Nioh 2 Builds: Poisonous Shinobi (Kusarigama)

Last updated on March 19th, 2020

In this Nioh 2 Build Guide I’m going to show you how to play as a stealthy Ninja that uses Poison to deal increased damage to enemies, or as I like to call it the Poisonous Shinobi Build. I’ll be showing you where to place your Stat 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 Build meant for players just beginning Nioh 2, or for those that are early on in the 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: Poisonous Shinobi (Kusarigama)

The Poisonous Shinobi Build uses a combination of Stealth, good Agility and Poison to take down enemies one by one without getting into situations where you are outnumbered. Ninjutsu plays a big role in this Build because it allows you to weaken and damage enemies at range which is a must since you will be wearing some of the lightest Armor in the game, and do not want to get hit.

The general strategy with this Build is to pick off weaker targets at range with a Bow or Rifle, and then Poison the stronger Yokai before engaging them in combat. By using the Yatsu-no-Kami Soul Core you’ll gain a huge increase in Melee Damage against Poisoned enemies, helping you to finish them off more quickly. This is an extremely offensive Build, that relies on mobility to get out of melee range once you’ve pulled off your combos.

Poisonous Shinobi Stats

Because Ninjutsu is scaled mostly off Dexterity, and is a huge focus of this Build, you will need a decent amount of Dexterity in order to get the most from these Jutsus. It should be your primary Core Stat, and the highest value you have. Additionally, because you will be using ranged weapons to pick off enemies you will need a good amount of Skill. Skill increases the damage of both Bows and Rifles, and a tiny bit to Ninjutsu, so is the best use of Stat Points behind Dexterity. I like to keep Dexterity and Skill fairly close together, with Skill lagging just a bit behind. Putting a couple of points into Constitution to gain some more Health is also not a bad idea, but you shouldn’t need many.

Poisonous Shinobi Weapons, Armor & Accessories

Because you will have a ton of points invested into Dexterity and Skill it makes sense to use Weapons that scale off of these. I personally really like the Kusarigama for this Build, and that’s what I’m going to cover in this Build Guide, but you can also use Dual Swords or Hatchets if you’d prefer. Kusarigama scales off of both Dexterity and Skill, so gains the most scaling from this sort of setup, and it has an amazing moveset in my opinion.

Poisonous Shinobi Weapons

When selecting a Kusarigama to use it’s important that you prioritize the damage on the weapon above all else. That means the passive Special Effects might be worse, but if your overall damage is higher you should use it anyway. Be sure to place any weapons that have higher potential damage in your second slot, so that you can swap over to them when you have maxed Familiarity and they outperform your current weapon.

Bonuses you want to look for on your Kusarigama are anything that benefits High Attack such as High Attack Damage, or High Attack Ki Reduction Cost. This is because this stance is the one you will use most with this Build, and it is much easier to find then something like just Melee Damage. Grapple Damage or Final Blow Damage are also good, since you will be doing these often, and Break is not bad either.

You’ll also want a Rifle and Bow to take advantage of both Ammo types you’ll find through out the game, and to be able to pick off more enemies at range. Both of these weapons scale off of Dexterity and Skill, which is ideal for this Build. Surprisingly, the Rifle though extremely loud, does not aggro enemies much more often than a Bow when shooting a target that is close to others, so we can use it to great effect as well. On these Weapons you just want to focus on things that maximize damage per shot such as Bullseye Bonus, Familiarity Bonus, Ranged Damage, etc. You won’t be using these once combat begins, so just assume all shots fired will be headshots.

Poisonous Shinobi Armor

Armor wise you’ll be focusing primarily on Ninjutsu Power to boost the effectiveness of your thrown items, but other things to look out for are Shuriken & Kunai Damage, Stealth, Untouched Ninjutsu and Untouched Ammo. These are mostly self explanatory, but Untouched Ninjutsu and Ammo will give you a chance to refund the item on use, so that you can use them more between Shrines. Of the bonuses listed, they are the least important, but an ideal piece of Armor would have all 5 bonuses listed. You can also use 2 Pieces of Golden Boy, when you get it, to increase your Bow Damage by 20%. It’s a Heavy Armor set, so try to use the Bow and Sword in your secondary slot to gain this if possible. Note that Armor has Stat requirements and you may need to place a few points outside of what I mentioned in the Stats section to gain the benefits from the Armor.

