Last updated on March 19th, 2020
In this Nioh 2 Build Guide I’m going to show you how to play as an agile dual swordsman that uses Ninjutsu to compliment his Skill. 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: Water Swordsman (Dual Swords)
The Water Swordsman uses a combination of quick and powerful attacks to quickly get in and out of combat and deal high damage without being struck. Ninjutsu also plays a significant roll in this Build because it allows us to soften enemies at range, and to buff our own Ki Recovery so that we can keep up the offense.
The general strategy with this Build is to have the initiative when facing an opponent and then switching to a defensive playstyle. Using light armor provides high speed, dodge and Ki Recovery that all work together with our fast attacks and high Ki Pool. Wait for the enemy to attack, dodge, strike back dealing lots of damage, dodge backwards and repeat. Water Sword is used on enemies to stagger then when needed and deals incredible damage.
Water Swordsman Stats
Dual Swords scale primarily with Skill so this will be our main stat for this Build. Skill also unlocks most Light Armor special effects, and slightly improves our Ninjutsu power, making our jutsu skills more powerful. Additionally, it increases our Bows and Rifles damage allowing us to kill most enemies with a headshot.
The other Stats you want to focus on are Heart and Dexterity. Heart increases the maximum amount of Ki and bow damage. Having a large Ki pool is essential, because it allows you to increase the number of Blocks, Dodges and Attacks that can be performed before you must disengage to recover. If your Ki pool is low, you will be able to Block or Dodge but you won’t be able to strike back, which is a crucial part of this Build.
Dexterity increases the power and capacity of your Ninjutsu abilities, allowing us to carry more and deal more damage with them. This is last in terms of priority because while we use them in combat, we use Ninjutsu more for buffing than dealing damage, and so is an augment not a staple for this Build.
Water Swordsman Weapons, Armor & Accessories
Because this Build focuses on Skill the ideal weapon for this Build is the Dual Swords, and the whole build revolves around that. Light Armor is also the best choice here so that you can move quickly and conserve Ki.
Water Swordsman Weapons
You will use Dual Swords for this build but you can have a Kusarigama as a second weapon if you want to fight from a distance in a particular fight. You can also have two different Dual Swords for different Stances. For example the Mino Dual Uchigatana lowers the Low Attack Ki Consumption while the Mino Dual Tachi increases the High Attack Damage. You can swap the weapon according to the stance you are using if you find a good pair this way.
When selecting your Dual Swords you will want to prioritize Damage and Ki consumption. Damage will increase the amount of damage per hit but Ki Consumption will determine how many hits you can perform while saving some to Dodge backwards and recover. Both are good so you’ll want both if possible.
Another important thing to consider is the Stance that you are using the most. I personally like to use the High Stance as it provides the highest damage in the shortest time, but some enemies have very quick recovery times and you will want to use the mid-stance or low-stance to deal with them. You can search for Special Effects that focus on only one stance and use that weapon for that stance. High Attack Ki consumption, High Attack Damage, Mid guard Ki consumption, etc. Remember that you can have two different sets of dual swords one for each stance.
For Ranged Weapons you can either go with the Bow and Cannon to get maximum ammo or Rifle and Cannon to maximize damage. The rifle can one shot almost anything with a headshot thanks to the Skill scaling, while providing mobility when aiming. Having this mobility allows you to dodge and incoming arrow and fire back a ranged enemy. The cannon can be used to deal massive damage and start a fight from a distance with difficult enemies.
Water Swordsman Armor
For armor, you will want to focus on Special Effects and not in armor. You’ll want to search for: Dash Ki consumption and things that Increase your Ninjitsu. You can also search for Untouched Ninjutsu, Ammo or Elixirs as these are just generally good bonuses. Some good early sets for this build are:
- Servant of the Gods: The untouched Sacred Water allows you to spam it maximizing your Ki Recovery. It also reduces the damage taken from yokai and allows you to heal by using Purification.
- Yokai Slayer: If you find yourself having problems with Yokai, this set provides you with Stealth against them, allow you to initiate with a powerful backstab. It also increases the damage vs Yokai and gives you Life Drain when you perform a melee kill.
- The Vicissitudes of Life: This set is great as it provides you with a solid +50 Ki with 3 pieces. It also lowers the active skill Ki consumption which benefits Water Sword, increases Melee damage vs Yokai and with a full set it provides Auto-Life Recovery by performing purification.
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.
Water Swordsman Accessories
Accessories in Nioh 2 are mostly a personal choice based on your playstyle. For example, you may want the Kodama Sensor if you are looking for them or the Enemy sensor to avoid an ambush on a new zone. If you are farming having two accessories with Auto-Grave Recovery is a great option because if you die you will mostly likely recover both the amrita and soul cores. Treasure Sensor is also great for farming.
For this build I recommend having the Pipe as it provides additional Ki and either of the white and black Fans as they provide Ki Recovery, but you can go with whatever makes sense for you. Ninjutsu Power is also not bad to look for.
Water Swordsman 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 Water Swordsman Build. Since all Nioh 2 players use Samurai Skills, let’s begin there before we take a look at Dual Swords, Ninjutsu, Onmyo and Shifting 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.
The Damage Boost: Skill is a Custom Active Skill that increases the damage of an Active Skill based on your Skill attribute. As we are using Skill as our core stat I would recommend getting this as soon as you can and placing it on the skill that you use the most. Water Sword and Cherry Blossom are the Skills I recommend for this Build, so it should be these.
