I’ve started a new character on Skyrim. My khajjit thief-archer was a lot of fun to play but I needed to experience a more direct approach to the combat in Skyrim for my next character. Initially, I had trouble deciding on whether I should play an Orc warrior, clad in heavy armour or an uber-mage High elf. Then it hit me, why not do both (nearly)… a battlemage… I should make a battlemage.
Now for those not familiar with the term, a battlemage is a character that is effective in melee combat and magic, and even better they can wear heavy armour. Many other games don’t make this way of playing easy for you. You can be trapped in one of several set play styles, mage, archer, and warrior for example, but Skyrim’s levelling system allows you to mix and match the skills needed to create a battlemage.
As above I struggled on whether I should get an Orc or a High Elf. The Orc excels in fighting and the high elf is a born magic user. I realised that this decision depended on whether I would be more of a magic user or a warrior, as it rarely splits down the middle evenly. Once I knew I wanted to do more casting, it was an easy choice to go for High Elf.
Health, Magicka or Stamina
As you can expect with a battlemage, you cannot just focus on one of those stats but all three to a certain extent. I chose magicka as my primary stat which I give 60% of the points; the remaining 40% is split evenly between stamina and health. With enough magicka you can compensate for any shortfalls in health and stamina, but you still need some health so you can stand being hit a few times and stamina so you don’t have to rush back to town to sell things every time you pick up an iron dagger.
Destruction – You could choose any of the magic skills and it would still technically be a battlemage, but the Destruction skill has a greater capacity for combat, and let’s be honest it looks rather cool too.
Heavy Armour – the second staple part of the battlemage, the Heavy Armour trait. Heavy armour in many other games, specifically Dungeons and Dragons can have a negative effect on spell casters, but not in Skyrim.
Conjuration – Very useful in the earlier levels of the game, when your magicka pool dries up so fast you can be left high, dry and magicka-less with an angry bear taking swipes at you. If it looks like you’re going to run out of magicka, conjure yourself a sword, battle-axe etc and keep swiping. You could just use a standard sword of course, but I think a conjured one adds more to the effect of the battlemage. The conjured pets and companions you can summon are handy as well of course.
One Armed – This almost comes free with what ever weapon you summon (See Conjuration) I always conjure a sword so it increases my one-armed skill. If you create a broadsword, it will be two-handed etc. Another reason to use a conjured sword, you increase both your Conjuration and One-Armed skills.
Enchanting – A lot of the equipment you find or are given is not going to fit with the battlemage approach to the game. The robes are likely to be magic based and the heavy armours combat based. Although not all there are some kicking around the game somewhere. However, it’s much easier if you can enchant the armour you find or make with kick-ass magic user enchantments. At the top of the tree you can put two enchants on the same item.
NB. When enchanting an item twice make sure to put both enchants on the item in the same enchanting session. Once you have come out of the enchanting screen and applied one enchant the item is locked.
Nice to have
Smithing – Almost for the same reason as enchanting, if you’re looking for another skill to put perks into Smithing is not a bad choice. A battlemage being able to create his or her own armour, and double-enchant it (See enchanting) resolves the lack of gear issue.
Alchemy / Restoration – Especially at the earlier levels, you are going to rely on magicka potions. Your battlemage’s magicka will not be sufficiently high enough to cast many high-powered spells, and you are very unlikely to have enough magicka to heal yourself as well, unless you use conjured weapons all the time. Alchemy will allow you to create the magicka and healing potions necessary to keep your battlemage alive until your magicka pool has increased. After which, give Restoration a few points.
Things to remember
Good gear for your battlemage may not be as abundant as for other play-styles; you will have to rely on making/enchanting your own equipment, unless you get lucky of course.
It might seem like a bit of a slow start, but once your perks kick in and you’re rocking with high survivability and strong magic attacks you can stomp around Skyrim and bitch slap dragons and trolls to your heart’s content.
There are some really great magic mods out there in the Steam Workshop which will give you a whole range of new and crazy spells such as summoning zombie dragons,conjuring awesome weapons, or throwing meteors at people. So it’s well worth a look.
Please remember that this is not the only way to play a battlemage, but the great thing about Skyrim is trying something out and seeing how it works. The above approach has worked for me, but if you have a battlemage and play it differently, let me know. I’d love to know your thoughts.