Poisonous Shinobi 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 increase your Ninjutsu Power, and the Writing Set Accessory will always come with this bonus, so be on the lookout for it. You can also find Shuriken and Kunai Damage on Accessories, so that is also a great choice.

Poisonous Shinobi 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 Poisonous Shinobi Build. Since all Nioh 2 players use Samuari Skills, let’s begin there before we take a look at Kusarigama and Ninjutsu Skills.

Poisonous Shinobi Samurai Skills

In the Samurai Skill tree you’ll want to focus mostly on the top and left-hand side of the tree. Here you’ll find bonuses that increase your damage when you Ki Pulse in High Stance, as well as those that increase your Bow and Rifle Damage. Additionally, there are a couple of bonuses that increase your Arrow and Ammo capacities for these weapons, just be sure to avoid Hand Cannon as you won’t be using it. Deadly Eye can be taken many many times to increase your damage with both Bows and Rifles, and you’ll want to place extra points here, but to my knowledge it does not increase Shuriken or Kunai damage.

Poisonous Shinobi Ninja Skills

When you first start out you want to focus on gaining some ranged attacks here, so pick up Shuriken and Kunai right away, and max out their ranks for increased carrying capacity and damage. Once you have these then you’ll move down to the bottom of the tree and grab Tiger-running Scrolls which you won’t really use, but is needed to get deeper into the tree. Then grab Sneak Attack to be able to backstab enemies, which you will do often. After that you want to grab Eagle Eye just to unlock Poison Arrows and you want to max that out. Arrows will be the primary method to Poison enemies until you gain Poison Shuriken after completing The Way of the Ninja: Novice.

Once The Way of the Ninja: Novice is completed a lot of great passives will open up and you want to unlock Poison Shuriken quickly, and Shuriken Shooter to throw them faster. Frugality will give you a chance to return some Arrows or Bullets, so is a good way to help keep your stocks higher. Make sure to purchase Arrows or Ammo from the Blacksmith between Missions if you are running low.

Once you complete The Way of the Ninja: Adept you will want to grab Thrown Blade Technique to increase Shuriken Damage, Ninja Tool Mastery to increase capacity, and Snakebite Technique to increase Poison Damage. Then grab Storm Kunai for more projectiles you can toss, which you can never have enough of.

A quick note about Poison Gallnut Broth. We don’t really need it here because you want enemies to be poisoned before they ever get into melee range in order to increase Melee Damage against them from the very first swing. You should kill just about all enemies before Poison wears off, but if it’s about to run out, all you need to do is hit them with another Poison Shuriken and it will extend the duration. This is much safer than trying to get enough melee hits in to set Poison.

Poisonous Shinobi Kusarigama Skills

For this Build you’ll be using the Kusarigama so you’ll be placing many points into that tree. Points are spread around quite a bit here to pick up some good passives, but you want to start out by focusing on the High Stance portion of the tree. Serpent Strike is an amazing skill that allows you to pull many enemies to you, giving you a window to attack freely while dealing damage at the same time. Armor Piercer is a must because you will Break an enemies Ki often, knocking them to the ground, and you want to finish them in one attack at this point if possible, or get them very close. Many of the Skill here are self explanatory, and you’ll be jumping around a good bit picking up all the passives.

Poisonous Shinobi Guardian Spirits

Guardian Spirits play a pretty large role with most builds, particularly when you are min/maxing. For this Build you’ll want a Feral Guardian type for the added mobility, because its Burst Counter can be used as a dodge as well. We rely mainly on Dodging for this Build, so that synergizes nicely. This means you’ll begin the game ideally with Ame-no-Mitori, and 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. We aren’t concerned with Lightning Damage, so you don’t need to unlock this. Conversely, if you don’t wish to use a Feral Guardian, you can take Makami as Melee Attack Ki Consumption -10% and Final Blow Damage +12.5% are both excellent as well.

Unfortunately the only other Guardian Spirit worth considering early on is Shirohami, but it is a Brute Guardian and Poison Accumulation is not that great of bonus. You can usually Poison most enemies in 1 to 2 Shurikens, rendering the 15% increase to build up almost irrelevant as it won’t change those numbers. So you’ll be sticking with either of the above 2 for the better part of the early game.

