You can technically beat Elden Ring pretty much however you want if you’re talented/dedicated enough, but most players will want to use the game’s full range of upgrades and abilities in order to overcome its most devastating challenges. That means you’ll probably want to find Elden Ring‘s best Ash of War enhancements at some point.
Like many things in Elden Ring, Ashes of War are a classic Soulsborne concept that happens to be going by a slightly different name this time around. That means that veteran players may have a lot of questions about them, while new players will probably have absolutely no idea what they are or what to do with them.
Since Elden Ring‘s best Ash of War enhancements can make the game significantly easier, and really let you get the most out of your class’ build, though, then here’s a rundown of what they are, what to do with them, and, most importantly, where to find them.
Elden Ring: What is an Ash of War?
Ashes of War are basically enhancements/enchantments that you can add to specific weapons and other pieces of gear that either grant that item special abilities, change its stats scaling modifiers in some way, produce a lingering elemental effect, or, more often than not, result in some combination of those effects.
While you don’t have to add an Ash of War to your gear (and some weapons and pieces of gear come with special abilities inherent to that item that can’t be replicated), finding the right Ash of War for your build and gear can greatly enhance your damage output and defensive capabilities. They can also sometimes be used as a great way to modify a weapon so that they scale more effectively with your primary stats.
Elden Ring: How Do You Add an Ash of War to Your Equipment?
To add Ashes of War to a compatible piece of equipment yourself, you’ll first need to acquire the Whetstone Knife (which can be found in an underground chest near Gatefront Ruins). That will allow you to add Ashes of War to your gear at any Site of Grace.
Alternatively, you may want to visit Blacksmith Hewg at Roundtable Hold who can not only Strengthen your armaments, but add Ashes of War to any valid items and even duplicate an Ash of War (which we’ll talk about more in a bit).
As noted above, it’s important to remember that you can only apply certain Ashes of War to certain pieces of equipment. The Ashes’ description will tell you which pieces of equipment it can be applied to, though you’ll also obviously be able to see which pieces of gear are valid and which are not once you actually try to apply the Ash itself.
Elden Ring: Can You Upgrade an Ash of War?
At this time, there doesn’t appear to be a way to upgrade or strengthen your Ashes of War in order to make them more effective. The effectiveness of an Ash of War depends on what you apply it to and how you use it.
On that note, it’s important to look at how an Ash of War will impact your item’s stats before you apply it. You may not want to apply certain Ashes of War (or certain types of Ashes of War) to certain items if it means that the item will no longer scale properly with your main stats or will negatively impact where its damage/defenses primarily come from (based on your character/build).
In other words, you don’t want your Strength/Dex sword to suddenly depend more on Intelligence because you’re adding a certain kind of magic-based Ash of War to it. Be sure that every Ash of War you pick works well with your build.
Elden Ring: How do Ashes of War Change a Weapon’s Stats and Scaling?
While the primary function of any Ash of War is to add a special ability to an item, your choice of what type of Ash of War to use may impact which stats the item scales with.
You’ll be able to see how an Ash will alter your item’s stat scaling before you use it, but here’s a rundown of how various Ash of War types impact an item’s stat scaling:
Keen Ashes of War – Increases Dexterity scaling and decreases Strength and base damage
Quality Ashes of War – Equals Strength and Dexterity Scaling and decreases base damage
Lightning Ashes of War – Increases Dexterity scaling and decreases base damage and Strength scaling
Magic Ashes of War – Increases Intelligence scaling and decreases base damage and Strength/Dexterity scaling
Sacred Ashes of War – Increases Faith scaling and decreases physical stats
Heavy Ashes of War – Increases Strength scaling and decreases other scaling types
Fire Ashes of War – Decreases default scaling
Cold Ashes of War – Increases Intelligence scaling and decreases other scaling types
Blood Ashes of War – Adds Arcane scaling and decreases other scaling types
Occult Ashes of War – Adds Arcane scaling and decreases other scaling types
Elden Ring: Can You Duplicate an Ash of War?
