Nioh 2 Builds: Agile Archer (Katana & Bow)

Last updated on March 19th, 2020

In this Nioh 2 Build Guide I’m going to show you how to play as an Agile Archer to take down enemies from range, or debuff them so that you can dispatch them quickly in melee. I’ll be showing you where to place your Stats and Skill Points to get the maximum impact for this Build, as well what equipment to use, and which Guardian Spirit and Soul Cores to have. This is a starter/mid game Build meant for players just beginning Nioh 2, or for those that are early to mid game and are having trouble. This Build will be updated as I reach higher levels of the game and more equipment becomes available.

Nioh 2 Builds: Agile Archer (Katana & Bow)

The Agile Archer uses a combination of Bow and Katana to take down enemies quickly and with precision. Bows and Katanas both scale mainly off of Heart and Skill, which makes for a good pairing, especially when you use a Set that benefits both playstyles like Saika’s Yatagarasu. This Set gives you Life Drain, Dodge Ki Reduction Cost, Melee Damage, Reduced Defense Ranged Weapon Hit, and Untouched Ammo +20% so that you can keep on shooting without running out of Arrows as quickly. What more could you ask for?

The way this Build works is that you will be picking off enemies with your Bow, healing yourself for a good amount of Health if you hit them in the head. Once you’ve isolated your tough Yokai you’ll begin by attacking the weakspot with a Bow in order to reduce its defenses and drain a fair amount of Ki. Then you’ll bait attacks from the enemy until you have an opening and then have at it. Katanas have a very defensive style of play because they lack the range that other weapons do, so you will always want to react to the enemy when engaged, and not play aggressively.

Agile Archer Stats

The main Stats for this Build are Heart and Skill, but you’ll also need some Constitution in order to meet the requirements for armor, and you’ll be wearing Light Armor so extra Health doesn’t hurt. Heart is going to increase your Ki, and damage with Sword and Bow. Skill will boost your damage with both of these two, and also give you more Ki back when you Ki Pulse, along with a bunch of other bonuses. You can put a few points into Dexterity as well to get some more Ninjutsu Capacity, but don’t place too many as it isn’t needed all that much.

Agile Archer Weapons, Armor & Accessories

Because your main Stats for this Build are Heart and Skill, it makes a lot of sense to use a Katana, since it scales off of both. You can also use Dual Swords because they scale off these as well, though I’ll only be covering the Katana in this guide.

Agile Archer Weapons

The Katana you want to use for this Build is either going to be the Haccho Nenbutsu, which is a part of Saika’s Yatagarasu Set, or any Katana that you really like the bonuses on. You will need the Haccho Nenbutsu regardless, however, as it will need to be equipped in your second slot minimally in order to get all 6 bonuses of this Set. Mantra Sword and Tengu Slayer are both solid choices as they both can be crafted and provide excellent bonuses, but you might want to use a Yokai Katana if you can find a good one.

Bonuses you want on your Katana are +% Melee Damage, +% Ki Damage, and any other bonuses that benefit Mid Stance as that is what you will use primarily for this Build. You do use High Stance some, but not often, so it would be better to favor Mid Stance. Avoid Active Skill Damage bonuses until you’ve unlocked some good Skills later on in the game that drop from Bosses.

When it comes to your Ranged Weapons you’ll need to put the Ravenwing Rifle in one slot in order to get all the bonuses from Saika’s Yatagarasu Set, and in the other slot you’ll place your Bow. You’ll want to prioritize damage on this Bow, but it’s ideal to find one that has Bow Speed on it because you’ll want to use it mid combat. One of the benefits of the Saika’s Yatagarasu Set is that it allows you to target the weakspot immediately when aiming at an enemy, which allows you to find your mark faster. However, without Bow Speed on it you will likely still miss if you just fire immediately so this helps tremendously. Be on the look out for a Bow with this bonus on it, or try to Temper one onto a Bow you like if you can. Other Bonuses you want are Ranged Damage, Bow Damage (Close Range), Untouched Ammo, or any other Bonuses that increase your damage in some way. Enemy debuffs are also good, like those that slow Movement or lower Defense.

Agile Archer Armor

For Armor you’ll be using the Yatagarasu Armor, which is the Saika’s Yatagarasu Set. This provides benefits to both Ranged and Melee combat, and we’ll be doing both so that’s ideal. You’ll want all 5 pieces of this, which means you will likely have to farm the Pervading Waters Mission a couple of times to get pieces, and several more times if you want Exotic versions of it. You want to look for Untouched Ammo if at all possible on these Armor pieces, because you want to reuse your Arrows as much as possible.

Agile Archer Accessories

Accessories are a bit of a strange mix in Nioh 2, and you might find that you’ll use something you didn’t think you would, just because it’s available here and you rarely find the perfect Accessory. For instance, I like to use one that has Enemy Sensor so that I am not ambushed, and instead I can setup ambushes of my own. I cannot understate how valuable this one bonus is, and you might wish to sacrifice other great bonuses just to have an Accessory with it. Ideally though, you’d also have bonuses that give you Untouched Ammo or increase Bow or Ranged Damage.

Agile Archer Skills

Where to place your Skill Points is a vital part of making any Build in Nioh 2 work, and in this section we’ll take a look at the things you need to create the Agile Archer Build. Since all Nioh 2 players use Samuari Skills, let’s begin there before we take a look at Katana, Shifting and Ninjutsu Skills.

Agile Archer Samurai Skills

You’re going to be using Mid and High Stances for this Build, so you want to take Ki Pulse: Heaven, Running Water: Heaven, Ki Pulse: Man, and Running Water: Man for sure. One great thing about this Build is that by taking these you can Purify Yokai Realm without having to Ki Pulse the traditional way, but can instead do so by Dodging.

