Shadow Knight Guide by Stroke
Table of Content:
Shadow Knight (SK) is a S-rank Mecha Elemental Lightning damage dealer. She is extremely good at dealing out high consistent lightning damage to groups of enemies. She is also often hailed as the queen of F2P valkyries. This is due to her many innate scaling skills as well as the plethora of viable weapons and stigmata she can use, both gacha and farmable. However, that should not lead to the idea that she is easy to play; her many skills come with unique mechanics worth understanding. I will quickly outline some of her innate skill bonuses here and go more in depth to her skills and gear options.
24% Elemental dmg, Non-Kiana, Mei, Bronya gains 30 starting SP
50% Total dmg
Enemy is movement slowed or bleeding
Adds 50% (100% while in burst) Atk of Lightning dmg to Six Fist combo hits
Only for Six Fist hits
Deals 300% Atk of Lightning dmg in aoe every 3 hits; recovers 3 sp when out of burst mode
Must have New Moon buff active
Additional Total dmg taken bonuses require burst mode and Shi-Ki Onslaught combo
Shi-Ki Crescent forms a Lightning Field increasing Lightning damage by 5% each second up to 50% max
Need to stay in Lightning Field. Field lasts for 20 seconds
Being a base S-Rank valkyrie means your options for unlocking SK is limited to gacha. The most common method is expansion supplies featuring SK, where the featured S-rank valkyrie is guaranteed after within 100 pulls. The 100 pull pity counter will carryover to other expansion supplies.
A second newer option is advance supplies where a featured S-rank valkyrie will be guaranteed by 100 pulls, like expansions supplies, but you also get bonus fragments at specified numbers of pulls. This will ensure, not only the featured S-Rank valkyrie, but also extra fragments to get her closer to SS-rank. The 100 pull pity counter will not carryover to other advance supplies.
Due to Fu Hua's unique combat system, we will label basic attack button as A, and ultimate button as B for the rest of the guide. Let us go over for combos and where to use each. They are broken down to normal combos and burst mode combos.
The Six Fist (AAAAAA): A useless combo all things considered. You will not be finishing the 6 hit sequence very often. The first 1-3 hits is used to combo into more useful combos. The skill Ferocity adds extra Lightning damage to Six Fist hits.
Ki Riptide (ABB): Most commonly used combo outside of burst mode. The second A hit is optional and I would recommend you skip it to quicken your combos. Ki Riptide is fast hitting and last hit of combo applies New Moon buff. New Moon gives an additional 3 sp every 3rd attack out of burst mode. SK is very ultimate reliant so this is very important for sp gain. Ultimate evasion also allows you to chain into Ki Riptide by tapping B while out of burst mode.
Ki Pulverize (AAABB): Slightly harder hitting and causes immobilize to its target. However, it is a slower hitting combo and your goal out of burst mode is not to deal damage but to get back into burst mode as fast as you can. Rarely used.
Ki Seismic Slam (B): A quick slam to the ground, hitting surrounding enemies, causing stun and bleeding to enemies next to walls for 6 seconds. Very important for the passive skill Empty Heart, which deals +50% Total damage to bleeding or slowed targets. You should try to gather and play close to the wall and refresh the bleeding every 6 seconds.
Shi-Ki Crescent (B-Hold): Useable after 60 sp. This will have SK enter burst mode. Initial landing will also apply New Moon buff on hit, gathers nearby enemies, and generate a Lightning Field. This hit also have relatively high shield break. Also note, once entering Burst Mode, SK will gain 40% Lightning damage and be drained 6sp/second until it runs out. Once sp is depleted, SK will exit burst mode and regain 30% the amount of SP present when she entered burst mode.
Ki Seismic Slam (B): Same as before, used to apply and refresh bleed on targets next to walls.
Shi-Ki Crescent (B-Hold): Used to apply and refresh Lightning Field. Remember, Lightning Field boosts SK's Lightning damage up to 50% max. You should be fighting inside the field and re-apply it when moving out of it.
Shi-Ki Charged Palm (ABB): This is rarely used in burst mode. The only reason is to use it to refresh New Moon buff. Do not use AABB, the second A is just wasting time. New Moon buff is applied on both the second and third B hit. It is also wise to cancel the third B hit with dodge to save time.
Shi-Ki Onslaught (AAABBB): Shi-Ki Onslaught is the damage dealer and a determining factor for how much damage your SK can deal is how many Shi-Ki Onslaught you can fit into one New Moon buff. Remember, New Moon deals 300% Lightning aoe damage on every third hit. Shi-Ki Onslaught has two long multi-hit barrage hits which can exploit the New Moon buff. Always have New Moon buff active! There is also a small immobilize debuff to enemies and a small AoE gathering effect which helps dealing with mobs. You can also change targets between first and second barrage. A successful ultimate evasion in burst mode will chain directly into the barrage hits by tapping B.
Understanding SK's evasion mechanics is what will separate a good SK player and a bad one. For SK, evading is more than just avoiding damage. SK's ultimate evasion skill, Electrical Surge, is a 12 cooldown (cd) skill that deals 430% lightning damage to a large Area of Effect (AoE). SK will also gain 2sp for every enemy in the AoE that was damaged. We talked about how important SK's sp management is. Most importantly, it will also bleed anyone hit for 8 seconds, triggering SK's +50% Total damage boost.
