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Combat Essentials

Precision for creatures
Skyrim's default hit detection is rudimentary and paints in broad strokes. In Vanilla skyrim you effective just check an area around you on swing based on a static 'reach' number based on your weapon type. Which means all weapons of the same type have the same reach and weapon models don't matter. People have attempted to fix this in the past but it was just a more granular approach to the reach or simply just better values like this synth patcher 1) based on this older zedit patcher based on probably some older just form edits. Precision changes all that by directly calculating a hitbox based on the model itself. In addition its a proper hitbox which means your animation also now matters instead of everything essentially being a fan. I can't imagine a type of play-through that doesn't benefit from this 2)
Comprehensive Attack Rate Patch Attack speed in vanilla skyrim is fucked. It needs a fix and this is the most modern version of the fix. Previously Attack Speed Framework would have been my goto but CARP has some significant improvements on it. If you want to know the exact details of the attack speed issue read either mod page as they both go into it in depth. One note about CARP is that it has the requirement Perk Entry Point Extender, or PEPE, to quote it's page
“Not currently compatible with a fix in Scrambled Bugs that allows for multiple returns from the ApplyXSpell perk entry points. Coordinating how to implement may take a bit. To clarify, this is if one is using the entry point, not an incompatibility across the board.”
Some mods may require you to have that enabled, in which case you might have a bit of a conflict so keep that in mind.
TDM I originally thought this was only important if you were using a controller but its ridiculously customizable and has the features of 10 other mods. To sum it up quickly: you can walk toward the camera.
* Engarde patch Better Power Attack Direction Control (1.5.97)
SmoothCam 3rd person camera improvements, works well with TDM and almost required if you're using 3rd person combat mods below
Kaputt (adv)
Controls everything you could want about killmoves including turning them off.
* Some of the above mods also turn off kill moves on the player so keep that mind when you configure that option. Not sure if having them all on makes a difference but I try not to overlap settings when possible.
* VATS can be disabled via a .ini tweak (bVATSDisable) if you're trying to clean up your MCM and that is all you want to use Violens/Kaputt for.
Simply Balanced No matter what you do Skyrim balance will probably never fit exactly what you want. Simply Balanced is there to fill any gaps, it lets you set a lot numbers to scale the game to your liking. Personally, I recommend using it to first find where you'd like your balance to be and then figure out why your game isn't where you want it to be. Maybe your damage feels bad, and turn it up and now it feels good. Why is your bad? is it the enemies? is it the weapons? its good for figuring out gaps in your list and then patching them. Also great for adjusting things on the fly as you find the weird edge cases

Brief interlude

On Behaviors vs Animations: Many mods on this page deal with both. The question really is, what are behaviors? They're basically the thing Skyrim runs on. They're discrete game logic organized in hierarchical nodes that tell us when where and why to use any given animation. This is what Nemesis is for (and in theory pandora when it gets good), a software that merges changes to behaviors that mods make, its the glue that keeps all the behavior hacks working together. OAR can change an existing animation, its just a list of rules of when to swap out one animation for another. However if you want to ADD an animation to the game that it doesn't already have you need a behavior mod. A new sword swing animation for example is just an animation, it just replaces an existing thing you can already do, a new sword swing from a different key press is a new type of attack altogether and needs a behavior.
Open Animation Replacer This mod could easily go under half the headers on this site but it gets special mention here as a lot of combat mod use OAR and it's predecessor DAR for the purposes of combat animations

