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What is the best build for a mage for Skyrim?


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#1
Old Book

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I've been reading here and there that magic has been gimped in Skyrim compared to the other Elder Scrolls games. This isn't a surprise; every game after Arena has removed some effects and imposed more limits, at least until the modders got hold of it.

But now I'm hearing that the top damage for bows and blades is higher than the top damage for Destruction magic.

So, what's the best build for a Mage in Skyrim?

Do you have to play a battle mage, relying on weapons with magic as a supplement? Or is there something I'm missing?

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#2
khaydin

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I think it's possible to play a pure armor less mage, you just have to be more cautious. As a start I'd recommend a illusion/destruction mage. Throw down a frenzy spell, let them fight each other while you nuke them from a distance.

Currently I'm doing a play through on master difficulty without any crafting. I'm focusing on a shield/destruction build with alteration for mage armor and resists. I also use the lord stone for added defense and resistance. Overall I'm highly mobile, resistant to magic, moderately high armor for cloth (400ish), I use lightning for ranged, elemental wall and damage cloaks, and the shield to chain stagger/disarm/knock enemies off cliffs (shield charge never gets old :P).

#3
stgmilleralive

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I've been reading here and there that magic has been gimped in Skyrim compared to the other Elder Scrolls games. This isn't a surprise; every game after Arena has removed some effects and imposed more limits, at least until the modders got hold of it.

But now I'm hearing that the top damage for bows and blades is higher than the top damage for Destruction magic.

So, what's the best build for a Mage in Skyrim?

Do you have to play a battle mage, relying on weapons with magic as a supplement? Or is there something I'm missing?


Magic hasn't been gimped, all the useless effects have been removed. Most of the effects that actually DID something are in the game, and most, like illusion, are worth a damn now. In fact I'd go far as to say it's a more playable style than it was in Oblivion.

The best build is whichever one you want to play as.

I'm a full mage and not only is my destruction magic capable of one-shotting most monsters but my healing is so powerful than dragons and priests can't keep up. As a full magic I use light armor hands and legs that I dual-enchant with a Dragon Priest mask and the Arch-mage robe. This gear-set coupled with my fighting style of distance and conjuration when needed makes me nigh-unkillable.

If you're interested look at the schools in this way.

Restoration: Always pair it with something. Restoration in Skyrim is so useful that it's worth training as a melee character.

Illusion: Illusion is now an extremely effective school. The spells are useful in end-game play and primarily duel with pacifying, turning, or terrifying enemies. As a combat school it's the most powerful form of crowd-control in the game.

Conjuration: Train this if you hate using companions all the time. The temporary mobs do an amazing job at tanking in Skyrim and the Dremora is death incarnate.

Destruction: Train this regardless. Coupled with the unique spells you can deal more damage than either in melee or ranged. Dual-casting allows you to pretty much one-shot anything short of a dragon.

Alteration: If you're going with an unarmored mage, consider getting some spells in here. Alteration allows you to beef your armor rating up. Mix this with bound weapons and you can be a war-mage on the fly.




#4
Silk

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Don't forget to max of Enchant - that one skill can seriously boost any mage thanks to having 2 schools of magic with unlimited magicka.

#5
Mundus

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High level casting is still pretty good, even if it does no damage on master. The reason is because you are gonna have infinite mana. With impact that means that you can stun lock enemies to death without them being able to fight back.

I also recommend using poison and potions to make your destruction spells stronger when fighting strong mobs.

I'm currently using melee on my character as i am maxed out in all magic schools except alteration (i use armor and play Breton). But when i used magic i used conjuration (2x Daedra lords is deadly) and destruction mainly just spamming 2x incinerates until the mobs where dead which an occasional shout here and there to keep enemies at bay.

Its definitely possible, but i think Bethesda should add something that makes destruction spells scale other than potions. There are mods for this though, but i don't use mods other than texture and mesh mods.

Destruction: Train this regardless. Coupled with the unique spells you can deal more damage than either in melee or ranged. Dual-casting allows you to pretty much one-shot anything short of a dragon.

No, both arrows and melee will do a lot more damage than destruction spells when you hit level 50+ especially on master, even without the smithing/enchanting/alchemy glitch they scale a lot more.