Secondly, as mentioned before, a successful ultimate evasion will allow you to chain directly into your Shi-Ki Onslaught barrages. This is incredibly important. The difference in damage between 4 or 5 Shi-Ki Onslaught combos per New Moon duration is huge!
Finally, the animation and backswing delay after the last B hit in combos is painfully long. As previously mentioned, you want to squeeze in as much as you can while all your buffs are active. A good way to optimize SK's attack pattern is to press evade as soon as the last B hit lands, then immediately start the next combo.
Benefits of SS rank
Unlocking SS rank for a base S-rank valkyrie can be expensive. For SK, the most important addition is Moon. Moon is a new skill unlocked that allows SK to apply a 12 second bleed and a 4 second time slow to enemies when she enters burst mode. Being able to reliably apply a long duration bleed as soon as burst mode starts is huge for SK. Remember, SK gains 50% Total damage against bleeding targets and previous to SS rank, SK's only innate method of bleed is slamming targets near walls. That is not a feat easily achieved, especially without proper set up or against highly mobile bosses.
Once we start talking about SK's gears, you will find some of her popular gears help her apply bleed or movement slow to trigger the +50% total damage. With an innate reliable source of bleed status, it also opens up her options to what gear to choose.
The main reason why SK is so popular is because of how strong she is right out of the box. However, we can still increase her power level further with our gear choices, and there are many to choose from.
Optimal Weapon :
Nuada's Grief -- 279 ATK / 32 CRT
Airgetlam (SP: 4, CD: 20s): Hits the target in front of SK, inflicting float and bleed on the target.
Dazzling Blade: Gain 40% more Lightning damage.
Monet T -- Increase 30% Lightning damage and 1% Total damage based on the hit counter, maximum is 15%.
Nagamitsu M -- Enemies that stay within a small AoE around the valkyrie will take 30% additional Lightning damage.
Monet B -- For every 10 seconds, combo/charged attacks will inflict 50% move slow for 6 seconds. With the combo counter over 30, increase attack speed by 15%
Monet 2 set bonus -- Gains a lightning shield. Gains 30% Lightning damage when shield is active. Shield will negate one direct physical hit. Recharges after 15 seconds.
These are the go-to gears a SK player would aim for. The glove's passive adds an impressive 40% Lightning damage and have a cheap sp cost active, which is good for SK who is sp dependent. The on-demand bleed is very valuable to trigger +50% Total damage bonus.
Nagamitsu M synergizes perfectly a melee Lightning damage dealer like SK and is special because the multiplier is separate from all the +Lightning damage multiplier seen so far. Nagamitsu M is a debuff afflicted on enemies to take more Lightning damage and will be multiplicative instead of additive to other multipliers.
For instance, SK has innate Lightning bonuses like +24% from leader skill, +50% from Lightning Field, +40% from burst mode, if we add another +30% Lightning damage from, say, Monet M, the final multiplier will be 2.44x. However, if we switch Monet M with a separate multiplier like elemental debuff for enemies, it will be (1+.24+.5+.4)*(1.3) = 2.782x.
Monet B lets you complete the Monet 2 set bonus, but more importantly, it provides a reliable source of move slow that can trigger the +50% Total damage bonus, as well as, +15% attack speed allowing for faster combos.
Grips of Tai Xuan -- 268 ATK / 35 CRT
Yin Yang (SP: 17, CD: 25s): Summons 3 swords that deal 1,500 Fire damage each and time slows for 4.5 seconds.
Dazzling Blade: Basic, combo, burst, or switch hits each give valkyrie 8% Total damage for 8 seconds.
This is the best F2P option and also the best support weapon option. The glove can be upgraded to lv50 through Co-op raids, meaning no Honkai Cores needed. It can provide a consistent 16% Total damage for SK. It's active is great for supporting and providing a time slow to help trigger QTEs and other effects.
Skoll and Hati -- 283 ATK / 24 CRT
Skoll (SP: 11, CD: 30s): Releases shockwaves every 0.5 seconds, dealing 50% attack and reducing damage taken from rear or side by 65% for 10 seconds.
Hati: When attacks hit, gain 3% Physical damage for 3 seconds, stacks up to 10 times. Attacks against time slow, attack speed slow, or move speed slow targets gain 10% Crit rate.
Traditionally Night Squire's (NS) signature weapon, this weapon is used to maximize damage during New Moon buff. New Moon deals 300% ATK of Lightning damage every three attacks and this weapon's active adds another hit per 0.5 seconds. The rest of the weapon's effects are good, but not synergistic to SK. SK has left behind the "one valkyrie army" playstyle for a more rotation based strategy with support and Skoll and Hati synergizes with that format of play, greatly increasing the burst potential of each rotation.
Cygnus Gauntlets -- 268 ATK / 40 CRT
Butchering Shrike (SP: 11, CD: 30s): User gains 40% Attack speed, and entire team gains +30% to healing effects for 8 seconds.
