The Nightblade class in Elder Scrolls Online is your classic assassin-type character, relying on stealth and surprise attacks to deal massive bursts of damage to enemies. Nightblades are reminiscent of the classic stealth archer you played in Skyrim, sticking to the shadows before taking out enemies with precision.
Certain races will help your Nightblade character excel at different types of play, helping with DPS, healing, and tanking at the game’s highest difficulty. Nightblades in ESO can be played with any race, of course, but we’ve listed a few below that play to the Nightblade’s strengths and optimize your character regardless of the role you choose to play.
We’ve also included the races that are most lore-appropriate and helpful in PVP, if those are a bit more your speed. Let’s get started!
Best Race for Nightblade ESO: The Top Picks
Starting off with the best race for DPS, let’s cover the top races for Nightblades in ESO!
Best Race for Magicka DPS Nightblade
The Khajiit is the perfect race for the Magicka Nightblade, as it gives you extra critical damage and better sustain, both of which heavily suit the class. Khajiit passives give you an extra 915 to your health, stamina, and Magicka resources, along with bonus recovery for each resource (100 health recovery, 85 recovery for stamina/Magicka).
Khajiit also have 12% increased critical damage and critical healing, making their burst damage potential higher than other races. Supplementing your Khajiit Magicka Nightblade with a higher critical chance and spell damage will ensure you deal the greatest possible damage at all times — aim to have over 50% spell critical to crit more often than not. Khajiit really fits the Nightblade theme in general and allows you to deal great damage without sacrificing survivability, establishing its place as one of the best races for Nightblade in ESO.
For the Magicka Nightblade, you’ll want to increase your critical chance with sets like Mother’s Sorrow and Medusa, which will make sure you are landing those huge hits more regularly. Using the ultimate Soul Harvest or Incapacitating Strike from the Assassination skill line will cause you to deal 20% more damage to an enemy for six seconds, where you can spam all of your strongest burst damage abilities to deal massive damage. Charging up your Merciless Resolve to fire its spectral bow right after your ultimate is a classic combo that many Nightblades use to deal a huge amount of damage and heal for 50% of the damage dealt by it.
Your spammable will be Swallow Soul from the Siphoning skill line, which deals great single target damage and heals you for over one third of the damage you deal (every two seconds over a ten-second duration). This means you won’t need any other major heals on your skill bars — you can sustain your health bar just by doing damage Having such a strong built-in heal will also take pressure off of the healer, allowing them to focus on the tank, keeping the dungeon or trial running more smoothly.
Magicka Nightblades have an awesome toolkit in ESO, and can take advantage of sneaking and bursting enemies or dishing out consistent damage in extended fights. Try going as a Vampire and experimenting with the playstyle with the Khajiit race, as the Magicka Nightblade can take full advantage of the skills and passives allowing you to be a true Queen or King of the night in ESO. The Strike from the Shadows passive from the Vampire skill line gives you increased spell and weapon damage by 300 when you leave sneak/invisibility for six seconds, which will make you hit way harder for that period of time.
Best Race for Stamina DPS Nightblade
The Nightblade benefits so strongly from extra critical damage that Khajiits also steal the title for best Stamina Nightblade in ESO. Speaking of stealing, don’t forget that Khajiit passively gain decreased stealth detection and have 5% easier pickpocket success, leading you to be a master thief in no time.
As stated above, playing a Khajiit passively gives you an extra health, stamina, and magicka boost and bonus recovery for each resource. Khajiit also have increased critical damage and critical healing, helping you deal more damage in both short bursts and long battles. Though Khajiit wins out for both Magicka and Stamina DPS Nightblades, keep in mind that Dark Elf is very close in terms of damage outputs, and gives more consistent damage instead of burst potential.
For the Stamina Nightblade, increased critical strike chance is also very necessary, so sets like Berserking Warrior, Tzogvin’s Warband, or even Arms of Relequen will help you achieve those high-damage critical hits. If you aren’t able to get your critical hit chance above 50%, be sure to switch from the Shadow mundus to the Thief mundus in order to increase your crit chance by a good amount. Similar to the Magicka version, Incapacitating Strike will set up your burst damage as well, allowing your Relentless Focus spectral bow to deal insane damage to the enemy. Keep in mind that it will only heal for 33% of the damage dealt, so your burst heal will not be as substantial.
For your spammable, use Surprise Attack from the Shadow skill line, as it deals great single-target damage and will stun enemies if you’re flanking, causing them to take more damage from heavy attacks. The Sundered status effect will also be put on the enemy, reducing their physical and spell resistance by nearly 3000. Applying this status debuff on enemies consistently with your spammable is great for consistent higher group damage. Keep in mind when flanking as a Nightblade, you’ll get another 3000 physical and spell penetration, increasing your damage done further.
Best Race for Nightblade Healer in ESO
The Nightblade Healer is a fun style of the class, but needs the racial passive bonuses that Breton provides to allow for ease of use. Breton passives give you an extra 2000 magicka, 130 magicka recovery, and a 7% reduction in the cost of magicka abilities. The mix of the increased magicka pool, recovery, and skill cost reduction allow you to use more of your healing abilities over extended fights, helping you keep your party alive and buffed throughout. Bretons are serious contenders for the best race for Magicka Nightblades, are a great natural choice for healers, and do a great job making Nightblade Healers a fun and functional playstyle.
