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!


Sorcerer Basics

Sorcerers are experts in the dark arts, using dark magic to conjure runes, daedric creatures, and lightning. With two summonable pets able to autonomously attack enemies, sorcerers are good at putting out extra zero-effort damage just by having these pets summoned; however, they can also do strong damage without using pets. Sorcerers tend to be especially good at:

  • Direct damage: Most of the sorcerer's strongest damage abilities do large bursts of instantaneous damage, rather than damage-over-time (DoT) damage
  • Single-target damage: Sorcerers are capable of doing the highest single-target damage of any class, though their area (AoE / area-of-effect) capabilities are a little more wanting
  • Ranged combat: Sorcerers are skilled at ranged combat, able to deal high damage while staying far away from the enemy

Gear

Basics

  • We'll use mostly light armor. The Light Armor skill line provides damage stats and magicka recovery that will be very helpful to doing as much damage as possible and keeping up our resources
    • One or two medium armor pieces can be helpful as well, as the Medium Armor skill line provides critical damage, a powerful stat that light armor does not provide
  • We'll use a lightning staff on our frontbar. This will allow us to maintain range while also boosting our already-high direct damage even higher via the Ancient Knowledge passive
    • If you'd like, you can also use a different weapon, such as dual wield daggers. Daggers will allow us to do a little more damage with their strong passives, but will force us to stay in melee range
  • We'll use an inferno staff for our backbar. This will be one of our strongest backbar options and also allow us to maintain range
    • Two-handed greatswords and bows are also excellent alternative options

Note that despite the physical/stamina-based inclination of swords and bows, we can still use these weapons on a magicka-based build. There's no penalty or disadvantage for doing so; in fact, using swords and bows can be helpful to regulating our magicka usage, since their respective skills cost stamina and won't dip into our magicka

This guide will favor a lightning staff + inferno staff setup; however, a few different setup options will be shown for other weapons

Gear Setups

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!

Starting Gear

Try this setup until you reach CP 160 (the gear cap). These sets are all craftable! Ask for help in guild chat or Discord if you'd like someone to make them for you. The Training traits will get you a bunch of extra XP

If you have some extra skill points available to invest in the Medium Armor skill line, swapping the head and/or shoulder piece to medium armor will usually yield a little bit more damage

This setup uses Order's Wrath for huge crit buffs to do lots of extra damage, and Adept Rider for extra movement speed, perfect for new characters that tend to struggle to move quickly around the world. Night Mother's Gaze is just filler for our last two pieces, providing a little extra crit chance

Gear Slot Type Set Trait Enchant
Light Head Head
Light Shoulders Shoulders
Light Night Mother's Gaze Training Training Max Magicka Max Magicka
Light Chest Chest
Light Hands Hands
Light Waist Waist
Light Legs Legs
Light Feet Feet
Light Adept Rider Training Training Max Magicka Max Magicka
Necklace Neck Order's Wrath Arcane Arcane Magicka Recovery Magicka Recovery
Ring Ring
Ring Ring
Order's Wrath Arcane Arcane Spell Damage Spell Damage
Lightning Staff Front Weapon Lightning Staff Order's Wrath Training Training Flame Flame
Inferno Staff Back Weapon Inferno Staff Order's Wrath Training Training Weapon Damage Weapon Damage

Alternatives

You can substitute Adept Rider with:


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 at least one spammable

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

  • Crystal Fragments  Crystal Fragments: 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 incredibly powerful
    • Has a slightly inconvenient cast time. If you prefer an instant-cast spammable, try Force Pulse Force Pulse. Even if you do this, keep Frags to cast just when it does its special proc, which is very powerful and does not have a cast time
  • Force Pulse  Force Pulse / Crushing Shock  Crushing Shock: Another solid spammable. Use Force Pulse to cleave to additional enemies or Crushing Shock for a ranged interrupt
  • Mages' Wrath  Mages' Wrath: This is an execute spammable. After an enemy's health has dropped to 20%, you can spam this skill instead of your regular spammable for lots of extra damage both to that enemy and in an area around it. Before this 20% threshold, this skill will do mediocre damage; you should use a different spammable for the majority of the fight
  • Pulsar  Pulsar: AoE spammable. With a lightning staff, we'll get extra damage for every enemy nearby that we hit with this skill. Also applies Minor Mangle to debuff the enemies' health pools

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

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 one of these high-damage skills

These will make up a significant portion of our damage and will more or less 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: Does a big burst of damage after 6 seconds. Prey also increases your pets' damage, and Curse lasts 12 seconds and does two bursts
    • Prey is incredibly strong since it both deals damage and buffs your pets' damage, but it has a short timer. You'll want to cast it consistently every 6th cast for best results
    • Curse has a much longer timer and isn't as powerful, so it doesn't need to be micro-managed as much
  • Bound Armaments  Bound Armaments: 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)

Choose some utility skills (optional)

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

  • Bound Aegis  Bound Aegis: 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: Another skill that passively increases our max magicka. Also provides Major Savagery/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: Great sustain skill. Gives back a ton of magicka both immediately and over time. Also provides some healing and the Minor Berserk buff for extra damage
  • Critical Surge  Critical Surge: Strong heal-over-time skill that heals us as long as we're doing critical damage. Also provides Major Brutality/Sorcery for some nice stat boosts

