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Perk & Skill Overhaul Mods --- ACE vs SPERG vs SkyRe, etc.

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Skyrim's default gameplay balance was rather lopsided, so since near the beginning of Skyrim modding I've been using (and rather obsessed with) balancing mods and mods that I think expand gameplay (mainly combat) without getting too lore-unfriendly. And instead of talking about a "Pack", I'd like to talk about this wonderful mod-obsessed community's thoughts on the various top balancing mods.


My main thought is this: compatibility patches are hard to make and balance is hard to achieve, so the more mods you add, the more likely you will unbalance your game. Mods, by default, are usually balanced for vanilla, hence why compatibility patches are necessary.


ACE Combat Skills (what I currently use)

Pros: Highly modular. Somewhat configurable. Closest to Vanilla.

Cons: No MCM. Lack of compatibility patches for modern mods.


S.P.E.R.G. - Skyrim Perk Enhancements and Rebalanced Gameplay

Pros: Somewhat modular. Highly configurable. Has some compatibility patches for modern mods.

Cons: May change a bit too much. Not compatible with some mods like Harvest Overhaul.


Skyrim Redone aka "SkyRe"

Pros: Lots of compatibility patches available, in addition to ReProccer.

Cons: Furthest away from Vanilla. Adds tons of scripts and changes. Basically changes the gameplay to the "SkyRe Experience".


Note: I consider Requiem's overhaul to go far further than any balancing & enhancement mod, so out of consideration for this discussion.


The reason why I like "ACE Combat Skills" currently is because I think the most compatible perk overhaul mod --- SkyRe --- just changes way too much, even if I'm just trying to use one module; and furthermore, it's obviously balanced to use multiple modules. There are other really great mods which offer other changes that SkyRe would conflict with. I've thought of making my own compatibility patches for both ACE and/or S.P.E.R.G., as well as an MCM menu for ACE. I was thinking a SkyProc for SPERG would probably be best.


Finally, below are a list of all/some the current overhaul mods in my current load order; since I'm lazy, I didn't actually finish all the blurbs for the list, and probably forgot a couple:


Enemy AI / Overhaul

* ASIS by Plutoman101 (now with ASIS Improved INI Files by EggOver1979)

Notes: MCM Menu.

My Thoughts: This has been my favourite AI overhaul mod, and nothing so far has replaced it for me.


Combat Overhauls


Perk Overhauls


* Smithing Perks Redone

* ACE Combat Skills


More/Better Spells

* Simple Spell Scaling Solution by tejon

Notes:  This simply swaps the potion and armor enchant effects, so armor enchants increase spell power and potions decrease Magicka costs, and allows skill to further decrease Magicka costs.

My Thoughts: The simplest fix to Vanilla since the beginning.


* Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim by Enai Station

Notes: Adds new, unique spells. Includes Requiem, SkyRe, and SPERG compatibility patches, and is fully compatible with ASIS. MCM Menu.

My Thoughts: Adds pretty well-balanced new spells, and can be distributed to NPCs through ASIS without breaking things (except if you have really large-scale battles).


* Forgotten Magic Redone by 3JIou and sward66

Notes: Adds new, unique spells. SkyRe Patch. MCM Menu. NOT for NPCs (ASIS, etc.)

My Thoughts: I really liked the original Forgotten Magic by the same original author; haven't yet tried this "Redone" version, but it will be in my newest playthrough.


* The Revenge of Colette - Powers and Spells for Discerning Adventurers by AstralFire

Notes: Adds new, unique spells and stances with a unique gameplay element. MCM Menu. NOT for NPCs. (ASIS, etc.)

My Thoughts: Another neat mod that's been in my collection for a long time (since I love spellcasting.)


* Bound Armory by Gruftlord

Notes: Adds new weapons, including crossbows, to the list of Bound Weapons that can be summoned, adds scaling to all Bound weapons, and tweaks the Bound Weapon-related Conjuration perks. SkyRE and SPERG compatibility. MCM Menu.

