack

Daedric Prey Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack

Daedric Prey Light Attack + Weapon Swap Unstable Wall Of Elements Light Attack + Weapon Swap Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack

For a more optimal dynamic rotation, just make some small adjustments. Anytime your DoTs haven't run out, simply cast your spammable instead. (Surge for instance has a very long cooldown and does not need to be casted on every rotation)

Setup 2 Rotation (No Pets)

Using this bar setup. (Substitute any alternative skills in as needed):

Crystal Fragments Barbed Trap Hurricane Mages' Wrath Inner Light    Flawless Dawnbreaker

Haunting Curse Unstable Wall Of Elements Lightning Flood Critical Surge Inner Light    Greater Storm Atronach

  • We're using a 12 second rotation to sync with Haunting Curse's 12 second cooldown, and since a number of our DoT skills last for around 12 seconds
  • Start on your backbar with Haunting Curse. Then cast your other backbar DoTs, and your frontbar DoTs, and then cast your spammable for the rest of the rotation
  • Whenever Frags procs, ideally cast it immediately, even if you're in between casting DoTs; that proc does a huge amount of damage. This may throw off your rotation slightly, but just resume your rotation as normal afterward
  • Surge and Hurricane have long cooldowns, so when you get comfortable with your rotation you can try skipping those casts on every other rotation (cast your spammable instead)
  • When an enemy reaches 20% health, switch to spamming Mages' Wrath instead of your usual spammable

Haunting Curse Light Attack Unstable Wall Of Elements Light Attack Lightning Flood Light Attack Critical Surge Light Attack + Weapon Swap Barbed Trap Light Attack Hurricane Light Attack

Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack Crystal Fragments Light Attack + Weapon Swap

For a more optimal dynamic rotation, you can use a similar format. For every skill cast, use either (1) a DoT if one has just expired, or (2) your spammable otherwise

The framework below works as a basic semi-dynamic rotation that should be an improvement over the static one. For the skill casts marked "F," cast a skill on your frontbar: simply cast a DoT (Trap or Hurricane) if one has run out, or your spammable otherwise. (Note that Surge has a long cooldown and can be replaced with a frontbar cast on every other rotation)

Haunting Curse Light Attack Unstable Wall Of Elements Light Attack Lightning Flood Light Attack Critical Surge Light Attack + Weapon Swap Frontbar Light Attack Frontbar Light Attack

Frontbar Light Attack Frontbar Light Attack Frontbar Light Attack Frontbar Light Attack Frontbar Light Attack Frontbar Light Attack + Weapon Swap


Character

Race

Racial differences are relatively minimal, so I advise simply picking a race you like. But if you're wanting to optimize, the best options are:

Attributes

All 64 points belong in Magicka. This will maximize our magicka resource pool, which also increases our damage

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

Potions

  • Crown Tri-Restoration Potion Crown Tri-Restoration Potion (free option if accumulated from daily rewards)
    • Max Health/Magicka/Stamina, Health/Magicka/Stamina Recovery
  • Magicka Potion Magicka Potion (cheaper craftable potion)
    • Max Magicka, Magicka Recovery
    • Only practical at CP150+
  • Spell Power Potion Spell Power Potion (most powerful but more expensive craftable)
    • Max Magicka, Magicka Recovery, Major Sorcery/Prophecy
    • Only practical at CP150+

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 and 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: Fighting Finesse, Deadly Aim, Master-at-Arms, Wrathful Strikes. (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
  • Next grab Eldritch Insight, 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), Siphoning Spells, 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 include Steed's Blessing, Breakfall, and Wanderer

Gear

Note: There are many great options for gear. These are some of my favorites that I've found to do especially high damage, but experiment with other sets and find what works best for you!

Leveling Gear

Try this setup until you reach CP160 (the gear cap). It uses all crafted sets, which you can get made for you by guild members. The Training traits will get you a bunch of extra XP, and Heartland Conqueror will boost those traits even further

Gear Slot Type Set Trait Enchant
Light Head Head Light Night Mother's Gaze Training Training Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Shoulders Shoulders Light Night Mother's Gaze Training Training Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Chest Chest Light Heartland Conqueror Training Training Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Hands Hands Light Heartland Conqueror Training Training Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Waist Waist Light Heartland Conqueror Training Training Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Legs Legs Light Heartland Conqueror Training Training Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Feet Feet Light Heartland Conqueror Training Training Max Magicka Max Magicka
Necklace Neck Order's Wrath Arcane Arcane Spell Damage Spell Damage
Ring Ring Order's Wrath Arcane Arcane Spell Damage Spell Damage
Ring Ring Order's Wrath Arcane Arcane Spell Damage Spell Damage
Lightning Staff FB Weapon Lightning Staff Order's Wrath Training Training Flame Flame
Inferno Staff BB Weapon Inferno Staff Order's Wrath Training Training Weapon Damage Weapon Damage


