Blocking is a crucial part of the combat system in Valheim. Mastering blocking will improve your offensive and defensive performance.
The blocking system in Valheim is more involved than simply “hold up shield, take less damage.” Each weapon has a different block armor, parry block armor, and parry bonus that impacts the weapon’s ability to deflect attacks.
Blocking in Valheim hinges on two concepts: Blocking and Parrying.
You block to simply reduce incoming damage. Parrying is more active than blocking and requires special timing, but pulling off a successful parry rewards you by staggering your target, opening them up to counter-attack.
Block armor is the amount of damage you can absorb up by blocking. How much damage you absorb depends on how high your block armor is. An item’s total Block armor depends on its stats as well as your Blocking skill. Blocking skill increases Block armor by 0.5% for each skill point, maxed out at 50% increase.
The armor you have from the equipment you are wearing also plays a role in how much damage you will take. Your shield, or other blocking weapon, blocks damage based on the block armor. Whatever damage gets through the shield’s, or weapon’s, block armor will then have to go through your equipment’s armor.
The stagger bar is the bar that fills up to the right of your character each time your character is attacked. The more health you have, the more damage you can take before you are staggered. The value of health that matters is the maximum amount of health you could have. The stagger bar does not change depending on how much of your health is healed. If your stagger bar fills up all the way, you will be staggered making you more vulnerable to damage.
The amount of that the stagger bar fills up is only dependent on how much damage you have taken. So your stagger bar will fill up less when you are blocking vs if you weren’t blocking, because you take less damage.
An enemy is staggered after receiving enough knockback or lots of damage. A staggered enemy will lean back and flail their arms or a similar animation indicating they’re vulnerable. When staggered, all attacks deal bonus damage.
Block force is the amount of knockback that you will force back your opponent with upon successfully blocking an attack.
Lower block force is better for offensive purposes because it will leave the target vulnerable and within striking distance. Higher block force is better for defense because you’ll force back your attackers, leaving you room to maneuver.
Parry bonus is a multiplier that is applied to your block armor, when parrying, to increase your blocking capabilities. So if your block armor was 10 and your parry bonus was 1.5, your block armor would be 15 when you parry.
With parry bonus, higher is always better. Shields have low parry bonus and high block armor, knives have a high parry bonus and low block armor, which represents the very real danger of being parried by someone with knives. However, the low block armor of knives means knife-users cannot effectively block without parrying.