Introduction to Raid Compositions

If you are new to endgame PvE, the concept of raid compositions or group compositions, why people care how many of what class are present, why stamina or magicka may be preferred in some groups or not, then you should watch the guide below.

"What's the best raid composition? What's the best classes to bring to raids? What's the best X, Y, Z?"

These kinds of questions are asked so often (we get these questions almost daily) it had to be put here. Usually most endgame players answer with either what our teams have run or what we think could be most optimal.

These questions however have several (complicated) overarching themes to them that have plagued a majority of the PvE playerbase and produced incredible social tensions between the different demographics of the game: How do I get better? Do I need to change to get better? Do I really have to play what I don't like? At what point do I sacrifice fun to get what I want?

To start, the concept of the PvE meta is heavily misunderstood by both those moving towards endgame PvE and those who are simply repulsed by such a concept.

Running "meta" or "BIS" doesn't necessarily ensure success or entail that it's only "my way or the highway" to achieve whatever you want to achieve.

Whether it's a world record score, a trifecta achievement or just to clear content, the degree of optimization required will ALWAYS vary group to group as there are many factors including player skill.

With the advent of ESOLOGS, many groups have started to heavily imitate the higher end groups but some groups we've had to help often find themselves more crippled or worse off and become discouraged.

What works for one group does not always work for another. This needs to be emphasized.

While yes there are objectively better sets, better ways to pull numbers, better rotations, sometimes better classes, better compositions when compared to worse ones (like 12 magwardens vs a more optimized composition) there is never, for the majority of the playerbase, an absolute best composition so long as the basics are covered.

Stonethorn Compositions

Following the disaster that was Thrassian Stranglers in Greymoor, perhaps the question at the forefront of everyone's minds after was, "Do Stamina DPS have a chance of closing the gap with their Magicka counterparts?"

There are various factors to consider for Stonethorn including penetration, class buffs and so forth. I'd like to postulate that stamina and magicka DPS compositions will be very close this patch in terms of trash fights (bow/bow vs destruction staff) and single target DPS. Boss cleave could be a concern for Stamina DPS compositions but this could easily be fixed by Stamina Templars. Stamina Necromancer can certainly be a consideration as well for DPS composition as they're close to Stamina Nightblades as well.

Perhaps for Stonethorn, it is not really the class composition that's hard to figure out but certainly the itemization of your raid composition.

Anyone can simply look at the patch notes and determine that Magicka/Stamina Nightblades are probably the top dogs for the patch with Stamina and Magicka Templars following behind.

As always support roles will be delegated to the worst or least impactful DPS classes such as Sorcerer tank, Dragonknight tank, etc. However as a general rule, magicka DPS compositions due to the spread of Minor passives across different classes may be limited in class while stamina DPS compositions due to the itemization restriction amongst support roles and little spread of Minor passives needed (Minor Savagery/Minor Brutality already guaranteed) will see potentially more configurations.

Just glancing at the sets support DPS or support roles (healers, tanks) have to run can be daunting to shuffle around alongside the passives/buffs/debuffs a group will need to optimize to the fullest:

  • Roaring Opportunist
  • Martial Knowledge
  • Z’en’s Redress
  • Morag Tong
  • Powerful Assault
  • Elemental Catalyst
  • Worm Cult
  • Hircine’s Veneer
  • Ebon Armory
  • Roar of Alkosh
  • Yolnahkriin
  • Tremorscale
  • Symphony
  • Olorime
  • Spell Power Cure
  • Hollowfang
  • Defiled Dragon for trash (AOE MInor Pen)
  • Minor Sorcery (Templar)
  • Minor Prophecy (Sorcerer)
  • Minor Brutality (DK)
  • Minor Savagery (NB)
  • Igneous Weapons (Major Brutality/Sorcery, for heroism pots)
  • Major Vulnerability (Necro)
  • Minor Vulnerability (Warden/NB)
  • 1k penetration on target (Stam Sorc)
  • Stagger (DK)
  • Engulfing Flames (DK)
  • Major Resolve (Warden)
  • Minor Toughness (Warden)

For a detailed overview, watch the video below.

Priority Sets Broken Down

Alkosh has become even more important for this patch due to the changes moving the armor penetration debuff cap beyond the regular ~3,000. This has actually dismissed Minor Breach/Minor Fracture from boss fights from early observations which means Templar healers could be moved to DPS spots or a tank spot still.

Elemental Catalyst, one of the new sets from Stone Garden, is still an important set to run for optimized groups despite being nerfed twice in the PTS cycles. Free 9% critical damage.

Powerful Assault offers more Weapon/Spell damage than Major Courage from Spell Power Cure or Olorime do.

Ebon will most likely be forsaken in magicka DPS compositions but may be a strong consideration for stamina DPS compositions due to the 7 medium armor and food setup compared to the 5-1-1 and food setup for magicka DPS.

Hircine's, Worm and Hollowfang are still priority sustain sets to offer however depending on group DPS, most likely not needed sometimes. Endgame progression groups will most likely ditch Ebon, Worm and Hircine's depending on their DPS.

Arkasis's Genius will be a prebuff set most likely for certain trash gaps.

No room for Livewire, Torug's Pact and certain sets.

Morag Tong is going to be a pivotal set that will determine the DPS disparity between stamina and magicka DPS compositions. Remember that Nightblades and Necromancers have sources of both Poison AND Disease damage.

Martial Knowledge and Z'en's Redress could be shuffled between 1 healer and a DPS or two DPS however Roaring Opportunist will more than likely be better for endgame progression groups for Major Slayer uptimes compared to 3x Master Architect although 3x War Machines may need to be a necessary evil for Stamina DPS compositions due to the limitations of the stamina support itemization once Elemental Catalyst, Martial Knowledge, Z'en's Redress, Roaring Opportunist, etc are introduced.

Things for Consideration

3 Horns, 3 Colossi for boss fights. 4 Horns, 3 Colossi for trash.

Should a Dragonknight tank run both Engulfing Flames and Stagger? This will entirely revolve around whether your Roaring Opportunist/Z'en's Redress healer will be a Dragonknight or not. Martial Knowledge in this case will go to either an offtank or a Magicka Necromancer.

In the case that a Magicka Dragonknight in Elfbane/Z'en's Redress is desired, you will most likely have a healer in Roaring Opportunist and Jorvuld's while a tank or another Magicka Necromancer run Martial Knowledge.

Stamina Sorcerer could be a constant in stamina DPS compositions depending on Alkosh synergies.