Also every spell school has been nerfed since Oblivion especially illusion. 100% Chameleon rings any bell? But 100% mage definitely still a playable build and at low level is probably the most powerful.

#6
Alyss

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Destruction spell damage doesn't scale. The spells get cheaper, but that's it. There are mods around to fix it though.

#7
warlpalg6

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I was very disappointed in the Magic scheme in Skyrim. Most of the old spell types were cut out. A restoration master can't cure poisons or diseases nor can they use absorb spells. Destruction spells are mostly limited to fire, frost, and shock, which is fine except any weak spells don't have any stronger counterparts. I'm not a big fan of the base 1% magicka regen per second in combat either. But the real kicker was the lack of spellcrafting, that's the part that denies any 'scaling' for mages.

Slightly-off-topic-but-not-really. Looks like Xilver has hit the modding scene for Skyrim with a pre-release of Midas Magic.
http://www.skyrimnex...ile.php?id=3413

#8
stgmilleralive

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Destruction: Train this regardless. Coupled with the unique spells you can deal more damage than either in melee or ranged. Dual-casting allows you to pretty much one-shot anything short of a dragon.

No, both arrows and melee will do a lot more damage than destruction spells when you hit level 50+ especially on master, even without the smithing/enchanting/alchemy glitch they scale a lot more.

Also every spell school has been nerfed since Oblivion especially illusion. 100% Chameleon rings any bell? But 100% mage definitely still a playable build and at low level is probably the most powerful.


The Destruction spells offer more utility. Aoes, traps, sprays, and single-target damage. Only the two handed sweep can match it. sword and broad offers defensive capabilities, but magic allows you just flee and deal damage. And I'm at level 50 right now. Magic still kills everything with ease and its only once in a blue moon that I actually fight something for longer than thirty seconds.

And so what if melee does more damage at max level? It's regardless of that. Magic gives you more tools to play with in my opinion and thus makes combat more flashy and entertaining. Which is why people want to play a sodding mage to begin with. And it's not like you meet impossible mobs at 50, Elder dragons are there, but they are more little more than wasps to me. And I'm not even particularly good at the game.

Also, Chameleon was nerfed for a reason, it did much to break the vanilla game. Illusion was always a pointless school to me because the impact of the spells weren't as useful as the other schools. With Skyrim, each school brings something to combat. I can switch seamlessly between Illusion, Destruction, and Conjuration, dealing with any threat that comes from the air, ground, or sea.



#9
stgmilleralive

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I was very disappointed in the Magic scheme in Skyrim. Most of the old spell types were cut out. A restoration master can't cure poisons or diseases nor can they use absorb spells. Destruction spells are mostly limited to fire, frost, and shock, which is fine except any weak spells don't have any stronger counterparts. I'm not a big fan of the base 1% magicka regen per second in combat either. But the real kicker was the lack of spellcrafting, that's the part that denies any 'scaling' for mages.

Slightly-off-topic-but-not-really. Looks like Xilver has hit the modding scene for Skyrim with a pre-release of Midas Magic.
http://www.skyrimnex...ile.php?id=3413


Wards replace absorption effects. Poisons can be healed through. Diseases can be fixed through shines, and that's fixed if you just invest some time with alchemy. The major damage spells are limited to destruction and the lack of spellcrafting is made up by the different spell varieties that bestow differing ways to approach combat. Sprays mixed with traps and paralyze poisons can create an aoe field few mobs can pass through unmolested. The directed attacks are extremely powerful in the early game and still carry a crackle in later periods. Besides that, I still most of the destruction spells I've learned, from the first 'thrower' attack to the fireball over incinerate when an aoe opportunity presents itself.

The scaling doesn't matter to me as I have no trouble at high-end gameplay, though that's a subjective opinion.

#10
warlpalg6

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Wards replace absorption effects. Poisons can be healed through. Diseases can be fixed through shines, and that's fixed if you just invest some time with alchemy. The major damage spells are limited to destruction and the lack of spellcrafting is made up by the different spell varieties that bestow differing ways to approach combat. Sprays mixed with traps and paralyze poisons can create an aoe field few mobs can pass through unmolested. The directed attacks are extremely powerful in the early game and still carry a crackle in later periods. Besides that, I still most of the destruction spells I've learned, from the first 'thrower' attack to the fireball over incinerate when an aoe opportunity presents itself.


