Elden Ring Sorceries hit hard, fast, and typically from long range. If you’ve got the FP to back it up. This particular class of skills lacks the wide range of uses and support brought by Incantations, but makes up for it by letting you melt bosses and PVP invaders alike. That’s if you have the right spell for the right situation, of course, which is what this Elden Ring Sorceries tier list is here to provide. Let’s take a look at what works best!
NOTE: Reading past this point will lead to MINOR SPOILERS for Elden Ring. This is a game all about exploration and discovery. Some players might not even want a hint of a whiff of what new powers await them. If that’s you, skip this for now and come back later! Though we suspect you already know what you’re in for if you’ve read this far. With that out of the way, here’s the current Sorcery tier list in its simplest form.
UPDATE: FromSoftware has just suprise launched Patch 1.03 for Elden Ring. Rankings and notes have been adjusted to reflect these changes, but you can read the official patch notes here.
What is Being Ranked?
Elden Ring splits its various skills into a wide range of categories. Though the broadest of these are basically: Ashes of War, Sorceries, and Incantations. The vast majority of these abilities drain FP, or “focus points,” from the player’s blue energy bar in the upper-left of the screen. And the vast majority of Sorceries require and scale with the Intelligence stat. Though there are some notable exceptions that require other stats in addition to or instead of Intelligence. The most concrete requirement in Elden Ring Sorcery is that the player must cast them using a staff, or similar magical focus, rather than the seals used for Incantations.
What Do the Rankings Mean?
Elden Ring sorcerers got a nice little boost with Patch 1.03. Magic was already fairly strong throughout the game, but now it seems like a wider variety of Sorceries in particular should give the almighty Glintstone Pebble a bit of a run for its money. The starting ability is simply so good and cheap and fast that there weren’t a lot of reasons to use much else. Sorceries have the slightly strange distinction of being almost entirely damage-focused on in one way or another. Incantations have a much wider variety of use-cases by comparison — and much larger gulfs between what’s useful and what isn’t as a result. Whereas Sorceries are just… good! They’re largely pretty good at what they do (which typically means direct, ranged damage).
A few of the quirkier skills are more or less useful than others, though. You’re still sure to find some player out there who swears one unpopular skill or another works for them. Often if you “just use Bloodflame Blade first,” or “summon Mimic Tear afterwards,” or “hit the enemy during an opening.”
Well… Yes. Most skills work well with setup, prep, practice, and/or patience. That’s a good thing. That’s variety. And players should be proud of their ability to have fun and make X, Y, Z work well with a particular build. Yet accounting for every single, possible scenario in the game is not the intent behind this or any other tier list. As such, we’ve categorized all Sorceries between S and D ranks, to acknowledge that pretty much anything can work.
Here’s what those mean at a glance:
S – Great in nearly all situations.
A – Good to great in most situations.
B – Good in a wide variety of situations. Great with a particular weapon or build.
C – Not generally recommended, but either situationally useful or broadly effective with setup.
D – Not generally recommended: either because the benefits are too niche to matter regularly, or because other skills do the same thing but better.
We elected not to include an F tier because nearly all Sorceries in the game seem at the very least functional. Even if the function doesn’t appear terribly appealing to us. Getting any more granular with higher and lower tiers (or pluses and minuses) felt pedantic to the point of opaqueness, rather than informative. If you’ve read our Ashes of War tier list, all of this should be pretty familiar to you.
How Are the Rankings Selected?
Every tier list is different. Mathematical details obviously have some impact, but different players weigh different elements — such as animation time, super armor, damage, range, status effects, etc. — differently. Much like a regular review. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something. If you understand that, and still believe there is any such thing as an “objective opinion,” then go with God(frey) my friend.
We consider both PVE and PVP applications for this list, with moderately greater emphasis placed on PVE. This is operating under the assumption that most players focus on single-player and/or cooperative play rather than invasions and duels. The logic is that the game is first and foremost an action-RPG. While there is a very dedicated competitive player base, PVP is an almost entirely optional and opt-in element of a much larger Elden Ring community, while progressing through dungeons and bosses is not.
This is of course largely inferred from anecdotal evidence. The closest thing we have to public data on the percentage of players that invade is the “Shardbearer Mohg” achievement for defeating the boss of the same name. This has a completion rate of 13.8 percent on PlayStation and 16.4 percent on Steam at the time of this writing. Mohg is only accessible for most of the game by players who invade at least three times.
This is obviously a very flawed metric. Not every play who invades — even frequently — will immediately defeat or even attempt to fight the boss. Conversely, players may also reach Mohg through a portal in one of the final areas of Elden Ring. Others still may invade the requisite three times to reach the appropriate PVE area and then stop. Everyone is simply operating under assumptions without direct specifics from FromSoftware.
These simply help us weigh other factors, though. All Sorceries have been tested on a post-game save and compared to various online discussions. Extremely specialized and extremely generalized skills tend to fall somewhere in the middle — around the C and B tiers — for opposing reasons.
Broadly applicable skills, like Glintblade Phalanx for example, are nearly always useful. Though they may struggle to stand apart from the pack in any one regard. Hence their placement near the middle of this list.
The latter camp is where you find a lot of abilities that specifically excel in PVP. Competitive play is quite different from basic Elden Ring combat; it’s more about predicting and exploiting common player habits than reacting to a concrete suite of actions. This includes stunning players out of dodge rolls (a.k.a. “roll catching”) or baiting them into attacks before you quickly strike first. Since PVP is a more niche part of the game, requiring skills that don’t necessarily translate into the meat of Elden Ring, these Sorceries instead trend toward the middle due to a lack of general application. Carian Piercer is a solid example.