Next you’ll want to max Bowmaster, and then take Quivermaker for more Damage and Ammo. From this point forward you’ll be dumping your points into Deadly Eye in order to boost Bow Damage even further. I don’t know how high it goes, but I’ve placed 15 points into it and I can keep going.

Agile Archer Katana Skills

The first thing you want to do with this Skill Tree is make for Swallow’s Wing on the right-hand side to get you an extra hit in your combos, and one that will move you backwards to safety. Once you get Swallow’s Wing II you can flip backward, giving you more spacing and it just looks really awesome. Pick up Flowing Shadow and learn when to use it. It’s great to get behind enemies and what I really like about it is that it works well with the defensive nature of the Build. This is because it is used while holding Block, so you can do it nearly instantly after you Block an attack by just pressing Triangle while Blocking.

There are tons of good passives in this tree and you’ll want to get Relentless first to increase your Ki and then work on things that increase your damage. There’s passives all over the tree that are pretty self explanatory, so get these when you can. Additionally, I like to take the skill Haze as it allows you to Parry and is mapped to a different button than Triangle while Blocking. Katanas can be hard to use against Human enemies sometimes, so it’s not bad to have another tool to use.

Agile Archer Shifting Skills

When it comes to Shifting Skills you’ll want The Yokai Within and The Dark Within to help with Ki Recovery when fighting Yokai or in the Dark Realm. Special Finesse: Invigorate will increase your Ki Recovery after using a Burst Counter, and Special Finesse: Refresh will replenish a ton of Ki after performing one, so be sure to get these when you can. Everything else is completely optional.

Agile Archer Ninja Skills

There are only a few Jutsus that work well with this Build and those are Tiger-running, Poison Arrows, and Stun Arrows. You can never have enough speed with this Build so Tiger-running is great. Poison Arrows help with hard to kill Yokai and Bosses and should be used only in such cases. Stun Arrows are great for Co Op where you can assist your fellows by Paralyzing an enemy, allowing them to gangbang it. Also, the passive Frugality will help with your Ammo by returning some to you that you use up.

Agile Archer Guardian Spirits

Guardian Spirits play a pretty large role with most builds, particularly when you are min/maxing. For this Build I recommend a Feral Guardian type for the added mobility, because its Burst Counter can be used as a dodge in addition to the Counter mechanic, but you can use any type.

I suggest beginning with Ame-no-Mitori. This Guardian Spirit increases your Running Speed and Ki Recovery Speed, both of which are excellent for this Build. Divine Rice can be used to trade for items at Shrines, which is nice, but not a must have. It’s not necessary to unlock the Lightning Damage. You can also use Usura-Hicho for the Ranged Hit Bonus to Anima, Life Recovery on Purification (which you do a lot), and the Dodge Ki Consumption -10%.

Agile Archer Soul Cores

There are three Soul Cores that I really like for this Build and they are: Skeletion Warrior Soul Core, Namahage Soul Core, and Flying Bolt Soul Core. You won’t have these last two when you start putting this Build together, but it shouldn’t be long before you get them.

Skeleton Warrior Soul Core gives you Anima when you attack with a Ranged Weapon and Hit, which is nice. Additionally, it can be used as a Ranged Attack mid fight which helps out a lot when you can’t always get out your Bow.

Namahage Soul Core increases your damage against enemies that have no Ki, which is when you tend to do a lot of burst damage, so you want to hit hard when this is happening. It also has a pretty wicked Skill that stabs forward in a line.

Flying Bolt Soul Core gives you Anima when you attack with a Ranged Weapon and Hit, and slows Movement of enemies hit by Ranged Weapons. These are perfect for what we are trying to do. The Yokai Ability is not great, so use one of the other two instead.

Agile Archer Pledges

There are really only a couple good Clans for this Build. First is Mohri, and this Clan increases your Bow Damage by +20% and max arrows by +2, which is great for this Build. The second one I can recommend is Nanbu which gives you more Life on Ranged Weapon Hit and increased Melee Damage when at full Health. Which you use will depend on how much you use the Bow, vs how much you use the Katana.

Final Tips

Because of the Auto-Target Weak Point and Bow Speed bonuses, you’ll be able to use your Bow in combat effectively. It works best in situations where you are out numbered and you need to pick off weaker enemies, so try to use it then most. Or, you want to use ammo to debuff Bosses or Yokai, or even set Poison for some additional damage. Learn to use your Arrows smartly, and only when necessary.

Try to use your Rifle to pick off enemies from far away, and conserve your Arrows for close ranged combat if possible. You cannot raise your Rifle and fire as quickly as a Bow, so they are much much harder to use in Melee Combat. Use Rifle at range, use Bow when you can lock on.

When attacking with your Katana use Swallow’s Wing when you need to back up to get in some extra damage and put you out of harms way. You don’t have to complete your whole combo to use it, so if you can only get in 1 or 2 hits, then use it immediately after and then Dodge again to ensure you are safe. This will also likely Purify at the same time, whether you meant to or not, so it’s win/win.

Lastly, if you find you are using more Katana and you don’t use the Bow that much you can use 4 pieces of the Triumph of Tranquility Set and 4 pieces of the Saika’s Yatagarasu Set to maximize your Katana performance. To do this you need the Rifle, Dual Swords and 2 Armor pieces of the Saika’s Yatagarasu Set, and 3 Armor pieces and the Sword of the Triumph of Tranquility Set.


Stay tuned for more Nioh 2 Guides, including Builds and Weapon Guides, and be sure to check out our Review for our thoughts on the game. If you need further help, head over to the Nioh 2 Wiki, and don’t be afraid to add information that might help others out!

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Senior Editor at Fextralife. I enjoy gaming, playing and watching sports, cooking yummy food, watching a good movie and hanging out with Fex.

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