ELDEN RING – Katana Weapon Guide (PVP)

Katanas are viable DEX-scaling weapons in Elden Ring PvP, positioned in A-tier of weapons overall. Their key strengths lie in a very diverse moveset and excellent synergy with ashes of war.

Guide to Katana

Katana Tier-List and Comparison

The following comparisons are all made with 60 stats of investment starting with a wretch character. The R1 Damage is an approximation which assumes 140 defence and 30% damage negation for all damage types, with no buffs applied to the weapon.

WeaponOptimal StatsAttack Rating (AR)1H R1 DmgStatusWeight
SNagakiba18 STR 62 DEX546 Keen / 615 Lightning283 / 30045 Bleed7.0
AMoonveil12 STR 28 DEX 50 INT247 physical + 397 magic = 64431650 Bleed6.5
BHand of Malenia16 STR 64 DEX594 physical31450 Bleed7.0
CUchigatana11 STR 69 DEX565 Keen / 646 Lightning295 / 31745 Bleed5.5
Rivers of Blood12 STR 28 DEX 50 ARC341 physical + 275 fire = 61628650 Bleed (74 Scaled)6.5
Serpentbone Blade11 STR 69 DEX570 physical29966 Deadly Poison6.0
DDragonscale Blade21 STR 59 DEX529 physical (+160 lightning buff)271(80 Frost Buff)5.5
EMeteoric Ore Blade56 STR 14 DEX 20 INT450 physical + 222 magic = 67231850 Bleed7.5

Weapon Hitbox Range Comparison

Weapon Range Data for Katanas in Elden Ring

Discussion

Nagakiba

The Nagakiba is an infusible katana and has by far the greatest hitbox range of all katanas. It scales with DEX and is typically best with lightning infusion. It so massively outranges other katanas that only Nagakiba is worth using. Other katanas such as Uchigatana on DEX can have slightly more AR and lower stat requirements, but the massive range disadvantage makes them worthless anyways. Relevant ashes of war like Spinning Slash, Double Slash, and Unsheathe all become very powerful when combined with the high range of the Nagakiba.

Moonveil

Moonveil is only in A-tier because of its extremely powerful weapon art. However, it has low range compared to the Nagakiba, and doesn’t compensate for it with high AR, so it is effectively just weapon art sticks.

Hand of Malenia

This katana has a similar range and does more damage than a Keen Nagakiba, but cannot be infused and is stuck with the Waterfowl Dance weapon art, which is not very useful in PvP. It also has 50 blood loss buildup compared to 45 on Nagakiba. This makes it a decent offhand weapon, but lightning instead of physical damage is generally preferred for katanas, because Boiled Crab and Black Flame’s Protection don’t affect it, and lightning defence is only increased by RL, leaving it at a comparably low 127 at RL 125.

Uchigatana

This is basically a much shorter Nagakiba with lower stat requirements and slightly higher AR. These advantages don’t compensate for the massively lower range. At least it is infusible unlike most other katanas, giving it access to a variety of strong ashes.

Rivers of Blood

Rivers of Blood is very similar to Moonveil and used to be in A-tier. Patch 1.06 has significantly nerfed the blood loss buildup and damage of the bloody slashes at the edge of the Corpse Piler weapon art, making it much weaker and no longer much of a threat in PvP.

Serpentbone Blade

It is slightly longer than Uchigatana, does more damage than a Keen Nagakiba, comes with the Double Slash weapon art (which is a decent weapon arts for katanas), and also builds up 66 deadly poison (see below) per hit. It has a unique R2 which can be seen as a much shorter range Double Slash with more poise damage (40 + 60 uncharged, 100 + 200 charged).

Status EffectDmg/Tick**at 2000 HPDurationTotal Dmg
Poison 1 (e.g. poison infusion)⌊MaxHP * 0.0007⌋ + 7890 s720
Poison 2 (e.g. Serpentbone Blade)⌊MaxHP * 0.0014⌋ + 141630 s480
Scarlet Rot 1 (e.g. rot grease)⌊MaxHP * 0.0018⌋ + 151890 s1620

Dragonscale Blade & Meteoric Ore Blade

Both katanas are even shorter than Uchigatana and have less AR than an infused Uchigatana on an optimised build. Dragonscale at least has a unique weapon art which buffs the weapon with 80 frost buildup and 130 damage, making it okay as an offhand weapon. In exchange, it is the only katana without innate blood loss though.

