Cyrodiil: What’s your strategy?


Cyrodiil is a massive zone – nine regular size zones within ESO – so it can be a bit daunting for a new player to step into.  Not only is Cyrodiil going to be huge and a bit confusing at first, it is also going to be populated with thousands of your own alliance members, and thousands more of the opposing alliances.  The zone is designed to be played out with strategy, but of course you can run around mindlessly doing things just don’t expect to become Emperor or to have your name shouted in awe.

Strategy plays a large part when it comes to claiming the Elder Scrolls, becoming Emperor, or even just trolling the opposing forces.  But what type of strategy is the best? There are many different options: you can run around Cyrodiil with a large force (zerg), you could be the solo person who stands at the chokepoints waiting for those stragglers who are trying to keep up with the zerg, or you could play in a more organized structured group, which is my choice. For the sake of this article I’m going to focus mainly on the small group combat.


Unfortunately we do not know exactly what Cyrodiil will look like or how many keeps each alliance will own,  however, we can expect it to be somewhat similar to DAoC Frontier map.  I’ve created a map to give you a brief idea of what to expect Cyrodiil to be like. Throughout this article when speaking about exact number of keeps or Elder Scrolls, I’m referring to this map for that information.


Small Group Combat

Never take a group straight on, use your solo players for information, find out where the enemy is coming from, and which direction they are headed.  The best way to engage a group (does not matter the size) is from behind, or the side.  If you go head to head you’ll be running directly into the group and everyone will be looking at you.  If you come from behind or the side only a few players will be camera panning and you’ll be able to knock out the players not paying attention easier.

My group will consist of eight people, two tanks, one healer, three DPS, two hybrid (DPS/Heals).  When engaged into combat each person in the group plays a very vital part, like a cog in a machine, if one stops working the entire machine stops. The Tank’s job is to be the primary focus, just run around getting players’ attention away from the DPS and Healers.  Tanks tend to have some forms of CC available to them as well, which act as a great distraction for those walleye vision players (players who focus on a single target and forgetting about the surrounding players).

The DPS players will do one of the best tactics that a small group can do: assist train.  One player is assigned the role of marker, and they call out the target and everyone beats down that target.  A single person can beat down a target in minutes but three/four people can do it in seconds.  Of course the amount of DPS per target will vary from fight to fight, as you may split up the group against zergs or other organized groups.

I don’t think I need to explain what the Healer’s role is, but the Hybrid is a very crucial role, they play both DPS and heals.  Typically this is a ranged DPS player, to provide support in the middle of the group should it split up.

The small group combat is one of the best way to earn the most points in Cyrodiil.  You’re not competing with other people except the few members of your group, and because you’ll mostly encounter larger scale groups you’ll have more points rewarded to you.

Becoming Emperor / Taking Keeps and Elder Scrolls

As of right now, becoming Emperor is probably the biggest perk players see in the Tri-Alliance PvP system and because of that the title of Emperor will become one of the most sought after titles within the game (at least for the PvP Fans; hopefully Zenimax releases such a prestigious title for the PvE players).

In order to have someone crowned Emperor your alliance needs to take control of all the keeps surrounding the Imperial city.  This isn’t going to be an easy task, a total of nine keeps need to be owned by your alliance, six of which are in enemy territory. Once you have captured the keeps the player highest in the leader board for your alliance will be granted the title and abilities of Emperor.

You’re given points for doing things within Cyrodiil, such as killing enemy players, performing quests, and of course taking keeps. So basically the person who is the most active within PvP will be rewarded the title of Emperor.

The keeps surrounding the Imperial City are going to be in a constant flux of ownership.  With keeps providing points when taken and being the main objective to crowning an Emperor, taking a keep and claiming it for your guild is the easy part, defending and holding control of it seems to be the most difficult part.

Keeps offer more than just gloating rights, they are how we quick travel through Cyrodiil.  Think of keeps as a chain, for each keep you own (a link in the chain) the further you can travel.  If an enemy takes a keep in the middle of your “chain” you can only travel as far as the unbroken chain goes.  A good strategy to keep players from reinforcing or defending the keeps surrounding the Imperial City is to have a second group taking the keeps further in enemy territory and forcing players who want to defend to take a very long ride to the keep.

When taking a keep, remember to check the guards.  If a guild owns the keep their guild name will be visible to indicate that the keep has been claimed by a guild. When a guard dies, that guild will see a message within their guild chat saying a guard was killed with X amount of people nearby.  Remember how I mentioned you’re able to troll the opposing forces? This is a great way to do so, you can kill guards and lay siege to a keep but not actually intend to take it.  Kill some guards, knock on the door with a ram, and run away.  When the defenders get there they will notice that nothing was done, they will destroy any siege equipment left there and will then move along. You can repeat this as needed.

The Elder Scrolls are items that provide an alliance wide bonus for each Scroll owned. Each alliance will start with two, and any opposing alliance can fight their way through to steal it and run it back to their territory and place it within one of their keeps.  Typically when these items are stolen they are placed as close to their alliance border gate as possible.  This will allow the shortest distance to travel for defenders to reinforce should someone try to steal it back.

If you’re planning to take an Elder Scroll from the enemy, you can either do it by brute force and that is to slowly take keeps so you have a quick travel path to the closest possible point to the Scroll. In the event you die, you can reinforce your raid quickly.  This is a great option if you have a decent size force, as taking the keeps will present a warning to the enemy and they will begin defend their Scroll.

The other option is what I call a Hail Mary. This is a onetime deal. You get your group/raid to meet up in a specific location, it is best to NOT move as a big group until you’re at the rendezvous, because if you kill a guard while in a large raid the guild warning message could send up warning flags to the enemy. Once you’ve organized your group at the location of the Scroll, you assault the keep. This is a onetime deal because if you die, you don’t have any quick means of joining back with the group, and with Cyrodiil being the size it is, it will take some time to get back. These Hail Mary type raids are typically done early morning, so we call them Alarm Clock raids. This is the best time to do these, as the number of defenders will be at its lowest.

We’ve covered a lot of different aspects of Cyrodiil, but one thing remains constant, keep taking.  Keep taking will be a very common event within Cyrodiil, no matter if it is for the travel system, crowning an Emperor, or trying to take an Elder Scroll. No matter how we look at it, owning a Keep for a good length of time is going to be a very hard to accomplish. Especially the ones closer to the Imperial City.

What type of PvP combat are you most looking forward to? Are you a Zerger? Do you want to run with a smaller organized group? Or do you want to be that solo person feeding info to people all the while causing nothing but havoc at the chokepoints?

“The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy.”
–Friedrich Nietzsche

Elder Scrolls Online Guide - Killer Guides