The home stretch of Elden Ring packs some predictably difficult challenges, and one of these is Maliketh the Black Blade. There are two distinct phases to this boss fight, starting with Beast Clergyman before he transitions into the speedier, deadlier Maliketh.
Maliketh’s speed and power make him a formidable foe as it is, but he also has some troublesome attacks that gradually deplete your health and even reduce your maximum HP. To take him down, you’ll need to draw on all of your skills whilst applying an aggressive strategy.
To assist, we’ve got everything you need to know right below. Here’s our full boss guide of how to beat Maliketh in Elden Ring, including assistance for the Beast Clergyman battle in phase 1.
- RELATED: Elden Ring Review (spoiler-free)
Maliketh boss fight: General Tips
Here are our general tips for the battle, with some more specific attack patterns and strategy advice below.
What level to fight Maliketh?
The recommended level to attempt the Beast Clergyman and Maliketh boss fight is Level 120.
As with any boss, he can be defeated by learning all attack patterns at a much lower level, but you’ll have some further margin for error if you’re beefed up.
Use Blood Loss
Both phases of this battle are weak to Bleed, so you should equip a weapon or Ash of War that causes Blood Loss buildup. By now, you should have these in your arsenal and it will be invaluable during the second phase in particular.
Bloody Slash is always a good option, or Blood Grease if you prefer. An aggressive approach makes it more likely you’ll hit off that bonus chunk of damage, making the second phase of the battle far more beatable. Bleed is simply one of the most valuable tools at your disposal, and since Maliketh has similar skills himself you should give him a taste of his own medicine.
Summon towards the end of Phase 1
If you are using a summon, Maliketh is so quick and aggressive that it can be difficult to find a sufficient window to use your Spirit Calling Bell. Trying to summon immediately during phase 2 can end in a swift death, so a better idea is to bring your summon into the fray when Beast Clergyman’s health bar is reduced by about a third. When you’re ready, sprint away and get behind a pillar to summon.
A Spirit Ash summon is certainly useful at drawing Maliketh’s attention away, and the best options are probably the Mimic Tear or Black Knife Tiche. Level it up as much as possible by Spirit Tuning at Roundtable Hold, and their tanky health will keep them alive long enough to deal some damage to Maliketh.
Watch out for maximum HP depletion
One of the unfortunate quirks of the Maliketh boss fight is his ability to reduce your maximum HP. If you are struck by certain attacks you’ll lose a chunk of your health bar! To make matters worse, there’ll be a window of gradual health loss as well, in a similar vein to Poison or Scarlet Rot. Unlike these status ailments, the screen does not directly tell you anything is happening, so keep an eye on your health bar whenever you are hit to make sure you aren’t covertly heading towards death. If your character is engulfed in red energy, you’re in trouble.
There is also a glitch where this follows through after you have respawned at your last Site of Grace. Check your health bar and if you are missing a chunk, it’s because Maliketh knocked off some of your maximum HP during the latest attempt. Rest at the Site of Grace before taking him on again, so you aren’t wasting flasks by noticing this too late.
Don’t trust the pillars!
The pillars dotted around the battlefield may appear a safe haven to protect from Maliketh’s attacks, but these can be more of a hindrance than a help.
Whilst they can occasionally block his attacks, the pillars are not reliable in the slightest and can actually make it harder to avoid attacks by hampering your view. His ranged sword blasts and AOE attacks both have a nasty habit of making it through the pillars and taking you by surprise.
With this in mind, don’t rely on the pillars and instead use them sparingly to heal or in emergencies. Their protection depends on luck so don’t linger too long and face Maliketh head-on once you’ve recovered.
Use the Blasphemous Claw (optional)
There’s a specific item that can help for this battle, similar to other gimmick items like Margit’s Shackle. This is the Blasphemous Claw which is acquired from Recusant Bernahl and can be inserted as a quick item and utilised repeatedly during the battle. You must complete his first quest from Volcano Manor, before completing the Manor section and then defeating him as an invader at Farum Azula.
Bernahl is close to the Site of Grace near to the boss room. Climb the narrow stairs but head in the opposite direction to the mist door. Go though a passage and head right through a doorway to eventually find a ladder that leads to a treasure chest inside a small chamber. When you’re near the chest, Recusant Bernahl will invade. Defeat him and he’ll drop the Blasphemous Claw along with various pieces of equipment.
The Blasphemous Claw effectively works like a Parry, where Maliketh will be temporarily knocked back and vulnerable. It can only be used on certain attacks but this is by far the biggest opening you can get.
