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If I want to focus on magic, can I ignore weapons entirely?
Playing high elf mage with spells only

I've played skyrim twice through using both one-handed and two-handed wepons on different accounts as a primary. However while completing the game in both I activated the wizards college quest twice and found destruction magic to be measly compare to my daedric swords.

Is it effective at higher levels and as a noob?

Note: Restoration spells are the bees knees.

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While I agree those other questions are definitely things to go looking at after this question has been answered. i think the basic question of are mages as effective at level 1 as they are at level 40 is a valid one. It is that question that I address in my answer as opposed to 'Can i be nothing but a mage' that the others are focused on. –  James Feb 22 '12 at 21:02
    
I think "Can I be nothing but a mage" implies that you can be effective enough to complete the game and onwards. –  Resorath Feb 23 '12 at 18:08
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marked as duplicate by z -, Resorath, Alex, Mark Trapp, bwarner Feb 22 '12 at 21:42

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2 Answers

You'll want to visit the Mage's college as soon as possible to get access to better spells and equipment.

Work to increase your Destruction skill and put a few perks in the Destruction tree, and you'll find your DPS is more than enough.

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Just recently finished playing the game on expert as a pure mage. My biggest problem was having very little armor and health. Once I worked enchanting and smithing to 100 (and gained free destruction casting ^-^), the game became trivially easy. If you don't want to wear any armor ever, definitely look into the armor spells and their accompanying perks. –  Toast Jul 17 '12 at 21:28
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So as not to cover other ground done by the other questions I will just say this:

Being a mage is fairly difficult at the start.. Its doable and I have stuck with it with characters, but your mage skills seem to go up so slowly. You really need to get around 40 destruction for the Impact perk before you will be able to feel in control of most combat situations instead of reactive to them. For comparison, a 2h power swing can stagger a good amount of time right from level 1.

Mages at later levels however are very powerful.. Not much more than any other type of play style (I have to admit that I applaud the ability to play this game in any style and never really feel put out by its limitations), but they definitely have a fun set of possibilities with their spells to make the game more interesting/amusing.

To touch on the note that you are seeing as well between 1h and 2h weapons vs destruction magic.. Please keep in mind that a Daedric weapon is equal to Master level spells.. Comparing it to Flames is a waste of time (get an iron dagger and compare it to flames :)). My character right now has fire/ice/lightning in her left hand and a nice daedric blade in her right (was ebony until last night :D). My sword is much more powerful than most of my spells (though I just got up to Adept level spells being half price so I am only just starting to fling fireballs at this point). This does not make my magic useless, as I can fling fireballs at things in the background, or right in my face, at the same time as I am slashing them down to finish off whatever health I may have... might also help my gear gives me +80% 1h damage while it can only reduce the costs of my spells, not make them more damaging.

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