Your Ultimate Valheim Combat Guide

Valheim has taken the world by storm and is likely an early game of the year nominee given its current momentum. To say that the game is a Viking survival simulator would be a disservice to the folks over at Iron Gate. Valheim is really whatever you want it to be!

Players can spend hundreds of hours building their ideal Viking stronghold. You can construct a boat and sail the world. Vikings even have the ability to just plant a bunch of veggies in a massive garden.

No matter what path you choose, you’ll eventually need to go toe to toe with some deadly enemies. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to equip and defend yourself against the many monsters of the realm.

This guide will prepare you for combat in Valheim and answer any questions you have about becoming a Viking warrior!

Using Portals in Valheim

Weapons in Valheim

Types of Weapons

Generally speaking, there are two types of weapons in Valheim: melee (one and two-handed) and long-range. 

In the melee category, you’ve got everything you’d expect at your disposal. Swords, maces, and spears will be the core of your arsenal. There are also some less conventional weapons like a massive hammer with AOE damage.

One key thing to remember here is that you can’t carry a shield with a two-handed weapon. This is important for blocking – more on this later – and is the primary reason that you should be using one-handed weapons until you get more combat experience.

In the ranged weapons bucket, your go-to will be a bow. The first bow available in Valheim is absolute garbage. The draw speed is low, the arrow drop-off is high, and it’ll be tough to take down anything besides an unsuspecting deer. But if you continue to work on your archery skills, you’ll be rewarded with high kill potential as soon as you unlock the second bow!

Bows require arrows, which can be crafted at a workbench or found in chests scattered around the map. While you can’t hold a shield when your bow is equipped, it’s a great weapon for initiating a fight or taking down an enemy from afar.

The first dozen or so weapons in Valheim require resources that are abundant in the Meadows and the Black Forest. Beyond that, it can actually be pretty tough to acquire the ore needed to craft and upgrade your weapons.

Unless you want to spend dozens of hours farming resources (and I wouldn’t judge you for this), it makes the most sense to specialize in one or two weapons beyond the early game. This way, you can fully upgrade your weapon and have an easier time winning fights!

Fighting in the Swamp

Weapon Damage

Valheim doesn’t do a great job of explaining how much damage your Viking can do. If you hover over a weapon, the game will show you three numbers that are critical to understanding the base weapon damage.

The first number, displayed in orange, is the max damage you can do with a normal hit from that weapon. Next to that base number, you’ll see two numbers in parentheses. This is the range of damage that can be done with that weapon based on your skill level.

In order for the orange number to match the upper limit of the parenthetical range, you need to max out the weapon skill level to 100. Until you hit 100, the damage range will be below the max weapon damage displayed in orange.

Weapon damage is randomized, so you’ll see a damage marker in the displayed range of your weapon. Once you’ve gotten a feel for how much health each enemy has, you’ll understand approximately how many hits you need to do with a specific weapon to kill that beast.

Valheim Troll

Damage Types

There are several different damage types that are associated with specific weapons. For example, a sword deals ‘slash’ damage while a mace does ‘blunt’ damage.

These distinctions are important because monsters in Valheim may be weak to or resistant to specific types of damage. When an enemy is weak to a certain type of damage, your attacks will deal more damage per hit.

You’ll learn along the way which weapon is best against certain monsters. Trolls are weak to piercing damage (use spears) and skeletons are weak to blunt damage (maces all the way). As much as possible, you should try to use the most effective weapon against each opponent to increase your lethality.

Elemental Damage

In addition to the physical damage types, Valheim also has elemental damage. For the majority of the game, you’ll rely on different arrows to deal elemental damage like frost, fire, and poison. Similar to physical damage resistance and weakness, certain monsters are affected differently by the various elemental damage types. 

Things are pretty intuitive on the elemental damage side. Use frost against the fiery surtlings, channel spirit weapons toward undead enemies, and take advantage of poison damage against most other monsters. 

Backstab and Parry

The other two important damage types to remember are backstab and parry damage. If you successfully execute either of these attacks, you’ll deal devastating damage to your target.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be behind an enemy in order to deal backstab damage. You just need to hit the enemy when it is unaware of your presence. This can be achieved by sneaking up on unsuspecting monsters. You can only get backstab bonus if the enemy hasn’t taken any previous damage. 

Parry damage can be done anytime you’ve parried an enemy attack. To perform a parry, you must block an enemy just as they are about to hit you. The window of time for you to pull off the parry is pretty generous, so get into the habit of going for parries often, especially against solo enemies.

You’ll know you’ve parried an enemy when you hear a high-pitched ping as they attack you. Many enemies will also be stunned, stumbling backward in a moment of stupor. Hit the enemy as many times as possible while the parry bonus is active to deal maximum damage!

Using the Bow in Valheim

Damage Numbers

When you hit an enemy in Valheim, you’ll notice damage markers pop up over their head. Depending on the color of the markers, it’ll be a different type of damage:

  • Yellow – this means the monster is weak to your damage, whether that is physical or elemental
  • Grey – the enemy is resistant to this damage type
  • White – this is the normal damage, meaning there is no weakness or resistance to that damage type

After you’ve gotten more familiar with each enemy, Vikings should understand how many hits of a particular weapon it takes to bring down a monster. For example, Greydwarves are very common and I know I can kill any of them in 2-3 hits, depending on the number of stars they have.

