This one shouldn't come as much of a surprise to most of you. Breton's have long been hailed as the best race even before Skyrim. What makes them such a favored race you ask? Why, their magic resistance of course! Bretons naturally have 25% Resist Magic which reduces any offensive spell damage by said amount. Choosing a Breton character makes it very easy to max your Magic Resistance, which caps out at 85%. By getting Agent of Mara, the Magic Resistance perks and The Lord Stone Bretons achieve maximum Magic Resistance without having to wear any enchanted gear! Bretons also have the greater power Dragonskin which will grant you 50% Spell Absorb for 60 seconds. Dragonskin is largely considered one of the best greater powers in the game. I should also mention that when playing as a Breton who is also a Necromage Vampire as an added bonus Dragonskin is boosted to 62% Spell Absorb for 90 seconds. Bretons also start with the spell Conjure Familiar. With everything Bretons have going for them it's not hard to see why I gave them the #1 spot.
Unlike Bretons who are practically uncontested in their rank, the #2 spot is a bit harder to decide. Ultimately this one came down to which race had the better greater power. So, I decided on Nords for the #2 spot. Nords have a constant 50% resistance to Frost. This is likely due to the fact that their native homeland is Skyrim, the coldest place in Tamriel. This resistance is valuable in fights against Draugr, Frost Dragons, Ice Wraiths and any mages who use frost based magic. This will also allow them to easily reach the Resist Frost cap unaided of enchantments if the player chooses to become a vampire. They also have the Battle Cry greater power which causes its targets to flee for 30 seconds. Battle Cry has a magnitude of 99 so it will affect virtually any enemy(with exceptions like Dragons and such) and it's area of effect is 60 feet. On the downside Battle Cry doesn't distinguish between friend and foe and is considered a form of attack so, don't do something stupid like use it in the middle of a town. That's just asking to get yourself a bounty.
#3: Dark Elf(Dunmer)
Dunmer were the other contestants for the #2 spot. Dunmer, like the Nords, have their own elemental resistance which is Fire. I would say that they stand on equal ground in that regard, fire and frost are both prominent in Skyrim, so one is not necessarily more important then the other. What held them back from the #2 spot was, I think, Ancestor's Wrath; the Dunmer's greater power. Ancestor's Wrath is essentially a free, once a day version of Flame Cloak which does 8 points of fire damage per second to targets in melee range. Not only is Ancestor's Wrath not unique but becomes fairly useless pretty quickly. You'll probably forget that you even have it once you reach level 30. Still though, Resist Fire is quite valuable. It makes dealing with any fire breathing Dragons and fire mages less of a hassle. Dunmer also make great Vampires because Resist Fire completely offsets the Weakness to Fire you get from being a Vampire. Dunmer also start with the spell Sparks, which is nice if you're a mage planning on going up against other mages. Also lightning magic is awesome.
#4: High Elf(Altmer)
Despite most Altmer in Skyrim being pretty douchey(The Thalmor case and point) they are a pretty good choice as a race. Altmer are blessed with the Highborn ability, which grants them 50 additional magicka constantly. This is a huge boon if you are a mage, 50 magicka is the equivalent of 5 levels of choosing to boost magicka. Altmer have 150 magicka at level 1 so you can either choose to keep investing in magicka to get access to more powerful spells or invest the points in health to keep you alive instead. Altmer also have the Highborn greater power. Guess they kind of lost their creativity when naming Altmer abilities. The Highborn greater power allows you to regenerate your magicka 25 times faster then normal for 60 seconds. This ability is especially useful in a pinch, like when you've almost finished an enemy but don't quite have enough magicka to finish the job. Along comes your friend Highborn and bam suddenly magicka isn't a problem anymore. Now if you thought the Highborn abilities were already good, being a Necromage Vampire boosts both abilities. Highborn now grants 62 magicka instead of 50. The Highborn greater power now regenerates your magicka at 31(?) times your normal rate and now lasts for 90 seconds. If that weren't impressive enough since Altmer are the tallest race in the game their run speed and jump height is better then every other race. Altmer also come with the spell Fury. Gee, with all the praise I've given Altmer maybe I should reconsider their spot on the list...nah forget about it.
