This boss is found at the end of Elphael, Brace of the Haligtree, and is considered by many players to be the hardest boss in the game, in large part thanks to her ability to heal on-hit. We won’t lie to you — while there are some strategies that can potentially be simple to execute, you’ll have to pray to the RNG gods if you want an easy fight. Expect to respec, upgrade new weapons, or otherwise change up your usual strategy if you hope to succeed against Malenia.
Malenia heals when attacking, even if 100% of the damage is blocked. This doesn’t mean that blocking isn’t a viable strategy, however it does mean that you’ll need to out-DPS her or stun-lock her if you plan on using spirit summons.
Weapons or spells that can knock Malenia up (or pancake her) are excellent choices, since doing so prevents her from healing while you let your stamina regenerate and/or drink a flask.
If you aren’t confident with your dodges, upgrading a shield at the blacksmith will decrease the stamina required to block, allowing you to block Malenia’s longer combos more effectively.
The strategies listed here are simply a few of the ways you can handle Malenia; we’ve tried to offer some of the more straightforward techniques. What makes all of these strategies effective is their ability to keep Malenia either knocked down or else staggered, so any spell, skill, or attack that can stagger or knock her down can be used instead of the ones described below. As mentioned in the intro, it’s very likely that you’ll need to respec your character in order to use one of the strategies listed below, or simply to better optimize your build (read: get to 60 vigor).
The simpler strategy to pull off is probably the Rivers of Blood + Mimic Tear — combine it with the Comet Azur + Cerulean Hidden Tear trick to make phase 2 easier. Note that the strategies listed contain suggestions for builds/spells and how to damage Malenia, but avoiding damage isn’t covered in the strategies — for info on not dying, continue to the next section.
This strategy is straightforward — Malenia is staggered fairly easily by the Corpse Piler skill on the Rivers of Blood sword. When combined with the Mimic Tear, it becomes possible to repeatedly stagger Malenia and proc bleed. To keep your Mimic Tear alive, put Raw Meat Dumpling and an Uplifting Aromatic in Quick Item slots, as they will keep the mimic healthy and allow both of you to do more damage. You can also choose to put a 100% physical defense shield in your off-hand, which will dramatically increase your Mimic Tear’s survivability — make sure it’s a shield with No Skill, so that your mimic will use Corpse Piler. Since you’ll be spamming a weapon art, bring at least 6 Cerulean Flasks.
Have your sword and shield equipped before summoning the mimic tear, and then wait for the mimic to draw Malenia’s attention. Position so that you’re to the side or behind Malenia — if you stand near the mimic tear, you can end up catching stray sword slashes. Make sure you’re as close as possible, then start using the Rivers of Blood weapon skill (Corpse Piler).
This works equally well in phase 2, although you’ll have to be more careful about conserving stamina and avoiding Malenia’s dangerous attacks.
Before entering the boss arena, remove all spells from your memory slots except for Burn, O Flame! — this will guarantee that the mimic only casts the one spell. To further improve your Mimic Tear’s effectiveness, put Raw Meat Dumpling and an Uplifting Aromatic in Quick Item slots, as they will keep the mimic healthy and allow both of you to do more damage. You can also choose to put a 100% physical defense shield in your off-hand, which will dramatically increase your Mimic Tear’s survivability.
You’ll probably want to have at least 6 Cerulean Flasks, but obviously more healing is better — experiment, and take as few FP flasks as possible. Finally, make sure you have the Giant’s Seal in your off-hand (for the increased damage on Giant’s Flame incantations), and whatever seal you have upgraded the most in your other hand. If you haven’t been using seals, go ahead and upgrade the Giant’s Seal and just use that, with a shield in your off-hand.
When you’re ready, walk into the boss arena with your seal(s) in hand, and then summon the Mimic Tear. If you’re using a shield, you should actually go take aggro from Malenia now, to allow your summon time to buff itself and get into position. Hold block — for now, it doesn’t matter if she’s healing, since she’s at full HP — and wait for the mimic to cast Burn, O Flame! near her. If she gets hit and knocked up by it, it’s your turn to cast it now. Try to stagger your casts of the incantation with he mimics, so that Malenia is always being hit by the spell.
Part of what makes this so effective, especially in phase 1, is that Malenia’s regular attacks will miss while you’re casting this spell. This means you can start casting it while she’s preparing a combo — only her Waterfowl Dance, Lunge, and Grab will be able to hit you. Still, if your mimic doesn’t have aggro, you generally don’t want to charge this spell — it’s better to “duck” sooner than get the added damage.
Alternatively, you can use Giantsflame Take Thee in place of Burn, O Flame! — the strategy won’t be quite as effective, but both spells can knock down Malenia. If you have access to both spells, you can also try memorizing both for this fight — although Giantsflame is dodgeable, it can be used at range, making it easier to use during phase 2. Bringing Giantslfame Take Thee also allows you to damage Malenia during Scarlet Aeonia in phase 2. However, this spell doesn’t stagger the boss nearly as often, and can miss more easily as well.