Combat overhauls

Behavior overhauls
MCO Once used to be more than one mod that does what MCO does. They're all dead now except MCO.
MCO is a framework, it does very little by itself and the thing that makes it work is the animations bundled with it. What does MCO actually do then? it replaces the default attack (light attack) and the default power attacks (heavy attack) with it's own special dummy attack. You can then use OAR to replace that with animation movesets. Within those movesets are animations that contain data that tells MCO if they can combo into another move, what movement the move contains, and what other constraints and timings allowed by the move. This lets you have strings attack like modern video games where each attack in a sequential string will have different animations, timing, and movement. The framework lets you define any combination of light/heavy attacks to point to a different animation.
Most movesets mimic some modern video game the animator is enamored with. Generally this means they're all using a from of attack commitment where you are locked into a direction for the duration of the attack and there are often a handful of unique combo strings
There are two variants of MCO, AMCO and ADXP. The difference is that ADXP removes attack speed from combat, the idea behind this is that you allow the animations set your attack speed. The other one has attack speed but also some animations look really bad bad at different speeds, which is presumably what the previous attempts to avoid.Dynamic Grip for MCO
SCAR This is a prerequisite mod, most of which haven't really been included here but this is to let you know that you'll need SCAR enabled movesets for npcs to use the above the MCO movesets, if the mco animation doesn't mention SCAR, it won't apply to the npcs
CGO this shit old and busted but a lot of it's changes dont't have replacements. Might be your cup of tea if you don't want all the fancy animations of mco. Keep in mind it really is buggy and jank and won't work with a lot of mods, including mco. I used to be a big fan of this one even with it's flaws but these days you can cobble together enough of it's features that it is not worth it the pain.
Need one of these
On Skyrim AI: All npcs have a fairly robust combat AI that is surprisingly customizable. A complicated AI system is not needed for complex combat, and bethesda has included a very sufficient solution in the game. If you open up xedit you can see a section in the npc record called Combat Style. If you follow that link you can see a lot of very useful things that determine when an npc attack, when it blocks, and how it moves. Every NPC has a combat style, many of which are defined by level and type of enemy giving a lot of granularity in how they function. The issue however is that a number of the dials and knobs on this system are tuned poorly. It is highly recommended that you replace the default combat styles, the overhauls below will replace them. While we are here, there is also another thing that determines how npcs function in combat and these are Game Settings and there are a a lot of them a lot of mods touch these at random and frankly I'm pretty sure most of these changes are based on superstition.
Valravn is Wildcat lite. These mods do a lot of things, read the descriptions. Very popular for good reason, most either pick this or below.
Blade and Blunt 90% of skyrim modders will be using this or the above. If I had a gun to my head to pick one, i'd pick this one. The ideal solution to me is to strip out the combat styles (look someone did that for B&B) and maybe gameplay settings from one of these mods and use something else for the other features.
Valhalla CombatAttempts to do a lot of things and tries to do them with a SKSE plugin but in practice is incredibly buggy. A lot of the features this mod adds are covered by other mods so it isn't a big loss, its a shame that we don't have a SKSE plugin to manage a lot of very similar combat changes other mods have to do with papyrus.
Ultimate combat Listed for historical effect. UC is the precursor to a lot of these mods but still has some unique features such as new enemy behaviors. Really not worth using in this year but maybe if nothing else appeals to you somehow?
Inpa Sekiro Combat Another weird historical artifact. Came out right after Sekiro did. It conflicts with nearly everything and is overall just bad. placed here just because it has some mechanics that are very unique to it. Worth looking at, not using.
Engarde Engarde does a lot of things most of which are modular, letting you turn them off or on as required. Engarde is a swiss army knife, it is a tool to stitch together the rest of the list. Please research it yourself, I will not be able to go into detail about most of it, there is too much to cover.
Some major features: Engarde changes how stamina works, it causes stamina to stop regenerating in combat. Instead, once you stop using stamina, after a short delay it will restore most of your stamina very quickly. In addition you can and should give stamina costs to attacks, as well as most other actions in the game. All of this also applies to all NPCs. Combat with all these options turned on really increases the weight of your positioning. Physically moving away from your enemies to avoid attacks and then going back in while they're out of stamina really creates an interesting ebb and flow to combat.
Engarde's patcher applies a similar effect as Mortal Enemies (attack commitment) to all enemies, not just humanoid npcs. It also modifies all the Enemy attacks to use a better defined attack cone that will let you dodge monsters and otherwise use the same methods of timing and spacing as you might against modded humanoid npcs.
There are many more features that I haven't gone over, such as Engarde's stagger system (weapon weight based), or it's dodge, or power attack button, etc, but at some point you'll have to let go of my hand and figure out which ones you need and want. Probably everyone who ever uses Engarde has a different set of features enabled.
Engarde is showing it's age as specific features in Engarde all have alternatives in other mods. However some features such as the enemy attack cones are still unique to Engarde even now and difficult to replace.
-Use the Synthesis patcher, not the zEdit patcher.
-Also it is recommended you don't enable the blade or blunt features under Weapon stats as they conflict with True Armor.
-If you use smash/bash run Synth after, not before
*Contains an attack speed fix
*Disable sweeping attacks in MCM if also using Sweeping attacks from other sources such as CGO. The power attack MCM changes such as invincibility during power attack and slowed time should also probably be disabled.
*The Nemesis patch is only required if you are using creature changes and/or block changes. You shouldn't be using block changes, let Vanguard do that. The VBS script is also only needed if you're doing creature changes and/or power attack changes and/or block changes


Armor and Resistances
True Armor I'd suggest this mod even outside of this guide to anyone and everyone. This makes armor into Armor. As always, read the fucking mod description but I will sum it up a bit. Armor can now deflect blows, which is to say there is a %chance by armor type by armor location that damage is reduced by that armor's deflect %, in the case of heavier armors this can almost negate the damage. There is a similar chance that a hit bypasses the armor at the location. All the details of this are insanely customizable and defined by armor type by slot.
Also importantly True Armor has a dynamic health limiter, which allows you set a base health and health per level and then set a Limiter strength. In simpler terms it means that you set a target HP per level and it tries to applies to enemies. The limiter sets how much of it applies, at 100% it will set the enemy hp to exactly your target HP. All this means armor actually matters and enemies stop being sponges. You can use this to offset true armor's own inherent tankyness or use it just to wrangle other mods.
Some people might report that true armor is very script heavy and this really isn't the case. Script weight is more like a budget and this mod by itself will never take up the entire budget. If you have a budget of 10 and normal mods are 0 or 1, True armor is a 2 or 3, which will only matter depending on how many 2+ you run.
Don't try to set all the different armor values yourself. No one does that. use the recommended FISSES (remember FISSES not FISS) download and just use a preset. Most people use realistic and it works well with the game. I like a little over the top skyrim so I use fantasy.
*Contains an attack speed fix
KYE2- Armor
Know Your Enemy 2 -
Blocking Note: a lot of perk mods tend to have perks obsoleted by block mods so keep that in mind
Strike Obstruction Systems - Combat Blocking Overhaul Covers all your blocking needs. If you can think of a feature related to blocking, this has it. Important note is to turn off NPC timed blocks as its very resource heavy.
Vanguard aaa


