How to beat Messmer the Impaler in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

Messmer the Impaler is one of the toughest boss fights in Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree DLC. From Spirit Ashes to elemental imbuements, you’ll need to use every tool at your disposal. Messmer’s attack patterns are swift and unforgiving.

Our Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree guide explains how to beat Messmer, including details about his weaknesses and how best to prepare for this boss fight.

Messmer location in Elden Ring DLC

Messmer waits for you in the Dark Chamber, a room above the highest point of the Specimen Storeroom in Shadow Keep. He’s a mandatory DLC boss, so you can’t skip him.

However, you can exit Shadow Keep via the Watering Hole or western gate to continue exploring and finding new weapons and upgrade materials if you need more time to prepare.

Messmer weaknesses and how to prepare

Messmer the Impaler sits on a chair before an Elden Ring DLC boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Messmer has two big weaknesses you can exploit to take a sizable chunk out of his health bar: Bleed and Frostbite.

The setup I used is one you can take advantage of without serious investment in one specific stat. You’ll need:

  • A fully upgraded Mimic Tear
  • An Ash of War that imbues a standard weapon with cold. Divine Beast Frost Stomp or Ghostflame Call are solid choices
  • Glintstone Icecrag and a staff with S-rank sorcery scaling
  • (Optional) A second main-hand weapon to deal heavier physical damage

Standard weapons deal less damage than special ones, but stacking Frostbite (or Bleed) is just as important as dealing magic or physical damage in this fight.

This strategy gives you the best chance of whittling Messmer’s health down without being in too much danger yourself. Your Mimic Tear will likely prioritize the Ash-infused weapon or spells, both of which cover Messmer’s ailment weaknesses, which leaves you to do the same or focus on general magic or physical damage with your other spells and weapon. Don’t get too comfortable casting Icecrag or other spells, though. Messmer’s attention never lingers long on one foe, and he’ll swap to you after a couple of hits.

You could change the cold Ash of War for a blood one if you’re running a bleed build, but Divine Beast Frost Stop has the added advantage of covering a broad area. Bleed builds don’t have anything comparable. However, the Bloody Slash skill works fantastically if you’re close enough to Messmer for it to hit.

Other viable Spirit Ash summons for this fight include the Dung Eater Puppet, which is useful for inflicting Bleed, and, if you’ve defeated Bayle and finished the associated questlines, Ancient Dragon Florissax. She’s more adept at avoiding attacks than you might think, and her own skills cover a broad area. Her attacks will either hit Messmer or force him to dodge, which puts him in your range and gives you a chance to strike before he starts another combo.

Messmer the Impaler runs toward an Elden Ring DLC player during a boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

That said, if your Revered Spirit Ash level is lower than seven, most Spirit Ashes other than the Mimic Tear won’t last long, regardless of what they are.

There are, of course, other ways to beat Messmer. Most melee weapons take a big chunk of HP with each hit, and you could overwhelm him with poise-breaking heavy attacks once you learn the timing. If you do try that option, use the Stonebarb Cracked Tear in your Mixed Physik to help break Messmer’s stance more easily.

Glintstone Icecrag, Adula’s Moonblade, Ranni’s Dark Moon, and especially Zamor Ice Storm are all strong sorcery choices, and Rellana’s Twin Moons deals a hefty amount of damage — if you’re close enough for the strikes to land, which means you’re close enough for Messmer to hit you. For incantations, Frozen Lightning Spear hits its mark surprisingly often, and the Aspect of the Crucible: Thorns incantation you get from the Golden Hippopotamus deals high damage in a short amount of time. The downside is that, like with Rellana’s Twin Moons, you have to be up close for it to work.

Messmer the Impaler sends a giant blade of flame toward an Elden Ring DLC player during a boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Before you enter Messmer’s chamber, your Scadutree level should be at least 10 or higher, so take a detour to hunt down some Scadutree Fragments if you haven’t kept up with that so far. It’s also worth using a Rune Arc before entering the arena and consuming a Fireproof Pickled Liver to buff your fire damage resistance. Half of Messmer’s attacks are imbued with fire, so every little bit helps.