See Starting Gear above for some additional set options that can give you running speed or extra magicka recovery. If you want one of these other sets, simply swap out either Heartland or Order's for a full five pieces of that other set

Intermediate Gear

Once you hit CP160, swap off your training gear and set up for pure damage! This gear will serve you well through the vast majority of content throughout the game

Gear Slot Type Set Trait Enchant
Light Head Head Light Night Mother's Gaze Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Shoulders Shoulders Light Night Mother's Gaze Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Chest Chest Light Law of Julianos Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Hands Hands Light Law of Julianos Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Waist Waist Light Law of Julianos Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Legs Legs Light Law of Julianos Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Feet Feet Light Law of Julianos Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Necklace Neck Order's Wrath Arcane Arcane Spell Damage Spell Damage
Ring Ring Order's Wrath Arcane Arcane Spell Damage Spell Damage
Ring Ring Order's Wrath Arcane Arcane Spell Damage Spell Damage
Lightning Staff FB Weapon Lightning Staff Order's Wrath Precise Precise Flame Flame
Inferno Staff BB Weapon Inferno Staff Order's Wrath Infused Infused Weapon Damage Weapon Damage


I recommend the above gear for the simplicity in acquiring it, but here are some additional options. These options require farming from overland and basegame dungeons but may be a little bit more powerful than Julianos. Order's Wrath on the other hand is quite powerful and should generally not be replaced

If you're ready for vet dungeons, consider swapping out your Night Mother pieces for a monster set. These basegame monster sets are some of the easiest ones to get but are still quite powerful

Note that if you're not looking for maximal damage, the sets listed in the Starting Gear section can still be very useful too!

Advanced Gear

Consider this setup once you have some trials and veteran dungeons under your belt. This setup uses very optimized sets and traits but will require significant trial and dungeon farming

The Intermediate Gear listed above is entirely adequate for most content in ESO. The gear listed below will often provide noticeably more damage, but crafted gear will be plenty for anything short of seriously dedicated veteran content. If you're not interested in vet content and you're not interested in farming, you can skip this section!

Gear Slot Type Set Trait Enchant
Medium Head Head Medium Slimecraw Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Shoulders Shoulders Light Whorl of the Depths Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Chest Chest Light Whorl of the Depths Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Hands Hands Light Whorl of the Depths Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Waist Waist Light Whorl of the Depths Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Medium Legs Legs Medium Harpooner's Wading Kilt Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Feet Feet Light Whorl of the Depths Divines Divines Max Magicka Max Magicka
Necklace Neck Pillar of Nirn Bloodthirsty Bloodthirsty Spell Damage Spell Damage
Ring Ring Pillar of Nirn Bloodthirsty Bloodthirsty Spell Damage Spell Damage
Ring Ring Pillar of Nirn Bloodthirsty Bloodthirsty Spell Damage Spell Damage
Lightning Staff FB Weapon Lightning Staff Pillar of Nirn Precise Precise Flame Flame
Inferno Staff BB Weapon Inferno Staff Crushing Wall Infused Infused Weapon Damage Weapon Damage


A wide variety of additional options listed here

Alternative Setups

Here are some other good options for weapons and gear setups:

  • For slightly higher damage potential, you can swap the frontbar staff for dual wield daggers. This will require you to stay in melee range, however
  • For another potentially higher damage option, swap the backbar staff for a 2H sword. Merciless Charge (from Maelstrom Arena) is an excellent arena weapon for this setup
    • For this setup, swap out the Unstable Wall skill for Stampede Stampede. If you have another spare bar slot, Carve Carve is another great 2H skill to add in too

Some additional possible gear setups are displayed below, including different mythic and monster set configurations. I'm using Whorl, Pillar, and Maw sets throughout these presentations, but these sets can easily be replaced with alternatives. You can also replace the weapons with different options like daggers or a sword as mentioned above

Harpooner's Kilt + Maelstrom 2H Monster Set + Maelstrom 2H Monster Set + Kilt + Maelstrom 2H Kilt with no Arena Weapon Oakensoul One-Bar Setup


Build Summary

From left to right, summaries of several setups from above: Leveling Gear (with 2 pets), Advanced Gear (with 2 pets), and Advanced Gear again (with no pets). (Note that gold gear is completely unnecessary to the build; it's just what I had available on the PTS for the screenshots)

Leveling Build (2 Pets) 2-Pet Build No-Pet Build

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