Argonians are famous for being amphibious, they have a passive Waterbreathing ability then lets them do just that. This makes them ideal for fishing and deep sea diving and treasure hunting. It's also an ability they can use to escape enemies being that only slaughterfish and mud crabs can attack you underwater. If you play as an Argonian you'll probably find any excuse you can to utilize this ability, waterbreathing isn't exactly a common enchantment. They also have 50% resist disease which doesn't impress me much. Vampires and Werewolves have 100% resist disease, making it kind of a redundant passive ability. Also, did you know that if you have 100% spell absorb you won't get a disease either? Diseases are apparently considered spells but since they have no magicka cost you won't recover any magicka from absorbing them. Still though, nice bonus. The Argonian's greater power, Histskin, is what really makes them shine. Histskin recovers your health 10 times faster for 60 seconds. With Vampire Necromage this gets bumped up to 12(?) times faster health recovery for 90 seconds. Histskin is great if you find yourself low on health, it will heal you to full health in a matter of seconds. Where it really shines though is activating when you're already at full health. Try as they might most enemies won't be able to kill you, even if you are being attacked my multiple enemies. That is of course if they don't completely over power you. An enemy that could kill you in one or two hits before probably can still kill you even with Histskin. Take advantage of it in a pinch but don't expect it to get you out of a near hopeless situation. In addition to the abilities mentioned above, Argonians do +6 damage in unarmed combat. All in all, Argonians are pretty good. Their abilities don't quite measure up to the races higher up on the list but they are far more blessed then the next 5 races, in my opinion.
#6 was a pretty hard choice. You see when I started this list I was certain of the top 5 and bottom 2 but 3 races are pretty close to each other in mediocrity. After giving it some thought though I was able to come to a conclusion so, let me explain my choice for #6. Imperials have a passive ability called Imperial Luck. The description states as follows; "Anywhere gold coins might be found, Imperials always seem to find a few more." Now this description is rather vague but luckily some research has yielded a more exact description. Imperial Luck grants a 100% chance to find anywhere from 2 to 10 extra gold in all chests/containers that normally contain gold as well as corpses of any enemies that normally drop gold. Honestly, this isn't such a great passive ability. You wind up making more gold dealing with merchants then by finding gold during your quest. Still though if you're one of those people who meticulously checks every container and corpse for gold(like me) then you will notice your pockets are heavier with gold. The small increase in gold tends to add up when you multiply it by every enemy and container you've ever checked for gold. Now, this was not the ability that was the deciding factor in giving Imperials the #6 position. What I thought put the Imperials above the rest of the remaining races was their greater power, Voice of the Emperor. Voice of the Empeor calms nearby people for 60 seconds once per day. It has a magnitude of 99 and the area of effect is 75 feet. Now except for the fact that it doesn't effect animals(don't worry you have two shouts for that, we'll discuss that in the part for #7 though) this is the most powerful calm spell in the game. That's right all those Illusion perks and calm spells are rendered ineffectual against the power of Voice of the Emperor. This ability has multiple practical uses in combat against humans. If you are fighting a large group and are at risk of being overwhelmed you can use Voice of the Emperor to pacify a group of enemies and take them on one at a time. You can use Voice of the Emperor when you are in danger and since you are now out of combat your magicka, health, and stamina will regenerate faster. Using Voice of the Emperor also allows you to wait, restoring all three aforementioned states to recover instantly. You can even wait for 24 hours and Voice of the Emperor will be ready to use again. At a glance this greater power might have seemed to be one of the weaker powers, maybe even the weakest. Don't underestimate it, you now know that it can be utilized with dangerous efficiency and it's effectiveness doesn't wear out as you level unlike some greater powers. I hope I've made it clear now why I choose Imperials as #6.