Meteoric has nothing to offer other than the unique and fairly fast R2, since it can be replaced by Magic Uchigatana with Gravitas, which would also have lower stat requirements. It is simultaneously the shortest and heaviest katana.

Moveset Data and Discussion

There are three movesets to discuss: two-handed (2H), one-handed (1H), and powerstanced (PS). The following tables refer to the data for Nagakiba, as it is the most important katana. The data for other katanas may slightly vary, but is very similar in most cases. 

Two-Handed

MovePvP Poise DmgAttack Motion Value
R187.75103
R2148.5130
R2 (Serpentbone)54 + 94.555 + 120
R2 Charged445.5160
R2 Charged (Serpentbone)148.5 + 29755 + 150
Running R1 (RR1)87.75110
Running R2 (RR2)148.5125
Rolling/Crouch R1 (CR1)87.7595
Jump R1 (JR1)131.625115
Jump R2 (JR2)297135
Backstep R1 (BR1)87.75100
Guard Counter445.5145

This is the worst of all movesets. RR1 and R1 are slower than in the one-handed moveset, and AR does not substantially improve because katanas are not STR-scaling weapons. The 2H RR1 is also a slower vertical slash compared to the faster horizontal slash of 1H RR1 and basically a worse JR2.

Blocking with katanas is also not a good idea: a Lightning Nagakiba has only 33 guard boost and less than 50% physical defence. All in all, do not use katanas two-handed.

One-Handed

MovePvP Poise DmgAttack Motion Value
R167.5100
R2135125
R2 (Serpentbone)54 + 8150 + 110
R2 Charged405160
R2 Charged (Serpentbone)135 + 27050 + 140
Running R1 (RR1)67.5105
Running R2 (RR2)135120
Rolling/Crouch R1 (CR1)67.590
Jump R1 (JR1)101.25110
Jump R2 (JR2)270130
Backstep R1 (BR1)67.595
Guard Counter405140

1H R1 is faster than 2H R1, in fact, very fast. The running R1 is also much faster and more of a horizontal slash, and it has a short recovery. You can spam multiple RR1s in short succession. Just like the 2H moveset, you have an extremely fast crouch/roll R1 (CR1), and a long-range, albeit slow R2, and RR2 which thrusts the katana forward.

The JR1 is horizontal and the JR2 is vertical. The JR1 can be a good mixup against opponents who attempt to parry the RR1, but it deals less poise damage and is not hugely faster than JR2, so JR2 should be the default jump attack.

Powerstanced

MovePvP Poise DmgAttack Motion Value
L127 + 5490 + 100
Running L1 (RL1)27 + 5490 + 110
Rolling/Crouch L1 (CL1)40.5 + 40.5100 + 100
Jump L1 (JL1)101.25 + 101.25130 + 100
Backstep L1 (BL1)54 + 2790 + 90

L1 is slow, doesn’t deal much poise damage, and doesn’t utilise the full Nagakiba range, except for the third L1 (L1 3). It is risky to use against opponents unless you have the initiative. The same applies to RL1, which is only good for chasing opponents who are likely to roll. The two separate hits can make it easy to roll-catch with L1 and RL1, but only against opponents who are rolling backwards, as both of these attacks have poor tracking.

JL1 is a very high-ranged, very high-damage jump attack. It hits comparably early since the katanas are thrust downward. However, it is not good at air-to-air combat because of this downward hit and tight hitboxes. The JL1 is extremely strong both as a forward-jump and a neutral-jump for self-defence. Using Claw Talisman is recommended. Expect ~850 damage with Claw Talisman on Lightning Nagakibas.

CL1 hits with both katanas at the same time and has good range on Nagakiba. This compensates for the otherwise slow and poorly tracking regular L1. Katanas can be extremely strong when relying on this attack, possibly while wavedashing. 

Summary

The 2H moveset does not provide a substantial advantage in motion values or poise damage over the 1H moveset, but has slower and less useful moves. Using katanas in a powerstance gives them access to the outstanding moves CL1 and JL1, which is why you should prefer to use them that way.

Using only a one-handed katana makes it difficult to inflict poise damage, and JR2 and RR2 are too reactable despite dealing at least 100 poise damage. Use a 1H katana against low-poise opponents only.

Ashes of War Data and Discussion

Meta Ashes

Katanas don’t have great synergy with any of the meta ashes. It only makes sense using them on unusual infusions like Fire, Heavy, Magic, etc. Katanas scale best with DEX and profit most from lightning infusion and melee ashes.

  • Flaming Strike is a useful roll-catch after JL1 on STR katanas, but less useful on katanas overall because people don’t tend to roll into them.
  • Storm Stomp is overall bad, since you can only get ½ L1 (unless your opponent has 20 poise) or R1 after stunning with stomp. Spinning Slash is a stronger defensive option.
  • Quickstep gives convenient access to the CL1, but so does crouching. There are better ashes, but at least QS can help you escape storm stomp or other true combos, since recovery into QS is lower than recovery into roll. Use this ash only against specific setups.

Melee Ashes

Due to the low poise damage of L1 and R1 and the overall weakness of L1, katanas can profit significantly from using ashes of war. The range of the Nagakiba is massive and enhances many “melee ashes of war” beyond what they can accomplish on other weapons. Katanas are perhaps the most melee ash-dependent weapons in the entire game, and also the weapons which synergize best with weapons.

Note: The following tables show the motion values for status and stamina damage. For reference, 1H R1 has a motion value of 100 for everything.

Spinning Slash – Spin to Win

Expect ~800 damage if all three hits connect.

MovePvP Poise DmgAttack MVEff. Attack MVStatus MVStamina MV
Spinning Slash 114511088100150
Spinning Slash 245 + 14565 + 11552 + 92100 + 10085 + 150

This ash is a death tornado on Nagakiba. The range is absolutely massive and the first and last hit are poise breaks against any opponent. You can simply walk up to opponents who deal low poise damage and spin in their face, as long as you win the trade. You can win many casual duels by just spamming L2 with this ash of war; it is braindead and insanely powerful.

Furthermore, it is completely unparryable and deals high stamina damage, breaking many opponents’ medium shields in one spin. It is also an excellent way to apply status effects. For instance, you can use blood grease to create a bloody spin that adds on to the inherent blood loss buildup that all katanas have. (prefer Keen Nagakiba with drawstring blood grease over Blood Nagakiba)

It loses if your opponent can interrupt (by trading) with Spinning Slash, because the first part on its own does not deal much damage. It can also be countered by Raptor of the Mists, because even if the first part of L2 2 hits them mid-air, it will not interrupt most opponents’ jump attack.

Spinning Slash True Combos

L2 1 into L2 2 is a true combo partially, namely you are guaranteed to get the first hit of the L2 2 due to how long Spinning Slash stuns. If the opponent gets poise-broken by the first part of the L2 2 (45 poise damage), the next and final hit will also connect. However, even if your opponent manages to roll the last hit, a phantom-hit is extremely likely, making it even easier to apply status effects. A Poison Nagakiba can apply 285 poison per spin this way, Cold Nagakiba can apply 315 Frost.

Sometimes, regardless of poise, all three hits are a true combo. The consensus on why this happens is that Spinning Slash can headshot the player, leading to a longer stagger that makes all three hits connect.

Double Slash – If only it dealt more poise damage

MovePvP Poise DmgAttack MVEff. Attack MVStatus MVStamina MV
Double Slash 137.5 + 5092 + 10573.6 + 8475 + 10075 + 75
Double Slash 237.5 + 37.5 + 5084 + 86 + 11567.2 + 68.8 + 9275 + 75 + 10075 + 75 + 100
Double Slash 3100145116100150

Since 1.07, this ash has become virtually useless. It already suffered from poise damage issues in 1.06, but these were exacerbated in 1.07. Not even the final hit is now a poise break in ladder matches, and the damage was decreased significantly as well. There is no reason to use this ash over melee attacks anymore.

Sword Dance – Trash

MovePvP Poise DmgAttack MVEff. Attack MVStatus MVStamina MV
Sword Dance 160 + 60120 + 12096 + 9675 + 100120 + 120
Sword Dance 275150120100150

Sword Dance can be backstabbed and strafed quite easily, and the range of the Nagakiba changes nothing about that. It is an unreliable ash with a huge recovery, and only has a guaranteed poise break if both parts of L2 1 hit, but that very rarely happens. It is also react-parryable.