Errr... what I meant by absorption is stealing health, stamina, and magicka from your foes. And the fact that a Restoration user can't cast curative effects says quite a bit about all the gutting out of the magic scheme of this fifth elder scrolls game. Sure, destruction had some innovative spells, placing 'mines' or applying a cloak effect to yourself to damage foes you engage in melee. And the most satisfying would be the master level shock spell, it was fun to unload a giant lightning stream at flying dragons. But it still isn't enough to compete with melee or bow users, not just in power, magic is simply... inflexible.

#11
RustyXXL

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My biggest Problem is, that you can't get the double dmg or stuff like that from magic when you attack from being stealthed, like with bows....would so love to play a stelth based char with some destruction magic, but magic does so little damage from stealth compared to a well aimed shot from a bow...then again stealth-based gameplay has never been a true strength of bethesda-titles....it's possible but you always come around some triggered enemies where you simply have no other choice than activating the enemies and then throwing in some invis to loose the enemies...

#12
pringlesranch3

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Hmm I play three different characters: a pure mage, a bow-backstab rogue, and a 2h-heavy tank.

They're all fairly viable but my pure mage is easily the most broken out of the three. Usual pattern for me is dual cast Muffle then Invis EVERYWHERE non-stop. Whenever I find somebody, I creep somewhere and then stunlock them with spammed dual cast Incinerates. The stagger effect as far as I know works on everything (giants and dragons even). Also with max enchanting, you can enchant -100% to Destruction spells and have free casts. Then cast Invis again before anybody notices you killing people.

Easiest way to level pure mage:
Buy Muffle then spam that until Illusion hits 75. Get Silent Casting while leveling and then buy Invisibility from Winterhold College.

Level Destruction and Enchanting.

Then you're done.

#13
stgmilleralive

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Errr... what I meant by absorption is stealing health, stamina, and magicka from your foes. And the fact that a Restoration user can't cast curative effects says quite a bit about all the gutting out of the magic scheme of this fifth elder scrolls game. Sure, destruction had some innovative spells, placing 'mines' or applying a cloak effect to yourself to damage foes you engage in melee. And the most satisfying would be the master level shock spell, it was fun to unload a giant lightning stream at flying dragons. But it still isn't enough to compete with melee or bow users, not just in power, magic is simply... inflexible.


The absorptions aren't missed by me. I preferred to use buffs and potions, the only thing that mattered to me was the mana drains. Even without them I haven't missed them, I've been too busy learning combos with separate schools.

And I've come to learn we'll just have to disagree. I'll agree that the damage scaling can't match, but I believe the variety outweighs them. Magic is far more flexible than melee or bows. With a pure magic character you can perform aoes, traps, summonings, direct damage, shields, wards, crowd-control, and healing. I think only a full melee character can match the balance of combat here.



#14
stgmilleralive

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Hmm I play three different characters: a pure mage, a bow-backstab rogue, and a 2h-heavy tank.

They're all fairly viable but my pure mage is easily the most broken out of the three. Usual pattern for me is dual cast Muffle then Invis EVERYWHERE non-stop. Whenever I find somebody, I creep somewhere and then stunlock them with spammed dual cast Incinerates. The stagger effect as far as I know works on everything (giants and dragons even). Also with max enchanting, you can enchant -100% to Destruction spells and have free casts. Then cast Invis again before anybody notices you killing people.

Easiest way to level pure mage:
Buy Muffle then spam that until Illusion hits 75. Get Silent Casting while leveling and then buy Invisibility from Winterhold College.

Level Destruction and Enchanting.

Then you're done.


Yes...mages are broken *sigh*. Same with the Orc racial. That shit is just pure evil.


#15
llolivia

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#16
Tobbe27

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The best build for a mage is probably uh, everything? When I played on my Mage the main spells I used were the knockback fireball and frenzy. Really, frenzy did the job 50% of the time :P

Edit: I am an idiot! Thread was necroed by spambot.