The higher tiers usually offer both: versatility across most common gameplay encounters in addition to something that makes them stand out. Though there are always exceptions.
Important Notes on Specific Sorceries
Despite being a starting spell, Glintstone Pebble is no joke. It’s not flashy, but it can quite easily carry you through the nearly the entire game as a caster. The damage, tracking, speed, range, and FP cost all simply add up to a workhorse damage spell that basically never stops being useful. To the point where the suite of Sorcery buffs in Patch 1.03 almost seems like an attempt to get people to stop using it all the time.
On a similar note: Magic Glintblade should not be overlooked. Its delayed activation tends to confuse enemy AI (and even other players in PVP). It can also fire over low cover that would otherwise block direct projectiles. Appropriately enough, the projectile also seems to be unblockable (by shields that is).
Rock Sling is an excellent damage-dealer with good tracking, but its main differentiator is how quickly it stuns enemies. This opens bosses and large foes up to Critical Hits — particularly if you aim for the head. Some monsters (notably dragons) allow you to lock on to the head directly. And Rock Sling benefits greatly from the extra headshot damage. This is naturally worth keeping in mind for all ranged attacks.
Thops’s Barrier does seem to be a literal joke spell. Or at least one intended mostly for lore purposes tied to its namesake. While it technically does function as described, the spell is flatly outclassed by Carian Retaliation — and even the other Thops’s Barrier, which is a shield skill of the same title that costs zero FP.
Ranni’s Dark Moon and Rennala’s Full Moon are two variations on more-or-less the same spell. The dark variant trades some direct damage to apply Frostbite (and can be buffed with the Snow Witch Hat). Note, though, that both spells require extremely high levels of Intelligence to use.
Briars of Sin and Briars of Punishment are slightly awkward for players built around other Sorceries. Both skills require Faith, not Intelligence, and thus don’t really fit into the usual kit. That is unless you’re building a mix of high Intelligence and Faith, which is hardly out of the question for Sword of Night and Flame users.
The basic damage spells more-or-less follow a progression like this: Glintstone Pebble → Great Glintstone Shard → Glintstone Cometshard → Comet → Comet Azur. Each “step up” deals more damage, but costs increasing amounts of FP in exchange. One reason Glintstone Pebble was so dominant before Patch 1.03 was because the FP escalation for its higher potency cousins far outstripped the increased damage (with the exception of Comet Azur). With this patch, however, the FP curve is much gentler.
Night Comet and Night Shard essentially function like PVP oriented versions of their respective namesakes. They purport to be “semi-invisible,” and this does at least seem to confuse AI foes who would otherwise try to dodge. They can be used on the move or immediately after another action, respectively. Night Comet also received an FP cost reduction from 32 to 24 with Patch 1.03.
Despite the buffs to the more powerful Pebble-likes, Glintstone Icecrag is very notable for its addition of Frostbite. The status effect itself deals high damage when it procs and applies a defense debuff throughout its duration. Frostbite can then be reset with any instance of Fire damage (including from Rykard’s Rancor, Magma Shot, and Roiling Magma). This allows you to reapply Frostbite again very quickly for a fast chain of burst damage. Also, the combo makes you feel like a Black Mage right out of Final Fantasy XIV.
General Notes & Jargon
Here are a few other concepts that go into our decision-making:
Animation Time: Most abilities have a “startup” or “windup” period before they do anything at all. Short startups are almost universally better, and we tend to weigh this pretty highly. Some skills compensate for long startup times with other benefits, like super armor, of course.
Super Armor: Speaking of which, super armor is a concept not just found in Elden Ring but fighting games and more. When an ability provides super armor, it means the user cannot be interrupted (or is much harder to interrupt) until the move completes. This is useful but tricky to rely on since it doesn’t usually stop incoming damage — just the stagger you would otherwise suffer from preemptive attacks. Though spells in particular
Cancelling: Many skills can be “cancelled” midway through. Usually by dodging or performing some other common action. This allows the player to begin moving again before they normally would if they simply let the animation complete. Some skills can be cancelled much sooner than others. This is typically a desirable bonus trait. Skills with long animation times that can’t be cancelled easily are less desirable.
Stagger and Posture Damage: Most offensive skills can stagger opponents. This causes the target to flinch and stop moving very briefly, often interrupting attacks that would otherwise hit the player. Lighter attacks are less likely to stagger while heavier armor reduces the chances of being staggered altogether. At the same time, several skills damage an invisible “posture” bar, to borrow a term from Sekiro, which leaves foes open to a Critical Hit when it depletes. Some skills do incredible posture damage and are especially desirable on builds that exploit Critical Hits.
Spam: The ability to use an ability over and over again very quickly, before the enemy has time to respond.
Status Effects: This refers to indirect damage types. Across Elden Ring this includes Poison, Blood Loss, Frostbite, Scarlet Rot, Madness, Instant Death, and Sleep. Blood Loss, Frostbite, and Scarlet Rot tend to be the most effective and sought-after status types — due to their fast damage, usefulness in PVP as well as PVE, and easy application.
AoE (a.k.a. Area-of-Effect): A broadly used term that basically means any type of attack that hits in a wide area — be it a circle, a cone, etc.
This article was produced collaboratively with written contributions from Sr. Managing Editor Steven Strom.