How to Beat Ancano in Skyrim

It’s all in the Eye of Magnus!
how to beat Ancano | skyrim
Screenshot via Prima Games

To complete the College of Winterhold Quest Line in Skyrim, one of the objectives is to beat Ancano. In this guide, I’ll take you through the steps to defeat the Mage successfully without failing repeatedly.

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How to Beat Ancano in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

To beat Ancano in Skyrim, you will need the Staff of Magnus to defend yourself against Ancano’s magic, exploit his vulnerabilities when possible, and manage your magic. Below is an in-depth guide on how to do this.

Find and Use the Staff of Magnus

The Staff of Magnus is an important item needed to beat Ancano. Without it, fighting him is pointless and impossible. The Staff of Magnus is needed to weaken Ancano, making him vulnerable to attacks.

To find and obtain the Magnus Staff, you must find the Labyrinthian. There, you must reach the third level, which is called the Labyrinthian Tribune. Be prepared for many fights and battles, as the location will be filled with enemies.

When you reach the third level, all you can do is defeat the Dragon Priest, Morokei. The Dragon Priest is the NPC who wields the weapon required to complete the rest of the Winterhold Quest Line in Skyrim.


Close-range weapons have little effect on the dragon priest in Skyrim. Instead, use ranged weapons and magic spells to beat him with ease.

After successfully defeating Morokei, you’ll need to search his remains for the staff and other items dropped. You’re ready for the next step once you’ve obtained the Staff of Magnus.

Return to the College of Winterhold & Find Ancano

The next part is to find Ancano at the College of Winterhold. Stopping you from doing this will be a strong gust of wind. It will slow down your mobility, making it impossible to reach Ancano. You’ll need to go to the courtyard and dispel the gust of wind using the staff.

When you reach Tolfdir and Arniel and see Magic Anomaly, you’ve reached the right place and must reach the middle of the wind/storm.

To use the Staff of Magnus, press the Attack button to hold the staff in the air to clear the wind, which will open the way for you to enter Winterhold and find Ancano’s location. The agent of the Thalmor will be in the tallest tower inside Winterhold, called The Hall of Elements. This is where the battle to beat Ancano begins.

Fight & Beat Ancano by Closing the Eye of Magnus

After the dialog between Ancano and Tolfdir in Skyrim, you’ll need to beat Ancano. To do this, you need to use the Staff of Magnus on the Eye of Magnus. Point the staff towards the eye and press the attack button to use the staff again.

The eye will start closing, which will start weakening its power. Once the eye is fully closed, only then will Ancano be susceptible to your attacks. Attack him with weapons and magic. Beware; while you are attacking him, he will attempt to reopen the eye, and its power will return, making him immune to your attacks again.

You’ll need to rinse and repeat the previous step. Every time he opens the Eye of Magnus, you must close it again and then start attacking him.


Using a spell such as​​ the Vampiric Drain Spell will aid you in your battle against Ancano. It will hurt him while healing you.

What Weapons Work Best Against Ancano in Skyrim?

The best weapon to beat Ancano in Skyrim will depend on your character. If you’re completing the questline as a Destruction Mage, use your most powerful Destruction Magic. If you are fighting the Arch-Mage advisor as a Warrior, wield and use your strongest weapons.


Be sure to manage your health and Magicka levels. You’ll undoubtedly need to use potions and/or spells to restore health in moments when Ancano is trying to reopen the eye and striking you. Once you’ve restored some health, repeat all the steps to close the eye and defeat him.

When doing all of this, make sure not to rush the process, deal damage when possible, and retreat when needed. It can be counterproductive if you rush it, which could result in you failing all the time. You need to take your time to weaken him while the eye is closed.

You’ll need to keep moving around the room to avoid getting hit directly by his spells. Use the entire room to avoid his attacks. Do it right, and it should be over in no time. That is all you need to know about how to beat Ancano in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. If you want to know the highest level in Skyrim, there is a guide on The Max Level in Skyrim, which has all the info you need on the level cap and more.

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Ashley Anthony
Ashley is a Freelance Contributor for Prima Games and has been writing content for the web for eight years and counting, striving to provide readers with the best content possible. Ashley has recently entered the realm of video game journalism, starting his journey in 2022 and focuses on most of the sports video game titles such as Madden NFL, EA Sports PGA Tour, EA Sports FC, and more. Other genres that Ashley focuses on are RPGs, FPS, Action, Adventure, and Stealth games.