ESO: Morrowind -- A Guide to Playing the Warden Class
The Warden is the newest character class added by the Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind DLC expansion, and it's a rather interesting class in terms of builds. The Warden is ESO's iteration of the Druid class from other MMOs and RPGs, so it focuses heavily on natural magic and animal companionship. And with two separate skill trees with divergent types of magic, the Warden has a lot of flexibility in choosing whether to play a more offensive or defensive role.
This class is a good pick for those who still want to be viable in combat with offensive moves, but also want to be able to support themselves or their teammates with healing, stat buffs, or defensive ice magic.
In this guide, I'm going to go over all the basics you need to know to start playing the Warden, including:
- Skills Trees
- Combat Skills
Skill Trees for the Warden Class
The warden class skills break down into three lines -- Animal Companions, Green Balance, and Winter's Embrace. But since you only have two ability bars, you'll want to focus on two of those three skill trees, depending on which playstyle you want to use.
Animal Companions is the primary damage tree for the Warden class, and allows your character to summon various creatures to their aid in battle -- including Feral Guardian ultimate, which summons the grizzly bear companion featured in the cinematic trailer for the expansion.
Green Balance is the healing/buffs skill tree, so it focuses heavily on green nature magic. The ultimate ability for this line is Secluded Grove, which spawns a grove around the Warden and all allies that provides continual healing.
Winter's Embrace is the defensive magic tree, which allows the Warden to tap into primal frost magic that will damage their foes and buff their party's defenses. The ultimate ability -- Sleet Storm -- cloaks the Warden in a swirling vortex, dealing damage to enemies around them while dropping their speed by 66% and granting nearby allies a 30% protection buff.
Picking the Skill Tree That's Right For You
Which two skill trees you opt to use will ultimately depend on your personal play style.
If you want to go the more traditional Druid-like route and focus on being a damage-dealing healer, you'll definitely want to pick up Animal Companionship and Green Balance, with a few Winter's Embrace skills tossed in here and there. If you want to be a little tankier, then focus on Animal Companionship and Winter's Embrace, filling out your bar with Green Balance skills as needed.
The only time you should (mostly) forgo Animal Companionship to focus on Green Balance and Winter's Embrace simultaneously is if you're trying to build a more pure support character at the cost of offensive capabilities.
Generally, I like to play a bruiser/support character if I can, and the Warden is no exception. In the case of my build, I'm planning on a 0/10/54 build with Stamina as my preferred stat. I'm choosing to go the stamina route as it gives me a lot of sustain for dealing damage with my various skills, as well as the ability to hit hard and fast. Additionally, the skills I've chosen for my character require fairly high stamina and suit my playstyle.
As far as Warden skills go, my main bar makes use of the Animal Companion's Scorch Summon morphed into Subterranean Assault, and Green Balance's Fungal Growth morphed into Soothing Spores. The reason to morph Fungal Growth into Soothing Spores is for the 15% increase to healing, as well as the swap to Stamina to cast over Magicka. Once we reach 30 on Green Balance we'll swap Soothing Spores for Lotus, then morph it to Green Lotus, granting us and our allies weapon crit chance.
The second skill bar -- which unlocks at level 15 -- makes use of Animal Companion's Betty Netch morphed into Bull Netch, and Winter's Embrace Sleet Storm ultimate morphed into Permafrost. Permafrost gives us a useful AoE stun, and Bull Netch helps restore our stamina while buffing our physical damage by a whopping 20% for 24 at no casting cost.
Combat Skills for the Warden Class
Combat skills really come down to your preference. For my build, I went with the same weapon choices as my Nightblade -- dual wielding as my main set and a bow for my second bar. This allows me to put out a fairly respectable level of DPS and make good use of my deep stamina pool.
Dual Wield Skills
The meat of my dual wield skill set is Flurry morphed into Rapid Strikes. Five consecutive attacks (with the last one dealing 300% damage) makes it my spam attack with its 0.6s cast time. If you're worried about health, then you could Morph into Bloodthirst and get a 60% heal for damage dealt -- but it's not necessary in my opinion (especially if you're focused on the Green Balance skill tree).
I follow that up with Twin Slashes morphed into Rending Slashes. The bleed damage stacked with a 50% movement speed debuff for 9 seconds is just too good to pass up on.
Finally, I go for Blade Cloak morphed into Deadly Cloak for a bit of added damage when I'm in the fray. The 20% AoE damage reduction is also a great advantage.
The primary bow skill that I use is Volley morphed into Endless Hail. The drop in stamina cost and increased duration makes this my spam skill for the bow and a great way to AoE enemies.
Next, and most sinister, is Poison Arrow morphed into Poison Injection. My second bar handles the bulk of our DoT skills, with this being one of the main ones. This one is great for enemies that are already below 50% health, as it deals even more damage to them.
Miscellaneous Skill Trees
There are a few other skill trees that we reach out to in order to finish out our skills -- namely the Fighter's guild skills and the Assault skills you unlock from attacking or defending keeps in the contested Cyrodiil area.
From the Fighters guild skills, you can take Dawnbreaker as your Bar 1 ultimate skill, which you'll want to morph into Flawless Dawnbreaker. Passively this is going to increase your physical damage by 5%, which is great just for having it slotted on that bar.
On Bar 2 you are going to want Fighter's Guild skill Trap Beast morphed into Rearming Trap. This gives you physical damage and DoT, 6s of immobilization, and a 12% buff to your critical damage. And if you've morphed for Rearming Trap, it will reset itself once -- giving you 2 uses of the trap.
Lastly, to round out that secnd bar, you're going to want the Assault skill Caltrops morphed into Razor Caltrops. I chose Razor Caltrops, as I primarily play PvE and therefore don't care too much about forcing enemies to dismount.
Passives for the Warden Class
As far as passives go, you're going to want to prioritize passives that increase stamina recovery -- like Medium Armor's Wind Walker passive or Green Balance's Nature's Gift. Aside from that, you can tailor your passives to suit your style of play.
If you'd like to see a more in-depth breakdown chart of how I have planned my allocations then you can check out this chart I built for my Nord Warden.
What Gear to Use With the Warden Class
As far as gear goes, I'm building the standard full medium armor with a heavy chest for the added health/synergy with later passives (Undaunted line). You're going to want to shoot for Hunding's Rage for your armor given its buffs to stamina, weapon crit, and weapon damage. It's player-craftable, so you could either learn to do it yourself or join a guild and have it crafted for you. Also, since this is a stamina build, it should go without saying that you'd want the stamina enchantments on your gear.
Agility jewelry is good for that additional boost in stamina and weapons damage, and has the benefit of being purchasable from the guild store vendors. You're also going to want to enchant your bling with some boosts to weapons damage.
If you decided to go the dual wield/bow route like I did, then you should strive to have poison enchants on your weapons for more damage as well.
I'm by no means an expert -- this is just the build that I'm going for myself because it suits my playstyle. Since this is a beginner's guide, I'm not going to go into all of the Champion Points and etc, as you won't have access to those until around level 50. And it's likely that some aspect of this guide will change with patching before then.
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