Choose ultimates

Very high damage skills you can cast when your Ultimate meter is full. Normally you'll want Atronach on the backbar, and either Dawnbreaker or Atronach again on your frontbar

  • Summon Charged Atronach  Summon Charged Atronach: One of the highest damage 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: You can optionally slot this passively 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 no-pet options can be powerful as well

Consider these setups as templates for your own setup; there's not necessarily a need to follow them exactly. Skills marked "Flex" in particular can be replaced with other skills that you prefer, or ones of the opposite stat cost if you're having sustain trouble

Single-Target Fight

Fighting a boss? These setups will do nicely

Setup 1 (2 Pets)

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

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

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

You can swap out Inner Light Inner Light for another spammable if you find Crystal Fragments Crystal Fragments's cast time difficult to manage. Do keep Frags on your bar regardless, as its proc effect does very high damage and does not have a cast time

A two-handed sword backbar can substitute in Stampede Stampede for Unstable Wall of Elements Unstable Wall

A bow backbar can substitute in Arrow Barrage Arrow Barrage

How To
  • Crystal Fragments Crystal Fragments is our spammable. You'll be casting this skill much more than all other skills
    • If you want a spammable without a cast time, swap out Inner Light Inner Light for this spammable as mentioned above
  • Daedric Prey Daedric Prey is a very strong damage skill, as it provides a big burst of damage and also gives our pets a huge damage buff; however, it has a rather short timer. It's important to keep this skill up as much of the time as possible to keep your pets doing buffed damage, so do your best to cast this skill consistently every 6 casts since it has a 6 second cooldown. In other words, cast a repeating pattern of Prey - skill - skill - skill - skill - skill - Prey - skill - skill - skill - skill - skill
    • Make extra sure not to re-cast this skill early. It does its entire burst of damage at the end of its timer, so you'll miss all of this damage if you restart the timer before it finishes. Better a little late than a little early
  • We have a few DoT skills (Summon Volatile Familiar Barbed Trap Unstable Wall of Elements) that will put out lots of extra damage throughout a fight
    • Try to cast Summon Volatile Familiar Summon Volatile Familiar only when you're on your frontbar rather than your backbar. This will give Crystal Fragments Crystal Fragments another chance to proc, since it can only proc when it's on your current bar
  • Critical Surge Critical Surge will provide us with strong healing, as well as a big stat buff to increase all our damage
  • Summon Twilight Matriarch Summon Twilight Matriarch is an additional heal you can use when your health is low. It also provides lots of damage passively as it flies around attacking enemies
  • Don't cast Inner Light Inner Light; it's just giving us some passive buffs to our critical chance and magicka pool
  • Always use Summon Charged Atronach Summon Charged Atronach for your ultimate; Flawless Dawnbreaker Flawless Dawnbreaker is just slotted passively, giving us some extra damage from the Slayer passive

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    Summon Charged 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: Summon Charged Atronach

You can swap out Lightning Flood Lightning Flood for another spammable if you find Crystal Fragments Crystal Fragments's cast time difficult to manage. Move Hurricane Hurricane to the backbar to put your spammable on the front. Do keep Frags on your bar regardless, as its proc effect does very high damage and does not have a cast time

A dual wield frontbar can substitute in Deadly Cloak Deadly Cloak for Mages' Wrath Mages' Wrath

A two-handed sword backbar can substitute in Stampede Stampede for Unstable Wall of Elements Unstable Wall

A bow backbar can substitute in Arrow Barrage Arrow Barrage

How To
  • Crystal Fragments Crystal Fragments is our spammable. You'll be casting this skill much more than all other skills
    • If you want a spammable without a cast time, swap out Lightning Flood Lightning Flood for this spammable as mentioned above
  • We have a variety of DoT skills (Barbed Trap Hurricane Haunting Curse Unstable Wall of Elements Lightning Flood) that will put out lots of extra damage throughout a fight
  • Mages' Wrath Mages' Wrath is our execute spammable. Once the enemy hits Wrath's threshold of 20% health, start using Wrath as your spammable instead of Frags for lots of extra damage
  • Critical Surge Critical Surge will provide us with strong healing, as well as a big stat buff to increase all our damage
  • Don't cast Inner Light Inner Light; it's just giving us some passive buffs to our critical chance and magicka pool
  • Always use Summon Charged Atronach Summon Charged Atronach for your ultimate; Flawless Dawnbreaker Flawless Dawnbreaker is just slotted passively, giving us some extra damage from the Slayer passive

Quick Guide to Skill Casting

Remember, there is a one second global cooldown (GCD) for casting skills. After you cast a skill, you are unable to cast another skill for one second. Therefore it is ideal to cast skills on a consistent rhythm of one skill per second, the maximum speed allowed by the GCD. Consider using a metronome to get accustomed to this rhythm

