Are Wards actually useful?

Is there any point to using these spells? They drain so much magicka it hard for me to believe there is an actual use for them. If there is a use can someone please tell me how and what combination of spells if any do they use with them.

Answer

It would be nice to hear from someone who does use them, but I remember looking at the math quickly and deciding against doing much with them. I’m revisiting that here with a bit more detail.

Here’s how the wards break down (they add to armor and absorb magic damage):

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Name      Cost/sec  +Armor  Absorbed 
------------------------------------
Lesser         28      40        40
Steadfast      50      60        60
Grand         203      80        80

and here are fire projectiles (which all have rough equivalents in frost and shock):

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Name           Cost   Damage
-----------------------------
Flames          12/s      8/s
Firebolt        35       25
Fire Rune      202       50
Fireball       247       40
Incinerate     255       60
Wall of Flames 101/s     50/s

and here are the mage armor spells:

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Name        Cost  +Armor
------------------------
Oakflesh     90      40
Stoneflesh  170      60
Ironflesh   228      80
Ebonyflesh  292     100

So, here’s my thinking: if you just want physical protection, Oakflesh costs as much as holding a Lesser Ward for 3 seconds but lasts for 20x that (while freeing up both hands), and the metrics just get more favorable from there. Plus, you can take ranks in Mage Armor to triple that. Oh, and ranks in Alteration let you take the Magic Resistance perk, which adds 10% spell resistance for each rank, and you get Atronach at 100, which lets you absorb 30% of the magicka from spells that hit you. Ward Absorb is nice, but still not enough, IMO, to focus on Restoration.

If you look at the Destruction spells, you’ll notice that they can quickly break wards (no more than two spells), which has the nasty effect of staggering you. Often, I’d rather absorb an enemy mage’s damage — and elemental protection is cheap — while backpedaling than get caught flat-footed by a warrior type. And whereas NPCs can put the ward back up immediately after a stagger and resume moving around, evading, keeping the ward up, and targeting you (made even harder by the ward’s animation in first-person), I just don’t have that coordination. Of course, I’d be very interested in a real strategy for using them, but I find it more effective to deal with the underlying problem — enemies — by dealing damage.

You could enchant equips to bring the cost down, but even then, I’d rather do that with a different school. The only exception I can see is if you have a bunch of spare magicka and a spare hand, particularly the less sneaky spellswords (I prefer shields with Elemental Protection, but to each his own). A more general use is for dealing with traps, as others have pointed out below.

So yes, I suppose that like everything it has its uses, but mostly for very specific character types.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : I Phantasm I , Answer Author : brymck

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