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How to beat the Blackgaol Knight in ER Shadow of the Erdtree

The Blackgaol Knight is one of the first bosses you find in Shadow of the Erdtree, so obviously he's one of the trickiest!

The Tarnished casting a spell to attack the Blackgaol Knight in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.
Image credit: FromSoftware/VG247

I hate the Blackgaol Knight and so do you; that’s why you’re here.

Let me know if this sounds familiar: you were all excited to play Elden Ring’s new Shadow of the Erdtree DLC, wandered into the Gravesite Plain and took on the first boss you encountered.

You probably thought the Blackgaol Knight would be easy, you’re quite highly levelled from coming in near the end-game of the main adventure, of course. How wrong I was, and you were as well…

From his home in the Western Nameless Mausoleum, the Blackgaol Knight is destined to ruin many an evening, with his oppressive crossbow barrages, massive reach and seemingly infinite Poise (the stat in Elden Ring that determines how many hits a character can take before their attack is interrupted).

What’s more, traditional strategies like rolling into and through wide, sweeping attacks don’t seem to work with the Blackgaol Knight. The hurtbox on his sword, and the spinning over-the-shoulder follow-up he does, look to be slightly bigger than they maybe should be - which is incredibly frustrating.

My first tip for fighting the Blackgaol Knight is to not fight the Blackgaol Knight. If you’ve just landed in the Shadow Realm, it’s a much better use of your time and effort to get your feet under the table with some more manageable encounters first, such as Belurat, Tower Settlement to the north.

Collect some Scadutree Fragments to boost your power level, add a few levels and some fun new items to your collection, then return to face the Blackgaol Knight later down the line.

But if you’re already at that point, here’s where to find the Blackgaol Knight and beat him at his own game!

Blackgaol Knight location

You find the Blackgaol Knight at the Western Nameless Mausoleum in the Gravesite Plain of the Shadow Realm.

A map screen showing the location of the Blackgaol Knight in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.
Either head north from the Gravesite Plain or west from the Scorched Ruins | Image credit: FromSoftware/VG247

There are two Sites of Grace right next to it, the Gravesite Plain to the south and Scorched Ruins to the east.

Ride past the perched Gravebirds and the Stake of Marika, then plod down the stairs and through the fog gate into a world of hurt.

How to beat the Blackgaol Knight

The most important thing in the Blackgaol Knight fight is to only roll when you need to. If you roll backwards away too much, you will be too far away to exploit the small openings he leaves. To succeed, you need to tease out his attacks by locking-on and walking in close, then walking backwards as he attacks, just out of his range, leaving you close enough to retaliate with a hit or two before he recovers.

The Tarnished strafing to the left to avoid a crossbow barrage from the Blackgaol Knight in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.
Be brave and strafe, don't roll | Image credit: FromSoftware/VG247

The Blackgaol Knight’s signature technique is his crossbow barrage, which can melt your health bar in seconds. The best tip for avoiding it is that you don’t need to roll, just strafe (walk sideways while locked on) purposefully in one direction without stopping and you will be able to avoid all of the hits without damage. The reload animation at the end of the barrage is safe to punish with one or two hits depending on your weapon.

The second most important tip when fighting the Blackgaol Knight is that you need to wait for very safe opportunities and don't get greedy with how many hits you try to get in. As I mentioned, he seems to have a truly ridiculous amount of Poise, which means he will just shrug off your attacks, waltz over and hit you for a devastating amount of damage.

The Tarnished punishing the Blackgaol Knight for missing an attack in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.
Don't get greedy, just steal a hit or two when possible | Image credit: FromSoftware/VG247

You can punish his jump attack by locking-on, then strafing, not rolling, backwards before attacking once when he lands.

You can also punish his Ash of War, where he raises his sword above his head and swings a blast of air in your direction. This magical attack looks flashy but isn’t actually the most dangerous part of the combo. Really, the over-the-shoulder follow-up after this move is much, much more worthy of your attention.

The Tarnished dodging an Ash of War cast by the Blackgaol Knight in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.
Remember to wait so he doesn't do the follow-up attack | Image credit: FromSoftware/VG247

If you can stomach it, don’t roll out of the way of the wind slash. Walk straight sideways as he raises his sword then wait a second so that he doesn’t transition into the animation for the follow-up. You can then get in one or two hits depending on your weapon before retreating.

When his health drops to about 50%, he will try to heal with a Flask of Crimson Tears of his own. You probably won’t be able to stop him healing, but you can very safely punish this animation. He can only heal once though, although he will try again once his health drops below the threshold a second time. Punish this animation as brutally as possible as well.

Aside from that, he has a couple of more regular attacks you need to be aware of too: a running slash and a back-and-forth combo which he can spam forever.

Like the rest of his attacks, the trick to these is to tease out the punishable opportunities by strafing away out of range instead of rolling, leaving you close enough to retaliate at the end of the animation as he resets but before he recovers.

There’s no cheese strategy for the Blackgaol Knight, you can’t even summon, so you’ll just have to tough it out. As your attempts stack up, you should being to see the timing for when his animation resets, rather than when he’s going to link it to another move - this is your time to strike quickly, then retreat and wait for your next opportunity!

Blackgaol Knight Rewards

After all of that, is defeating the Blackgaol Knight even worth it?

Well, luckily for you that expended effort was not in vain. The Blackgaol Knight drops his unique greatsword and outfit, which are both very good, actually.

The greatsword has a solid moveset and includes the Knight’s Unique Ash of War, which gives you a good ranged option if you’re a fully melee character. It’s not quite as flashy as something like the Blasphemous Blade, but makes a nice change if you’re after something new to start the DLC.

Next, the Armor of Solitude is a really good set of threads. Yes, it’s very heavy. However, as you’d expect from fighting him, it has a massive, massive amount of Poise, which can help to push through frustrating encounters as you tank hits without being interrupted.

It also looks good, and fits nicely within mixed sets that need a Poise boost.

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