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Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Best Impenetrable Thorns Build

Impenetrable Thorns is an impressive sorcery to play around in Shadow of the Erdtree.

The Tarnished stands by Guardians' Garrison in Mountaintops of Giants while wielding the Maternal Staff and Staff of the Guilty in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Image credit: VG247/FromSoftware

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree has introduced dozens of new weapons, talismans, and spells to the game, and the expansion has proved to be a real treat for both Faith fans and those who like to stack devastating amounts of Bleed on their opponents. This Impenetrable Thorns build focuses on the latter, using Arcane and Intelligence to forge a rather formidable, cheesy build.

Capable of inflicting Bleed in a single use, Impenetrable Thorns very quickly melts through enemies, but you’ll need some additional equipment to make the most of it. To help you with that, here’s our best Impenetrable Thorns build guide for Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.

How do you make the best Elden Ring Impenetrable Thorns Build?

It can be quite troublesome trying to make a build that revolves around just one spell in Elden Ring. We’ve all seen the prep work - and Intelligence stat - needed to get the most out of Comet Azur. That said, a new Sorcery introduced in Shadow of the Erdtree - Impenetrable Thorns - isn’t too hard to set up.

All you need is the spell itself and two appropriate staffs to get going, as well as plenty of Arcane so you can build blood loss on foes. That’s it, really, though there’s always more equipment and items you can use to become even more powerful, and we ideally want a back-up weapon with this build for when FP is low or Impenetrable Thorns is too risky for us to use.

This build is a little cheesy considering it’s all about spamming the same spell, so bear that in mind. That said, this won’t quite burn through enemies like Comet Azur does.

This build was inspired by Youwy’s video on overpowered builds.

Elden Ring Impenetrable Thorns Build: Stats and Class

Considering that Impenetrable Thorns is a Shadow of the Erdtree Sorcery, your starting class ultimately won’t matter by the time you grab it. For those venturing into New Game+ and beyond, however, it’s worth picking the Confessor for their Faith stat, so you can wield the spell as soon as possible.

As for your Flask spread, I recommend 10 or 11 Crimson and 3 or 4 Cerulean, depending on how much FP you find yourself using during tough fights. Impenetrable Thorns also consumes a small amount of our HP upon use, so having plenty of Crimson flasks to hand is important.

As for your stats as you approach the late-game and beyond, try to aim for something like the below. Though, there is plenty of wiggle room when it comes to these stats.

  • Vigor: 55+
  • Mind: 20+
  • Endurance: 20+
  • Strength: 12
  • Dexterity: 15
  • Intelligence: 21
  • Faith: 27+
  • Arcane: 60

First and foremost, I recommend having 60 Vigor to be able to survive some of the Realm of Shadow’s more formidable foes later down the line. Though, you can have less with an appropriate Talisman - such as the Crimson Seed Talisman - equipped.

For Mind and Endurance, you want a minimum of 20. Though, if you’ve more Rune Levels to spare, you can increase these if you find yourself using lots of either. Strength and Dexterity don’t matter to this build unless your secondary weapon requires a specific stat. I used the Uchigatana as a secondary weapon for the most part, so I have advised 15 Dexterity in case you choose to do the same; it’s an easy enough weapon to access early on in the base game!

You need a minimum of 21 Intelligence to wield the equipment needed for this build. Though, you can have this higher if there are other, higher Intelligence spells that you want to use alongside Impenetrable Thorns.

The same goes for Faith. You’ll need a minimum of 25 Faith to be able to use the Impenetrable Thorns Sorcery. I’ve advised this so that you can use the Golden Vow Incantation, but you can attain this with 20 Faith and a Two Finger Heirloom initially. We also ideally want Faith at around 27 so that we can use some other Faith Incantations, for a little bit of variation.

Last but not least, Arcane is the most important stat for this build, as the blood loss that Impenetrable Thorns inflicts will be boosted by it. We care a lot more about how much blood loss we can inflict in this build than damage, as that’s what’ll tear through health bars much quicker.

The soft caps for Arcane are 24/45/60, and this build is still viable with just 45 Arcane. Though, I advise trying to reach 60 to get the most out of Impenetrable Thorns, though, which should be doable as you can neglect most other stats.

Elden Ring Impenetrable Thorns Build: Weapons

To actually use the Impenetrable Thorns Sorcery in Shadow of the Erdtree, you will need a staff. More specifically, you will need a staff that has Arcane scaling to get the most out of Bleed. This leaves you with two choices: the Albinauric Staff or the DLC’s Maternal Staff.

While the Albinauric Staff has lower requirements and better Arcane scaling at +25, we’re opting for the Maternal Staff for this build for a few reasons. Mainly because it is new, it looks cool, and we can make up for any lost damage output by equipping the Staff of the Guilty in our off-hand alongside it.

You can, alternatively, go for a pure Intelligence build and use a different staff altogether, such as the Carian Glintstone Staff. You’ll still see the benefits of Impenetrable Thorns if you have at least 25 Arcane as well as 60/80 Intelligence, but the amount of Bleed you’ll build is significantly less.