By equipping something like Ash of War: Hoarforst Stomp (or otherwise applying the Cold Affinity) on a weapon such as the Uchigatana, you’ll be able to apply both the Cold and Bleed status effects at the same time when attacking. When these status effects proc (go off), Malenia is staggered — therefore, applying both lets you stagger her twice as often. Note that you can only apply ashes of war to non-unique weapons, i.e. weapons that are upgraded with regular smithing stones.
The Mimic Tear is a good choice when using this strategy, since it will be able to apply its own Bleed and Cold, meaning you can constantly stagger Malenia if you and your summon are both able to attack often enough. You can also try Black Knife Tiche (if you are able to upgrade her to +10) — she’s generally considered the strongest summon against bosses.
This strategy involves drinking a flask with the Cerulean Hidden Tear — giving you infinite FP for a limited time — and then casting Comet Azur, which costs a ton of FP but also does a lot of damage. This technique is only really effective during Phase 2, after Malenia does her Scarlet Aeonia attack. Fortunately, she does it every time phase 2 starts, so you’ll be able to use this technique every time you get past phase 1.
The timing for avoiding her landing can be tricky, so you may need to practice it a few times: essentially, start running once she raises her sword, and then roll as she lands. You can then roll twice more to get out of the range of her rot cloud.
Once you’re out of range, drink your flask and then start casting Comet Azur. If you’re lucky, she’ll stand in the beam the whole time fighting your summon, but even if she doesn’t, you’ll be able to take a large chunk of her health pool while she recovers from her attack. Optionally, you can cast Terra Magicus before casting Comet Azur — this will significantly increase the damage Comet Azur does, but you risk doing less damage if she gets out of the beam early.
Windows of Opportunity
With the strategies above, it can be tempting to simply spam your ability whenever Malenia is in range. However, doing so will often lead to you getting caught by one of her attacks, as she has a number of moves that have hyper-armor (which means she cannot be knocked out of them by your attacks). Instead, you should ideally only attack when the boss is actively attacking your summon.
Otherwise, try to attack immediately after you’ve avoided one of Malenia’s attacks, and always save enough stamina to run/roll. Since Malenia heals while damaging you, being impatient and trading blow for blow is never an effective strategy with this boss.
You should generally let your summon tank, so avoiding damage shouldn’t be too difficult in this fight. However, your summon may not last the whole fight, and so you’ll need at least a basic understanding of how to prevent this boss from killing you.
Towards/past Malenia’s left hand (the one without a sword) is generally the safest direction to roll in, although you can also roll backwards from her Kick or some of her shorter sword swipes. Since she heals when attacking, you want to roll if possible. Still, when in doubt it’s better to block than fail a roll — she’ll heal either way, and at least if you block you won’t take damage. She’ll lift her free hand in the air and pause — she’ll then do her Grab attack, which cannot be blocked and therefore should be rolled (towards her is always better).
In Phase 2, Malenia retains her Phase 1 attacks and adds a number of followups. The principles remain the same, but you’ll have to prepare for longer combo chains. Sometimes she’ll fly into the air and swoop down, but the timing on dodging this is intuitive, and works just like her lunge — you’ll want to roll towards her as she starts flying towards you. She also adds an attack where she flies into the air and then sends pink phantoms down to attack — you can roll to avoid their attacks, or block if you aren’t confident in the timing.
Additionally, a Rot Explosion is often added to the end of combos: Malenia will leap into the air and land while stabbing her sword into the ground. You’ll see pink flames briefly, and then there will be an AOE explosion in front of her. Since you’re already going to be rolling past her left side as a general rule, this explosion will miss.
Now let’s take a look at a couple of her trickier moves and how to avoid them.
By running towards Malenia when she raises her sword into the air, and then rolling as she starts heading towards the ground, you can avoid this attack’s initial AOE — a couple more rolls will take you out of the Rot zone. Stay away from her until the flower disappears, and once it does you can run in and get a decent amount of free damage on her — charged attacks are ideal, since you want to stagger her as much as possible.
Turns out, a single Freezing Pot will knock malenia out of her Waterfowl Dance — equip a few of these, make sure it’s always selected if you aren’t actively healing, and laugh as she falls from the sky!
If you don’t have access to Freezing Pots, that’s OK! Youtuber Why Chi developed an excellent method for dodging Waterfowl Dance at any range: Start running away when you see her hop in the air, and then jump as soon as she lands. After the first two flurries, get ready to roll towards her during the third flurry — doing this will make the final flurries miss, although it’s best to roll away just in case. You can see it in action below:
Don’t give up skeleton
This is without a doubt one of the hardest — if not the hardest — boss fights in Elden Ring, and probably even across all of the FromSoft games. Have patience with yourself, take breaks if you’re not getting closer to victory, and be willing to try a new strategy if the one you’re using isn’t working.
If you found another technique to beat Malenia you think is relatively easy to use, let us know in the comments!