Trying to understand the mechanics of shields

I am trying to wrap my head around how shields work against NPC’s. Let me start by saying that I feel I am not very good at combat in this game.

This is on Siptah against Stygian Mercenaries. I am level 60, wearing epic Numedian heavy armor, made with an Armorer III. I have an Acheronian shield and am using an Acheronian Longsword.

When fighting against an NPC with a shield, my sword usually bounces off of its shield a few times. When NPC’s attack me, arrows bounce (which is nice) but it feels like NPC attacks with melee weapons go straight through my shield as if it is not there. No bounces. And if I am just a little too slow in hitting the NPC first, then when the NPC’s first hit on me inevitably lands, there is nothing I know of that can prevent them from completing the series so I know I will get another 3 hits.

I tend to keep CTRL pressed to keep the shield raised, but I am not sure if it makes a difference.

Any suggestions on what I am doing wrong here?

Regards, C.


One thought that may help a little is to use your dodge - particularly I find that helps a lot for preventing them from continuing to hit with the rest of the combo. As for the shield itself, I find that when I use them (which isn’t that often) it’s mostly a timing thing, raising the shield when the enemy swings (which isn’t very useful as advice…). To be honest, I find I fight better in lighter armour (by level 60 I usually use mostly medium, which gives me some protection but also freer movement/better stamina) - this lets me roll more.

Some tips that have helped me - if you can, rebind dodge and block to thumb buttons on your mouse (this lets you keep your fingers on the movement keys during combat without having to find dodge and block when you need them).
Try out different weapons and find weapons that you like the movesets, get comfortable with the distances with your chosen weapon. Personally I don’t much like one-handed swords (though some do - there’s nothing wrong with them, they just don’t suit me), but if that’s your preference, try to get used to its moves. Mix up the combos - light, light, heavy, heavy is often good with many of the weapons, but try your own sequences that suit your timing.
Try to learn enemy animations (this is hardest with human enemies as they tend to be the least predictable), so when you see them start to move a particular way you know it’s time to react, rather than needing to see the attack actually start.
A good way to practice all these sorts of skills, and to become more confident in combat generally, is to spend some time doing things like taunting crocodiles or fist-fighting grey apes (shalebacks can also be good for this sort of thing) - they are all very slow and use only a couple of attack animations, so they can be very good for getting your eye in. As you get more used to it, you’ll find that combat feels slower and you have more time to actually pick your moves. It’ll still get frantic when you get trapped in a corner by a group, but the confidence will help you take your time a bit more in most fights.

I know that’s kinda gone away from the shield question somewhat - but since you mentioned feeling like you’re not very good at combat, hopefully there’s something in here that might help.


Thank you, I really appreciate the suggestions.

I usually carry three weapons. Slot one is a one-handed weapon. I kind of like the short sword, haven’t decided yet if I prefer that over the longsword. Slot two is usually a greatsword (nice for “crowd control” situations) and slot three tends to be either a two handed hammer or a spear (the latter being useful on horse back). Perhaps I am using too many different weapons and thereby not being proficient enough with any of them.

I feel that fighting humans is the most challenging for me. Animals are usually doable with slot two or three.

Regards, C.


Three weapons sounds ok to me - I tend to go for either axe or mace for my one hander, daggers and two-handed hammer (with greatsword sometimes coming in as an alternative for daggers or hammer). I find the advantage of axe and mace is they give a little more of that crowd control effect than swords. But f you’ve got the greatsword in that role, then shortsword could be a pretty good option - fast and very high damage, just very ‘single target’, which is less of a problem if you don’t plan on using it for crowds.

There could be benefits to focusing on one for a bit, as you suggest - it’s probably the fastest way to gain confidence with one weapon then work on another - but I see nothing wrong with working on several at once, especially since you’ve already considered their relevance to different roles.

Since you’re already using two-handed hammers - I found these to be one of the best weapons for ‘learning’ combat - they’re just so slow, which means you have plenty of time for decision making - you can click an attack, then wait a moment before deciding to click another attack or dodge instead. In time, this translates to being able to do the same with all of the weapons. The biggest mistake I see people make with CE combat is ‘over-clicking’ - if you hit the attack button four times, you’ve committed to the combo, and the game is unlikely to let you block/dodge until you’ve finished it (hammer tends to be quite forgiving here as well, which is another benefit as a training weapon). If you take your time more, then you can move more freely.