Unfortunately, if you haven’t beaten Volcano Manor then it’s a lot of hassle to obtain so I would only recommend it if you completed this questline beforehand. However, I would imagine most people will have conquered this dungeon, so you just have to find Bernahl and kill him, which is only about minute away from the Site of Grace.
Phase 1: How to beat Beast Clergyman
Considering his bulky physique, Beast Clergyman is very quick and can transition between different attacks with little cooldown time. Thankfully, there are still a few solid openings to exploit.
Another positive is that many of his attacks are blockable with a shield, provided you have decent stamina. Generally you can block all of his knife attacks but cannot completely negate the attacks from his left hand, such as the ranged throwing attacks or the quake moves.
His standard basic combos have a few variations, and the number of strikes can differ dynamically. He can also move swiftly onto his next attack when he stops, making these combos a poor opportunity to land some hits of your own. Instead, you should dodge or block these and wait for your chances elsewhere.
There are three main opportunities to focus on – his spinning melee attack, his high slam attacks and his ranged attacks.
Spinning Knife Attack
Arguably Beast Clergyman’s best knife opening is in the aftermath of a spinning attack where he plunges his weapon into the ground and slashes around with a red streak. It can be dodged to the side pretty comfortably. When he’s missed, he leaves enough time to strike from behind a couple of times. He doesn’t seem to use this attack too much and it often comes immediately after another attack, so keep it in mind and exploit it when you can.
The best and most frequent openings come when Beast Clergyman finishes a short melee combo and stands up tall to smash down. This has a couple of variations depending on whether he slams down with his right hand or left hand.
If he slams with his right hand (the one holding the knife), he will stop attacking, allowing you to dodge behind and perform a nice flurry of blows. When he leads with his left hand, the slam will cause a quake that explodes shortly afterwards, dealing some further damage.
Once you’ve dodged the initial slam, there is enough time to take a glance and see which hand he used. Obviously prepare to dodge again if he used his left hand but get straight in there and counter if it’s his right. Either way, you can deal significant damage.
Beast Clergyman regularly uses his left hand to throw a cluster of projectiles, or a one-off rock. Generally the clusters come a bit faster, but whenever you see his left hand reach down get ready to dodge. You can block if you wish, but the damage will not be completely nullified.
These ranged attacks are another good opportunity to counter, depending on how far away you start. If he starts using one when you are a medium distance away, run forwards and dodge towards the attack. If you succeed, accelerate to a sprint and land a jump attack before he winds up something else. These are pretty solid opportunities but probably won’t get you more than one hit. This all depends on your starting position – if you are too far away then simply dodge these attacks and wait for your next chance.
Obviously the idea here is to reach his second form whilst using up as few flasks as possible, giving you the best chance of taking down Maliketh. If you are summoning, remember to use your Spirit Calling Bell when he’s down by about a third and has left you enough time at the end of an attack.
Phase 2: How to beat Maliketh The Black Blade
After nearly half of his health is reduced, a cutscene will trigger and Beast Clergyman will transform into Maliketh.
As hard as this phase can get, your best chance in phase 2 is to play aggressively. Maliketh moves around the arena at incredible speed, meaning he can quickly put distance between you and launch attacks from range. When he does this, the most important thing is to try and close the gap as quickly as possible. You need to be brave and take matters into your own hands.
His animations look erratic and difficult to read, but he doesn’t actually have that many different attacks. It’s also incredibly easy to fall into the trap of panic rolling, so try and stay focused and learn the main attack patterns which can be dodged in a steady rhythm once you know them. Easier said than done, I know.
There are a few notable attacks that must be learnt to stand the best chance.
Dodge his ranged attacks
There is no getting around this, unless you get incredibly lucky with RNG or have a summon pulling away his aggro. You have to read his mid-air sword blasts, which actually come with some modest openings to hit back. These attacks come in a few variations:
- Jumps off a pillar first: Maliketh will perform a single sword blast and land without leaving any opening.
- Floats and shoots two blasts: Maliketh will follow up with a further swing and a downward sword attack that plunges into the ground before causing a quake explosion. Dodge away from these and wait for the quake before running in and countering.
- Floats and shoots three blasts: His most common variation where he will then lunge towards you and follow up with a quick twirling slice. You’ll therefore have to pull off four consecutive dodges but if you manage it, you will be able to charge in and connect with a jump attack afterwards. The final slice is the best attack to block with the Blasphemous Claw if you have it.
Counter his high slams
Like the first phase, Maliketh will attack from close range in short, sharp bursts before standing tall to crash down with a powerful strike. This is a chance to counter… sometimes. It’s easy to dodge the initial slam attack but stay sharp because he will rarely end the attack there.
