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Best Builds for the Arcanist Class in ESO

By Michel Z2023-08-04

The Arcanist is one of the most popular classes in The Elder Scrolls Online. As the newest class, it provides some new and fun ways to play the game. If you are looking for powerful builds for PvE, PvP, solo content, or group content, Hack The Minotaur's guide is what you need.

Magicka Arcanist Beginner Build

This beginner build is easy to create, even if you're new to the game. It only requires Overland sets, which means you can farm the sets by yourself or buy them from Guild Traders. The build has a solid combination of damage, healing, and survival, making it flexible enough for all types of content, especially for questing in Overland by yourself or completing dungeons in a group.


Attributes: 64 points to Magicka


Race: Bretons are one of the best beginner races in the game, as they have the best sustain. This beginner Magicka Arcanist build uses the Breton race for cost reduction and Magicka recovery. 


Food: Witchmother's Potent Brew gives you more Magicka sustain.


Potions: Basic Magicka potions are fine for this build.


Mundus: The Thief will be the best option to increase your Critical Strike rating.


Gear Setup 

This build uses the Lightning Staff on the front bar and Inferno Staff on the back. 


Mother's Sorrow is one of the most popular damage sets because it gives tons of Critical Chance. The Arcanist class has a strong passive bonus to Critical Damage, so increasing your Critical Chance will help that passive to trigger more often. It is recommended to use three pieces of Mother's Sorrow on the jewelry and two pieces anywhere on the body.


The second set you need is War Maiden, which comes from the zone of Vvardenfell (Morrowind Chapter). The set is also tradable if you don't have access to the Chapter or if you want to purchase it quickly. War Maiden grants a specific buff: The five-piece of the set adds Weapon and Spell Damage to Magic Damage, a type of damage that can be found on abilities of Templar, Nightblade, and Arcanist. Most of your Arcanist offensive skills, including the Ultimate skills, deal Magic Damage, making War Maiden a great set to increase your Arcanist damage. Therefore, you will want to wear five pieces of War Maiden on the body.


For the weapons slots, you can use two pieces of Armor of The Trainee for even more Max Magicka and Max Health.


Skill Setup


Front Bar

1. Cephaliarch's Flail

2. Pragmatic Fatecarver

3. Chakram of Destiny

4. Escalating Runeblades

5. Inner Light

6. The Tide King's Gaze (Ultimate)


As the morphs of The Unblinking Eye, both The Tide King's Gaze and The Languid Eye will be helpful, but if you are not familiar with the game or just want to play easily, then The Tide King's Gaze is more suitable because it can follow your target so you don't have to worry about aiming the target at a specific spot on the ground.


Back Bar

1. Elemental Blockade

2. Elemental Drain

3. Evolving Runemend

4. Recuperative Treatise

5. Cruxweaver Armor

6. Sanctum of The Abyssal Sea (Ultimate)


Evolving Runemend is your emergency heal.


Recuperative Treatise increases your Spell Damage and gives extra sustain.


The Cruxweaver Armor not only grants extra defense but also generates Crux. 


Sanctum of The Abyssal Sea (Ultimate) will be perfect for surviving in more challenging situations.


Stamina Arcanist One-Bar Build

A one-bar build allows you to play the Arcanist without worrying about complicated rotations or bar swapping. This one-bar Stamina Arcanist build is perfect for both solo and group PvE content, especially for soloing more difficult content like Dungeons and Arenas. 


Attributes: 64 points to Stamina


Race: If you prefer playing solo or in small groups, Khajiit is a good option because of their bonus stat pools, recovery, and bonus Critical Damage and Healing. But keep in mind that their Critical Damage may eventually cap out in more coordinated groups because the Arcanist already has got fairly high Critical Damage from their class passives, especially when you are using medium armor. For that reason, if your goal is to do end-game Trials and push scores, it's better to choose the Dark Elf instead.


Mundus: The Lover will increase your Physical and Spell Penetration.


Food: Artaeum Takeaway Broth (best) or Dubious Camoran Throne (cheaper)


Potions: Thanks to the Oakensoul Ring buffs, any basic Stamina potion will be fine for this build.


Gear Setup

This build will use dual-wield daggers to maximize your Critical Chance.


If you like the Arcanist, then Deadly Strike is a set you want to get as soon as possible. This set buffs your main damaging abilities, including the Fatecarver beam and your offensive Ultimate. The five-piece Deadly Strike increases the damage your DoT and Channeled abilities do by 15%, making it pretty helpful on those damage-focused builds using the Fatecarver skill.


