Skyrim: Sword & Shield Build Guide

Builds can get pretty hectic in Skyrim. Conjurers can try to summon their way to victory, but the spawns don’t always have reliable scripting. Stealth characters can try to strike from the shadows, but there are large portions of the game without hiding places. In the end, sometimes the best method is the tried and true sword and board.

There really isn’t a situation you can’t handle when you can block and slash at the same time. Archers will hit nothing but wood until you’ve cut them down. Wizards will cast feeble spells and then die in a single hit. And melee warriors won’t be able to find an opening as you slowly grind them down.

Fortify Restoration?

Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, the best way to do this build (and any build for that matter) is to do the Fortify Restoration technique. The development team says it’s not a glitch, but see for yourself.

  • Acquire and equip a full set of Fortify Alchemy gear.
  • Gather a set of gear that has the stats that you like.
  • Stock up on Salt Pile, Cyrodillic Longfin, and Abacean Longfin.
  • Collect at least two of the following: Blisterwort, Spriggan Cap, Glowing Mushroom, or Sabre Cat Tooth.
  • Make a Fortify Restoration potion.
  • Drink this potion.
  • Unequip your gear.
  • Re-equip your gear.
  • Repeat the last four steps until your fortify alchemy boost is in the millions.
  • Make a Fortify Smithing potion.
  • Drink this potion.
  • Improve your set of gear that has the stats that you like.

It’s heavy on the cheese and it absolutely breaks the combat balance in the game. Now, it’s yours if you want it. But for those who are actually looking to play the game fair and square, ignore this step and continue on.


  • Redguard

The big issue about leveling in Skyrim is that your enemies level with you. So if you’re getting stronger, they are too. This means that you should level up as little as possible and the best way to do that is by selecting a race that has high levels of your core skills. The Redguard has the best Block and One-Handed skills in the game, making them a natural fit. The skill that regenerates stamina rapidly is a lifesaver too, since you’ll be needing a lot of it to execute your moves.


  • The Warrior.

Everything you’ll need is under the sign of the Warrior. Block, Heavy Armor, and One-Handed skills will level up faster with this sign activated and even if all three of those have hit 100, there really isn’t much of a reason to switch since you won’t want to be leveling anything at all outside of those three.


  • Block

To level up Block, simply block. You’ll want to get as many points in this as possible and you’ll end up doing more damage as the game goes on, so if it seems to be going slowly, find an enemy that does a lot of rapid but light attacks, hold up your shield, and let the experience points pour in.

  • One-Handed

This will be your primary source of damage. Many have tried and failed to do a power bash build, but, if it’s viable at all, it’s with a two-handed weapon and not with a shield, so go ahead and get comfortable with the fact that you’ll be using a one-handed weapon.

  • Heavy Armor

It’s fun to believe that you’ll be able to block everything, but that just isn’t realistic. For those unlucky shots and swings, you’ll be leveling this up just so long as you’re wearing heavy armor. So slap any heavy outfit on until you’re able to find the really good stuff later.


  • Shield Wall

Enemies early on are always able to do just enough damage to make it so that your block doesn’t absorb a full blow, but even one point here takes care of that. Eventually, with five points here, your block values double. So long as you can keep your leveling under control, blocking any physical attack will eliminate 100% of the damage, even late in the game.

  • Elemental Protection

The one thing you can’t really reduce is damage done with magic, but the Elemental Protection perk cuts it in half. That is more than enough to close the gap with any sorcerer and chop them down before they can get off a second cast.

  • Armsman

Unless you want the game to last forever, you’ll likely want to pick up some points in Armsman. Doubling your damage is exactly what you need to survive longer fights when stamina drain becomes an issue.

You can’t go wrong with any extra perks, but as a word of warning, the power bash is not an effective use of stamina, so stay clear of that portion of the Block tree.

Leveling Up

  • Rotate Health and Stamina.

Play this by ear. If you find yourself constantly out of the juice required block and swing, then get stamina. But if you’re doing fine in that regard, picking up extra health will make you the tank you were born to be.

Best Equipment

  • Daedric Armor

There isn’t anything special as far as enchantments go on the Daedric armor. It’s just the highest-rated armor in the game and that’s really all you need, a lot of metal on your body in case the wood on your arm fails to block. You can buy them from the Dremora Merchant, pick them up as they drop off of revered and legendary dragons, or simply loot them from enemies who will drop pieces naturally after level 49.

  • Spellbreaker

This is the real icing on this cake. You only have one skill that helps deal with half of incoming spell damage, but what about the right, right? Well, after this, you’ll be asking “What about the rest?” for the rest of the game. It absorbs 50 points, well more than half of even the most severe fireball. You’ll get this as a reward for finishing the Daedric quest The Only Cure.

  • Windshear

The tooltip on this weapon is inaccurate, but the community has deciphered what this weapon does and it is incredible. It has a chance to paralyze opponents on a bash, but that’s not even the best part. It inflicts a stagger on every single hit, including bosses and dragons. It is missable, so make sure to keep your eyes open. You’ll get it from the Hail Sithis! Dark Brotherhood questline. It’s stuck in the bow of The Katariah wedged between some planks.

Have fun out there, humanoid cannonballs!

NEXT: Skyrim: Enchanting Skill Guide – Trainers, Fast-Leveling, & More

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Hodey Johns is a writer for Game Rant based out of the Rocky Mountains in North Ogden, Utah. He’s had a passion for video games and literature since he was a child growing up along the beach in San Diego, California. As a graduate of Theology from Liberty University, he puts his experience with religion, philosophy, and debate into his work. His other interests include sports, bike riding, and good old-fashioned barbecue.

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