Armor in Valheim

Armor can be equipped in 4 slots on your Viking. You’ve got the standard head, chest, and leg slots as well as a spot for a cape. Equipping better armor will increase your defense, which should prevent you from dying too much!

Leveling up Armor

The higher the level of your armor, the more defense it will give you. All armor starts at level 1 and can be upgraded at either the workbench or the forge, depending on the item.

Typically, crafting armor will require multiple types of consumables to create the base armor. From there, you’ll either need one or multiple types of crafting items to upgrade your armor.

With each armor upgrade, the defense of that armor will go up. At the time of writing, it seems every level gives an additional 1-2 defense.

Additionally, to upgrade armor to a certain level, your workbench and/or forge will need to be at a specific level. There are plenty of workbench upgrade guides on the interwebs, so I won’t get into that here.

To be safe, you should try to max out your armor level to whatever your workbench can support. At times, this will be really expensive (think dozens of iron to get to level 4 armor), but you need to be a resilient Viking in the world of Valheim!

Armor Secondary Effects

Most armor pieces will reduce your movement speed. For the majority of equipment, your movement speed goes down 5% when that item is equipped.

Troll armor is unique in that you don’t incur any movement speed when equipped. If you’re fortunate enough to craft all four troll armor pieces, you’ll also gain a sneak bonus on top of the defense buff!

My recommendation is to use troll armor anytime you are doing light work – ie. building, chopping trees, planting crops – so you aren’t slowed down unnecessarily. Just remember to equip your heavier armor pieces before you go out to battle.

Shields in Valheim

Shields are OP in Valheim. Prioritize your shield in the early game to avoid dying often. As long as you have some stamina available, you should be able to hold up your shield and safely walk backward away from any mobs.

Shield Types in Valheim

Round shields can parry attacks – this is very important. Tower shields have higher block power, but can’t parry. 

Currently, for every level that you improve your shield, the block power of that shield will increase by 5 points. Like with other equipment, try to upgrade shields to the highest level available to you.

Shield Blocking Power

Unlike weapon damage, you’ll start off with the base block power based on your shield. The more you level up your Blocking skill, the higher your blocking power will be.

For each additional skill point in Blocking, your blocking power will increase by 0.5. A level 1 Wood Shield has a block power of 20. If your Blocking skill level is 10, your overall blocking power will be 25 → 20 base + (10 * 0.5).

Unless you plan on being a tank for your friends, I highly recommend using a round shield for the parry bonus. It’ll make you much more efficient at killing enemies since you can deal more damage while the enemies are stunned.

Valheim Boat

Valheim Combat Tips

While you could spend hundreds of hours chopping down trees and building magnificent homes, I find the combat in Valheim to be really exciting! With a decent understanding of combat mechanics, you can easily punch above your weight class against the game’s many enemies.

Rolling in Valheim

Some enemies have area of effect (AOE) attacks that you won’t want to get hit by. Rather than attempting to block these attacks, it’s often better to roll away from the enemy to avoid taking any damage. 

To roll, you’ll need to hold right-click, then press the space bar on your keyboard. You’ll tumble with finesse in whatever direction you’re holding your WASD!

This does require some stamina, but can be a great way to improve your survivability in the heat of battle. Early in Valheim, this is a great move to use against Greydwarf Shamans who try to blast you with poisonous gas. 

Kiting in Valheim

Kiting is a popular term in MOBA games, and has even made its way to the Overwatch vernacular. At a high level, kiting refers to the cycle of attacking and retreating until you kill an enemy.

In Valheim, this is particularly useful when you have a bow equipped. You can fire a couple of arrows, then run away from an enemy to create space for your next shots. Vikings will likely need to use this technique when fighting your first troll unless you’re an absolute beast.

Holster Your Weapon

In many shooters, like Apex Legends, you can holster your weapon to move faster. This mechanic transitions over well in the world of Valheim!

Press ‘R’ to quickly equip your weapon, or to unequip it back to your inventory. When you don’t have a weapon out, you’ll move faster. Make sure you aren’t trying to escape from a horde of enemies while you still have your weapon and shield equipped!

Take Advantage of Quickslots

Valheim lets you attach items to the numerical keybinds for faster access vs going through your inventory. My recommendation is to keep the following items on your first few slots:

  1. Primary melee weapon (sword for me)
  2. Shield
  3. Secondary melee weapon (I use the mace for all those pesky skeletons)
  4. Bow

With this setup, you can easily swap between your most important loadouts to adapt to the situation. I also keep my pick axe on #5 since you need to mine for about 4 dozen hours to get all the ore required to upgrade your equipment.

Shopping at the Merchant

Becoming a Viking Terror

Hopefully, this guide provides you with enough combat knowledge to successfully navigate the many things that can kill you in Valheim. As with any skill, you’ll get better with practice. Don’t shy away from combat, especially in the early game, and you’ll soon find yourself laughing in the face of two-star trolls!

What other Valheim combat tips and tricks do you have? Leave us a message in the comments section, below!

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

thanks for the tips! I definitely need to try to parry more

Ready to start your journey?

It's dangerous to go alone! Join us!