As a crafted set, Order's Wrath is fairly easy to get. If you don't like crafting, it's easy enough to get someone else to craft it for you. You can also find this for sale on Guild Traders. Order's Wrath is similar to Mother's Sorrow but is better for increasing your Critical Chance, Critical Damage, and Critical Healing, all of which are some of the best set bonuses you can get in ESO.


The Oakensoul Ring from the High Isle Chapter will supercharge your one-bar build, giving you tons of helpful buffs you wouldn't get otherwise when missing a whole other skill bar.


For the one set piece left, this build uses a light Slimecraw helmet for more Critical Chance. But you can put in any one-piece monster Helmet or Shoulder for an extra bonus.


Skill Setup

1. Cephaliarch's Flail

2. Pragmatic Fatecarver

3. Evoling Runemend

4. Recuperative Treatise

5. Impervious Runeward

6. The Tide King's Gaze (Ultimate)


Pragmatic Fatecarver is your main damage-dealing skill, and most of the other skills are going to serve as support to build up Crux so that you can cast the Fatecarver at its full efficiency. 


Impervious Runeward is an amazing damage shield for solo content. Most importantly, this skill uses your off resource, meaning it will not hurt your sustain at all. 


How to Play the Build

Your goal is to get to your fully stacked Fatecarver beam as soon as possible. Not only does Fatecarver is your strongest damage ability other than your Ultimate, but it is also a great defensive tool, thanks to the shield it provides while channeling.


With Recuperative Treatise activated, you should be at one Crux nearly all the time, meaning you only need to generate two more Cruxes before beaming. If your health is full, you can cast Cephaliarch's Flail twice to get three Crux. If you have lost a lot of health, you can use Evoling Runemend to heal and generate Crux at the same time. Finally, after your beam is finished, you can shield up again with Impervious Runeward to protect your health bar until you're ready to cast your next Fatecarver. This is one of the easiest rotations in the game, and all the extra shielding on this build makes your character hard to die.


Arcanist Tank Build

If you're interested in Tanking in The Elder Scrolls Online, the Arcanist is highly recommend. They have strong defenses, great self-healing, and some group utility that makes your Arcanist perform well as a Tank. This build has one of the easiest and most natural Tank setups while also being fun to play with a lot of versatility.


Attributes: 64 points to Health


Race: Nord gives extra Ultimate generation and armor. Imperial is also a solid choice for the stats and cost reduction.


Food: Bewitched Sugar Skulls 


Potions: Tri-Stat Potions


Mundus: The Atronach increases your Magicka Recovery.


Gear Setup

There are many set options for Tanks. Although this guide offers a basic Tank gear setup, you can adjust yours based on your group's needs.


Powerful Assault comes from the Imperial City. You can purchase it with Tel Var Stones or from Guild Traders. The set is always a solid option as you can back-bar it using something like a Frost Staff and three pieces of jewelry. It applies a unique damage buff to your group anytime you use an active Assault skill, such as Vigor or Caltrops.


Turning Tide gives your Arcanist Tank easy access to a powerful debuff called Major Vulnerability, one of the best group debuffs in the game.


As another debuff set, Tremorscale gives your group more Penetration, especially if you have Stamina damage dealers in the group. 


This build is going to back-bar the Powerful Assault set. If you want to upgrade this build, you could upgrade your front-bar sword and shield to an arena weapon, such as the Vateshran one-handed shield, which offers a lot of utility for Tanks, although this build is also completely fine without it.


Skill Setup


Front Bar

1. Heroic Slash

2. Silver Leash

3. Impervious Runeward

4. Runic Sunder

5. Rune of Colorless Pool

6. Gibbering Shelter (Ultimate)


Rune of Colorless Pool not only stuns non-elite enemies, but also gives you on-demand access to both Minor Vulnerability and Minor Brittle, which are helpful buffs for a Tank.


Back Bar

1. Elemental Blockade

2. Razor Caltrops

3. Runeguard of Still Waters

4. Echoing Vigor

5. Cruxweaver Armor

6. Aggressive Horn (Ultimate)


How to Play the Build

Runic Sunder is a fully ranged taunt skill. If you want to save bar spaces, you can run Runic Sunder instead of having things like the sword and shield taunt, and a ranged taunt from the Frost Staff. When you have three Crux active, you get a bonus damage reduction from slotting Runic Sunder, meaning you have a great passive bonus on the front bar.


By casting Impervious Runeward, you can even get an extra heal, and the amount of health you get for each Crux spent scales off your Max Health.


Tanking as an Arcanist requires more strategic thinking than playing as a solo character or a damage-dealing character. This type of gameplay is more suited to experienced players. So if you are looking for a more in-depth combat style, this might be what you want. 


