I was wondering if the Master destruction spells are useful or just to show them off? I'm asking because it takes ages to cast and you can't hold them neither precisely point (Lighting Storm)...

Have you ever used them with a purpose?

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    To those voting to close: remember, there is such a thing as Good Subjective - and I'm not even convinced that this question couldn't be answered purely by mathematical analysis anyway. Don't get thrown by a turn of phrase. Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 22:34
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    To be able to cast the master spells (fire storm, etc.) Without being interrupted, you can use the "Become Ethereal" shout ^_^
    – user19906
    Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 1:14
  • I feel they are too situational to be truly useful. Then again, Destruction magic becomes horribly outclassed by properly smithed melee weapons and bows. A sneak attack with a dagger does over 3500 points of damage if you have the perks, and that's without fortify archery enchantments (Yes, daggers are affected by fortify archery, not one handed. Go figure). What does investing into magicka most of your level-ups, getting the expert perks and augmented x? About 600 points of damage spread across 5 seconds, and then you're empty. Useless. Now paralyze is a different story...
    – kotekzot
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 0:10

13 Answers 13


I used them for the lols during fort attacks in the Stormcloak/Imperial war quests, since there are a lot of targets around you. You can also sneak up to groups of enemies while stealthy/Invisible and let off one of them to start the fight.

Other than that, I didn't use them much, for the reasons you mentioned. Of all the perks they put in the game, I don't know why there isn't a perk to make winding up Master spells faster. You're really vulnerable while preparing and holding them, since you can't move.

  • I feel this answer sums it all up. Maths apart, it takes indeed long time to cast and when you find 4+ enemies you should be invisible to effectively put yourself in the middle. If Blizzard has got an explanation, fire storm is an AoE bomb, why at least lighting storm can't be targeted?
    – Emanuele
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 7:34

They are useful in two cases:

  • You want to maximize Area Of Effect damage/effect. Extremely useful for clearing a room full of Draugr or other high quantity low level situation. Blizzard and Lightning Storm are useful to get their effects onto a group of baddies.
  • You want to maximize Damage Per Second. Incinerate is surely better DPS in a 1-1 situation, Fire Storm is certainly better in a 10-1. At some point there is a line (which can be calculated with the casting/delay times) where the master spells become better DPS.

Like yx mentions, Fire Storm costs 0 magicka if you've made 2000 'iron daggers of elite banishment' (100 enchanting). And its fun as hell to cast and watch everything burn.


From a purely mathematical/mage perspective:

The higher the spell the less efficient. See below:

Firebolt - 41 Magika - 25 damage - 1.64 Magika/damage ratio

Fireball - 86 Magika - 40 damage - 2.15

Incinerate - 171 Magika - 60 damage - 2.85

Fire Storm - 1426 Magika - 100 damage - 14.26

1426 Magika used to do 100 damage with Fire Storm.

164 Magika used to do 100 damage with Firebolt.

It seems that the most useful spells are Novice level. Of course, with certain perks and armor this can be changed.

Personal note: Using Impact perk I can effectively infinitely immobilise 2 enemies with Firebolts and sure they don't do damage as quickly, but eventually I can wear them done to death. But shooting a Fire Storm I have to run away to recharge my mana (for 20 minutes).

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    less efficient, but what about for DPS purposes? Lets assume he's got -100% destruction cost gear, which isn't that hard to get.
    – l I
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 1:10
  • This is why I said "With certain perks and armor this can be changed". My answer doesn't cover every possibility, it only covers fire destruction and assumes no -xxx% desruction. The complexities of the game, (enchanted armor, total magika, magika regen, destruction skill, perks, one hit kills, handling multiple enemies, etc.) would make that answer prohibitivly long... That's why my answer focused on magika efficiency of master level spells compared with lower level spells which is important for mages both in single combat and against multiple enemies.
    – Coomie
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 1:24
  • +1 because we need the numbers here, but I don't think a longer explanation would be prohibitively long. DPS does need to be addressed (as Fire Storm is very AOE -- and actually does more than 100 damage for those close to you), and there are many qualifiers to the "less efficient" assertion: a) enemies regen, and b) enemies deal damage to you the longer they're alive. In my experience, Incinerate is great for dealing with individuals, and Fire Storm is great for when mobs close. By the time you have them, you should have halfway decent magicka regen/fortify destruction.
    – brymck
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 1:36
  • According to UESP, Fire Storm is 100 damage centered on the caster, and can be 50/25 depending on how far away you are. But I do agree that an answer that actually did the real math (with some assumptions of course) would be best. I also agree its fair to assume magicka is not an issue for most characters with Destruction > 90.
    – JoeB
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 2:15
  • Please make extra consideration for spells with AOE(area of effect). Fireball does the same damage to all targets within a 15 foot radius. Firestorm does 100 damage to everything within 100 feet of you, an extra 75 damage to those within 65 feet of you, and another 50 damage to those within 25 feet of you. All these numbers can be buffed by the Augment Flames perks, as well as the Aspect of Terror perk in Illusion. They can also be enhanced with fortify destruction potions(by 198% to almost 3x damage for me) and by the Ahzidal dragon priest mask in the Dragonborn DLC.
    – Jtenorj3
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 2:34

Master spells HAVE to be cast dual hand, but do not seem to benefit from dual cast bonus. DPS of those spells is just poor. I'm pretty sure I'd get more DPS spamming dual cast Fireballs than through Firestorm and it's a LOT safer, it staggers them through impact and is ranged. There's also the issue that trying to hit 10 targets with a single Firestorm will never happen on it's own because you'll get interrupted before you can pull it of.

For sure I get better DPS spamming dualcast Thunderbolt (expert lightning spell) than the Master Lightning Storm as I could test against an Ancient Dragon.

