The Elder Scrolls: Blades – Tips, tricks, and how to get ahead in Tamriel

The Elder Scrolls: Blades is an action RPG for iOS and Android phones that’s set in the same world as Bethesda’s other Scrolls titles Skyrim, Oblivion, and Morrowind.

Taking place sometime after the events of the fifth instalment in the series, TES:B sees you stepping into the boots of one of the titular Blades, a Knights Templar-esque order of Imperial bodyguards who were disbanded and forced to go on the run before Skyrim’s story begins.

As well as you engaging in a spot of dungeon delving, fighting off wights, goblins and other standard fantasy fare, there’s a town building aspect to Blades as well – the game begins with you returning to your hometown to find it a smoking ruin, which you gradually help to repair.

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Elder Scrolls Blades

What your town in Blades might look like after you’ve done some basic repair work.

As you do, people begin to return to the settlement, with some of these familiar faces forming branching points for the story.

Located somewhere in Cyrodiil, the setting for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Blades features designs and lore that will be immediately familiar to seasoned players. Without wanting to give too much of the story away, expect to see some of what you’ll have encountered previously – Ayleid ruins, Thalmor agents, hooded thieves, Spriggans, soul gems, and oversized spiders.  

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As I signed up for early access, I’ve been able to spend a few days with Blades and have got to grips with its combat system and some of its quirks.

Here is a spoiler free beginners guide to Elder Scrolls: Blades, what newcomers should do if they want to get ahead early, what they should and shouldn’t buy, as well as some general pointers on fighting, crafting, and grinding.

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Elder Scrolls Blades

Copper is hard to come by, so make sure you snaffle up freebies like this one.

Elder Scrolls: Blades town upgrading – How to get copper

Elder Scrolls: Blades is, at its heart, a hub and spoke-type game, with the hub being your hometown. You’ll arrive here soon after breezing through the tutorial section and in order to progress, you’ll need to rebuild your town so that people like blacksmiths, alchemists and enchanters – the people who are going to upgrade your gear for you – can move back in.

In order to upgrade your town, you’ll need to primarily gather lumber and limestone. These are generally easy to come by, though as most Level 1 buildings need more limestone than anything else, you’d be wise to hoard this as much as possible.

Later on, when you want to unlock higher level upgrades, what you’ll need more than anything is copper.

Copper is one of the hardest items in the game to source, mainly because you don’t tend to pick many samples of it up when you’re on missions. It’s mostly to be found in chests and it can be purchased in town from the Workshop in small quantities. On occasion, copper will be dropped as a free daily store gift (see above).

If you can, pick up one of the bundles from the store – the Imperial Shipment bundle gives you 1800 pieces of copper, which is enough to get your first Workshop up and running. 

Apart from that, the only advice I can currently give is to take as many jobs as you can where you’re paid in resources instead of sacks of gold.

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Elder Scrolls Blades

‘I am the god of hell fire and I bring you – up to 127 damage on impact!’

Elder Scrolls: Blades combat tips – choose your moment and choose your weapons

Fighting in Blades is largely about two things, the kind of attack, spell or ward you’re about to unleash and when you unleash them.

Timing is critical here – lunging in when an enemy has a shield raised will see you doing a meagre 1 point of damage, but striking when their guard is down will see you bringing the pain.

Likewise, if you raise your own shield the moment before an enemy is about to strike, you’ll see them staggered and dazed, leaving you free to whale on them. A key to success is learning to spot each ‘tell’ different enemy types have, getting your shield up in time and then giving them a beating.

On that note, swords, axes, and maces (along with fire, ice, poison and shock spells) operate on a kind of rock-paper-scissors basis, in that some enemies will be resistant to slashing damage (i.e. sword attacks) and frost spells, others more susceptible to cleaving (axes) or bashing (hammers and maces).

Goblins, which you’ll encounter fairly early on, are a prime example of this. You’re far better off lighting these up with a fire spell than you are ice or lightning, and slashing at them with a sword.

On the other hand, skeletal enemies will almost always be more resilient to fire, but are more susceptible to frost damage, so make like Arnie in Batman & Robin and take them to the cooler.

Trolls are dangerous enemies to face down, unless you’re prepared. True to Scrolls lore, their health constantly regenerates, and they have high physical attack strength.

They’re weak against bashing damage and fire spells, so your best bet would be to unlock the spell Consuming Inferno – this unleashes a constant stream of fire, which will not only hurt the troll, but mitigate its regeneration ability – and give ‘em a tolchok with a well-tempered mace.

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Elder Scrolls Blades

Get one of these in your town as soon as you can.

Elder Scrolls: Blades town building – Build an Enchanter’s Tower as soon as possible

You should also build an Enchanter’s Tower as soon as you can. Doing this will let you pay a wizard to add enchantments to weapons, armour and other items.

Coming back to my example of troll hunting, having an enchanter on hand means you can craft a mace and stick a fire enchantment on it – the basic one will do an extra 24 points of fire damage, meaning you can stack up the pain.

Another early example – about halfway through the main quest event ‘The Bloodfall Queen’ you’ll encounter an Outcast, an enemy which unleashes a barrage of shock-based spells, which will kill noob players in no time at all. You can better prepare yourself for that by making a set of armour and place lightning-absorbing enchantments on each piece. This will help take the edge off, leaving you freer to get in some sword hits and whittle that stupid little fetcher down.

Later on, you should unlock Enchantment Synergy (required level: 27, point spend needed: 6) in the Perks tree, as this gives a 5% boost to all stacked enchantments.

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Elder Scrolls Blades

How the three skill tree paths look when you’re first starting out. Over time, new abilities and perks will be unlocked.