Stamina Arcanist PvP Build

Playing PvP as an Arcanist takes more preparation than your basic PvE build, but this particular PvP setup will give you some fun gameplay moments.


This build will focus on debuffing enemies and applying status effects, which is one of the Arcanist's main class specialties. This build is also a stamina-based Arcanist build, using dual-wield on the front bar for offense, with the sword-and-shield back bar for defense as well as a mix of heavy and medium armor.


Attributes: 64 points to Stamina


Race: Orc grants you great Stamina-focused stats and extra run speed, which can help you a lot as you want to be in melee range for most of the offensive attacks.


Food: Jewels of Misrule gives you extra Magicka recovery and Stamina recovery.


Potions: Tri-step potions will be very helpful for sustain.


Mundus: The Lover is a good option for this build since the Arcanist does not have an in-class form of Major Breach. You can also use a skill like Runic Sunder for extra Penetration.


Gear Setup

Way of Fire is your main five-piece set. It is a tradable set that drops in Craglorn. The set procs from basic weapon attacks, such as Rending Slashes, and it has a two-second cooldown on the proc, which is very quick. The damage is not a lot, but it does help to apply constant pressure to an enemy, which will be helpful, especially with the amount of debuffs you can apply with this build. This is a heavy armor set, and you will want to use three pieces of jewelry, a heavy chest, and heavy legs. You can also use five heavy body pieces to be tankier.


The second five-piece set is Ward of Cyrodiil. It applies Major Defile to your target, making it harder for them to heal, and the skill turns them into an easy kill for you and your group. Using this set makes this build a great option for taking down tankier classes that you often find in PvP, such as Dragonknights and Wardens. You can easily get this set for a few thousand gold coins on Guild Traders. You will want to use this set on the feet, hands, and waist. For the last two pieces, you need to use this set on the front-bar weapons, such as daggers or swords.


Your choice of weapon glyphs is very important. It is recommended to use a disease glyph on the main hand and a flame or a poison glyph on the off-hand. The reason is that Arcanists have a bonus chance to proc status effects as well as bonus status effect damage to the Psychic Lesion passive. Thanks to the Psychic Lesion passive, the disease glyph will have a high chance to apply Minor Defile to your target for more healing reduction. Also, a flame or a poison glyph will provide a solid DoT for additional damage pressure.


Using the Balorgh set + the Tide King's Gaze Ultimate combination turns this build into a death ray, especially when you've already weakened, immobilized, or stunned your target in advance.


Skill Setup


Front Bar

1. Cephaliarch's Flail

2. Whirling Blades

3. Rune of Colorless Pool

4. Rending Slashes

5. Camouflaged Hunter

6. The Tide King's Gaze (Ultimate)


Back Bar

1. Impervious Runeward

2. Audacious Runemend

3. Resolving Vigor

4. Recuperative Treatise

5. Cruxweaver Armor

6. Gibbering Shield (Ultimate)


How to Play the Build

The different combinations of skills you can do on this build are where the Arcanist starts to shine. For example, your main damage combo on this build starts with Rending Slashes to apply both versions of the Defile and poison or the burning status effect from the off-hand, not to mention a snare from the Rending Slashes skill and the fire DoT from the Way of Fire set.


You can use Cephaliarch's Flail to debuff enemies with Abyssal Ink and root them in place, forcing them to burn off some Stamina. If your Ultimate is ready, you can use it and lock them in place with an undodgeable stun, Rune of Colorless Pool. Once you master this combo, most enemies will melt in just a few seconds.


This build is not all about the offense. The Arcanist also has some amazing survival tools when you master the rotation of shielding first and then healing second. When you start taking damage, you can cast Impervious Runeward, which provides a big upfront shield for one second, absorbing some burst damage, and then gives you a smaller shield for five seconds. After shielding, you can heal up with Audacious Runemend, and you can even add Resolving Vigor on top of that if you're taking too much damage. Cycling through these three skills (plus your defensive Ultimate if you really need it) makes this build so hard to kill in most situations.


Stamina Arcanist Bow Build

This build is getting a solid buff in ESO's new Update 39 patch, which improves bow damage at a close range, making this build even stronger.


This build uses a bow as the main-hand weapon and the backup weapon. If you are looking for a flexible ranged Arcanist build but don't want to use a Destruction Staff, this might be the best one for you on this list.


Attributes: 64 points to Stamina


Race: Khajiit


Mundus: The Thief increases your Critical Strike rating. 


Food: Lava Foot Soup-and-Saltrice increases your Max Stamina and Stamina Recovery.