As well as the Maternal Staff and Staff of the Guilty, I also advise having some sort of back-up melee weapon in your primary hand that also inflicts Bleed. This is for when Impenetrable Thorns aren't worth using. For example, you need to quickly finish off an enemy or a boss's health bar, or you’re running after a Teardrop Scarab, and so forth.

I personally used the Uchigatana as you can’t really go wrong with it, but you could also use Bleed weapons such as Rivers or Blood, Eleanora’s Poleblade, the Reduvia dagger, and so forth.

Accompanying the Staff of the Guilty in your off-hand should be at least one Sacred Seal so that you can use Incantations. I recommend either the Dragon Communion Seal for Dragon Incantations (which I advise using with this build), or the Golden Order Seal to maximise the buff we get from the Golden Vow Incantation. You can always use both on your off-hand as well; just remember to have the Staff of the Guilty equipped on your off-hand while using Impenetrable Thorns.

Elden Ring Impenetrable Thorns Build: Ashes of War

Considering this build is all about spell-slinging, we don’t actually use Ashes of War, really. That said, depending on what secondary weapon you choose to wield, you might need to kit that weapon out with something.

If you’re using the Uchigatana like I did, I’m personally a pretty big fan of Impaling Thrust. You can also consider Lion’s Claw, Beast’s Roar, Vacuum Slice and honestly, whatever you enjoy playing around. To maximise Bleed, though, Bloody Slash is your best bet.

Elden Ring Impenetrable Thorns Build: Talismans

This Impenetrable Thorns build can be helped along with a few Talismans. There are a few must-haves, but I recommend equipping damage negation Talismans, too, depending on which boss you’re next coming up against.

  • Crimson Seed Talisman+1 - this helps recover more HP from flasks, which is great given that Impenetrable Thorns consumes some HP on use.
  • Dragoncrest Greatshield Talisman - negates incoming Physical damage massively.
  • Lord of Blood’s Exultation - boosts attack when blood loss is nearby.
  • Graven-Mass Talisman - boosts sorceries.
  • Beloved Stardust - shortens casting speed of Sorceries and Incantations by the utmost, but increases damage taken. If you use this, definitely equip some damage negation Talismans alongside it.
  • Radagon’s Icon - shortens spell-casting speed.

Must-haves for this build are arguably Lord of Blood’s Exultation, the Graven-Mass Talisman, and Radagon’s Icon, for how they can boost - and speed-up - our main attack. I’d then accompany these with the Dragoncrest Greatshield Talisman so we can negate more damage, but by all means, pick what you feel you need after trying the build out.

The equipment needed for an Impenetrable Thorns build in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is shown in the player's equipment menu
Image credit: VG247/FromSoftware

Elden Ring Impenetrable Thorns Build: Spells and Incantations

This build revolves around one Sorcery in the Shadow of the Erdtree, but it’d be a shame not to make the most of our Faith and Arcane stats by equipping some Incantations. We recommend the following, alongside a Dragon Communion Seal for its S scaling with Arcane.

  • Impenetrable Thorns is the main spell this build is built around.
  • Golden Vow - allows us to buff attack prior to fights. This is found at Corpse-Stench Shack.
  • Aspects of the Crucible: Thorns - a thorn-based Incantation that suits this build. This drops from the Golden Hippopotamus at Castle Ensis.
  • Borealis’s Mist - a frost, Dragon Incantation that is busted, so it’d be a shame not to use it. This drops from Borealis in the Freezing Lake of Mountaintops of Giants.
  • Pest Threads - another overpowered Incantation with great tracking that can make light work of bosses. This spell is available from Gowry after making progress with Millicent’s quest.
  • Bloodboon - a Bleed Incantation that can be quickly used on mobs.
  • Mantle of Thorns - covers you in thorns, dealing damage to nearby foes when dodging. This drops from the Ulcerated Tree Spirit in the Church District, after the water has been drained.

While I’ve added Mantle of Thorns to this list given that it fits with this thorny build, I don’t actually recommend using it. The damage it does is negligible and it feels like a waste of a Memory Slot, honestly.

You can also always consider Flame, Grant Me Strength (found behind Fort Gael) as a further attack buff, and damage negation Incantations for specific fights.

Elden Ring Impenetrable Thorns Build: Armour and Gear

Elden Ring’s armor is all about equipping what’s fashionable or suits the build, if you ask me, but there is one set that’ll help boost the power of this build, and that’s Alberich’s Set.

Alberich’s Set boosts thorn sorceries per piece that you have equipped. You can also consider the White Mask, which much like Lord of Blood’s Exultation, will boost attack power when blood loss is nearby.

Another set that doesn’t provide any buffs, but I feel looks pretty cool with this build, is the Briar Set which you can purchase from Roundtable Hold after defeating Elemer of the Briar at The Shaded Castle. This also sees you damaging enemies when rolling - by the tiniest amount - but it’s barbed wire look goes really well with the Impenetrable Thorns.

For more on Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree, take a look at our Dryleaf Arts build, our Lightning Milady build, and our Perfumer build.

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