The second I heard about the Mounted Combat in patch 1.6 and downloaded the Steam Beta for it, I knew I had to make a character centered on it. Thus I present:
The Horseman is a master of arms and armor who prefers to fight from the back of his (or her) trusty steed. He is skilled in use of heavy armor, two-handed weapons for both offense and defense, as well as the difficult art of mounted archery. Away from his horse, the Horseman is also able to move relatively unheard and unseen, as well as craft, maintain and improve his own equipment. He prefers the open plains and hills of Skyrim's wilds to its ruins and caves, but is a formidable opponent both on and off horseback.
Race: Rather inconsequential. Bretons, Khajiit, Imperials, Bosmer and Dunmer all have some sort of military cavalry, but that doesn't mean you can't play one from another race. I wanted to play a Nord so I figured mine was some sort of mercenary.
Stone: I chose the Steed Stone straight up (for obvious reasons), but once you get Conditioning for heavy armor you may want to switch to the Lord Stone. Another good choice is the Warrior Stone, as 5 of the Horseman's 6 skills are Warrior skills.
Stat Distribution: 0/1/1 in Magicka/Health/Stamina. The Horseman doesn't use any magic but needs both survivability and endurance.
Before we go any further, let's review what we can do with mounted combat:
Archery: The Horseman is skilled in archery from both a standing and mounted position, and can hold his aim even while riding. Depending on your playstyle this will be your main or secondary offense, but it was my primary offensive skill. Important perks are Power Shot, Eagle Eye and Steady Hand - the slow-motion makes horse archery at higher speeds much easier, especially when you have to deal with Skyrim's aim assist, which is annoying at best.
Two-Handed: The Horseman is also skilled in two-handed weapons, as these make the best melee option for horseback. I used a battleaxe, as when doing ride-by attacks on tougher opponents, the bleed damage will continue for a few seconds while you come back for another pass. Of course you could use a weapon of choice depending on your race/playstyle. Important perks are Champion's Stance, and the perks for your weapon of choice. Sweep does not apply to mounted power attack unfortunately.
Heavy Armor: Your primary form of defense. I prefer to remain fairly mobile, so important perks are up to Conditioning and Tower of Strength.
Block: Invaluable in melee combat. Important perks are up to Disarming Bash on the right side and Quick Reflexes in the center. Left side is redundant as the Horseman doesn't use a shield.
Sneak: A little edge for when you dismount. Important perks are up to Deadly Shot and Muffled Movement.
Smithing: Pretty standard for a Warrior character. Only Steel Smithing is needed here if you use the same gear I did, otherwise up to whatever equipment you're planning on using.
Weapons/Armor: For my equipment I'm planning on using Wolf Armor (from the Companions), a Skyforge Steel Battleaxe, and the best bow I can get my hands on. Keep in mind that a heavier bow shoots slower than a lighter one - meaning that the Nord Hero Bow, the second lightest, is a very good choice. The Daedric Bow shoots only half as quickly as the old Long Bow. Wolf Armor has the same protection as Steel but is lighter. I feel a lighter heavy armor suits the idea of a mounted archer better but its your choice. Depending on your race you might go for something completely different.
It really depends on what race and background you choose for your character. Are you a knight? Bandit? Mercenary? Soldier? I played my Horseman as a Nord mercenary who joined the Stormcloaks and Companions. I preferred the outdoors and only went into caves and ruins when I needed to for quests.
Combat Notes (Video):
Outside you'll want to get the jump on your enemy with a few shots from your bow. Riding in wide circles around them can afford you a few more hits, since you can't aim behind you. When placing a shot on a smaller opponent, make sure you zoom in for the time slow (Steady Hand), allowing you to aim far better. Once your target is sufficiently softened up, go in with your two-hander, doing ride-by power attacks.Using a battleaxe for this is very effective, as the bleed damage continues until you come back for another pass.