Cast time wrecks the usability of those point blank master spells. Unless you got the Invisibility spell to back them up, I've practically never managed to charge up Firestorm in melee range because most attacks on you would interrupt it. I've given up using Lightning Storm against all far away humanoid opponents either because they'd just pull a bow and hit me every 3s with it which cuts a cast that lasts 5s ... It works great to kill Dragons in flight though because of it's LONG range and pinpoint accuracy.

Soo, I'd say about those spells : - Lightning Storm is used to snipe dragons in flight but only if you can maintain it running for the full kill - Firestorm is rather weak and hard to place because of interrupts, try to combo it with Invisibility - Blizzard, well I don't like cold spells because it feels like half the fights I do are ancient tombs filled with Draugr or Dwemmer ruins filled with constructs. Also, it kills my companion.

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    A single word of Become Etherial is more than enough to get off a master level spell without getting hit.
    – Jtenorj3
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 2:39

Lightning storm in particular kills dragons pretty quickly. And fire storm is useful if you begin to be surrounded. You could also use blizzard.


Well as some one who just found out how useless the master spells are (except the illusion ones), high perked expert spells work much better for fights. Especially if you don't use helper NPCs.

Having upped lightning damage, dual casting, impact, disintergrate and of course 4 enchantments: 25% less destruction SP cost on armor, helmut, ring and necklace.

Lightning storm against a big enemy I would need a long distance, and it doesn't utilize impact or dual spell. It actually kills slower than Thunderbolt most of the time, and forget crowds.

Thunderbolt on the otherhand I meet ancient dragons and if timing your shots right they don't get to do anything, Impact perk with heavy damage he just staggers. I could literally have no armor and it's still unfair for the dragon.

Even crowds are fun with that set up since everyone gets stunned, just change your aim every shot or so.

I actually started thief and bow/dagger, but got enough levels I rage with mage, I use thief/bows for dungeons and magic when crap hits the fan or dragons/big stuff needs death.


With enchanted armor reducing destruction costs to 0, Lightning Storm is fun to endlessly wail on a mob of opponents, but impractical since you can't move. Personally, I find dual casting Wall of Storms to be more effective, since I can move around while casting, and it doesn't have a charge up time. Just aim it directly at the enemies instead of at the ground. Bonus: You get to feel like an all powerful Sith Lord!


In my opinion Master spells, especially blizzard and fire storm, are epic if used in the way that I use them. What you'll want to do is create potions of fortify destruction, and drink one before casting the Master spell. If you aren't concerned about exploiting an unfair advantage, then use the fortify restoration glitch to increase your alchemy to godly status before creating the fortify destruction potions. A fire storm or blizzard (being AoE spells), if used with this method, can inflict up to 1000000000 or more damage in your AoE. That's how I use them, that's just me.


Lightening storm is useful to get the drop on dragons, giants, and things of the such. I've also noticed that if you're really close to enemies firestorm does a LOT more than 100 damage, but its still not very practical.

Ice storm and fireball give you most efficiency. If you have perks and gear then incinerate/icy spear/thunderbolt (same thing just different elements) are, but dual casting isn't smart.


These Master level spells seem to be, to me, customized for special and specific situations.

I find myself using Firestorm often when surrounded by Draugr. I use both mouse buttons at the same time and rarely have to cast anything else because they all die.

Blizzard is the same for me but I have been using it mostly in open ground, outside, and I always seem to be surrounded by bandits, go figure.

Lightning Storm is my favorite. If you keep aware of your surroundings and time it right, it kills everything. I really do feel like a god or something using it. I have used both mouse buttons to try to dual cast it and I have been getting Impact staggering with the spell, especially on dragons; I don't think that's caused by any of my mods.


Personally, I think the master destruction spells are best used with dragons. They become much less useful in other situations. If you time them right you can cast them right when the dragon lands next to you. Some people claim they don't like them because they kill their companions. However, I have never run into this problem. Every time I have used them my companion was right next to me and didn't affect their health at all. It may hurt them when they are kneeling though. That is something I haven't come to experience yet.


If you have a lot of far enemies and you have daetdric armour enchanted with reduce distruction and conjuration spell to 100/100 less I would say lightning storm is good and best is when you use dragonrend on a dragon and then use the spell blizzard on it s landing spot then use the lightning storm on it while keeping him on the blizzard spot the when he is staggerd use the incenerat or ice spear to do instant damage it would be the best now if you master destruction spells cost arround 200 per second then forget it but mostly best when fighting a powerful enemy just summon to storm thralls to keep the enemy busy while you use master destruthio and if you wanna get a filled soul gem and you have the perks of bound weapons it would be good because all you do is hit your thralls send them back to where they came and hit the enemy and here you are with a filled soul gem and if you are very very selfish and don t wanna use your arrowes just use bound bow. Iow if you are tired and wanna be bossy just use storm thrall and wait untel 1 dies and resummon an other one but if u want to stay on your spot like a turret use lightning storm and if you want a pure war go to a city kill someone do not pay you bounty conjure atronaches(and two if you have twin souls) use sanguin rose get a mage followers and call you dragon then call a hero of valor the mage one this would be the most epic war ever. But if you want a very funny fight use myhem on the guards of a city and if you do not laugh you are stupped.


The only thing that I find lame about the destruction master spells is that they are not affected by dual casting... But if you go to "Dragonhide", one of the master spells for alteration, You can enhance the duration to a minute. I'm still trying to figure out what master spells are affected by the dual casting. : / But anyway, I never really use blizzard or firestorm because they damage my followers. But lightning storm is pretty beastly against dragons and other magick using beasts.

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