You can duplicate an Ash of War, but it’s not a process that you’ll be able to rely on often.
To duplicate an Ash of War, you’ll need to offer a Lost Ashes of War item to Smithing Master Hewg in Roundtable Hold. You’ll only be able to replicate Ashes of War that you have found yourself (meaning abilities inherent to certain weapons cannot be replicated via this method), and you won’t be able to duplicate them from a Site of Grace.
Unfortunately, Lost Ashes of War are incredibly rare items. The Isolated Merchant in Weeping Peninsula, Nomadic Merchant, and Isolated Merchant in Dragonbarrow offer a limited quantity of them, but beyond those merchants (and any other merchants fans may discover), you’ll need to rely on random world drops for these items. As such, you’ll want to use them wisely.
Elden Ring: Where to Find the Best Ash of War Items
While your personal choice for the best Ash of War in Elden Ring kind of depends on your playstyle and preferences, these are some of the most powerful overall Ash of War drops that I’ve found so far.
Where to Find Bloody Slash Ash of War
As we talked about in our look at some of the best Elden Ring builds, melee weapons that produce a bleed effect in this game tend to be very powerful. Unfortunately, there are relatively few weapons in the game that naturally produce that effect, and you won’t always want to use the ones that do.
That’s where Bloody Slash comes into play. This absolutely incredible ability allows you to coat your compatible weapon in your own blood (at the cost of a small amount of HP) and deliver a devastating bleeding strike that can easily help destroy pretty much any enemy that isn’t immune to the effect. You will need to build your character and consider your equipment choices in a way that allows you to get the most out of this ability, but the benefits are…well, they might be a bit broken.
The Bloody Slash Art of War can be found at Fort Haight in Limgrave. Near the top of the fort is a knight wielding a bloody weapon. Defeat that knight, and he should drop this incredible item.
Where to Find Wild Strikes Ash of War
For those times when you want to simply swing your blade in front of you as quickly and as often as possible in order to deal obscene amounts of damage and frustrate pretty much any foe, Wild Strikes is here to help.
Wild Strikes is basically the equitable equivalent of those rapid-fire strikes that lower-level enemies in Soulsborne games love to use to catch you in a combo. Not only can you use it on larger weapons to effectively reduce their swing time at the cost of a reasonable amount of FP (though there does seem to be a damage trade-off on a per strike basis), but you can easily combo this ability with regular strikes, which is great when you’re trying to maintain a rhythm. Melee players should definitely look for this one.
Most players seem to report finding this on a Teardrop Scarab on the path between Stormhill Shack and Castleward Tunnel (that’s where I found it), but others say they can’t get that Scarab to spawn.
It’s possible that Scarab is tied to a level requirement, but I would also advise trying to look for this Scarab at different times of day (or “resetting it” with a Site of Grace if you just can’t spot it).
Where to Find Sacred Blade Ash of War
There are a few Ashes of War in Elden Ring that grant a certain “affinity” to an item, and most of them are useful for certain builds looking for those elemental advantages or for anyone trying to exploit an enemy’s weakness. However, I’m recommending Sacred Blade on this list over somewhat similar alternatives simply because it is uniquely powerful for certain kinds of builds.
If you’re playing as a Faith-based character that uses melee weapons (which is a pretty common and powerful way to play the game), you can use this Ash of War to add Faith-based scaling and the Holy Affinity to a weapon. You will need to pick the weapons you use this Ash on carefully, but you’ll likely need it at some point in order to get the most out of that kind of character.
You can find this Ash of War on a Teardrop Scarab located North of the Third Church of Marika.
Where to Find Barricade Shield Ash of War
If you’re working on a “tank” character or intend to depend on a shield during most fights, then you’re probably going to want to find this Ash of War at some point.
There’s not much to this Ash of War, but that’s the beauty of it. It simply focuses energy into your shield in order to make it more resilient. While I’m not sure about the exact numbers, I can say that using this ability at the right time will allow you to absorb some otherwise devastating blows. It’s one of the best uses of FP for defensive builds.
