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.

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    There is a specific dungeon I was in with various wall traps that I could not pass without using a steadfast ward.
    – GmNoob
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 7:54
  • hmm interesting :O ty for the info +1 Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 8:01
  • @GmNoob Labyrinthian by any chance? (you'll only get access during the Winterhold College quest-line but it's a massive dungeon that has all sorts of magic puzzles in it, usually one has just picked up the right spell trap. Also, there are some enemies that manage to use wards pretty well.
    – ewanm89
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 11:17
  • @ewanm89 shhhh. I try not to reveal spoilers
    – GmNoob
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 12:45
  • @GmNoob O right i remember that trap, not really the kind of traps i was thinking of...i was more thinking of physical traps(the massive swinging saws) i have really only come across that trap in the Labyrinthian. Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 0:43

13 Answers 13


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):

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):

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:

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.

  • Yeah you follow roughly the same thinking as me im really interested to see if there is a ward expert out there that can actually enlighten me on why and how they use wards. +1 for a great answer confirming what i thought of wards Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 5:40
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    You just gave me the brilliant idea of using Wards to "more safely" disable Elemental Rune traps. Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 5:56
  • @RavenDreamer that's what I use them for.
    – GmNoob
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 8:39
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    I use wards when fighting dragons because stopping dragon breath with your hands is just plain cool :P
    – l I
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 10:50
  • 1
    You could use wards and alteration spells and become a mage tank. Hell yea!
    – theorise
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 11:09

Wards are good for non-mage characters to help them out against magic-wielding opponents. It is not uncommon for a fighter-character specializing in melee weapons to also at least go a bit into the Restoration tree. Free healing during a fight is awesome, and there's not much else to use your magicka on before you smash your enemies' faces in.

If you have the right perks and some good timing, you can make yourself immune to most ranged spells as you close the distance to get some damage in.

  • hmm interesting i never really thought about fighter types using it. Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 5:27
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    +1: I only ever use this with my dual-wield warrior. I had to push stamina so hard that my health isn't high enough to soak a lot of spell damage. In this case the ward is super useful, as it gives me the time I need to close to melee against a ranged magic user. On the other hand, it's not uncommon that I just shout, knock them on their ass, and close that way, so it's not required. Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 15:19

I use the apprentice stone to regenerate magicka faster, but it gives me 100% weakness to magic attacks, so wards are necessary. Plus, that 40/60/80 that it blocks doesn't stack. When you cast your ward, notice it starts out weak, then after about 2 seconds it becomes full strength. If someone casts a 50 damage fireball at you, your ward will block it all, then charge back up. Basically, they have to damage you faster than your ward can recharge in order to break the ward. You can hold your ward out and block fireball after fireball all day long if you have the mana and the opponent isn't casting with both hands seperately. It's more useful than you think.

  • Hmmm interesting i have added wards as part of my arenal now your bring up some interesting points. +1 Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 5:16

Regarding Ward vs Oakflesh:

  • Ward protects from spells, Oakflesh doesn't.
  • You can use them both.
  • Ward is in Restoration, which many people use. Oakflesh is in Alteration which many people don't use. Given high Resto skill and low Alteration skill, ward might be cost effective.

One of the big downsides of Ward is the cost. You want a predictable situation to have the spell ready and to keep it active for as short a period as possible. One such situation - traps. Use Ward while running through swinging axe hallways or stepping onto a rune.

  • Does ward Protect from physical damage as well? from what your it make me believe it acts like a physical shield, do you use a ward your self? +1 for raising some good points Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 7:43
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    Ward and Oakflesh both add armor. They reduce physical damage through this armor increase and do not "absorb" damage. Think of casting ward like equiping (but not blocking with) a shield.
    – Amy B
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 14:39
  • ahh that makes sense ty for clearing that up =) Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 0:49

I made a pure mage character and fitted her with full daedric armor and a magicka cost reduction to destruction and restoration so instead of swinging swords I'm just throwing elements everywhere like a real battlemage should lol. Once you get to the higher end wards, magicka based attacks don't touch you at all while its out.

I stood in front of an elder dragons flame with it and it acted as an invisible wall. Pretty neat. You can also move around pretty well with it up and cast spells. You may not be able to bash with it but you can quickly switch the spell to use impact with a dual destruction spell to stun them. It also levels up your restoration when attacked just like a shield.