Indoors, start with a pretty standard sneak&shoot strategy, and enter melee once you've been spotted. You should try and block or avoid attacks when possible, but you can take a few hits yourself. Remember to bash tougher enemies to interrupt their strong attacks, and maybe even disarm them at higher levels.
Dawnguard adds 2 new interesting features for the Horseman. First off is the Crossbow. The crossbow is a good weapon for the Horseman with its superior damage per shot, as you're rarely in a position to hit an enemy multiple times with a decent bow in 1 pass - the crossbow can even be improved with Steel Smithing. Secondly, the Summon Arvak spell from the Soul Cairn allows the Horseman to conjure a horse in (almost) any outdoor worldspace, including Blackreach (actually counts as an outdoor area), Solstheim, and Skuldafn. This means no more paying for a horse, fear of losing it or it dying - you've always got Arvak on hand!
Dragonborn doesn't add anything particularly interesting for the Horseman.
100 Magicka | 220 Health | 230 Stamina
Two-Handed: Barbarian 4, Limbsplitter 2, Champion's Stance
Archery: Overdraw 4, Eagle Eye, Steady Hand 1, Power Shot, Critical Shot 1
Heavy Armor: Juggernaut 1, Well Fitten
Block: Shield Wall 1, Quick Reflexes, Power Bash
Smithing: Steel Smithing
Sneak: Stealth 1, Muffled Movement, Backstab, Deadly Aim
Overall it's a little more basic than usual, just with the added element of mounted combat.
Well, let me know what you think in the comments below, and feel free to leave and suggestions and criticisms!
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Looks cool, and I can't wait till the patch comes to 360. I may try to incorporate it into my Legolas build, but will probably eventually make a knight build based around it. Are you able to stagger enemies by charging right into them while on horseback?
No, sadly. I've seen a mod that makes charging on your horse do a shield-charge sort of thing which is really cool!
Or they could make Giants be able to throw large rocks at you.
whats quests do you recconmend for this playthrough? and do you reccommend me to play a Nord because they seem cool to me and ummm what quests should i do 1st- whatever like can you put them in order of which to do first and which to do last kind of thing. and a good way to get my horse fastand mods that will work great with this playthrough etc etc. thanks ponty your my favorite build creator btw <3 no h0m0
Race isn't really important to be honest, I just did companions/bounty quests for the most part. I made sure I rode everywhere to get some mounted combat action on the way
+1 for a nice build and also supplying me with the information that there will be mounted combat! aka the build i made in the past will now be viable
wow, nice one... riders of rohan kinda feel!
I think my first mounted character will be a light armoured skirmisher, very much focused on the archery side of combat, but with a few hit-and-run attacks with a scimitar! I hope they dont keep us waiting too long!
That was my original thought, more of a historically accurate build - you don't hear about too many heavily armored horse archers wielding battleaxes! I was more going for an 'ideal mounted combat' character standpoint. I'm certainly looking forward to the full patch as well, can't wait to see what others come up with!
Interesting, could see a LOTR based Witch-king of Angmar build (the chief of the Nazgul) a bit like this. Might make one! :D
I have complaints, but these would be directed at Bethesda, rather than Ponty.
As far as the build itself is concerned, good job (+1) as usual. This build utilizes everything (the initial) mounted combat has to offer, yeilding a straight heavy fighter with a bow for range. Personally I would omit 'sneak' (not sure what I'd do with the perks points, probably just invest more into my weapon(s) or armor).
I was a bit doubtful about sneak as well, but as you said I didn't know where to put my perks. I really didn't want to get a school of magic/enchanting/alchemy, and only having 5 skills really nerfs your leveling potential alot. I figured the hit-and-run playstyle while mounted would translate well into sneak indoors.
Thanks for the +1 anyway, I'm kind of hoping Bethesda adds some sort of Riding skill tree so that mounted combat isn't so overpowered. Maybe get a perk to actually be able to fight while mounted, then as you go further up increase the mounted combat damage, attack speed (say it's below foot combat for starters), as well as your horse speed and handling.