Elder Scrolls: Blades health regen and healing – Absorb, Adrenaline Dodge, Healing Surge

So, there are no healing spells, which will come as a surprise to anyone who is used to maxing out the Restoration skill tree.

This is partly because health regenerates automatically when you’re fighting – but it won’t crawl back up when you’re not engaged in combat.

Your best bets early on are to unlock the Absorb spell in the Spells skill path, and Adrenaline Dodge in the Abilities tree.

Both of these will see you gain a small portion of health back if they’re actioned during an enemy’s attack. Absorb sees you casting a protective ward in front of you, which will convert a percentage of damage sustained back into health, while Adrenaline Dodge sees you jumping backwards out of harm’s way, gaining a temporary HP boost, before jumping back in with a hit from your primary weapon.

If you’re on the ropes and you don’t have enough Magicka or Stamina free to use either of those abilities, you’ll be able to drink health potions – a red diamond-shape will appear in the centre of the screen when your health levels are critical.

Later on, you’ll be able to unlock Healing Surge, which requires five perk points to unlock and your character to be at Level 23.

This is a passive perk which sees your natural health regeneration increased by up to 9 per second when your Stamina gauge is full. This especially handy if you’re mainly relying on magic or offence and won’t be leaning on stamina abilities too often.

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Elder Scrolls Blades

You can search for side quest missions at any time by tapping on the exclamation mark icon – or check the jobs list in town.

Elder Scrolls: Blades Health, Stamina and Magicka potions recipes

In addition to these abilities, you’ll want to have a stash of potions ready to chug when the going gets tough.

You can pick potions up during most missions, but once you’ve built an Alchemy Laboratory in your town, you’ll be able to brew your own. For this, you’ll need some ingredients, and a small amount of gold.

The ingredients you need to make basic health potions are:

Potion of Minor Healing (+70 Health)

  • Imp Stool x 1
  • Garlic x 6

Potion of Light Healing (+80 Health)

  • Imp Stool x 2
  • Garlic x 4
  • Lavender x 6

Potion of Minor Stamina (+210 Stamina)

  • Garlic x 6
  • Honeycomb x 1

Potion of Light Stamina (+235 Stamina)

  • Garlic x 4
  • Honeycomb x 2
  • Lavender x 6

Potion of Minor Magicka (+210 Magicka)

  • Garlic x 6
  • Glow Dust x 1

Potion of Light Magicka (+210 Magicka)

  • Garlic x 4
  • Glow Dust x 2
  • Lavender x 6

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Elder Scrolls Blades

Food items are scarce, so only gorge yourself on delicious mushrooms when you have to.

Elder Scrolls: Blades – general tips and tricks

Check the store every day for a free reward

Even if you don’t plan on spending any money (real or in-game), you should visit the Store every day for a freebie. It might be building materials, an enchanted weapon, a bag of gold, whatever it is, it’s free! Take it.

Never sell jewels – they’re needed for high level crafting

In other Elder Scrolls titles, jewels like garnets and topaz are small, high-worth items typically used for adorning rings and amulets, or flogging to merchants for big bags of Septims.

If you finish a quest in Blades and you’re gifted a stack of jewels, do NOT sell them. They’re needed for high-level armour and weapons upgrades, which, as you start to encounter tougher mid-level enemies and you want to up your defences, you’ll want to avail yourself of.

Don’t make the mistake I did and assume that jewels in Blades serve the same purpose they do in other Scrolls games, they’re far more valuable.

Eat when you have to, not when you can

Dotted around most quest areas are bits of food, all of which will give you a small health boost.

You’re better off snacking on these if your health is seriously low rather whenever you feel like it – don’t chow down if you’ve only lost about 20% of your hit points, as there’s a good chance you can recover that with Absorb, Adrenaline Dodge or just your natural regen ability.

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Elder Scrolls Blades

Unlocking chests is a real time sink, so be smart about what you start unlocking and when.

Only start unlocking Gold Chests when you’re about to sleep

The three most common chest types you’ll pick up in Elder Scrolls: Blades are Wooden, Silver and Gold.

Wooden chests take five seconds to unlock, Silver one hour, and Gold, six hours. As you’d expect, the longer a chest takes to unlock, the quality and quantity of the stuff inside increases.

A problem is, your character can only hold on to a finite number of chests at any one time, so you’ll need to make sure you don’t have a backlog of Wooden and Silver chests building up in your inventory, as this could stop you from picking up a Gold chest as a mission reward. 

Nobody has enough time in the world to wait around for six hours for a chest to unlock. Seeing as you can only unlock one chest at a time, your best bet with Gold Chests is to start that unlocking before bed, and see what you get in the morning.

Don’t accidentally double tap the ‘Unlock Chest’ button if you’re unlocking a low level chest

This sounds like a simple thing to point out, but when you come to unlock a chest there are two ways of doing this – waiting, or spending gems.

Gems are one of the two in-game currencies (the other being gold coins aka Septims), and are the rarer of the two. They’re best used for purchasing limited time bundles, like the Imperial Shipment, which gives you a huge haul of building materials.

The problem is, it’s very easy to tap the ‘Unlock’ button, which changes to ‘Open Now’ once the unlocking process begins. If any lag in the game doesn’t see the unlocking process begin right away, you might think that the phone hasn’t registered your command, so you’ll tap the screen again, at which point, you’ll have accidentally hit the ‘Open Now’ option.

I’ve done this a couple of times now, and it is very annoying. Failure is a good teacher – I’ve not done it since – but you might want to exercise patience when unlocking chests early on.

That’s all the wisdom I have to impart on Elder Scrolls: Blades at the moment. I’ve yet to finish the main story and as and when I unlock more perks, abilities and buildings, I’ll update this article.

Are you enjoying Elder Scrolls: Blades? Share your tips and strategies with us on Twitter @TrustedReviews.