Wards are pretty good and saved me many times. They're not as good as shields but they're good enough in terms of melee damage reduction and frankly mages, dragon priests and daedra are much harder to kill than the melee enemies on par with em and it takes a few points in blocking to even get magic reduction on your shield or to enchant your armor or even make a potion good enough for it. also, getting the perk where you absorb magicka when a ward gets hit with a spell is cool too.

One thing that I've been trying out though is a shield on one hand and spells on the other. Melee enemies and archers are a lot easier this way then just switch to wards for mages and dragons.

  • Hmm yeah im pure mage to the ward seems to be fairly useless against melee damage but it is great against dragons i have yet to properly use it against a mage but im tempted to swap my conjuration/destruction to restoration/destruction. Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 0:40

I don't use them currently. However, since it's possible to use fortify restoration enchants to make all spells in that school cost zero mana, you can negate the problem of the ward being too mana intensive. If you combined fortify restoration with fortify destruction (using the extra effect perk), you could potentially channel a ward in one hand while spamming firebolts at the bad guy in your other hand. At least, that's what the AI does to me.

  • lol yeah thats what i was thinking atm i am using destruction and conjuration without mana cost but im trying to work out if its worth remaking half my ebony Armour to add restoration instead of conjuration. Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 4:45

I use steadfast ward when I fight Dragons to absorb their fire or frost breath. I only have to hold it for a couple of seconds and then the breath stops and I can use that time to get off a couple of destruction spells. Lather, rinse, repeat basically haha. It may seem sort of tedious but after asking what their use was myself I found my answer and it's become an integral part of my Dragon-fighting.


I don't know if this has already been put out there, but I have items that boost my max magika, and my magika regen, and then in the other hand, I just equip a staff. If you have enough enchantments equipped, plus the increased magika regen in the restoration tree, then you can be regenerating magika faster than the ward would be draining it. the Ward Absorb is a must if you plan on using wards often. The last time I was up against an ancient dragon, I dropped it without my majika bar even showing up.


No. I don't even use wards at all.

I carry around three double enchanted shields. They all give 20% spell resistance and 39% resistance to one of the three elemental spells. 100 enchantment rocks.


If you have 100 enchanting, wards are your best friends: with high enchanting skill, you can enchant your armor to make spells cost nothing, which will allow you to keep up wards all the time. Just keep one hand reserved for the ward, and use your other hand to do everything else.

  • 1
    Or your could enchant your armor to resist 85% of incoming magic and not lose the use of one hand.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 10:04

use wards in ranged fire fights with other magic users and the such. ward absorption thingy keeps your magicka replenished for the long haul so you could fire back twice as nice. you could dodge but, i deflect to absorb. oh, and i use it when im getting sprayed with conical projectiles to get all close like to other squishy mages and i give them the enchanted dagger.


Wards will completely negate certain shouts like unrelenting force and drain vitality. The former is good if you are engaging higher level draugr outdoors in an elevated location(prevents getting knocked off and falling to your death). With Dawnguard installed, it stops the Drain Vitality shout from Revered and Legendary Dragons(a fairly annoying shout since it ignores magic resistance and difficulty level). It should be noted the ward effect from daedric artifact Spell Breaker can do the same thing, but not for you if it's currently being used by a follower skilled in block. The good thing about using it versus shouts is you can hear the shout called out before it actually comes your way. You can wait to put the ward up until right before you need it and just keep it up long enough to negate the shout, thus saving magicka.


Wards negate magic damage entirely as long as you can keep it up, with even the weakest ward being enough to completely block dragonbreath from even high level dragons.

Oakflesh and Stoneflesh add armor but do not negate damage, they simply reduce it.

Wards are magicka expensive at first, but a few upgrades to magicka and perks in restoration and it can be an incredibly effective tool to provide relief from spellcasters.

As it is it takes 2 firebolts hitting in roughly half a second to break a lesser ward [the ward has 40 points of negation per second, it takes 25 from the first bolt and recharges enough to take a second in roughly a quarter-second] while a steadfast ward can take 2 fireballs in about the same time frame without breaking [60 from full down to 20 after a hit, back up to 40 half a second later]

Used effectively wards can completely disable magic attacks, especially since enemies don't tend to try and sync up their attacks to overwhelm wards making it very possible that you can take on a room of spell casting enemies with a ward in one hand and a sword in the other.

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