#7 Wood Elf(Bosmer)
Ah, the Bosmer. I really like the Bosmer as a race. Something about the short, warrior elves that specialize in archery and thievery has an appeal to me. I have my reasons for putting them this low on the list though despite how much I like them. Now, Bosmer have a passive ability, Resist Disease and Poison with a magnitude of 50%. While not a bad ability, as I've mentioned before, resist disease 100% is available as a passive ability to either a vampire or werewolf. Resist poison 100% is also a passive ability of a vampire. Now, if you're planning on becoming a vampire(which I recommend you do at least for a little while, but I'll talk about that more later) your Bosmer passive abilities are a complete waste. Bosmer also have a greater power which is known as Command Animal. It has a magnitude of 99 pts and an area of effect of 75 feet. This can be useful at lower levels as some animals like bears or Sabre cats can be particularly lethal to low level characters. Command Animal can be used to turn powerful animals against your enemies. Mammoths are even susceptible to it which can make fights against giants much easier. You can also use it to take control of an enemy and then sneak attack them to get the drop on them before the effect wears off and they attack you again. Now, there are two problems with Command Animal. One is that it's effectiveness wears off with level and becomes redundant and very situational. The other is that there are not one but two animal related shouts that have similar functions. Kyne's Peace calms animals up to level 20 within 225 feet for 180 seconds. Also animals effected by this shout will be revealed similarly to how Detect Life and Aura Whisper reveal life forms. Animal Allegiance causes a similar effect to Command Animal effecting animals up to level 20 for 60 seconds in 250 feet. Despite not having as high of a magnitude as Command Animal, both shouts can have are effective against Mammoths. So, unfortunately Bosmer are kind of useless when it comes to their powers and abilities. Now, I bet your thinking if I think that Bosmer are pretty worthless why are they only #7? Well, they might not be as useful as some of the aforementioned races but I don't think they are as worthless as the last 3 races.
Redguards might be considered to be the most naturally talented warriors by some, but they sure got the shaft when it comes to abilities. Resist Poison grants 50% poison resistance. As I've said before vampires have a constant 100% resist poison passive ability rendering this ability pointless. Redguards also have the Adrenaline Rush greater power which regenerates stamina 10 times faster for 60 seconds. Like other abilities of a similar nature this one is augmented by Necromage Vampire getting a boost to 12(?) times faster for 90 seconds. This might sound like a good ability on paper but really all it's good for is to let you keep running for an extended period of time. But isn't it useful in combat, you ask? Well let me explain the problem with it. Now although you are regenerating stamina 10x faster it is still possible for you to run out of stamina especially if you didn't put that many points into stamina(you should never put that many points into stamina if at all and I'll explain why, just keep reading). When you run out of stamina there is a brief period of time in which you don't regenerate stamina, lets call it a cool down period. During this period you can't do any thing that requires stamina. Since Adrenaline Rush doesn't prevent this cool down period its use is limited. Fortunately there is something that does and it lasts for a much longer time then Adrenaline Rush. Any food that is cooked at a cooking spit that restores stamina on a per second basis(Beef Stew, Vegetable Soup, Venison Stew) prevents you from entering the cool down period because it is constantly restoring 1 stamina per second insuring that you never run out. This allows you to endlessly preform power attacks and shield bashes since you only need 1 stamina to do any attack action that requires stamina. Adrenaline Rush sounds like it would be a great ability but it will forever live in the shadow of culinary dishes. So, ultimately Reguards have a greater power that is rendered inept by food which is why they are #8.