Poisonous Shinobi Sole Cores

Soul Cores are new to Nioh 2 and help further flesh out your build by adding new Skills as well as bonuses. As mentioned above, the Yatsu-no-Kami Soul Core increases your Melee Damage against Poisoned enemies, and is a key part of making this Build function so it’s a must have. You can farm this Boss over and over to help improve the Soul Core’s bonuses if you so wish, but isn’t absolutely necessary. Try to replace it with a higher level one later in the game to help boost Attack Damage further.

For your second Sole Core there isn’t anything that adds as much value as the one I just mentioned, so you want to focus on finding a Soul Core that does lots of damage, which is the number across from the Sword. This Damage is added to your attack damage, and since this is an offensive build you want to focus on that. Alternatively, you can take the Toxic Slime Soul Core for the Vile Venom ability which can poison enemies, but I like to save my Anima for Burst Counter, so that’s up to you. If you do decide to use it, however, be sure to look for bonuses that give you Anima when you do certain things like Final Blow etc, to help increase the frequency with which you can use this ability.

Poisonous Shinobi Pledges

There are a few Pledges you can use for this Build, once you unlock the Hidden Teahouse. The first is Mohri, which increases Bow Damage by 20% and allows you to carry 2 more Arrows. Bows get harder and harder to one shot enemies as the game progresses, and this can really help prevent the damage from dropping off, as well as giving you a couple extra arrows to shoot.

Takigawa increases Ninjutsu Power by +40, which is excellent and gives you +20% Rifle Ki Damage, which is ok. Because this will benefit all your Ninjutsu it’s worth taking, even if not perfect.

Saito is another decent option. Poison Accumulation isn’t amazing, but doesn’t hurt, but gaining extra melee damage against Strong Enemies is great. This is really where you need to be doing more damage anyway, and 7.0% is not a small amount!

Final Tips

Save your Poison Shurikens for hard to kill Yokai, or Bosses that can be Poisoned. You should learn which these are after some trial and error, and make sure you set the status effect quickly. Much like Dark Souls, enemies will begin losing the Poison Status build up the second after you hit them, so you may have to hit them 2 or 3 times rapidly to set the effect. Both Enki and Tengu for example need multiple Shurikens to do this.

Don’t get near enemies if you don’t have to. You can use the Triangle attack from the High Stance of Kusarigama to range attack enemies and keep out of harms way. It’s a great way to finish off an enemy that’s in a group without getting into melee range where you may be gang banged to death. Also, use your Kunai and Shuriken to finish off enemies that are weak when melee is too dangerous.

Don’t be afraid to spam the fuck out of Shuriken and Kunai into tough to kill enemies like Bosses and Tengu. It’s better to stay back and range them down then get into melee range if you keep dying, and there aren’t usually too many in earlier Missions anyway, so you can usually refill at a Shrine soon after defeating one.

Use the Quick Attack (Square) of High Stance to rapidly deplete an enemies Ki allowing you to Grapple them or Final Blow them if you knock them down. Make sure to Ki Pulse in between combo chains to keep up your Ki, and keep the pressure on if their Ki bar is red. They can constantly be interrupted when this happens, allowing you to spam Square as long as your Ki holds. Try to use your Shurikens and Arrows to reduce and enemy’s Ki before you enter melee range to help facilitate this if necessary.

Lastly, learn the weakspot of each enemy. Many are made easier by knowing this, and can really change the way you play from timid to aggressive. Shooting a One-Eyed Oni in the eye with an arrow for example drops it to its knees creating a great opening for attack, and hitting an Enki’s Horn will drain about 70% of its Ki, allowing you to stun lock them to death, making this Yokai much easier to deal with. These are things you should know regardless of Build, but it helps you tailor the Poisonous Shinobi to each enemy.

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!


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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3 comments on “Nioh 2 Builds: Poisonous Shinobi (Kusarigama)”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Is this build viable at all with medium armor? I know it’s a trade off but a hate feeling so fragile no matter what skills or weapons I’m using.

  2. Avatar Castielle says:

    Yes you can play with Medium Armor, you will just be less agile.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone knows how many skill points it’s possible to spend to kusarigama skill tree? It is possible to have all?

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