Wait a split-second to see if you have an opportunity but otherwise prepare to dodge his next attack. This is usually a spinning slash or another powerful plunge into the ground, causing a delayed AOE quake explosion. Both can be dodged and countered but the latter is your longest opening – dodge the sword plunge, get out of range and strike back when the AOE has missed.
If you are lucky, Maliketh will sometimes perform similar combos consecutively without leaping away from you, and you can end up with a few openings in a row. When you’re close enough to him, some of his sword swings will miss you altogether.
Beware his jumping sword slams
Maliketh occasionally leaps into the air without shooting sword projectiles, followed by a different plunging sword attack which causes yet another AOE explosion. On this occasion, the chance to strike will come a bit later – Maliketh will spring backwards after the explosion and leave you one of the better openings where you can land a hit or two. If Maliketh gets airborne but doesn’t shoot you, this is the one to expect. When you are locked on, the camera shift makes the initial strike obvious but as ever you must stay alert for the follow-up.
Whenever you see the sword pulsing with red energy, get back to avoid the damage and prepare to spring forward with a quick counterattack.
Get close and stay close
If you are a melee build, you should always try and rush Maliketh and jump attack him when he is not attacking. Depending on the attack he uses you might get another chance. Otherwise he will leap away from you and attack from range, meaning you’ll have to dodge according to the variation he uses.
Always go on the offence unless you need to heal. This is not a boss that should be slowly whittled down, but a foe who should be dispatched as quickly as possible even if it comes with a few risks.
Granted, you may get unlucky with his attacks and if he continuously uses his dangerous spinning combo it might prove too difficult. But eventually you’ll get a run where you have enough openings to defeat him.
How to beat Maliketh: Final advice
Spirit Ashes are there to assist if you need them. The Mimic Tear, Black Knife Tiche and Lhutel the Headless are all perfectly good choices. Summons are not particularly helpful at dealing big damage against Maliketh – the main benefit in this battle is to draw his aggro. Continue to play aggressively and if they happen to catch his eye, accept it as a bonus.
Another potential solution if you are getting desperate is the Bloodhound’s Step skill, which is a much quicker and safer dodge. It’s an Ash of War obtained by beating a Night’s Cavalry in Northeast Caelid, near Lenne’s Rise (South from Bestial Sanctum). Like the Blasphemous Claw, this doesn’t take too long to obtain and might be worth the detour if you are struggling to read his moves.
Speaking of the Blasphemous Claw, the best time to use this is during the final attack of his longer airborne projectile combo. After the third blast is dodged, get ready to use the item just as his sword glows golden for the swipe that follows. You don’t need to use the Parry skill or have a shield equipped – simply use the item just before he strikes. The item can be used as many times as you want, and if you pull it off you’ll have a long window to hit him several times.
That’s all the advice we’ve got. Stay close, stay brave and stay positive – you can do it.
Maliketh Boss Fight Rewards
Defeating Maliketh will earn you an enormous 220,000 runes. You’ll also acquire the Remembrance of the Black Blade and the Maliketh the Black Blade trophy.
WARNING: Before the Maliketh boss fight
Before you beat Maliketh, beware. This is a point of no return, and upon defeating this difficult boss there will be an irreversible change to the capital Lyndell.
You will still be able to explore the world for lost treasures, but certain questlines will disappear and some of Lyndell will become inaccessible. As such, this is the best time to tie up any loose ends.
How to beat Maliketh: Recap
Here are the most important points of how to beat Maliketh, recapped:
- Equip a Blood Loss weapon or Ash of War
- During the Beast Clergyman fight, strike back after dodging his tall slam attacks – the left-handed slam requires an extra dodge
- Dodge his left-handed projectile attacks and sprint towards him to counter with a jump attack
- Counter the spinning slash; otherwise dodge or block his close range combos
- If you are summoning, do it just before Beast Clergyman is defeated
- On the second phase, play aggressively and try and land single jump attacks before Maliketh attacks
- Dodge his ranged blasts and counter his follow-ups once you’ve avoided them
- His tall slam attacks also present an opening, but have different follow-up variations
- Keep an eye on your health as this can gradually deplete if you are hit
- Optional: Use the Blasphemous Claw to Parry his powerful sword attack and counterattack
- Optional: Equip the Bloodhound’s Step Ash of War to give you a better chance of dodging
Maliketh is a tough one, but hopefully our boss guide of how to beat Maliketh in Elden Ring will help you defeat him and get you one step closer to completing the game.
If this was useful, check out our Malenia boss guide below: