Videogaming: Beginning PvP in Elder Scrolls Online

MMOs are not normally famous for their PvP, but Elder Scrolls does it pretty well compared to most, and can be a lot of fun. There are three main areas where you can PvP: Battlegrounds, Cyrodiil, and Imperial City. The last two are actually PvPvE, because they contain lots of PvE quests, delves, and other content as well as player vs. player battles.


  1. Battlegrounds
  2. Alliance War
  3. Changing Alliance
  4. Alliance War Tips
  5. No Champion Point Campaigns
  6. No-Proc Gear Sets


Battlegrounds are classic small-scale 4v4v4 team PvP. You can get a quest to enter them from a recruiter in any of the major starting Alliance towns — look for a poster saying For Glory! Battlegrounds are fast-paced fun but just remember you will probably get your ass kicked pretty significantly first time you go there. But stick at it, and find a good team and you can do well. I generally prefer Alliance War but Battlegrounds is a good fast-food substitute.

Alliance War

Elder Scrolls Online has one of the best large-scale PvP modes in any fantasy MMO. It has two huge zones where the three Alliances can meet and battle it out: Cyrodiil and Imperial City. And when I say huge, I really mean it. Cyrodiil is a gigantic area that includes not only 18 castles to capture (each with their own farm, mine, and lumbermill) but also three complete towns with merchants and other NPCs, multiple Delves and Dolmens, and tons of repeatable PvE quests. Yes, that’s right, ESO includes full PvE questing inside the PvP zones! This makes them a dangerous place to quest, because any other player you meet might be trying to kill you. On the other hand, they are an incredibly fun place to quest, but before you go there, make sure you have a few levels under your belt and are with a good team.

Getting to Cyrodiil

Once you get to level 10, press L to open the Campaigns window in order to enter Cyrodiil. You will be given a choice of several campaigns to join. If you are going alone pick Below Level 50 — since all player characters on that server are relatively low level characters you won’t get completely steamrollered by enemies the moment you arrive. Once you arrive there for the first time you will be offered a starting quest — take it! It will teach you lots of useful things and award you 2 free skill points when you finish it.

Entering the Imperial City

The Imperial City is not unlocked by default on new accounts, it’s an additional DLC. However it is currently completely free, so you should unlock it right away! Open the Crown Store inside ESO, go to the DLC section, and click on Imperial City. Once you have unlocked it, when you press L you will now have the choice of going to either Cyrodiil or Imperial City. If you choose Imperial City you will be teleported instantly to your Alliance Base in the sewers under the city. Look around for quests to get you started, and explore! Note: I strongly recommend you go here with a team, it’s a very dangerous place!

Friend or Foe?

In Alliance War it’s important to be able to tell friends from enemies. Each player character will have a little icon above their head in the colour of their Alliance:

  • Blue — Daggerfall Covenant
  • Yellow — Aldmeri Dominion
  • Red — Ebonheart Pact

If you see a player with a icon of another colour than your Alliance attack them! (Unless there are more of them, in which case go into stealth and/or run as fast as you can!). Speaking of stealth, don’t ever just stand around in the open in Cyrodiil or Imperial City, because the chances are that you will get ambushed and killed in seconds. Get used to staying in stealth mode as much as you can, it’s much safer that way.

Changing Alliance

Normally when you create a character, the race you pick will determine that character’s Alliance. That can be a problem if you really want to play a Khajiit (Almeri Dominion) and your friends are all fighting for the Daggerfall Covenant. Luckily there’s a way around this: the Any Race, Any Alliance Bundle available from the Crown Store. This bundle allows you to create a character of whatever Alliance you want, regardless of their race. It also includes Race & Name Change Tokens, plus a horse, a pet, and an outfit showing your Alliance affiliation. This is a great bundle, and for only 2000 Crowns it is well worth getting if you want to participate in Alliance War with different characters. Highly recommended.

However, note that if you use the Race Change Token in this bundle on a character you have already made, it does not change the Alliance of your character! Their Race will change, but their Alliance will remain the same.

If you have already created a character and want to change that character’s Alliance, you can only do this via an Alliance Change Token, also available in the Crown Store. Unfortunately this costs the rather ludicrous price of 2500 Crowns, and you don’t even get anything else with it. It’s usually better, and definitely cheaper, to just make a new character in this case.