Grey Kestrel: Increase sp recovery by 25%.
Ironically, VA's signature gears worked very poorly on her. Cygnus Gauntlets is no exception, finding a better fit with SK than it ever did with VA. This glove gives a lot of what SK wants, she wants sp recovery to lower the downtime between ultimates, she wants attack speed to deal more damage during her ultimates. This is another strong choice for SK.
Gains 20% Total damage reduction against hits from enemies. Gains 2% Lightning damage for every hit counter, stacks up to 15. As we previously talked about, Nagamitsu M is better for damage given that an undiluted +30% Lightning damage taken is better than a diluted +30% Lightning damage. However, Monet M offers a hefty 20% Total damage reduction. Also, completing the Monet 3 set bonus which will turn Monet B's slow effect into an AoE effect instead of single target and heal SK for 8% max hp every 10 seconds. Monet M is a good option if you value the extra sustain and defense to survive a particularly hard stage.
Loses 41% movement speed but gains 31% attack speed. Attack speed is extremely important for SK and when it comes to attack speed, there is no better option than Planck B. SK's combos also have very good gap closing capabilities so the movement speed will not hinder SK too much. SK will often replace Monet B for Planck B for boss fights. Most bosses are immune to movement speed slow and Monet 2 set bonus can be dispelled by getting hit once. In these cases, Planck B is just a superior option for damage.
For F2P options, the Formals set from the reburn event is top notch and is the best for SK. They provide both Elemental and Total damage multipliers, as well as Attack speed, everything SK could ever ask for. The Darwin set is also a very strong set for SK, giving a lot Elemental and Total damage multipliers, with the added benefit of being farmable. Seele B's attack speed bonus makes it another good farmable option and SK's large max sp pool is one of the few valkyries able to take advance of the stigmata.
Support Shadow Knight
SK has a very very strong leader skill and equipped with Grips, can be a strong support in elemental teams making her a strong carrier of various elemental support stigmatas listed above.
Fire Shadow Knight
Phoenix's signature glove, Cinder Hawk was omitted in the recommended weapons earlier but it is strangely very strong on SK. Cinder Hawk has good elemental multipliers and SK's high speed multi-hit combos help proc Cinder Hawk's passive. This is a bit of a meme but with the correct conditions in Abyss, Fire damage SK can be viable. SK can quite literally use every gacha glove in the game.
Sometimes there is such a thing as too many options, how do I know which mash up of the gears I own would be the most optimal? The math behind it can be confusing but it does not have to be. I recommend everyone to check out this reddit guide for an in-depth analysis of different options for F2P players, written by D_Mero.
These are the valkyries that SK would enjoy partying with. They all have ways to improve SK's gameplay. Valkyrie Chariot (VC) has a very strong low SP spammable gathering ultimate that also applies bleed for SK to exploit. Phoenix (Phx) has a great support arsenal: being able to increase team's elemental damage, spawn sp orbs, and dealing fire damage while sitting in the backline. Drive Kometa (DK) provides an abundance of protective abilities to help SK survive while dishing out her massive damage. Wolf's Dawn (WD) provides an additional +30% elemental damage which is welcomed by any elemental damage dealer.
This was my most used team in Abyss. There is just great synergy from the elemental damage support and type coverage of Phx, the defensive and gathering capabilities of DK, and the pure power of SK's lightning damage. Ph can also trigger DK's qte with her dodge or Grips of TaiXuan. DK is just a godsend for SK. Despite having up to 50% innate Total damage reduction, SK has was still vulnerable to being hit while performing Shi-Ki Onslaught. DK mitigated that weakness, bringing SK back to top tier status.
SK can also secure very high scores both as the damage dealer or as a support. In this team, she damage dealer. Wolf's Dawn (WD) could be switched out for another support valkyrie that is suitable for which ever boss SK is facing. Scarlet Fusion (SF) is the Blood Dance carrier. It is very important for SK to kill the boss in one ultimate. Therefore, you should use either Cygnus Gauntlets or Skoll and Hati, which both have higher damage within the duration of their active than Nuada's Grief. The ideal fight would be to have SK gather up to 60 sp as quickly as possible. Set up with your second support, QTE into SF, activate Blood Dance, than have SK enter burst mode and kill.
In this team, SK is the support and I have Vermilion Knight (VK) as the damage dealer. SK is a very strong support due to her insane team leader skill. VK can be swapped out for another damage dealer suitable for whichever boss you are facing. If your damage dealer can start immediately, activate Grip's active as soon as the fight starts and run towards the boss spawn. The swords will not miss and hone in on the boss once they spawn. QTE to SF, activate Blood Dance, then start dishing out the damage. Once a sp pack drops, you can do a second rotation with SK and Blood Dance if needed. Otherwise, if it needs build up time like Flame Sakitama (FS), set up first then do the same rotation.
During her introduction, she was easily the strongest valkyrie in the game. SK has remained part of the meta since, making her a very safe but also easy investment for new and old players alike. Simply owning the valkyrie will allow you to breeze through the game's content while also having an endgame powerhouse to rely on.