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ESO Magicka Arcanist PVE Builds: Low Cost, High DPS, Skills, Gear and Strategies

Believe it or not, you can become a powerful DPS player in Elder Scrolls Online with just 100K Gold. Whether you're a beginner, an advanced player, or somewhere in between, this budget build will help you dominate PvE content without the need for expensive gear. In this guide, we'll go over the skills, gear, and strategies to make you a DPS god with your Magicka arcanist character.



ESO Magicka Arcanist PVE Builds: Low Cost, High DPS, Skills, Gear and Strategies


Weapon Choice

For this build, we will be using a Lightning Staff as our primary weapon. While it may not be considered the best weapon in the meta, it offers several advantages that make it beginner-friendly and effective for area-of-effect (AOE) damage. Equipping a Lightning Staff increases Damage done with area effect abilities by 10. Additionally, the common heavy attack, when used with a Lightning Staff, deals an additional 100 damage to nearby enemies, making it useful for quickly eliminating targets without the need for precise aiming.


Skills - Front Bar

Flail (Stamina-based Ability): 

This ability debuffs enemies, increasing your Damage Done by 5%. It builds up Cruxes, represented by green floating objects around you. You can accumulate a maximum of three Cruxes. It also acts as a pseudo-execute, dealing more Damage when the target's health is below 50%. The ability has a large AOE range of 15 meters by 5 meters and a 0.3-second cast time. The healing from this ability is not dependent on hitting enemies, so you can use it solely for healing if needed.


Pragmatic Fake Carver (Morph of Crux Builder):

This ability consumes the Cruxes you've accumulated. It provides a massive shield, indicated by the tooltip's 14,000 damage shield value. Using this shield makes you more survivable. Aim the Stone Point at the ground to cast it effectively. You can use this ability with or without Cruxes, but it's recommended to save up to three Cruxes for maximum benefit.


Recuperative Tradesy (Resource Sustaining Tool):

This ability helps sustain your resources and provides Damage as well. It generates Cruxes if you don't have any. It grants you the Major Brutality and Major Sorcery buffs, regardless of the bar you're on. Cast this ability every 30 seconds to maintain the buff and sustain your resources.


Structured Entropy (Mages Guild Ability) - Alternative: Fire Rescue (Fighters Guild Ability):

Structured Entropy is recommended if you have access to the Mages Guild skill line. It deals with Damage over time (DoT) and provides significant self-healing. Fire Rescue can be used as an alternative if you have access to the Fighters Guild skill line. Both abilities offer survivability and damage output.


Inner Light:

Slot this ability on your front bar (5 key). It increases your critical chance and maximum magic. It provides a critical buff, synergizing with the overall build.



Flawless Dawnbreaker (Fighters Guild Ultimate) - Alternative: Tide King's Gaze or any morph you prefer. Flawless Dawnbreaker provides weapons and spells Damage when slotted. It passively generates ultimate upon killing enemies if you have at least one Fighter's Guild ability slotted. If you don't have access to Flawless Dawnbreaker, use an alternative ultimate such as Tide King's Gaze or any other morph that suits your playstyle.


Skills Back Bar

When playing in melee range and you're unsure, it is recommended to go with double lightning staves for simplistic gameplay. Here are two highly recommended destruction staff skills for your back bar:

  • Elemental Blockade: This skill deals with a lot of area-of-effect (AOE) damage and has different status effects, such as concussed enemies and off balance. Off balance is particularly useful because you can consume it for double resource sustain. Additionally, Elemental Blockade procs your enchant repeatedly, has a long duration, has low Magicka cost, and increases your weapon and spell damage.
  • Elemental Susceptibility: This skill gives Major Breach, reducing the enemy's resistance. While tanks usually provide major and minor breaches, Elemental Susceptibility can be a flex skill on your bar. It also applies the burning status effect and concussed, which synergizes well with the Herald of the Tome ability.


Herald of the Tome Abilities

  • Psychic Lesion: With this ability slotted, you increase the Damage dealt by status effects by 15% and the chance to apply status effects by 75%. This amplifies the Damage from status effects like concussed and the Hemorrhage status effect from Barb Trap.
  • Fulminating Ruin: This is your primary hard-hitting AOE damage ability on the back bar. It functions as a damage-over-time (DOT) ability and is better for group play.