Additionally, there are a couple of bonuses that increase your Arrow and Ammo capacities for these weapons. 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.
There is a huge variety of Ninja offensive skills. Some of them are generic and can be used on most enemies like the Gunpowder Bomb and Shuriken while others deal elemental damage, like the Shadow Arts: Raijin, Shadow Arts: Flaming Heron and Shadow Arts: Yaroka Water. These elemental skills can be very useful to deal with specific enemies that we you having trouble with.
I recommend starting up with Gunpower Bomb so you can start gaining Skill Points in Ninjutsu. From there you can move to any of the Shadow Arts I mentioned above. I also recommend getting the Sneak Attack and Sneak Thief as soon as you can. These will allow you to initiate fights with a Backstab, dealing a lot of damage and increasing your loot.
The Dual Swords skills distribution depends on what stance you are using the most. I recommend starting off with the High Stance and getting Water Sword and Cherry Blossom. Water Stance is great for enemies that have they Ki depleted. It deals very high damage and will continually stagger them until they recover their Ki. Cherry Blossom is great as it jumps to the enemy at the end of the combo, reaching enemies that would usually dodge backwards.
The Mid-Stance branch provides you with good Block bonuses and counter strikes, but it is really only useful against Human enemies. The Random Slice skill can be very good to close the distance to an enemy while dealing damage.
For passive skills you’ll want the following:
- Relentless: Increases your maximum Ki while wielding dual swords. This is a must as it increase the amount of actions you can perform.
- Momentum: It is one of the best passive skills as it reduces the amount of Ki you are using while you attack.
- Melee Mastery: It increases your damage while wielding dual swords. Can be leveled up three times.
- Defense Arts: Increases your Ki recovery speed while Blocking. This is very useful for boss fights.
- Passage to the Afterlife and Armor Piercer: These two are very good for finishing up enemies when you deplete their Ki.
- Tachi Arts and Full Moon Kata: They both increase your melee damage against enemies while you and your enemy are at full health. This combines very good with the Sign of the Cross Attack to start a fight upfront.
- Shadow Strike: Increases the damage dealt to enemies from behind. This is very good if you are dodging and then striking enemies from the back.
Even if we are not focusing in Onmyo magic I strongly recommend getting the Barrier Talisman. This talisman greatly increase the Ki Recovery speed and automatically dispels Yokai Realm pools by walking or running over them. This can be used before a Yokai or Boss fight to maximize your fighting capabilities. Using this Talisman will also allow you to train your Onmyo Magic Skill Points and Onmyo Magic power if you every want to change your build with this character.
Shiftling Skills are a personal choice but I want to point out the Arcana of Lightning custom active skill. This allows you to imbue an active skill with the lightning element. Ame-no-mitori has a passive that increases your lightning damage so this opens up the possibility to match this with some skills like Water Sword, Cherry Blossom or Sign of the Cross.
You’ll also 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.
Water Swordsman 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 in addition to the Counter mechanic.
The first option is 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, but it can be a bonus if you are using Lightning Talismans, Shadow Arts: Raijin or the Arcana of Lightning custom active skill.
The second option is Shirohami. The Anima while Blocking is very good for boss fights and the life drain when you perform a kill can help a lot with surviveability. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other good choices earlier on in the game.
Water Swordsman Soul Cores
Soul Cores are new to Nioh 2 and help further flesh out your build by adding new Skills as well as bonuses. For your first Soul Core a good option is the One-eyed Oni which increases your Strong attack damage and your break. You can use the skill to finish up an opponent if you run out of Ki or want to finish a combo. For your second Sole Core I personally like the Enki Soul Core as it provides a strong ranged skill for a low Anima cost. This can be very useful to drop an enemy that is out of Ki from a distance if you are not within melee range. You can also use it to avoid damage from certain attacks. Prioritize Soul Cores with more Attack if possible.
When you find an enemy, think of how you want to approach it. If you can sneak behind him start with a Backstab. If it’s facing you but immobile you may want to fire with your ranged weapon to its head. And, if its patrolling you may wont to start the fight with the Sign of the Cross skill. Learn to use what tools you have and approach each fight in the manner that suites it best.
Swap Stances for quicker enemies. If you are fighting a quick enemy you may want to change to Mid or Low Stance to perform shorter combos and stay safe. Remember that there is no rush and you can take your time between encounters. It’s better to use the right Stance for the job then force through one that doesn’t work as well.
Be aggressive against enemies that are about out of Ki. If an enemy is low on Ki, it usually advisable to extend your combo to deplete his Ki and perform a Grapple or Final Blow even if it means you’ll run out of Ki. This is because you can often finish enemies with these moves, and you can recover while they are getting up if you do not.
Your Ninja Skills come into play when you are having trouble with a particular enemy or boss. Wait for the enemy to attack, dodge and then use them to deal some damage. Don’t be afraid to spam them as they usually stagger the enemy. Remember that you can swap them at the shrine to adapt to any situation. Save these for tougher situations when you need a little something extra to get you through.
Remember to Block. You can roll and dodge with your Block up without any penalties. This is very important because if an enemy attacks you and you don’t dodge in time, the guard will prevent the damage and give you the opportunity to jump back and recover.
Lastly, keep an eye on your Ki bar and remember that you don’t always need to finish your combo. Sometimes it’s better to only hit the enemy two times and retreat to safety than finishing a combo to end up being killed because you ran out of Ki to dodge or couldn’t stagger them.
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!