My Thoughts: I absolutely love playing a Conjuration Battlemage, yet again that playstyle doesn't really work well in Vanilla (at higher levels), so a mod like this is required. I also use Elemental Binding - Bound Weapons Edition along with this mod.


Looting / Dungeon Delving

* Dynamic Loot by 3JIou

Notes: Adds more randomness to loot, mostly as multiple weak enchants. Highly configurable, with an MCM Menu. Addons for many different popular item mods.

My Thoughts: I really disliked the static nature of rewards in TES games, especially as they are suppose to be used with what I see as broken Enchanting and Smithing systems, but I like min/maxing. Dynamic Loot pairs very well with Enchanting & Smithing overhauls that makes them progress much slower, also making them less required to advance your character.


Sneaking / Thievery / Stealth


* Stealth Skills Rebalanced - Sneak - Lockpicking - Pickpocket

* Sneak Tools

* Spell Sneak Attacks 2


Potions, Poisons, and Food


* Phitts Alchemy and Food Overhaul


Races and Character Creation


* Resplendent - Races of Skyrim

* Aurora - Standing Stones of Skyrim

Edited by generalmx
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  • 3 months later...

I have recently started my research for my 'pure-mage' play-through and appreciate any and all discussions on these sort of things, thank you.


It is probably worth mentioning that Simple Skyrim Spell Scaling Solution is considered old and buggy and there is a replacement mod, Simple Magic Rebalance by Gruftlord that does the same thing and is not buggy.

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  • 1 year later...

Sorry to ressurect this topic ^^

This Ace Combat is new to me and it seems a lot more balanced than SPERG, which i'm currently using. Maybe i haven't found it early because it is too old (i'm a new Skyrim player), but i'll try it instead of SPERG soon.

I have Deadly Combat+Deadly Dragons+all enemies at my lvl, to balance the game with SPERG, so the powerfull perks meets the powerful enemies. Maybe i should consider using ASIS, dunno... Should i?

Another perks mod i saw was Ordinator, but seriously, that's a joke! Just from the description, it turns you imortal and 1-hit killer before lvl 50. >.<

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  • 3 months later...

I like this topic, as perk & skill overhauls make a big difference to the game.


Here are some overhauls and related mods I've used, along with my thoughts on each:


ACE Combat Skills

Pros: Nice, simple, clear perks. Not as many "dead weight" perks (i.e. perks that just make the skill better). Ace Realistic Fighting module makes the combat more dynamic and strategic, and can be used separately from the perk overhaul if you like. Overall much more fun than the original perk tree without being too drastic of an overhaul. Combines nicely with Wildcat.

Cons: I'm not a fan of the way ACE splits bows into Light and Heavy, which makes Archery more complex, but not necessarily more fun.



Pros: "Dead weight" perks essentially removed. Fewer, but stronger perks make perk choice more meaningful. You can have a Mudcrab follower!

Cons: Makes the game a bit too easy. Adding Wildcat and ASIS might fix this (I never tried them together with SPERG), as might raising the difficulty.



Pros: Incredibly creative perk tree. The most different of the three so far from Vanilla. Allows for extremely creative builds (Combat blacksmiths!), and popular builds that were just not feasible in Vanilla (Monk, Cleric).

Cons: Over 400 perks means the perk tree is totally overcrowded. Haven't played to an epic level character yet, don't know how strong you get at high levels.



Pros: Standalone combat mod works with any other perk overhaul. Enemy AI dramatically improved. Battles are quicker and deadlier, and much more fun (if you survive)

Cons: Battles can be a little too deadly. I've gone through many dungeons only to have the boss one-hit-kill me, requiring me to just abandon it an come back later.



Pros: It just makes sense for a level 50 mage to know something better than "flames". Enemies using potions makes me feel less cheesy for using them myself.

