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A Tarnished holds a Fingerprint Stone Shield in Elden Ring.
Screenshot by Dot Esports

Elden Ring Guard Boost explained: How to increase Guard Boost and best shields

Blocking the world is tiring work

Blocking is a powerful tool in Elden Ring, and shields use Guard Boost to block incredibly well. But, the stat isn’t very well explained by the game’s guide, despite being critical to the game’s second-best defensive technique.

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Here’s how Guard Boost works and the best shields to use in Elden Ring.

What is Guard Boost in Elden Ring?

A Tarnished blocks the basic attack of a humanoid enemy in Elden Ring.
If you don’t want blocking to knock you out, you need this stat. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Guard Boost is a weapon stat that refers to the amount of Stamina required to block attacks in Elden Ring when using anything in the game. The higher the Guard Boost, the less Stamina is used per block. Shields range from a baseline of 29 with the Coil Shield to 77 with the Fingerprint Stone Shield.

All weapons and shields in Elden Ring capable of blocking have a Guard Boost score, but shields have a much higher Guard Boost than weapons. At the same time, some two-handed weapons can also reach fairly significant thresholds of the stat.

Even with the highest end of Guard Boost, you can still easily get exhausted on hits. The difference between a low and high Guard Boost is night and day, but it is only a small percentage of Stamina reduction. A shield should have good Guard Boost among other effects, such as 100 physical damage resistance or alternative buffs, if you want to maximize your defense.

How to increase Guard Boost in Elden Ring

The Tarnished upgrades their Fingerprint Stone Shield in Elden Ring.
You hate to see such an important number creep up so slowly. Screenshot by Dot Esports

The best way to buff up Guard Boost in Elden Ring is enhancing your weapon. Most shields increase their Guard Boost by one every one to two enhancements. This usually leads to a +10-15 to many shields’ ability to reduce your stamina consumption. In addition, a handful of buffs can temporarily improve the guard boost of your shield.

Weapons and shields upgrade Guard Boost on slightly different tracks. While shields consistently get more Guard Boost every one to three levels, weapons get it much less often. The Watchdog’s Greatsword, for example, increases the stat every two enhancements or so, while the Dagger might need seven or eight levels to see it increase. These are small buffs, though, and shields are fairly expensive to upgrade.

Thankfully, that’s not all you can do. For example, Barricade Shield effectively boosts your shield’s Guard Boost by approximately halving the Stamina it takes to block with any shield. Scholar’s Shield reduces Stamina consumption by 35 percent irrespective of Guard Boost, so it works best on shields with less of the stat.

Shield Grease works the same, though without the helpful Magic damage reduction the Sorcery has. The Greatshield Talisman works similarly, offering a reduction to Stamina regardless of how heavy your shield is, though only by 20 percent.

Best shields for blocking in Elden Ring

There are three shield sizes in Elden Ring: Small, Medium, and Greatshield. Each of these tends to have an increasingly large amount of Guard Boost based on their size. Through upgrades, even the most spindly shield can see itself at around 40 to 45 Guard Boost. The best shield in the game still only inches to around 86, so the difference between the best and the worst really isn’t that much with enough Smithing Stones.

Tip: Is Guard Boost Everything?

Though these shields have the highest Guard Boost, shields can also be used for buffs. For example, despite its abysmal Guard Boost of 49 for its weight, the Great Turtle Shell boosts Stamina regeneration. Keep that in mind while you select your defensive tool.

With respect to the three size categories, your best shields are:

The Ice Crest Shield in the inventory of Elden Ring.
This frosty dinner plate will give your foes the cold shoulder. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Ice Crest Shield, offering a reasonable 77 percent physical damage reduction and with a base Guard Boost of 41, this shield blocks what you need it to. It also comes with 40 Robustness, improving your ability to ignore Bleed and Frostbite. It’s in the gardens of Caria Manor.
The Brass Shield in an Elden Ring inventory.
This is probably one of the best shields in the game. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Brass Shield: This boring shield comes with no buffs but a solid 56 base Guard Boost. Unlike its Small Shield counterparts, this comes with 100 physical damage reduction and fine elemental resistances. Considering how early you can farm it—from Godrick and Raya Lucaria soldiers—this is a great shield to grab and never upgrade throughout the whole game.
The Fingerprint Stone Shield in the inventory of an Elden Ring character.
Heavy, impossible to break, and filled with occult magic. Perfect. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Fingerprint Stone Shield: Weighing in at a whopping 29 Weight, the Fingerprint Stone Shield is the highest base Guard Boost in the game at 77. It can also cause Madness Buildup if you’re looking for the incredibly funny Shield Bash build for your Madness character. You’ll need to do some parkour in the Cathedral of the Forsaken for it, though.

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Image of Jason Toro-McCue
Jason Toro-McCue
Contributing writer and member of the RPG beat. Professional writer of five years for sites and apps, including Nerds + Scoundrels and BigBrain. D&D and TTRPG fanatic, perpetual Fighter main in every game he plays.