Alliance War Tips:

  1. Make sure you have done the introductory quest in Cyrodiil. After you have done this, you will be able to pick up daily quests from the boards in your main Alliance base (this is Southern High Rock Gate if you are part of Daggerfall Covenenat).
  2. You will need to reconsider your skills a little bit to be effective. Do this before you get into a fight, since you can’t change your skill bar during combat.
  3. There are two Alliance War skill lines that you can level up by playing in Cyrodiil. If you are a stamina based fighter, unlock the Assault skills. If you are a magicka based character, unlock the Support skills.
  4. If you are a mage, slot some healing skills (even if you are a DPS mage). There are never enough healers and even some small healing is better than standing there not knowing what to do. The Restoration Staff Regeneration skill is great, because you don’t even have to target it for it to be useful. Most especially, the Alliance War Support skills can be incredibly handy. Even if you aren’t a mage, you can still heal with Blood Altar if nothing else.
  5. Repairing castle doors and walls is a great way to gain Alliance Points. You can also repair siege engines during a siege — which is great, because they break really easily. You will need to buy loads of Keep Repair Kits and have them slotted into your QuickSlots before the fight starts, since you can’t slot things during a combat. You can buy them at your Alliance Base or from the vendor in any Keep your Alliance owns.
  6. If you aren’t a healer, learn how to use siege engines! You can do enormous AoE damage with those things — they make you triply effective in a siege. Make sure you have a couple of siege engine in your quickslots before you get into a battle.
  7. During a siege, you should either be healing or using a siege engine of some sort. The only exception is if you are an archer — with a bow you can snipe really long distances in Cyrodiil, which can be handy.
  8. The main way to be useful is join the main zerg (for newbies, zerg is a large group) and follow the zerg leader. It can be really exhilarating to be part of a huge siege of 40–50 people, although it can also be extremely confusing the first few times. To join a team in Cyrodiil, type /z for zone chat and type LFG.
  9. Alternately if you are in a small Guild team of 6–10 people, a cool strategy can be to operate as a guerrilla force behind enemy lines. To do this find an unoccupied enemy resource such as a small town, farm, mine, or lumber mill. Hit it fast, take it over, and then run like hell. Find another resource and repeat. Note that this strategy depends on speed and surprise — eventually the enemy will get pissed off and send a big team after you. That’s exactly what you want, because those enemies are then taken away from the main fight. But you do need to make sure they don’t catch you! The essence of this strategy is not PvPing, it’s taking out NPC guards and then riding away as fast as possible. So even if you don’t really like PvP as such you can still have fun and help your Alliance this way :-)

No Champion Point Campaigns

When you try to enter Cyrodiil or Imperical City you will see some campaigns listed a No CP. This means that in these campaigns players do not have the benefit of Champion Point bonuses. If you are a newer player a campaign of this type can be a very good choice, because there is a more level playing field between players and you won’t be ganked in seconds by someone with 1000 Champion Points more than you. Note that all Under-50 campaigns are automatically No CP.

No-Proc Gear Sets

At the time of writing, No CP campaigns also have significant limitations in what gear can be used effectively in them, and so-called “Proc” gear sets have been disabled. This stops very experienced players exploiting the massive amounts of burst damage that these kind of gear sets can produce. Luckily this still leaves 85 sets that are fully legal in No CP campaigns. So if you want to PvP in one of these campaigns, consider using gear from the list below for maximum effectiveness. Luckily many of these gear sets can be acquired fairly easily with a little bit of work, even if you only have the base game.