Spellcasters should have the Radagon’s Icon talisman equipped to shorten their casting time, and any build needs the Two-Headed Turtle talisman to help with stamina management. Feel free to summon the Hornsent NPC for help as well. The strength of his desire for vengeance doesn’t translate to competency in combat, but he’s a good distraction for Messmer.

How to beat Messmer the Impaler in Elden Ring DLC

The Messmer boss fight is a doozy. He blends the Dancing Lion’s erratic movements and delayed strikes with Rellana’s swiftness and efficiency, and he fluidly switches from one target to the next with little regard for who is actually attacking him.

Those switches often happen in mid combo, and if you strike him even once while he’s attacking an ally summon, he’s almost guaranteed to come after you next. Messmer has few openings for attack, except after he ends a combo, and any melee strike puts you at risk for a follow-up. Your best bet is a cautious balance of evasion and offense.

Messmer boss fight phase 1

Messmer the Impaler leaps into the air during an Elden Ring DLC boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

The Messmer fight starts with a bang and then another one. He’ll walk forward a few steps, rise into the air while building an orb of flaming shadow fire around himself, then race forward and slam into the ground. The orb explodes where Messmer lands roughly a second after he lands. Dodge to avoid the first strike, wait a beat, and dodge again to evade the explosion.

You have just enough time to summon your Spirit Ash before the orb lands, so do that first. After the explosion, I recommend running to the other side of the arena in the hope that Messmer targets your summon instead of you. That gives you time to heal if you used the Mimic Tear and then to activate the Hornsent’s summon sign if you want him to join in.

Messmer the Impaler explodes the ground during an Elden Ring DLC boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Messmer has several flame and spear combos, and he’ll sometimes string them together in unpredictable ways. His basic spear attack is a forward slash followed by a backhand slash. He’ll sometimes end with a thrust or just use a spear thrust independent of other attacks. Dodge forward or backward to avoid the first two slashes and forward or sideways to evade the thrust.

Messmer will sometimes follow the opening one-two spear combo with a move similar to one that Margit uses. He’ll drag his spear behind him on the ground, delay for a second to make dodging tricky, and then finally make an upward slash that has a high chance of knocking you backward. What direction you dodge in matters less than making sure you dodge on time.

While he occasionally sticks to just these flame-free attacks, he more often mixes them with his fire skills as well. The tame ones include a flaming thrust and a slash in front of him with his ignited spear that leads into another slash or a flaming thrust. These frontal attacks throw flame wide and far, so keep an eye on them even if you aren’t near Messmer at the time.

Messmer the Impaler attacks an Elden Ring DLC player during a boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Less often, he’ll rush forward and deliver a flaming upper cut, and if it catches you, he’ll slam you back into the ground with his spear. Dodge forward or sideways to avoid the initial strike.

Messmer the Impaler attacks an Elden Ring DLC player during a boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

One of his deadliest combos starts when Messmer rises into the air, wreathed in flame. He’ll rush forward similar to the Dancing Lion, so dodge forward just like you did in that battle. He then turns around and unleashes a flurry of spear strikes that deals heavy damage, which you can also dodge forward to avoid, and he ends by slamming his spear into the ground.

Messmer the Impaler performs a fury of spear attacks during an Elden Ring DLC boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

The flames around it erupt into smaller spears, and there’s almost never enough space to escape the full area of effect. The dodge timing to avoid the spear eruption is similar to the initial orb explosion, so wait a second after evading the ground strike before dodging again.

Messmer the Impaler throws a bunch of flaming spears during an Elden Ring DLC boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

That’s a lot to take in, and you’ll have to just deal with it and dodge most of the time. Messmer moves so quickly during these combos that you have no room to counter, and while you can break his poise, he’s a bit sturdier than the earlier mandatory bosses. Don’t count on breaking him quickly unless you’re buffed up and using a colossal weapon.

