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Elden Ring: Top 11 Best Ashes of War

There are dozens of good Ashes of War in Elden Ring, but the ones in this list are the absolute best.

Having access to the best Elden Ring Ashes of War will give you an edge in the Lands Between. They’re a big expansion on the Dark Souls 3 Weapon Art system, giving you immense freedom with how your weapons function. The system also opens up many ways to make the build you want without sacrificing much damage. These are the best Ashes of War to focus on in Elden Ring.

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11 Best Ashes of War in Elden Ring: The Top Contenders

While most Elden Ring Ashes of War on this list can go on multiple weapons, I’ve included several special weapons that have unique arms that are deadly at all skill levels. With that said, everything presented here can be the best in its class in the right hands, making the ranking, I admit, subjective based on skill, access to certain weapons, etc. Here are the best Ashes of War at a glance.

  • 11: Piercing Fang
  • 10: Black Flame Tornado
  • 9: Waves of Darkness
  • 8: Royal Knight’s Resolve
  • 7: Giant Hunt
  • 6: Ancient Lightning Spear (Bolt of Gransax)
  • 5: Seppuku
  • 4: Flaming Strike
  • 3: Thunderbolt
  • 2: Transient Moonlight (Moonveil)
  • 1: Carian Retaliation

I go into greater detail on each of the best Elden Ring Ash of War choices below. Read on for more in-depth analysis and our honorable meme-tion choice.

11. Piercing Fang

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Shields are incredibly powerful in Elden Ring, with the likes of the Erdtree Shield and even the Fingerprint Shield providing almost total defense. Piercing Fang not only allows you to get around that defense but also quickly closes the distance between you and a foe. Its tracking isn’t great, but its damage certainly is.

10. Black Flame Tornado

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If you’re wondering why this is so “low” on our best Elden Ring Ashes of War list, thank FromSoftware. The nerf Black Flame Tornado received in an early patch neutered it enough that, while it’s still one of the best Ashes in the game, its effectiveness in PvP is significantly reduced. It still chunks bosses if you can catch them in recovery. A greedy player might also end up in the blender, too.

9. Waves of Darkness

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This one hurts. Colossal Swords have received some serious buffs, and Waves of Darkness not only acts as a “get away from me” button, but the follow-up slash with a giant ****-off sword can finish off even the toughest foes. I would rank it higher if some other Ashes of War didn’t make even this one look quaint in comparison.

8. Royal Knight’s Resolve

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Though it’s just a simple damage buff, Royal Knight’s Resolve raises your damage so much that it stands in a league of its own. It takes already powerful weapons of any class and cranks up their potential several fold. It’s cheap to use, lets you use almost any Infusion-type, and adds value to any build you put it on. Flashy? No. Effective? Wait until someone hits you with it.

7. Giant Hunt

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Like Waves of Darkness, Giant Hunt is limited by the selection of weapons you can equip with it, but unlike Waves, it’s fast, deals a similar amount of damage, can go on more weapons, and is generally usable in more situations. I actually like Waves of Darkness better, as it has more flair, and landing it is more satisfying, but I can’t deny that Giant Hunt is just better.

6. Ancient Lightning Spear on the Bolt of Gransax

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If you need something to remove either half a player’s health or take off a large chunk of a boss’s health, look no further than the Ancient Lightning Spear, found only on the Bolt of Gransax. Ignore the long charge time for a moment — if you land this attack, even at the minimum 40 Dexterity requirement, it’s doing absurd damage. You can make entire builds around it, and it works just fine as a regular spear if that’s your thing. Also, it’s hard not to type Bolt of Gransnax. Blame me always being hungry.

5. Seppuku

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Bleed build lovers, hear me out. Seppuku was once much higher up the food chain, but with the significant boost to self-damage and the adjustments to the likes of the Cross-Naginatas (and other dual-wielding buffed weapons), it’s now relegated to the middle of the “best in Elden Ring” list. Additionally, it’s no longer necessary to one-shot proc a bleedout (and never was), so there are safer options.

4. Flaming Strike

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As powerful as Flaming Strike is in almost any situation and on any weapon that can equip it, it rains so much in Elden Ring, and there’s so much water in the world that I have to rate it lower than I’d like. Rain raises Fire resistance, and while you don’t need Fire or Flame Art Infusion to use Flaming Strike, it loses enough damage and is too close range to compete with the remaining best Ashes of War on our list.

3. Thunderbolt

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Here’s what knocked Flaming Strike down a peg. Where water makes Fire damage worse, it does the opposite for Lightning (for obvious reasons). Thunderbolt is also a much safer option from range, goes great with any Dexterity-focused build, and is usable in many more situations.

2. Transient Moonlight on Moonveil

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Moonveil stan in shambles, but as good as the weapon is, it’s not as powerful as the number one on our list. Don’t get me wrong, this thing carried me through my first playthrough and made my first Malenia kill possible, and in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing, Moonveil is one of if not the most consistent weapons in the game. But there’s something even better. Trust me.

Honorable Meme-tion: Lightning Ram

Image via Bandai Namco

Yes, the goat roll is actually good, but only if used in a group. However, either in a gank scenario or as a pair of invaders, Lightning Ram can be one of the scariest things to face because it just keeps coming. It’s also surprisingly usable against bosses, especially those weak to Lightning.

1. Carian Retaliation

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Let’s count the ways Carian Retaliation is busted.

  1. It has the most parry frames of any parry Elden Ring Ash of War, tied with Golden Parry.
  2. It negates almost any magical projectile if you time the parry properly.
  3. It grants three Glintblades that deal good damage at almost any level.
  4. It costs next to nothing to use against spells and literally nothing as a parry tool.

All of the other best Elden Ring Ashes of War can end fights. Carian Retaliation ends Ashes of War. In a game where you can parry the likes of Transient Moonlight, Taker’s Flame, Corpse Piler, and dozens of others, Carian Retaliation is a hard counter to almost every threat in the game, in both PvE and PvP. The only reason not to use it on a build is because you think it’s cheap. And it is.

And that’s our list of the best Ashes of War in Elden Ring. Remember that there are dozens of other options available, and despite the ones presented here being the cream of the crop, don’t hesitate to try out others. If you’re looking for more Elden Ring content, check out our guides on the best Strength weapons, the 10 hardest bosses, and more in our Elden Ring guides hub

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John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.