AGO I don't use most of it's features and mostly just use some of the minor fixes and the animation/mesh changes, If you're into Archery, check out the mod description in detail, most of this mod can be easily disabled.
Bruiser King of unarmed skill/perk mods

Combat Misc

For Honor Power attack
Elden Power attack
MCO and some others benefit greatly from being able to power attack with one button press. These all have their quirks so figure it out yourself which best fits your list
Additional Attack This mod lets you bind a key to .. do an additional attack. A really nice behavior mod that lets you mix in whatever you want. With OAR/DAR this really opens the door to infinite possibilities. A smart player will always find a way to use this.
Jumping Attack Another behavior mod that adds a unique jump attack. Currently not compatible with MCO (but some people have found workakrounds)
Crouch Sliding A slightly older behavior mod that can have some annoying conflicts but hey man its a slide what more do you want


Vokriinator BlackBloatmaxxing
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Just download all of them, the popular ones by enai and simon are easy to find and they're all generally fine, nothing to expand upon there.

Kittytail Tend to lean toward too strong but they're flashy and they're cool and they feel like fucking spells
Darenii The other one
Colorful magic old as fuck but goddamn this is real wizard shit. Not for the weak of heart


See Armor and Weapons for the respective pieces of equipment

Open World Loot
this is going to end up a mini guide in a guide because this mod does a lot of interesting things.
This is what I'm currently using, has a lot of patches for nearly everything. Open world loot's major feature is that it acts a layer between mods and skyrim.
The issue: If know anything about records and leveled lists you know what a nightmare it is it edit those and why something like MLU needs so many patches and so on. The short version is that all loot mods edit loot lists and also npcs, these causes real issues as those are often targetted by other mods and causes many conflicts. This is fine, thats how mods work, but loot in particular is a headache because just add one sword can touch 30 of those records and no one wants to make patches for every single thing. This is what bashed patches and like are for but even those aren't perfect and often end up requiring manual intervention. On top of all this loot mods tend to skew the probabilities the more mods you add for example if a bandit had a 50%/ 50% shot of spawning with a iron sword or an Ebony axe and you add a mod that adds a Iron katana, you can clearly see how you've changed the intent of the list.
The Solution: OWL edits everything then other mods edit OWL. Now the bandit above has instead two items he can spawn with OWLIronSword and OWLEbonyAxe, and you can simply say add your katana to the OWLIronSword list and he'll still have his weird 50%/50% chance to be OP. Its a pretty elegant solution, but it does mean you still need patches, thankfully due to the nature of how it works, making patches is every easy and because of that nearly every equipment related mod already has a patch for OWL.\\Keep in mind that even with the solution, you would still want to run a bashed patch or something similar because you still want to consolidate the OWL lists from your various mods, because as you know skyrim doesn't let you add to lists, just overwrite them. No one would want to or should make patches for patches, which is what that would require so instead you just use mator smash or run the Synthesis `leveledlistresolver` patcher. The synth patcher `SynOpenWorldLoot` doesn't take the place of a smashed/bashed/`leveledlistresolver` patch, instead it does something different altogether. `SynOpenWorldLoot` attempts to find more records that base OWL didn't replace, likely due to being modded, and replaces them in the same way that base OWL would.\\*A note on requirements:* You might have noticed OWL has WACCF as a soft requirement as well as a different mod by the OWL author. Both of those are not required. The reason they're listed is that OWL unfortunately does a little bit of balancing on the vanilla weapons based on the same ideology as WACCF, which is why its listed as a requirement. Similarly the other mod is just trying to add just those changes from WACCF with the rest of the mod. You can a.) Ignore both but have some weird vanilla weapon tiering b.) use one of them c.) use this mod
And finally use this mod at the bottom of your load order. Why? like I explained earlier OWL acts a layer between mods and vanilla, and all this does is ensure those edits don't get overwritten as nothing should be touching those records, they should all be touching the OWL versions instead.

Skyrim Guide Index

You still need this patcher for the a.i to have a better understand of it's reach
todo: some notes about animations for first person/vanilla/config options maybe idk
gameplay.txt · Last modified: 2024/05/01 04:00 by ghost