Gear Setup

Deadly Strike buffs your most powerful abilities, including Fatecarver and your Ultimates.


Order's Wrath gives you tons of Critical Chance, Critical Damage, and Critical Healing. You can substitute this with another Overland set like Briarheart, which has a strong boost to Weapon and Spell Damage and extra healing.


Stormfist comes from the base game, so it's fairly easy to pick up. The set provides a powerful ranged proc and bonus Stamina Recovery.


Skill Setup


Front Bar

1. Cephaliarch's Flail

2. Pragmatic Fatecarver

3. Inspired Scholarship

4. Writhing Runeblades

5. Camouflaged Hunter

6. The Languid Eye (Ultimate)


The Languid Eye does more damage than Tide King's Gaze, but it also requires you to place this skill on the ground, so you need to be careful where you aim it.


Back Bar

1. Poison Injection

2. Endless Hail

3. Razor Caltrops

4. Channeled Acceleration

5. Reconstrutive Domain

6. Sanctum of The Abyssal Sea (Ultimate)


How to Play This Build

How you play this build is very simple. Your back-bar skills will be primarily focused on buffs and debuffs as well as the two bow skills: Poison Injection and Endless Hail. 


You'll start your rotation by buffing up and dropping those bow skills along with Razor Caltrops to debuff the enemy's armor. Once your buffs and DoTs are set, you can swap to your front bar bow, where you will have most of the Arcanist damage skills waiting. 


On the front bar, you can replace Camouflaged Hunter with another skill, especially if you like solo play. The reason for that is the Arcanist passive called Splintered Secrets gives you nearly 1,000 offensive Penetration for each Herald of the Tome ability slotted. That means activating 5-6 Herald of the Tome skills on your front bar is like running The Lover Mundus Stone for free.


Thanks to the bow changes coming in Update 39, this build will gain even more power in the next update. So if you're interested in the bow play style on the Arcanist, the guide will be a good option.


Unkillable Magicka Arcanist

This Magicka Arcanist build focuses on high survivability, including strong defenses, powerful healing capability, a strong mix of damage, and sustain. This build will be your all-around solo build for the Arcanist class, capable of soloing the most challenging content, such as World Bosses, World Events, Dungeons, and solo Arenas.


The build chooses the Arcanist's specialty of channeling magic. Besides the powerful Fatecarver, some additional sets that provide more buffs to those channeled skills will make this build unstoppable.


Hack The Minotaur didn't share any other information about this build in the video above. To get more details, you have to be a member.


Easy Stamina Arcanist DPS Build

This build can parse over 110K DPS on a Trial Dummy without using any Trials gear sets at all. So if you're looking for an easy way to deal damage while also having a simple rotation, then this is the build for you.


Attributes: 64 points to Stamina


Race: Dark Elf


Mundus: The Thief


Food: Lava Foot Soup-And-Saltrice


Potions: Normal Stamina potions will be fine for this build. But you can squeeze out a little extra DPS by using something more advanced like Heroism potions.


Gear Setup

Not only is the Arcanist fun to play, but it also makes the end-game content more accessible to new and less-experienced players. As an Arcanist, you don't even need Trial sets to do insane damage: The Deadly Strike set buffs the majority of your damage sources, including the Fatecarver beam, any DoTs, as well as your Ultimate. So this set is a great start for any Arcanist DPS.


You can pair the Deadly Strike set with another popular damage set called Pillar of Nirn on your back bar. Pillar of Nirn procs another powerful damage-over-time effect.


You can even add in an Arena set like the Perfected Spectral Cloak on the front bar for another damage boost.


What pushes this build over the top is the new Velothi Ur-Mage's Amulet. This Mythic item from the Necrom Chapter is designed specifically with the Arcanist class in mind, as it increases your overall damage. The downside of this item is that it reduces your light and heavy attack damage. But that is not a big downside on an Arcanist because if you're playing the Arcanist, you should be spending most of your time channeling the beam for damage instead of worrying about light and heavy attacks.


Skill Setup


Front Bar

1. Cephaliarch's Flail

2. Exhausting Fatecarver

3. Deadly Cloak

4. Barbed Trap

5. Camouflaged Hunter

6. Flawless Dawnbreaker (Ultimate)


Back Bar

1. Stampede

2. Carve

3. Fulminating Rune

4. Camouflaged Hunter

5. Inspired Scholarship

6. The Languid Eye (Ultimate)


Those are the seven best builds you would need for your Arcanist. If you found this guide helpful, please give the video a thumbs up and subscribe to Hack The Minotaur's channel.


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