Humans are definitely the most challenging. I’ll happily solo a boss without a thrall with worse equipment than I would want for raiding a small village. The best advice I can offer with humans is to always take your time - try to face them one or two at a time if at all possible, it’s so much easier. If (when) you do wind up facing a group, try to ‘stick and move’ - get one or two hits in and dodge (ideally sideways) - recover your stamina by walking in a circle around the fight (you’ll get a feel for circle size over time - too big and they’ll catch you with straight lunges, to small and they’ll catch you with wide swings). Try to have a follower with you that can survive a bunch of hits (I find that more important than their damage output), they’ll take some of the aggro for you, which will help you get your part of the fight down to one or two opponents at a time.

(I’m sorry if any of this seems like stuff you already know - just find it helps to be thorough :slight_smile: )


Right now I use a mace/shield combo, and when I need different weapons I swap out my followers. But when I used a dagger build I learned a lot about dodge timing, which directions to roll in order to take best advantage, and how to predict attacks well enough to simply sidestep and flank.

I still do make the mistake of overclicking; I’m gradually breaking the habits ingrained by TES-style hack-n-slash, and it’s frustratingly difficult, but I get better through practice. Since thralls don’t make that mistake I find it’s often better to position my shield to deflect hits from them or stagger opponents to give them more opportunities to deal damage.


As a shield user in most games i hate using the conan shields, i hate theres shield breaking weapons yet it seems like if an npc farts in your direction it breaks tour shield, shields drop way to often and for no reason at all that i literally start yelling when my guy keeps dropping it, they honestly need to fully redo shield mechanics to not break at a breath of air, if it has no shield break then it should not shield break, bot a hard concept but one they refuse to properly follow. Shields used to work great then someone decided to butcher them into the grounds way further then anyrging ive seen in game

As much as i love this game its the only one to make me snap at simple mechanics ive used in tons of other games and i dont get why funcom feels the need to ALWAYS recreate the wheel

Sometimes it feels like who ever implemented said mechanics has their own personal hatred for said weapon, the shield nerf felt like it was done by someone who despises shields, like it just seems personal after a while them doing hard nerfs on just one weapon type and nothing else, like i swear the devs that play onky use aces and daggers and thats why we never see a proper nerf or adjustment on them ever, it would ruin their own playstyle, thats just how it feels imo

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This really helps! I will need a little more practice but this definitely makes a difference. No more looking for the ALT key and then pressing the windows key by accident which drops you back to your desktop. Usually in the middle of a fight.

Regards, C.


It would be OP if there weren’t a stamina cost. Some of those attacks cost more stamina to block than to get out of the way.

I’ve never had a problem blocking mace and shield, you just have to keep the right angle up. Their power attacks won’t be staggered, so you have to keep it through the whole combo. The only ones I have a problem with are the Grey Ones, all of their attacks go right through my shield, but it’s possible I don’t have a feel for their angles.

I’m not sure whether the Queen Reaper’s poison vomit is blockable; my survival is so high that I’m immune to poison, but it didn’t look like my pet was affected when I kept my shield in front of it.


I think it mostly comes from the lack of in game detail. I think a lot of players don’t know about shield smash, or at least don’t understand the mechanic very well.

Hyper armor is another aspect that it seems a lot of players don’t have a detailed understanding of, and some players don’t seem to even know it exists based on some forum threads I’ve read.

If a player doesn’t know why their shield isn’t working, or why some NPCs seem resistant to stagger while other aren’t it can easily make them feel frustrated


The trick to that is to remove the windows key from your keyboard. The first thing I always do when I get a new personal keyboard.


Yes, I can block almost anything, except some t1 NPCs kick. Makes total sense that 3 NPCs beating on my shield at once cannot drop it, but one kick can.

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Do you mean you physically remove the windows key? That’s not a bad idea

Yes, I just remove it.

You say that… but I was killed just yesterday trying to block dragonfire with my shield. I dunno maybe it was lag. Then again I’ve been playing this game for years, but like the OP I’ve always found the shields hard to use. Every time I try I die, and end up just going back to dodging and attacking.


I found anything that forces your character to move also makes you drop it, like the tiny scorpions that run practically into you when agroed and push you back for a second, those always make you drop your guard……


I have no issues with shields except I forgot to block fast enough sometimes. I found once you get starmetal or legendary shielda you can block pretty much anything except poison.

I dont remember last time an npc broke through me even with special attacks but before I had good shields they broke through all the time.