When Messmer’s hand glows with flame, and he holds it behind him, he’s about to make a grab for you. He’ll deal fire damage if he’s successful, impale you and inflict bloodloss, and then finally let you go. I had a vigor stat of 52, and unless my HP was completely full, the attack always resulted in death. The actual strike is delayed by a second or two, so it might take a few instances of getting hit and dying before you learn the timing. If he does this to one of your allies, it gives you about four seconds to attack without restraint, and you also have a brief opportunity to attack while he recovers after missing you.

Messmer the Impaler runs toward an Elden Ring DLC player during a boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

He’ll also create a flame blob that hovers and then flies toward you, similar to the Flame Knights in Shadow Keep. Dodge away just before it makes contact.

Messmer has some cruel feint tricks up his short sleeves, too. If he throws fire at you with his hand — similar to how Mohg sears the air with bloodflame — he’ll follow up with a brutal spear strike or combo. The flame deals no damage unless you’re right in front of him, so if you dodge that, his spear strike is guaranteed to hit you. On the other hand, he also uses his spear to fling a long string of flame outward horizontally. That fire will damage you, and he may or may not follow up with a thrust or start one of his other combos. You have enough time to dodge the flame and whatever comes next, though.

The key to damaging Messmer in this phase is waiting for the right opportunity. He’s briefly open to attack after finishing any of his heavy combos – the aerial one, the grab, and the dragging spear strike – but if you get greedy and try for more than two attacks, you’ll end up regretting it. You can also take advantage of ally distractions to land a few hits, but it’s worth noting that if you attack him while he’s attacking an ally, Messmer will, like Rellana, casually target you without breaking his current combo. He’s not as evasive as Rellana, though, so if you can, keep dodging and attacking without worrying about a dodge-counter from him.

Messmer boss fight phase 2

Messmer the Impaler turns into a giant snake during phase 2 of an Elden Ring DLC boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Phase two begins the same as the first phase. Snake Messmer generates a giant orb of flame and then crashes down where you’re standing. The orb explodes after a second, and the affected area is bigger than the first phase explosion.

Messmer alternates between snake attacks and spear attacks in this phase, and he retains almost all his combos from the first phase. He’s less likely to use his flame arc attacks, though, and tends to favor the three-part aerial combo or the flaming thrusts. He’ll also do a little roll into the air and crash down with his spear.

The snake strikes are his most common moves in this phase. Messmer turns into a giant shadow snake and shoots forward across the arena, targeting you — and the target of this attack is almost always you, even if an ally is still on the field. The snake usually repeats this two more times before coming to a stop, and you have a second to strike the head and then Messmer after it does stop. Less frequently, it stops after one attack, but it’s usually best to plan for the full combo.

Messmer the Impaler attacks a player during an Elden Ring DLC boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Dodge any direction to avoid taking damage. Just make sure you’re ready to dodge again to avoid the next strike.

Messmer will also turn into a pool of shadows, hover under you for a few seconds, and burst out of the ground as the snake before slamming his head back down onto the ground. There’s plenty of time to dodge away from this attack, and he’s vulnerable to strikes after finishing.

Despite Messmer being more dangerous than ever in this phase, he’s also easier to hit. You have a window of roughly a second or two after one of his snake attacks where he’s transforming back into his human form, and he’s not attacking. Use this opportunity to deal as much damage as you can, and while he’s in human-ish Messmer form, just focus on dodging his attacks unless a really good opportunity presents itself.

Messmer the Impaler turns into a snake during an Elden Ring DLC boss fight.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

After the battle ends, you receive the Remembrance of the Impaler, which you can exchange for his sphere or the incantation that summons his flaming orb. You’ll also get a flame that clears away shadow, but it’s not time to open Belurat Tower just yet. Exit Shadow Keep via the western gate for the journey’s next phase.

Looking for more Shadow of the Erdtree guides? Check out our guides on new Elden Ring DLC weapons, armor, bosses, map fragments, sites of grace, and talismans. We’ve also got location guides on where to find Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes, and an interactive Elden Ring DLC map.

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