Many of your healing abilities will come from the restoration staff skill line, but the Nightblade itself also has several strong healing abilities. Funnel Health from the Siphoning skill tree will act as your spammable, and also works as a group heal. It gives two other nearby allies health back from about 50% of the damage you deal with the skill. In the same skill line is Healthy Offering, which actually costs your own health to heal another player and give you minor mending. Having minor mending will increase your healing done by 8%, so you’ll want to be casting this ability on cooldown to keep up that bonus.
The final signature Nightblade healing ability in ESO regardless of race is Refreshing Path from the Shadow skill line, healing all party members every second and giving them Major Expedition, increasing their movement by 30%. This movement bonus can be extremely beneficial when boss mechanics require your group to change locations to avoid wiping from strong boss skills. For ultimate use, you can go for the alliance ones like Warhorn and Barrier, but the Shadow skill line ultimate, Bolstering Darkness, functions as a stronger Refreshing Path both healing and increasing your party’s speed.
Best Race for Nightblade Tank
The Nightblade Tank is definitely not the Meta for ESO right now, but it can be very fun to play and, when pulled off correctly, almost unkillable. The main reason we recommend Nord over Imperial is the extra physical and spell resistances built into the Nord racial passives. Nightblades naturally have great sustain with a mix of their abilities and passives, making the Imperial skill cost reduction not as useful.
Nord passives give you an extra 1000 health, 1500 stamina, and 2600 physical and spell resistance. Nords also benefit from increased cold resistance and a gain of 5 ultimate every ten seconds on tanking damage. Generating your ultimate more quickly will let you buff your group more frequently or save you from falling to boss damage through a more readily available defensive ultimate.
Nightblade Tanks will use many of the classic skills that other tanks use, like Pierce Armor and Heroic Slash, but also have great access to self-healing skills to take some pressure off of your healer. Leeching Strikes is one of the best skills for this — your light and heavy attacks will heal and restore your stamina, and when the skill ends, you gain an additional amount of stamina on top of that. This makes tanking much easier, as by simply damaging enemies while the skill is active restores your two major resource pools that you need to tank effectively. Consider using Silver Leash so that you can pull enemies to where you are standing, allowing you to better control how the fight goes and take full advantage of one of the best races for Nightblade in ESO.
The Siphoning ultimate is great for keeping your group or yourself alive, depending on the morph you choose. For more group-oriented play, go for Soul Siphon to give your group a strong immediate heal and a great heal over time for four seconds. For selfish tanking, go for Soul Tether, which stuns enemies for four seconds and heal only you for half of the damage you deal on the initial cast, which can be a huge amount if you pull a large group of enemies into one area. This skill also tethers those enemies to you and heals you over time for eight seconds, which is great if they aren’t all down by the time the four-second stun is up.
Best Race for ESO Nightblade Lore
Dark Elves have an assassin organization called the Morag Tong that are both highly feared and respected. Operated out of Morrowind, the Morag Tong kill in the name of Mephala, the Daedric Goddess of murder and deceit. The Morag Tong are very similar to the Dark Brotherhood, but have a much higher degree of legitimacy. The Empire actually allowed this group to get away with murder as those in power would call upon the Morag Tong to do their dirty work with writs, having various other members assassinated, both privately and publicly. Morag Tong does not assassinate just anyone — similar to the way the Dark Brotherhood requires the Black Sacrament to be done, Morag Tong requires a writ to be given to them before they go out and get to business. The major Dark Elf houses in Morrowind use the Morag Tong to settle affairs through drawing blood, and help establish a balance between the houses so none have more power over another.
Dark Elf passives give you an extra 1910 stamina and magicka, and an increased 258 weapon and spell damage. Dark Elves also have increased flame resistance by 4620, helping you get through certain boss fights or PVP scenarios much more easily. The luxury of playing a Dark Elf is also that you can switch between magicka and stamina builds and still get bonuses to both styles of play, so you can experiment making your Morag Tong Dark Elf fit into whatever playstyle you like better.
Best Race for PVP Nightblade (Stamina) in ESO
Wood Elves are natural-born hunters, and the perfect choice as the best race for a Nightblade PvP Stamina build. Wood Elves are an extremely strong choice for stamina PVP players, as you get many essential passive bonuses that help you in all aspects of gameplay against other players.
Wood Elf passives give you an extra 2000 stamina, 258 stamina recovery, and an extra 950 physical and spell penetration. Wood Elves also passively gain 5% movement speed, take 10% less damage from falling, and have increased stealth detection by three meters. These passives keep your stamina resources full while also dealing more damage to enemies by cutting through their armor. Being nimble and observant of the battlefield is also the Wood Elves’ strength, and make PVP more manageable for charging into battle as well as retreating when you need to.
Using the Master’s bow on your back bar will give you a bonus 330 damage to enemies you damage with poison arrow. Perfecting it will give you another 100 weapon damage, but isn’t absolutely necessary. You’ll want a two-hand weapon for your main bar, requiring you to get up close and personal (the Nightblade’s speciality). Keep in mind if things go South, you can always use your Shadowy Disguise to go invisible for three seconds and escape unscathed. This skill will also guarantee that your next attack is a critical strike, in case you change your mind and want to go back in for round two. Wood Elf Nightblades offer a fun engaging playstyle of darting in and out of battle, setting the tone for the fight they want to have.
Become a High Grounder
The Nightblade class (alongside the best race for Nightblade ESO) offers one of the most exciting styles of gameplay in all of Tamriel, and we hope this guide helps you to craft one to dominate the battlefield with. Check out our other ESO guides and gaming content here at High Ground Gaming, and stay up to date with our newsletter.