You’ll get Barricade Shield after you defeat the Night’s Cavalry in Weeping Pennisula. As the name implies, this boss can only be found at night.
Where to Find Bloodhound’s Step and Quickstep Ash of War
I’m lumping these two together since they produce similar effects that are just different enough to justify making an argument for either based on your preferences and build.
Quickstep is essentially a dodge function that allows you to easily sidestep incoming blows without needing to recover from a roll animation or use too much stamina. It can also be used to help you circle around an enemy more effectively, but I’ve found that it is best thought of as a defensive tool.
Bloodhound’s Step, meanwhile, allows you to become temporarily invincible as you essentially perform a slide animation. It’s incredibly powerful in PvP situations and can be used to avoid some really nasty attacks with a wide range.
I initially thought that Bloodhound’s Step is the better option, and while there might be just a little truth to that, some players/builds may prefer Quickstep’s…well…quick animation style and the quick “outs” it enables. Both are certainly powerful, though.
Quickstep is incredibly easy to find. You just need to visit the Warmaster’s Shack found here on the map and buy it for 800 Runes:
Bloodhound’s Step is a little trickier to acquire. You’ll need to travel to Lenne’s Rise (which is found in a very deadly part of the map) and head north across the nearby bridge at Night. There, you should find a Night’s Cavalry rider that drops it when they die.
Where to Find Storm Blade Ash of War
I’m a little torn on how useful this Ash of War is over some of its alternatives, but it’s certainly a fascinating option that could very well save your life if you use it the right way.
This skill produces a “straight shot” whirlwind effect that not only deals damage but can interrupt enemies and knock them back. It’s a pretty great way to create some distance between you and a particularly aggressive enemy, and I certainly got a lot of use out of it early on with my Warrior builds.
You can buy this skill at Warmaster’s Shack for 1800 Runes.
Where to Find Loretta’s Slash Ash of War
While I’m honestly still playing with “magic melee” builds that benefit from intellect and strength/dexterity (it’s a tricky combo), I will say that this Ash of War may be one of the keys to making that build work.
This skill temporarily launches you in the air before you deliver a sweeping magical strike. While it can sadly only be added to polearms and Twinblades, it should quickly become a favorite among any players that have found a way to benefit from its somewhat unique scaling requirements and love to blend magic and melee in the proper ratio.
Loretta’s Slash can be looted from Royal Knight Loretta once they are defeated.
Where to Find No Skill Ash of War
I didn’t think I’d be recommending an Ash of War that doesn’t actually grant you any skill, but No Skill is secretly one of the most valuable Ashes of War in the game (for certain builds).
You’re probably going to use this item to remove the skill from a shield in order to ensure that your special attack triggers your weapon’s ability and not the shield’s ability. While some players will want to use their shield’s ability (even if it’s Parry), some tanks may prefer to use their weapon’s ability in order to squeeze in that extra damage during boss battles and other fights.
No Skill can be purchased from the Warmaster’s Shack for 600 Runes.
Where to Find Gravitas Ash of War
Gravitas is an Ash of War designed for large weapons that allows you to strike your weapon into the ground and produce an AOE ability that both damages nearby enemies and summons them closer to you.
Tank players will get the most out of this ability, but I honestly think that some melee/magic hybrid builds may be able to use this ability to bring enemies into the range of their incantations and other abilities. Even some pure melee builds may want to use this to bring enemies closer to their wider swings
You’ll loot this from a Slender Wayfarer found near the Seaside Ruins Site of Grace. You’ll need to head to the nearby beach where you’ll find this enemy patrolling.
Where to Find Carian Greatsword Ash of War
Carian Greatsword allows you to temporarily convert your sword into a magical greatsword that you’ll soon use to deliver a devastating blow to anything in your path.
While this ability is a bit slow and won’t do much for certain builds, it’s a wildly entertaining ability that can deal absurd amounts of damage and help you with some fights where you need that little bit of extra magic damage/range.
You can purchase this from Sorcerer Rogier at Roundtable Hold for 2,500 Runes.