When you think of Vikings, one of the images that comes to mind is probably a longship with rows of painted shields flanking the deck. The round shield is as iconic as the Viking helmet or drinking horn, and you’ll definitely be needing shields in Valheim to defend yourself against the many hostile creatures you’ll encounter.
As you progress through the game, many different shields will become available for you to craft and use. They all have different stats and benefits, so which shield should you use? First let’s take a look at the different types of shields that are available and how they work in combat. Then we’ll list off what we think are the best shields for every purpose.
Types of Shields
There are three different types of shields in Valheim:
- Bucklers are small shields that don’t block very well, but do increase your parry rate significantly (2.5x).
- Round Shields are the most balanced, offering moderate block value and a modest parry bonus (1.5x).
- Tower Shields are large shields that reduce your movement speed by an additional 15% and can’t parry, but they provide significant block value.
The type of shield you want to use will depend on how you like to play. For most players, parrying will be more valuable than blocking, but it does require you to time your shield use, whereas blocking can be held down until the attack lands.
How Blocking Works in Valheim
Blocking is done by holding down the block button. This can be done indefinitely, but each attack blocked will use up some stamina, and you’ll be unable to continue blocking when your stamina is gone. You can block with any type of weapon/shield equipped or even bare-handed.
Blocking is a skill in Valheim, so you will become more effective with it the more you do it. Each level of Blocking skill you gain will increase your block armor by 0.5%. Block armor effectively adds to your armor while you’re blocking, reducing your damage taken according to the same formula as regular armor. So if you reach level 100 in the Blocking skill, you can increase your block armor by 50%.
There’s another value that comes into play when you are blocking: block force. This is the amount that you will knock the attacker back when you successfully block their attack.
The stamina you use when blocking is 10 times the percentage of your total block armor that is used to cover the damage. So when blocking more damage and/or blocking with a lower block armor value, you’ll use more stamina.
How Parrying Works in Valheim
Parrying is really just timed blocking. To parry, you’ll need to press and release the block button right before an attack lands. You can’t parry at all with a tower shield equipped, only with a buckler or round shield.
A successful parry will stagger your opponent, doubling the damage they take for a few seconds as well as mitigating damage and knocking them back just like a normal block. The same formulas are used for the block’s armor and force values as when blocking normally. The amount of stagger is determined by the amount of block armor multiplied by the parry bonus of your weapon or shield.
Only melee attacks can be parried, whereas you can still block ranged attacks.
Parrying costs a flat 20 stamina, but can still be done even if you only have 10 stamina total.
The Best Shield for Every Purpose in Valheim
Best Early Game Shield: Bronze Buckler
The Bronze Buckler requires bronze to craft, which means you’ll need to find copper and tin. Luckily these can easily be found in the Black Forest biome, which is the first place you’ll want to venture when you’re ready to leave the Meadow.
For relatively cheap and easy to obtain materials, you get a shield that is significantly better than the two basic wooden shields you’ll have access to at the start of Valheim. It’s also a buckler, which means it’s great for parrying, and it’s good to get in the habit of parrying right away.
You should use this shield until you’re rolling in iron and can upgrade to the Iron Buckler.
Best Shield for Parrying: Carapace Buckler
As we’ve mentioned, parrying is going to be better than blocking for most players, so for most of us the Carapace Buckler will be the best shield in Valheim.
As a buckler, this shield offers a 2.5x parry bonus, and it has the highest block armor and block force of the three bucklers in Valheim. Only the best round shields and tower shields offer higher block values, and none of those will allow you to parry as effectively.
This shield requires materials from the Mistlands, which is currently the last biome you will progress through, so it’s very much an endgame item.
Best Shield for Blocking: Black Metal Tower Shield
If you really just want to use your shield for blocking and don’t plan to parry at all, you can go for the best tower shield available in Valheim, which is the Black Metal Tower Shield.
As a tower shield, it will slow your movement speed by 20% and you won’t be able to parry at all with it equipped. But you’ll get the highest block armor and block force in the game – significantly better than any other shield.
This option is also accessible a bit sooner than the Carapace Buckler or Carapace Shield. It requires Black Metal and Chains, which can be acquired from the Plains and Swamp biomes.
Best Shield for Piercing Damage: Serpent Scale Shield
The Serpent Scale Shield is unique as the only shield that offers any kind of damage resistance in Valheim. Using it will make you resistant to piercing damage, which covers many of the most troublesome enemy attacks in the game, including Deathsquito stings, Fuling spears, Draugr bows, Seeker stings, and three of the six bosses.
This shield also has a high block armor and block force, and a slightly lower movement speed penalty than other tower shields (15% versus 20%). However, it is still a tower shield, which means you can’t parry with it equipped. Still, you may find niche uses for this colorful option when fighting the enemy types mentioned above.
The Serpent Scale Shield is obtainable relatively early, requiring Iron from the Swamp biome and Serpent Scales from the Ocean.
Best Looking Shield: Bone Tower Shield
The Bone Tower Shield is a fairly low-tier item, obtainable as soon as you start killing skeletons in the Black Forest biome.
It’s not very impressive stats-wise and it’s a tower shield. As such, it will slow your movement speed by 20%, and you won’t be able to parry with it equipped. But it is one of the coolest looking shields in Valheim, and you’ll look awesome wearing it. Besides, we all know that fashion is the true end-game.
Best Shield to Decorate With: Banded Shield
Speaking of looking cool: if you want to recreate that iconic image we mentioned in the introduction of the painted Viking shields, the Banded Shield is the one you want to craft.
These shields require Fine Wood and Iron to make, which you can get from the Black Forest and Swamp biomes. When you make it, you can choose to paint it in one of three pinwheel patterns: red and white, blue and white, or red and black.
Place them on item stands around your home as decorations. Unfortunately there’s no way to put them on the sides of your longship yet, but we’re holding out hope for it in a future update.
Join the High Ground
Thanks for reading our guide to the best shields in Valheim! We hope we’ve helped you pick out a solid defender to carry you into the Mistlands and beyond. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to High Ground for more useful guides!