Skyrim: The 5 Best (& Worst) Things About Playing A Mage Class
One of the most fun classes you can play as in any RPG game is the mage, as having the power of the elements at your fingertips is something you can only dream of and is far more fantastical than simply swinging a sword around. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the mage class is one of the more powerful you can play as and has a lot of tricks up its sleeve to allow you to play however you want.
Not all aspects of being a mage are good, however, as, like all classes, there are several weaknesses that rightfully hold mages back from being overpowered. Though there are several ways to circumvent these weaknesses, not all of the worst aspects of being a mage can be ignored.
10 Best: You Don’t Need Weapons
Possibly the best part of being a mage is the fact that, unlike melee and ranged characters, you don’t need to keep upgrading your weapons through Smithing and Enchanting. If you ever do need something sharp, you also always have the option of using Bound weapons which are, for the most part, fairly powerful even without adding Smithing or Enchanting to the mix. This frees up a lot of space in your otherwise limited inventory, as both weapons and armor tend to be fairly heavy, and allows you to always be able to pick up Dragon Bones and Dragon Scales without worrying about holding too much.
9 Worst: The Lack Of Armor Options
There are many, many different kinds of armor in Skryim that appeal to just about any class build, from the Shrouded Armor for assassins to just about every kind of heavy armor for warriors. Mages, on the other hand, don’t benefit from armor all that much and often have to result to using Flesh spells, which are often costly and don’t provide the highest armor rating without using the Dragonflesh spell, which is a Master level spell. Unique armor for mages also doesn’t fit well with their aesthetic or playstyle, with neither the Armor of the Old Gods or Azhidal’s Armor fitting the theme despite the fact they are designed for Magicka heavy builds.
8 Best: Quests Were Your Gear Is Taken Are Much Easier
There are a handful of quests in the game, such as being imprisoned in Markarth’s silver mine and infiltrating the Thalmor Embassy in the main story, where most of your gear is taken from you. While this can be a problem for melee and ranged characters, most mage builds are fine without their clothes.
While this does mean you are losing whatever buffs your enchanted gear will give you, such as reduced spell costs, you always have at least something at your disposal, such as conjured followers, Bound weapons, or Destruction spells to deal damage.
7 Worst: The Need To Buy Clothes And Certain Spells
While most weapons and armor can be made with a high enough Smithing skill, with the exception of unique gear, mages don’t have the same luxury. Even regular clothing, the standard gear for a mage, can’t be crafted and you have to go out of your way to find someone willing to sell it to you. This isn’t even accounting for certain high-level spells, most notably several Expert and Master level spells that can only be bought from the College of Winterhold after reaching certain level thresholds, a limitation that doesn’t exist in other classes.
6 Best: You Have Access To All Forms Of Damage
Although melee and ranged builds technically have the same advantage, with ranged characters having access to elemental bolts for the Crossbow and melee builds being able to enchant their swords with whichever element they want, they aren’t as readily accessible as in mage builds. Aside from Fire, Frost, and Shock damage, mages also have easy access to Fear, Fury, and Paralysis effects that can be much harder to find for melee or ranged builds.
5 Worst: Several Skills Are Slow To Level Up
Possibly the most annoying aspect of playing as a mage is how slow some skills take to level up, particularly the Destruction, Restoration, and Enchanting skills. Unlike the Illusion, Alteration, and Conjuration skills, which have easy ways to power level, Destruction, and Restoration, in particular, level up incredibly slowly and if you are investing in all five branches of magic, they are likely to be a much lower level than the others even if you are trying to focus on keeping them at a high level.
4 Best: The Number Of Unique Playstyles
While melee and ranged builds are fairly limited in what they can do, mage builds are only limited by how far you are willing to push the skills to your advantage. You can simply use Destruction and Alteration for all-out attacks, supplement an assassin build with Illusion spells to make yourself even more efficient, or try a pacifist-lite build using Illusion and Conjuration to make sure you are never in the fight.
Between the five spell classes and the many other skills that can be used alongside them, mages are often far more interesting to play than any other class due to how easy it is to change things up on the fly.
3 Worst: Running Out Of Magicka Is A Serious Problem
Unfortunately, without specific enchantments, it is very likely you will run out of Magicka very quickly, especially when casting Expert and Master level spells. While it is expected that you will use Enchanting at some point to supplement your magic skills, it does mean you are somewhat forced into the skill if you want to play as a mage. This is something that no other class really suffers from, as you can easily play as a warrior, thief, or assassin without ever having to touch the Smithing or Alchemy skills, even at higher levels, due to how damage increases according to the weapon skill level.
2 Best: The Master Level Spells
Master-level spells may have a very steep cost associated with them, but they are some of the coolest spells around and are far more spectacular than even the best melee or ranged skills. The Master-level Destruction and Alteration spells, in particular, are some of the most devastating, from Lightning Storm letting you play out your wildest Kamehameha fantasy to Mass Paralysis turning an entire city to stone in a second, though the Master-level Restoration spells can be underwhelming unless you are fighting a lot of undead at once.
1 Worst: Good Race Options Are Limited For Certain Specialists
If you are planning to use Destruction almost exclusively, there are only a few good race options when starting the game. High Elves are easily the most useful since their racial power increases Magicka regeneration substantially, but the race that actually starts with the highest Destruction level, the Dark Elves, aren’t really able to fill the role of a Destruction specialist. While Breton’s make great Conjurers, since they start the game with the Conjure Familiar spell, and Imperial’s make decent Illusionists due to their racial ability to cast a high-level AOE Calm spell, those wanting to specialize in either Alteration or Restoration will have their work cut out for them, as there are no good races that can take advantage of those spells.
Next: Skyrim: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Races to Play As An Assassin
Callum Archer is a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia. He is an avid gamer, Nintendo fanboy, and lover of weird sci-fi novels, who also dabbles in manga from time to time, usually dark and twisted work like Uzumaki and Death Note.
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