Monday, August 27, 2012

Skyrim Crafting Guide Part 5: Choosing Equipment and Upgrading It

Choosing your equipment can be tough in Skyrim. Do you want to be a two-handed fighter, or is duel-wielding better? Do I go sword and board? What's the best kind of armor?

You may ask yourself a few of these questions when deciding how you want to play your character. Honestly, all of the different play styles are pretty balanced. None seem to be totally broken or especially nerfed in any way.

So instead of trying to give you a breakdown of everything, I'm simply going to to give you my personal opinion on the best way to equip a character. These are just my opinions, but I'll give an explanation of why I think that way. In the end, it's best to choose a play style you'll enjoy rather than worry too much about crunching numbers.

So let's start with my views on armors. I think Light Armors are definitely the way to go. I have several reasons for that, but let's start with what will probably be the most important. Physical damage reduction is capped at 80% which occurs at 567 displayed armor rating when wearing all four pieces of armor or 667 when not wearing any pieces of armor (robes, etc.) With the proper perks and skills, any armor in the game can reach cap, even Hide armor.

Another reason: Light Armor weighs less than Heavy armor. Heavy armor also slows a character down and makes more noise than Light Armor. So if you plan on sneaking around at all Light Armor is probably the way to go.

In the end, it's all a matter of personal preference. Since all armors can meet cap I say go with whatever set you think looks the coolest on your character.

Now for weapons. If you have the Dawnguard DLC there's no reason not to go all the way to the top of the Smithing perk tree and get the one for Dragon Smithing. This allows you to make Dragonbone weapons which are currently the very best weapons in the game. They weigh a lot, but at end game that will make very little difference.

So what kind of weapons do you use? I personally like a one handed weapon paired with a shield. Shields are another equipment opportunity to get two additional Enchantment bonuses to your character. I see not having a shield as missing out on those potential bonuses.

As for the one handed weapon I choose the mace. For all one handed weapons they have the highest base damage in the game, making the Dragonbone Mace the single most powerful one handed weapon that can be crafted.

There is also a perk in the One-Handed warrior constellation called Bone Breaker. When you have all 4 ranks in it attacks with maces ignore 75% of an enemy's armor rating. It's good stuff.

Because I have Dawnguard and invested in Dragon Smithing I also choose to outfit my character in Dragonscale armor, which is the Light armor of Dragon Smithing. And why not? I have more dragon bones and scales than I know what to do with any way. (Every time I go to Dawnstar... damn dragons....)

So let's use my current character as an example. At level 48 she has maxed out Enchanting, Smithing, and Alchemy at level 100. She's got the following perks:

Enchanting: Enchanter 5/5, Insightful Enchanter, Corpus Enchanter, Extra Effect
Smithing: Steel Smithing, Elven Smithing, Advanced Armors, Glass Smithing, Dragon Armor
Alchemy: Alchemist 5/5, Physician, Benefactor

She has the following Crafting Equipment. See my previous posts on how to make this set:

Crafting Helmet: 29% bonus to Alchemy
Crafting Circlet: 29% bonus to Alchemy
Crafting Robes: 29% bonus to Smithing
Crafting Gloves: 29% bonus to Alchemy. 29% bonus to Smithing
Crafting Ring: 29% bonus to Alchemy. 29% bonus to Smithing
Crafting Amulet: 29% bonus to Alchemy. 29% bonus to Smithing

Total bonuses: +145% to Alchemy. 87% to Smithing.

She has smithed a basic set of Dragonscale apparel: (We'll do weapons later.)

Dragonscale Armor
Dragonscale Boots
Dragonscale Gauntlets
Dragonscale Helmet
Dragonscale Shield

Each of these needs 1 Dragonscale a piece to upgrade them. So I made sure I had enough Scales before continuing. Then I equipped all of my Crafting equipment and made sure I had some Fortify Smithing pots on my character. Time to drink the potion and upgrade my Dragonscale. Here's the before and after stats:

Armor: 62 to 220
Boots: 18 to 98
Gauntlets: 18 to 98
Helmet: 26 to 105
Shield: 44 to 123

Totals: 168 to 644 (and remember 567 is cap). Want to know the crazy part? I haven't spent any perks in the Light Armor perk constellation AT ALL. None. Zero. Zip. That's now entirely optional. Am I going to purchase some of them? Probably. I like the Unhindered and Wind Walker perks, but I can take my sweet time deciding because I'm at armor cap.

So now let's talk about crafting some sweet weapons. I usually like to make myself a soul trap mace and my normal damage dealing mace with a nice bow as a standby for long range sniping. Because I have the Dawnguard DLC I'm able to make the Dragonbone weapons which are more powerful than Daedric. I made myself a Dragonbone Bow and two of the Maces.

Now the fun part. I equipped my crafting apparel and drank another fortify smithing potion. Here's the before and afters:

Dragonbone Bow: 24 Damage to 89 Damage
Dragonbone Mace/s: 40 Damage to 166 Damage (HUGE Difference)

With these numbers I hope you now understand why I'm so adamant about maxing Alchemy, Enchanting, and Smithing and then combining those skills to do some really amazing crafting.

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