Put points into grit, make sure you have a decent amount of sta for dodging and blocking. Obviously it breaks when stamina is zero.


Blocks tend to succeed when targeting the opponent, but targeting is otherwise such an interface screw that I’d rather not; it has let me down way too many times. Manual blocking requires figuring out the right angle for any given opponent’s attack, and training yourself to it through practice.

Block effectiveness seems to be independent of the shield’s quality. You should give yourself more credit for your proficiency.

If there’s a trick to blocking a lloigor’s fire belch point blank, I’d like to hear it.

Consider the 2h axes with spin attacks for crowds. Very little interrupts it if I can get to my 2nd spin, before they get to me. If I am just starting my first spin, it is easy for them to interrupt me. I specifically will run around and gather up a large group of trash mobs, then dodge through them, to start my spin behind them. They are usually wound up in forward attack combos by that time, so I can get my windup going… then slaughter house time.

Feroxic daggers for the double DOTs on vulnerable bosses and short sword for single target mini bosses. If the big bosses are hitting for half my health in a single shot, I unload arrows at their legs when my thrall cheeses them from behind.

I tend to play anvil to my thrall’s hammer in most fights. Shield use is basically the cornerstone of that tactic.

Most important notes have already been covered, but they can be broken down into a few basics:

  1. While guarding the shield has a specific zone of defense, attacks that come from outside of that zone will not be blocked. This zone doesn’t always exactly match what the graphics might suggest. Learning zones of defense vs actual vector of attack is key.
  2. Shield guard randomly drops. Not certain why, but it happens. Be vigilant. Also, forced movement almost always breaks your guard, and auto-targeting can drop it as well (if the enemy moves behind or around you).
  3. Some attacks blast right through a shield guard. Those must be dodged, or be ready to take the hit.
  4. Some attacks break your shield guard. Kicks are a prominent example that some enemies can use. I find spear users tend to kick the most. But blunt trauma weapons can also break your guard.
  5. Weapon choice is very important. Sweeping or slow weapons are not always a good match with a shield. The longer your attack animation, the longer you are vulnerable. I personally tend to use shortswords or javelins (not nearly as good as they once were) with shields. Whatever your weapon choice, make certain to learn it’s attack pattern, and recovery time. Weapon sets that integrate an attack with the shield tend to be less useful than they would indicate. Also, stamina intensive weapons don’t always pair well…
  6. Blocking eats stamina. Blocking also reduces stamina recovery speed. You will use stamina in relation to how deadly the attack would have been. I do not believe your armour plays into this at all, it would be the raw, pre reduced damage that is checked.
  7. Shields break. Their durability erodes, fairly quickly in some cases. This makes certain shields somewhat undesirable, especially legendary ones as they require kits to repair (which you can make if RNGesus blessed you with the correct armourer thrall), you are often better crafting a shield that is easy to repair.

From what I have noticed, tier of shield doesn’t matter much. The attack value only seems to impact attack animations that use the shield, the actual defensive properties are the same. The only real issues are durability, repair material, and weight. Oh, and looks if that matters.
If anyone has found that shield tier actually impacts stamina cost for block or ability to resist shield smash/cause rebound please correct me.
The lone exception being the Gray one shield with it’s reactive bleed. But with the bleed nerf, it went from situationally exceptional (against enemies that bleed and attack head on in melee) to fragile/heavy garbage. Even with the coming enhancement to it’s durability, it’s hard to justify it’s weight and obnoxious repair requirements in exchange for one non-stacking level of bleed. In PvP this may be a different story, but if one has access to gray one gear, then one is fighting enemies with access to sigils…

I usually arm my Thrall with a Greatsword or Hammer. The better to make quick work of enemies headbutting the brick wall I hold in front of them. Battle Axes used to be tempting, but I’ve found most of my prisoners with jobs are not smart enough to choose when to heavey attack vs when to light attack, especially given the difference in range. Simply put, they move to heavey attack range and light attack the air between them and the enemy.
I mention this because having a thrall is very important when using a shield, moreso than more aggressive builds like daggers. Simply put, unless you are only barely outnumbered, you are going to have trouble going onto the offensive while maintaining a reasonable guard when mobbed.

Hope that was helpful.
If any of it doesn’t match one’s experience, let me know, I’m constantly trying to refine my own understanding of this niche.

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I love using a shield in PVP and PVE encounters. The Grey ones and Incarmine shields are my favorite for the reactive bleed. I’m also trying to fall in love with the great axe for the new block ability.