  • Naturally, casting this frequently will burn through a lot of resources, but any second where you're not casting a skill is a second wasted where you could have been doing more damage! But see Sustain Tips below if you're running out of resources
  • Also remember to weave a light attack between each skill. Along with dealing extra damage, this will cause you to generate ult and also assist in applying your weapon enchantments, which are activated by light attacks and weapon skills. A successful weaver will cast one skill and one light attack in each one-second interval

Rotation

Watch your skill timers! Your main goal in your rotation is to keep your DoT timers all running as much of the time as possible. When you see a timer run out, cast that skill again

Your goals in your rotation are:

  • Keep your DoT and buff timers running at all times
  • Cast a useful skill on every one-second GCD

Your priorities in casting your skills are:

  • If you have Crystal Fragments Crystal Fragments slotted, cast it whenever it procs. That proc does huge damage, so it's your top priority. (Don't prioritize Frags if it's not procced)
  • If you're using Daedric Prey Daedric Prey, cast that whenever its timer runs out. Prey does huge burst damage and also buffs your pets' damage if you're using any, so it's another high priority
  • Whenever one of your DoT timers has run out or is about to, cast that skill again to keep it running!
  • Whenever your cooldowns are all still running, hit your spammable skill (Crystal Fragments Force Pulse Crushing Shock Pulsar) for extra damage
    • Try to avoid recasting DoTs before their timers expire, unless the enemy has moved out of the skill's area. This will usually not provide much or any additional damage
    • If you're using Mages' Wrath Mages' Wrath, remember to start using that as your new spammable when the enemy is at low health (20% and below)

You should spend most of your time on your frontbar. Just go to your backbar briefly to refresh skill timers

Casting skills infrequently is one of the biggest things that holds back most DPS from doing lots of damage. Dealing with mechanics and staying out of enemy attacks can take some time to get used to, but once you're familiar with the fight, pushing your damage skills as close to that one-cast-per-second rhythm as possible will let you put out huge amounts of damage. Don't spam your skills as fast as possible, since only one skill per second will cast, but don't cast too slowly either

Priority Passives

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

Daedric Summoning: Everything: Rebate, Power Stone, Daedric Protection, Expert Summoner

Dark Magic: Everything: Unholy Knowledge, Blood Magic, Persistence, Exploitation

Storm Calling: Everything: Capacitor, Energized, Amplitude, Expert Mage

Destruction Staff: Penetrating Magic, Elemental Force, Ancient Knowledge, Destruction Expert

Light Armor: Everything: Grace, Evocation, Spell Warding, Prodigy, Concentration

Medium Armor (only if wearing some medium pieces): Dexterity, Wind Walker, Agility, Athletics

Fighters Guild: Slayer, Banish the Wicked, Skilled Tracker

Undaunted: Everything: Undaunted Command, Undaunted Mettle

Assault: Continuous Attack

Racial: Everything

Alchemy (if using potions): Medicinal Use


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. Your skills do more healing based on your Max Magicka value (or Stamina, whichever is higher), so it is ideal to build one value as high as possible

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: Max Health/Magicka/Stamina, Health/Magicka/Stamina Recovery
    • Easy free option if accumulated from daily rewards
  • Magicka Potion Magicka Potion: Max Magicka, Magicka Recovery
    • Also a probably-free option that is easily looted from the wild; also craftable
  • Spell Power Potion Spell Power Potion: Max Magicka, Magicka Recovery, Major Sorcery/Prophecy
    • This will give powerful damage buffs but is a more expensive option to craft

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

Sustain Tips

Try to avoid heavy attacking for extra magicka when possible. A heavy or two once in a while is okay, but doing many heavy attacks takes lots of time away that you could be using to cast skills and do more damage. It's much better to improve your sustain in other ways whenever possible

Need some more magicka sustain? Magicka sorcerers very commonly struggle with keeping up their magicka, so you're not alone! Check these tips, in roughly this order:

  • Have you bought all your passives? Your Light Armor and class skill lines in particular have several passives that will give you extra magicka
  • Are you using mostly light armor? If not, consider doing so to get lots of extra magicka from the Evocation passive
  • Do you have CP points in the Rejuvenation passive (red tree)?
  • Are you using Crystal Fragments Crystal Fragments as your spammable? Frags has a unique effect that reduces the cost of your next skill cast. Consider switching to Frags if you're using a different spammable; despite the perhaps-challenging cast time, it will actually help your sustain
  • Are you using several stamina-costing skills like Hurricane Hurricane and Barbed Trap Barbed Trap? The more you use stamina skills, the less you'll be using up your magicka
  • Are you using food with a magicka recovery buff, like Witchmother's Potent Brew Witchmother's Potent Brew?
  • Are you using a potion with a magicka recovery buff?

If you still need more magicka, try these options. These may alter your build a little bit more significantly

  • Use magicka recovery glyphs on some or all of your jewelry
  • Slot Dark Conversion Dark Conversion. This skill provides a very large amount of magicka immediately, as well as extra magicka over its 20 second duration
  • Use a stamina-based weapon on one or both bars. A greatsword or bow on your backbar, or dual wield daggers on your frontbar, will give you access to more strong stamina skills to slot to avoid using so much magicka


Written by @IIIlIlIIlllIIlllIIll (Updated 05/2024 - U41 / Scions of Ithelia)