Other Skills

Evolving Rune This skill can be flexed out for skills like Resolving Vigor or another utility skill. Evolving Rune costs Magicka and can heal you and your allies.
Resolving Vigor This is a stamina-based selfish heal-over-time skill that also grants minor resolve. However, be cautious of stamina management when using this skill.
Shock Rune of Destiny This skill provides group utility as a shield and heal. It can be spammed when you're in trouble.
Rune Guard or Freedom Consider this a flex spot on your back bar. Rune Guard provides group utility by giving everyone minor resolve, minor protection, and a burst heal when your health is low.
Zaan's Empowering Trap This skill is a great alternative for solo play or when there's no Arcanist in the group. It provides minor resource sustain bonuses and minor courage, increasing your weapon and spell damage.
Rune of Colossal Protection This skill procs minor vulnerability and minor brittle. It can be slotted if another player or skill is not providing these effects.
Consuming Trap If you struggle with resource sustain and survivability, this skill is an alternative. It deals decent Damage over time and provides health, Magicka, and stamina upon an enemy's death.


Ultimate Skill on the Back Bar

Tide King's Gaze: This ultimate is chosen for its Fighter's Guild advantage, which is more beneficial when primarily focused on dealing Damage on the front bar. Use this ultimate on the back bar and switch to the front bar for damage output.



Start with the longest-duration buffs and debuffs:

  • Begin with Recruitment of Trade on the front bar.
  • Switch to the back bar and apply Elemental Susceptibility, followed by Rune (at 20 seconds), and then the 15-second debuff.
  • Optional: Before engaging in combat, you can cast Elemental Susceptibility for added security or Empowering Disc for increased Damage.
  • Light attack in between abilities on the front bar (1, 2, 3).
  • On the front bar, if healing is needed, use Structured Entropy or a Fighter's Guild ability like Barb Trap for healing over time.
  • Use the Flurry ability on the front bar, hitting it once and then twice to activate Pragmatic Fake Carver (2k light up).
  • Channel the Beam ability for 4.5 seconds. Repeat this sequence tightly for two Beam rotations before reapplying dots.
  • After the Beam channel, switch to the back bar and reapply Elemental Blockade.
  • On the front bar, cast Structured Entropy (1) and then switch to the back bar to apply Recruitment of Trade.
  • Use Blockade, Ulti, and switch back to the front bar. Repeat the light attack sequence (1, 2, 3) until Beam is available again.
  • Monitor your bar for cooldowns and refresh your dots before going into the Beam channel.
  • Note: The most important ability to prioritize is Blockade, as it keeps the Berserker enchant, proccing for continuous Damage.



The build mentions two gear sets: Briarheart and Gourmand. Let's break down the details of each set and their benefits:


Briarheart Set:

Source: Overland drop in Wrothgar.

Recommended for a stamina-based build. Provides stamina and critical damage bonuses. Grants increased weapon and spell Damage when dealing critical Damage. It offers healing on critical strikes, scaling off max stamina or max magicka. Best used on the front bar with structured Entropy and pragmatic fake Carver for additional healing.


Gourmand Set:

Source: Back Alley Gourmand, an Overland set available from Traders or DLC.

Suitable for light armour users. Enhances critical Damage and healing. It helps balance out the lack of critical Damage in light armor builds. Works well to reach the 18,200 penetration cap and 125 critical damage cap. Use three jewellery pieces and two body pieces for a constant five-piece bonus.


Alternative Gear Options:

  • Deadly Strikes: Increases damage with channels and Damage over time. Obtainable from PvP or Traders.
  • Falcon Scoria (Monster Set): Deals damage when you deal Damage over time. It can be found in the City of Ash.
  • Veloth's Amulet (Mythic Item): Provides minor Force, freeing up a skill slot.
  • Winter's Respite: Provides additional frost damage on light attacks.
  • Other options include Order of the Wrath, Julianos, and various craftable sets.


Gear Progression:

If you can craft gear, consider alternatives like The Druid's set. Prioritize upgrading your weapons to blue or purple quality. Jewellery can be expensive, so focus on upgrading weapons and armour first. Consider upgrading the armor to purple quality. Enchants on jewellery and weapons significantly impact your damage output. Food is crucial for buffs; consider Crown Fortified Meals or crafted options.



Use Tri-stat food for balanced stats. Crown Restoration Potions are recommended for resource sustain. Khajiit race is used, with the Thief Mundus Stone for critical Damage.

Use the Advanced Stats panel to monitor critical Damage and avoid exceeding the cap.


Champion Points

Recommended CP allocation includes Fighting Finesse, Rate Fuller Strikes, Fighting Oar, and Thaumaturge. Consider using the Dynamic CP add-on for optimal CP distribution. Preparation passive in the Steed constellation provides damage reduction. Balance, Vitality, Fortify, and Rejuvenation passives are suggested. Flex options include Resourceful, Bashing Focus, or Bastion for Shields.

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