Unsheathe – Powerful Allrounder

Expect ~500 damage on L2 R1, ~750 damage on L2 R2.

MovePvP Poise DmgAttack MVEff. Attack MVStatus MVStamina MV
Unsheathe R1150190152100200
Unsheathe R2300245196100300

Unsheathe deals massive poise damage and massive damage in a comparably fast attack. The poise damage on L2 R2 is so massive, that it can even interrupt Storm Stomp in some cases. The L2 R1 is better against opponents who roll sideways or into you, since the L2 R2 has poor tracking and can be strafed. The L2 R2 is better against stationary targets, and is the best anti-air move in the entire game. The massive stamina damage also makes it quite likely to break guards against small or medium shields. However, you will usually need to recovery-cancel (see below) to make it to your opponent for a riposte in time.

Unsheathe first requires you to sheathe your weapon, and that pre-telegraphs any move you perform afterwards. Because of this, it is very reactable. There are multiple ways to land hits despite this:

  • Read your opponent and trade or interrupt their attack
  • Instead of whiff-punishing, sheathe close to them and either react-trade or roll catch
  • Simply whiff-punish or trade with slow/long-recovery attacks; e.g. you can trade with Waves of Darkness, Golden Land, Chilling Mist, etc. and L2 R2 will win against these ashes, even if it trades

The sheathing is a pre-telegraph which can be used to react-parry this ash of war, but only if you immediately unsheathe. It can also be difficult to land unsheathe roll-catches on higher latencies. Other than that, it has no major weakness.

Unsheathe Recovery Cancel and Vortex

The recovery of any unsheathe attack can be cancelled by blocking or crouching, of which crouching is easier. Simply tap the crouch button after unsheathing. You can also hold L2 to unsheathe again as soon as possible. When doing this, you can unsheathe repeatedly at a high speed. At this speed, unsheathe into unsheathe is a roll-catching combo.

This means that repeated unsheathing can in itself vortex your opponent: if they roll immediately, L2 may catch them, if they don’t, they might get hit by a very fast and high-damage attack.

Impaling Thrust & Piercing Fang – Theoretically Useless

MovePvP Poise DmgAttack MVEff. Attack MVStatus MVStamina MVShield Chip
Impaling Thrust300187149.610020085%
Piercing Fang300212169.6100200100%

These ashes became a lot more attractive in 1.07 due to increased speed, poise damage, and greater damage relative to Unsheathe. Roll catching combos are still unknown, but these ashes can certainly be used as major punishes for whiffs with slow ashes, charged R2s, jump attacks, etc.

Pierce damage is a major benefit here, possibly increasing the damage dealt significantly.

Matchups

EvaluationMatchupExplanation
soft-counteringHeavy Thrusting SwordCL1 can dodge HTS R1 and HTS RR2 because those go above your head. Simply crouching can also duck under these moves. Unsheathe can win trades and knock HTS out of the air, can also win trades vs. Storm Stomp and possibly punish Flaming Strike. You can exploit the phantom-hit on HTS RR2 to have your poise reset, then use Spinning Slash or Unsheathe to catch rolls or win trades. HTS has no good defence against JL1.
evenPS Straight SwordsPlaying passive, relying on CL1 to whiff-punish and relieve aggression can be very frustrating for PS SS. Spinning Slash is a very good ash for this matchup, but can be countered by Raptor of the mists. PS SS JL1 interrupts Spinning Slash and is too fast to react-punish with Unsheathe, making it difficult to resist well-spaced jump-pressure. However, Spinning Slash is an excellent punish for empty jumps, whiffed jumps, and jumps that go over your head.
soft-countered2H HalberdEverything that 2H halberd does will break poise, making it difficult to use Unsheathe uninterrupted, making Spinning Slash and Double Slash almost useless. Without these ashes, only JL1 can be remotely useful to defend yourself against halberd RR1.
UGS vs. PS KibasSimilar to 2H halberd, everything UGS does breaks poise, making it difficult to use any ashes effectively. Every part of the moveset other than JL1 gets outtraded and outranged by UGS. The higher the latency, the worse jumping becomes, making this matchup insufferable at high lat.
Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 7137 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

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