Winterborn: ESO Set Guide – Pillars of the Sky

Winterborn: ESO Set Guide – Pillars of the Sky

Welcome to another installment of a segment where we dive into one Elder Scrolls Online’s many Sets, and explore what sort of Builds you can make. Not only will we show you how to get the most from these Sets, but we’ll explain where to get them, what requirements there are to obtain them (if any), and everything else you could possibly want to know about them. In this article we will take a look at Winterborn Set which grants a small chance of summoning a medium AoE damaging ice pillar.

Set that has its used, especially in PvP

Introduction To Winterborn Set

This set was added with Orsinium Expansion that launched in November 2015. It added a lot of new content, including 18 new Sets, and Maelstrom Arena. The Winterborn Set drops from normal and veteran Maelstrom Arena, and each set item is bind on pickup, meaning you will have to run the Arena to obtain it. Set items come in the Snowreach Motif Style. This motif cannot be obtained in any way as of now.

Weapon and Armor Traits are random, meaning you are likely to have to farm pieces for different Traits. This is a Light Armor Set so enchantments on Armor and Weapon pieces are Max Magicka and Absorb Magicka. Jewelry comes with Arcane Traits and Magicka Recovery Enchantments. Keep in mind that you can use Transmutation to change Traits if you wish, however the Summerset expansion is needed, along with 50 Transmute Crystals.

Winterborn Set adds 1096 Max Magicka, 129 Magicka Recovery and 129 Spell Damage with 4 pieces equipped. The 5 piece set bonus grants an 8% chance to summon an ice pillar that does around 5-6k damage to all enemies in a 3m radius. It persists for 2 secs and reduces enemy movement by 60%.

Proc Sets and How They Work

Proc Sets, or Sets that have “chance to apply some effect” called “Proccing” are becoming more popular in ESO and seemingly added every major Update (Proc is short for: Programmed Random OCcurrence). When the conditions of the Proc Set are met the effect will trigger. However, not all Proc Sets work the same way, and some apply buffs that remain on you whether you continue to wear the Set or not. Learning how to use Proc Sets effectively is extremely important for min/maxing, especially in PvP.

An important thing to note is that Proc Sets can no longer Critically Strike or Critically Heal as of Update 13 (Homestead) so as to reduce their effectiveness in Cyrodiil. In addition, many Proc Sets have cooldowns to keep them from being abused. When choosing a Proc Set to use, if you’re so inclined, you want to not only look at the effect, but how often you can apply it. Finding Sets with little or no cooldown is ideal, because it allows you to trigger them frequently. Winterborn has no cooldown, which is ideal.

examples of proc sets

Two examples of “Proc Sets”. You can see that Wizard’s Riposte has no cooldown, so can be reapplied and applied to many people at once, making it extremely useful.

What You Need To Know About This Set

How this set works is whenever you do Cold damage, there is an 8% chance that an ice pillar is going to be summoned that does medium damage in a small AoE radius. That radius is 3m, so not that huge. If you could get a large group of enemies on you in melee range then it would be effective. The ice pillar persists for 2 seconds, reducing the movement speed of all enemies inside that radius by 60%. The ice pillar procs from both Cold direct damage or Cold damage over time (Frost Reach ability for example).

Ice Pillar effect is easy to spot, meaning you are unlikely to miss it when it occurs

Tooltip damage can be increased to around 8k with 100 points into Master-at-Arms and Elemental Expert Champion Skills. By applying Minor/Major Breach, damage to an enemy can be increased even further. Warden’s can also increase the damage they do with Cold attacks, which does buff this some as well. The maximum amount of damage I have managed to do on a normal training dummy is around 6200 damage, which is not that high. Damage increasing buffs such as Sorcery and Brutality do not apply to proc sets like this one so it cannot be increased further that way. Nor can they crit, which limits the damage potential significantly.

The great thing about this set is that it can proc all the time since there is no cooldown, as long as previous pillar has disappeared. Also, keep in mind that Cold Damage can apply Minor Maim the targets hit, reducing their damage dealt by 15%. The problem is, however, that other sets proc from any damage while Winterborn procs only from Cold Damage, so your build needs to be optimized to make this set effective by using a Frost Staff and abilities like Frost Reach.

Notes for PvE Players

The only way to know how effective this set is is to compare its DPS to other Magicka proc DPS sets. For the purposes of this testing I equipped one set only at a time, a Frost Staff and used the Frost Reach ability (amongst others) and tested some random rotation to compare the numbers. So everything is the same except the set equipped. Training Dummy 3m health was my test choice.

Test results are quite similar and there are no big differences, but again, the problem is that Winterborn is the only set that procs only from Cold damage, while the others proc from any damage dealt. That means equipping a Frost Staff is a must to trigger it as much as possible with Light and Heavy Attacks in rotation. To increase the chance of proccing you would also have to use Ice abilities like Frost Reach that also deals Ice damage over time. For other sets you don’t have to optimize the build around the set to make it effective, which makes Winterborn fall short in the long haul.

If you are going for a Cold Damage DPS Build then definitely add Ysgramor Birthright to the mix. Added Spell Damage won’t affect the set damage in any way but it will increase overall DPS if many frost abilities are used.  Frost DPS builds in PvE are not as effective as other Magicka based DPS, builds but the above testing shows you won’t lose that much if you go that way. And again, Wardens will make better use of this Set than anyone due to their Cold Damage abilities.

Notes for PvP Players

The Winterborn Set is more useful in PvP than it is in PvE. Upon proccing you slow enemy movement speed by 60%, which is a significant advantage in any PvP scenario. And because it is an AoE, it can affect many players at once. It is especially useful in large scale battles where you have many opportunities to do just that, and as mentioned above, Cold Damage can Maim enemies. Maimed players deal reduced damage, which can help to keep you alive.

Maim is very useful in PvP

What’s also particularly good about this in PvP, is that Wall of Elements on a Frost Staff can root players, Immobilizing them for several seconds. Since you need to deal Cold Damage, you will be using this Ability often, further Crowd Controlling opponents. In addition, using Destructive Reach will also guarantee Immobilization on enemy players when used.

Final Verdict

Purely a Magicka-based set, Winterborn has its uses, but is outperformed by almost everything in a PvE environment. If you ever wanted to play a Frost DPS then this set is for you, but it comes with overall DPS decrease due to Frost DPS builds not being as effective as others.

Hitting multiple enemies at once and slowing them down can be useful in solo play

In PvE, unless going for an almost exclusive Frost DPS build, it won’t be used at all. There is just no place for it. Movement speed decrease is almost irrelevant in PvE so its a waste. Sticking to something like Netch’s Touch, Mad Tinkerer, Flame Blossom or Mother’s Sorrow is more beneficial. Winterborn can, however, be useful in solo play to kite enemies around, buying you enough time to take them all down before they can reach you.

In PvP, this set has much more use due to that same movement speed reduction. Players tend to stack up a lot of, particularly around Keeps, and that is where Winterborn can be used effectively. It can be used on Tanks and DPS roles in PvP, depending on the build setup as well.

Overall Winterborn is a mediocre set that will almost never be seen in PvE, but can be found occasionally in PvP due to its increased benefits in such an environment.


Stay tuned as I’ll be covering the rest of the ESO Sets, and be sure to check out our other ESO Guides!

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Senior Editor at Fextralife. I enjoy gaming, playing and watching sports, cooking yummy food, watching a good movie and hanging out with Fex.

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