No-Proc gear sets that can be used in No CP Cyrodiil & Imperial City

  • Aetherial Ascension
  • Agility
  • Akaviri Dragonguard
  • Amber Plasm
  • Archer’s Mind
  • Armor of the Seducer
  • Armor of the Trainee
  • Assassin’s Guile
  • Bahraha’s Curse (4-pieces)
  • Bastion of the Heartland
  • Battlefield Acrobat
  • Beekeeper’s Gear
  • Black Rose
  • Blessing of the Potentates
  • Blooddrinker
  • Buffer of the Swift
  • Caustic Arrow (Master)
  • Crafty Alfiq
  • Crushing Wall (Maelstrom)
  • Dagon’s Dominion
  • Darkstride
  • Deadly Strike
  • Draugr Hulk
  • Duneripper’s Scales
  • Eagle Eye
  • Elf Bane
  • Endurance
  • Eyes of Mara
  • Flanking Strategist
  • Fortified Brass
  • Frostbite
  • Grace of the Ancients
  • Hawk’s Eye
  • Hunding’s Rage
  • Impregnable Armor
  • Innate Axiom
  • Jorvuld’s Guidance
  • Kvatch Gladiator
  • Law of Julianos
  • Leki’s Focus
  • Leviathan
  • Light Speaker
  • Mark of the Pariah
  • Marksman’s Crest
  • Mother’s Sorrow
  • Netch’s Touch
  • Night Mother’s Embrace
  • Night Terror (3-piece)
  • Orgnum’s Scales
  • Perfected Caustic Arrow
  • Perfected Crushing Wall
  • Permafrost
  • Plague Doctor
  • Ranger’s Gait
  • Red Eagle’s Fury
  • Relics of the Physician, Ansur
  • Robes of Alteration Mastery
  • Robes of Destruction Mastery
  • Salvation
  • Sergeant’s Mail
  • Shacklebreaker
  • Shapeshifter’s Chain
  • Shield Breaker
  • Shield of the Valiant (5-piece)
  • Silks of the Sun
  • Spider Cultist Cowl
  • Spinner’s Garments
  • Spriggan’s Thorns
  • Strength of the Automaton
  • Swamp Raider
  • Sword Dancer
  • Sword-Singer
  • Syvarra’s Scales (4-pieces)
  • Torug’s Pact
  • Trial by Fire
  • Twilight’s Embrace
  • Vesture of Darloc Brae (4-piece)
  • War Maiden
  • Way of Air (4-piece)
  • Way of the Arena
  • Willow’s Path
  • Willpower
  • Witch-Knight’s Defiance
  • Wrath of the Imperium
  • Ysgramor’s Birthright

Recommended No-Proc sets by role

Some useful and relatively easy to obtain No-Proc sets that have been well-tested and known to give good results:


  • Akaviri Dragonguard
  • Beekeepers Gear
  • Plague Doctor
  • Mark of the Pariah
  • Dunerippers Scales
  • Torug’s Pact
  • Fortified Brass
  • Orgnum’s Scales


  • Jorvuld’s Guidance
  • Eyes of Mara
  • Light Speaker
  • Amber Plasm
  • Armour of the Seducer

Stamina DPS

  • Spriggan’s Thorns
  • Leviathan
  • Hunding’s Rage
  • Strength of the Automaton
  • Battlefield Acrobat
  • Dagon’s Dominion
  • Archer’s Mind
  • Draughr Hulk
  • Deadly Strike
  • Flanking Strategist

Magicka DPS

  • Law of Julianos
  • Mother’s Sorrow
  • Crafty Alfiq
  • Treasure Hunter
  • Robes of Destruction Mastery
  • Silks of the Sun
  • Elf Bane


  • Shacklebreaker — good all-round set that will give increased damage and sustain to any role
  • Black Rose
  • Armor of the Trainee — 3 piece hybrid set

Not officially supported

These sets are not officially supported, but are reported to also work:

  • Healer’s Habit
  • Jailbreaker
  • Medusa
  • Mighty Chudan
  • Shalks Exoskeleton
  • Slimecraw
  • Twice-Born Star
  • Vampire’s Cloak

These sets have two 5-piece bonuses, of which one will not work, but the other should:

  • Call of the Undertaker
  • Coward’s Gear
  • Dauntless Combatant
  • Dead Water’s Guile
  • Dragon’s Defilement
  • Fasalla’s Guile
  • Hanu’s Compassion
  • Heem-Jas’ Retribution
  • Hex Siphon
  • Hide of Morihaus
  • Kagrenac’s Hope
  • Knightmare
  • Might of the Lost Legion
  • Oblivion’s Edge
  • Oblivion’s Foe
  • Pestilent Host
  • Sentry
  • Shadow Dancer’s Raiment
  • Vastarie’s Tutelage
  • Vicious Death
  • Wisdom of Vanus
  • Wizard’s Riposte

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