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

Messmer the Impaler is one of the hardest bosses in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, but we’re here to help. With his fast-attacking spear, slew of Fire attacks, and two slithering snakes, the Impaler is no joke, but with a good setup and the right dodge timing, he’s a walk in the park.

How to beat Messmer the Impaler in Elden Ring DLC


First things first—defense. Like all bosses in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, Messmer the Impaler deals tons of damage, and most of that is Fire Damage. The Flamedrake Talisman+2 makes you take 20 percent less, and there’s a +3 version somewhere in the expansion. This Talisman makes a huge difference against Messmer.

You should go into the fight with as much health as possible for the best chance of survival. With the Crimson Amber Medallion+3 from the Death Knight boss in the Fog Rift Catacombs (right after you start the expansion), 60 Vigor, and Morgott’s Great Rune, you have nearly 2,500 health, which is enough to survive one of Messmer’s combos and still recover.

Get as many Scadutree Fragments as you can—your Scadutree Blessing goes a long way toward increasing your power, and the higher your Scadutree level, the easier the fight against Messmer will be. Check out my comprehensive guide to all Scadutree Fragment locations in Elden Ring’s DLC—they’re easy to find with my detailed directions.

Lastly, if you talk to Needle Knight Leda after you approach Shadow Keep and trigger the ‘somewhere, a great rune has broken’ message, she asks you to choose between the Hornsent and Thiollier. I chose the Hornsent and he appeared as a summon in Messmer’s boss room. He was a capable ally throughout the whole fight, so I recommend you do the same.

Phase one

Snake? Snake! Video by Dot Esports

After you enter the fog gate, you might have a brief moment for a ranged attack or to summon a Spirit before Messmer strikes, but be quick. In the video above, I open with an Ancient Lightning Spear, which takes a decent chunk off his health bar before the fight even starts.

Messmer launches himself into the air and barrels toward you—dodge once to avoid the initial blast, wait a very brief moment, then dodge again to avoid the fiery explosion. You need to nail the timing of avoiding this attack if you want to succeed against Messmer.

After he lands, if you haven’t already summoned your spirit, do it now. Summon the Hornsent using their Summon Sign and get ready to dodge Messmer’s first set of melee strikes, as he’ll come straight for you.

Messmer uses a spear, so his melee strikes have a huge range. You can either outrange them by keeping your distance or dodge them by rolling to the side—I chose the former strategy, but the spear strikes aren’t too difficult to dodge once you nail the timing.

The nastiest attack you need to worry about is Messmer’s grab—you can see it at 00:25 in the video. He grabs you, wreaths you in flame, and impales you on his spear. It deals huge damage and takes off most of your health bar if you don’t have dozens of Scadutree Fragments already. Make sure to dodge away when he lunges for you and always keep your eyes peeled for this attack when you have aggro.

Messmer often slings fireballs between his attacks, and uses a fire spray—these are well-telegraphed and easy to dodge. The fireballs are slow-casting but fast-moving, so dodge at the last second, and the fire spray is easy to avoid by dodging backward.

The snake’s head takes more damage, so get into the rhythm of avoiding his strikes, dish out damage when it’s safe, and you’ll get through phase one in no time.

Phase two

When you get Messmer down to 50 to 60 percent health, he transitions to phase two. He transforms into a giant snake and becomes wildly unpredictable.

While retaining most of his phase one moveset, in phase two, Messmer intermittently turns into a snake and lunges at his targets. It’s easy to see when the snake is aimed at you, so wait for the snake’s jaws to open, then dodge before it makes contact with your character.

The snake always rears backward before using a bite attack, and the timing is similar for every attack, so it should be easy to dodge once you get used to it. You can see me awkwardly fail to dodge the attack at about 1:25 in the video, but I followed my own build advice, so I’m tanky enough to recover.

You have a brief moment of opportunity to strike Messmer when he bites the ground as a snake and transforms back into his humanoid form. He usually follows up with spear strikes or a grab attack, which you should be able to dodge if you’re used to phase one.

The trickest part of phase two is keeping your eyes on Messmer and maintaining the right distance when he darts around the arena as a snake. Messmer’s snake form is incredibly fast, so any build that deals ranged damage—or has a ranged component—performs better than melee on this phase.

Regardless, even as an in-your-face fighter, Messmer’s second phase is more than doable as long as you get used to dodging his attacks, attacking during safe windows (particularly while he’s transforming), and landing hits on his head in snake form. Let your summons take the heat and play it safe if you start taking damage, and above all, don’t let Messmer grab you. You’ll overcome Shadow of the Erdtree’s signature boss battle in no time.

Next, check out the best builds to beat Shadow of the Erdtree and all Map Fragment locations in Elden Ring’s DLC.

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