Cons: Patcher describes some features as "having bugs" with no explanation. Increased Spawns has broken quests for me on several occasions (i.e. scripted encounters where too many enemies spawn for the scene to play out as it should).



Pros: Works with almost any perk overhaul, and gives you EXP for actually doing stuff instead of just skill grinding. Lets you choose what skills to level and when. Removes the temptation to use exploits like casting Muffle hundreds of times.

Cons: You've got to know in what direction you want your character to grow, since the game won't advance skills for you. This can prove overwhelming to new players. MCM interface is slightly clunky.



Pros: Changes in-game height of NPCs to emphasize racial / gender differences. Racial abilities improved, usually changed from once/day to passive. Adds an optional class system that lets you personalize your character greatly.

Cons: I honestly haven't found any. Disparity is excellent.


Bound Armory

Pros: Really fun, makes it more fun to play as a Conjuration battlemage. You can conjure a Pickaxe ^_^

Cons: None really, but the Heavy Armory mod that the author recommends to go with it is a bit over the top.





I recommend ACE for most players, since almost everyone can agree that it's solid, and it's close to the vanilla tree in its intent. I currently use Ordinator because I've played the game dozens of times and want to try out less conventional character builds. While SPERG has an admirable philosophy, I think it's just too overpowered.


The trick with Ordinator is to not overthink what perks your character is going to take, since examining the perk tree thoroughly would take hours. Just level them through normal play and then see what perks are available when you level. It makes for an unpredictable and (IMO) satisfying experience.


Even though it may not be for everyone, I refuse to play without SXP. I'm so tired of trying not to exploit Illusion magic, and having to craft hundreds of iron daggers. That said, it can make Ordinator even more intimidating than it already is.


ACE and Wildcat work extremely well together for the ultimate in pure combat enhancement. But save frequently because one hit deaths are not uncommon.


I like ASIS, because it just makes battles feel more fair to me when I know that NPCs aren't being nerfed for my enjoyment. Definitely disable the Increased Spawns, though. Or prepare to reload a lot of saves.


I currently use Disparity + Ordinator + SXP + ASIS.



BTW: I used to use Phitt's Alchemy and Food Overhaul because I really appreciate the idea of lowered / more realistic potion prices. I had to get rid of it though, because getting it to play nice with various perk / levelling overhauls proved to be too much of a bother.

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  • 5 months later...

Does anyone know if there's a way to get ACE to work with Special Edition?? I have been doing a ton of searching and can't seem to find an answer anywhere. I JUST found this mod (I know, SUPER late) and it seems, atm, that I can't utilize it's awesomesauce...

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  • 5 years later...

I personally love SkyRe. With Reproccer you have so much control and can tweak the values of skill gain, perks per level, and so on. It's a much better experience when you can't get 30 levels from skill grinding. Now Alchemy and Smithing can't be spammed. I like the perk trees more than Ordinator. They are incredibly immersive and you can really rp a character with several perk trees. Speechcraft and Alchemy have new ways to benefit a thief. Sneak can benefit a mage. You get a lot of combos you wouldn't normally, and it's much more involved imo. Wayfarer gives you a hunter build and you can make traps. Alchemy lets you learn to poison them. Enchanting lets you make exploding elemental arrows. You really branch out more and learn new skill trees to enhance your character.

Forgotten Magic Redone lets you rp as a certain type of spell caster, i.e. Druid, Warlock, Electromancer, Mystic. You level up the spells with use too, which lets you add great features to the spells. It also adds rings that benefit the spells.

Wintersun Faiths adds incredibly immersive roleplaying by letting you worship the Aedra, Daedra and other deities. You get new shrines across Skyrim and new buffs from shrines. As you pray and follow the tenets of your god, you grow in favor and unlock great buffs and powers. Being a devotee of Azura reduces magic resistance of enemies within 40 feet, based on favor. Mehrunes burns your enemies and they explode for incredible damage. 

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