I'll never understand peoples' love for Khajiit. I don't hate cats or anything. In fact I think you can make Khajiit look pretty cool in Skyrim, imposing even. I've just never found them to be that impressive, but that's not why they are so low on the list. Like Argonians, Khajiit have a boost to their unarmed attack. Let me explain unarmed attack a bit. All 8 other races have a base unarmed damage of 4. Argonians have +6 unarmed damage which brings them to 10. Khajiit also have +6 unarmed damage in addition to their passive ability Claws which grants an additional 12(the description of the ability in the game says 15 but it is wrong) bringing them to a total of 22. It is possible to boost unarmed damage by 18 points with the Fists of Steel perk and 28 points with an enchanted ring and pair of gauntlets bringing your total up to 68. Without exploits like the Restoration potion glitch this is the maximum amount of damage you can achieve with unarmed damage. Honestly that's pretty low, and consider that attacking is incredibly slow, power attacks don't stagger opponents and there are currently no perks that improve unarmed in anyway. Honestly, if you were thinking about using unarmed as an option I would reconsider. Khajiit also have the Eye of Night which grants improved night vision for 60 seconds and can be used as much as you want. Oh wait, you know how else you can have the Night Eye effect? By being a vampire. Being a vampire grants you Vampire's Sight which is exactly the same thing and is available at all stages of vampirism. Yeah. Why did you want to be a Khajiit again?
So, Orcs. They've got the Berserker Rage greater power which causes you to take half physical damage and do double physical damage for 60 seconds once a day. Yay. Hey, want to know a secret? You can actually replicate this ability for all races by just turning the difficulty down two levels for 60 seconds and then putting it back to the level it was at. Or you just leave it like that why the hell not. BERSERKER RAGE FEVER YEAH! Also, Orc players are automatically Blood-Kin to the Orcs of Skyrim which means youll have access to the Orc Strongholds.
Honorable Mention: Vampire
Okay so in this article I've mentioned being a vampire a lot and I know they aren't technically a race which is why they aren't on the list. If they were they would be #0 cause you know 0 is a higher rank than 1. Vampires are awesome though and I'm going to tell you why. First of all you get 100% Resist Disease and Poison. Illusion spells are 25% more potent allowing you to use them more effectively against higher level enemies. It is 25% harder for you to be detected while sneaking. Also, and here's the big important one, a vampire is considered undead which means that if you have the Necromage perk all spells that are self targeting will get a 25% boost in strength and a 50% boos in duration. Now, spells is a very general and broad term in this case. Spells technically include; Standing Stones, any magic spells you cast that target the player, Armor Enchantments, Potions, Blessings, Passive abilities and even Perks. Note that the effects are only boosted if applied after you 1) are a Vampire and 2) have the Necromage perk. However, they last indefinitely so long as they are never removed. So, even if you don't want to be a Vampire for the whole game it is advisable to get the Necromage perk, become a Vampire and then get yourself any passive abilities, perks and standing stones that you would like to be affected.
Now there are some downsides, negative spell affects will also be affected by Necromage. While out in the day light your stats will decrease and stop regenerating. This will be more severe if you are at a higher stage of vampirism. You will also be considerably weaker to fire. If you do not have Dawnguard installed then at stage 4 you will be a blood starved vampire, hated and feared by everyone. This will make almost everyone try and kill you which can make it very difficult to feed. You can keep this under wraps though by feeding regularly, if you want you can bring a follower everywhere with you and tell them to sleep, then feed on them at your convenience.
Now I'm going to wrap this up by including a list of perks positively affected by Necromage Vampirism, you're welcome.
Steady Hand: get only Tier 1, Teir 2 is bugged and will make the perk unusable, take it either before you become a vampire or after you've cured vampirism if you want it
Power Shot: 25% more stagger
Quick Shot: 25% more overall speed increase, your bow will fire over twice as fast as it was
Fists of Steel: 25% more damage per armor rate
Quick Reflexes: 25% slower time
Dual Flurry: 25% attack speed increase, more then doubles as with Quick Shot
Wind Walker: 25% more stamina regeneration, a small boost but worth it for a vampire character
Muffle: 25% more noise reduction, kind of moot if you are getting silence
Extra pockets: 25% more carry weight increase, +100 becomes +125(uber secret hint: use a restoration to make it even higher)
Recover: 25% more magicka regeneration increase, again small boost but helpful for a vampire character
Avoid Death: 25% more healing, definitely worth while
Magic Resistance: 25% more magic resistance
Atronach: 25% more spell absorption, with this and the Atronach stone you can achieve 100% spell absorption