Analysis by Redarrix
Death Knight - The Reaper

Hero Stats

Max Avg Total Stats at Lvl 40
HP 40
ATK 35
SPD 25
DEF 30
RES 27

Stat Variations

Level 1 Stat Variation
Low 17 8 5 7 4
Middle 18 9 6 8 5
High 19 10 7 9 6

Level 40 Stat Variations
Low 36 32 22 26 23
Middle 40 35 25 30 27
High 43 38 29 33 30

IV Sets

Key stats worth increasing through nature if possible.
Complementary stats that matter, but not to the point of picking them over key stats for nature increase.
Relatively worthless stat that can safely be decreased through nature.

This unit requires use of Trait Fruits to get access to IVs

Skill Sets

Do Fear The Reaper (General Tank)

Build by
Scythe of Sariel A Distant Counter
Alternate: Steady Stance (3 or 4)
Reposition B Quick Riposte 3
Alternate: Guard 3
Alternate: Sol
C Close Guard 3


SDistant Def 3
Alternate: Quick Riposte 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Scythe of Sariel 

  • Scythe of Sariel is a potentially powerful tool depending on the enemy team that Death Knight is facing.

  • As long as the opponents are receiving buffs, Death Knight will get to enjoy debuffing all of their stats and being safe from enemy follow-up attacks.

  • Without the opponents receiving buffs, Scythe of Sariel will act as a simple 16 might Slaying Lance.

Assist: Reposition / Player Preference  

Special: Bonfire / Luna / Sol

  • Bonfire, Luna, and Sol will all make for great options for the Special. With Scythe of Sariel reducing all of them to two cooldown, they will all activate with great consistency on Enemy Phase.

  • Bonfire is based on the amount of Defense that Death Knight has, Luna will halve the Defense of the opponent, and Sol will heal for half of the damage dealt.

Passive A: Distant Counter / Steady Stance (3 or 4)

  • Distant Counter is the go-to A slot of choice. With it, Death Knight will be able to retaliate against ranged foes such as mages and archers.

  • Steady Stance 4 is another great choice of A slot that will not only provide Death Knight with a lot of Defense when attacked but also a Guard effect which prevents the enemy from charging their Special.

  • On a budget, Steady Stance 3 can also be a good option for a strong Defense boost.

Passive B: Quick Riposte / Mystic Boost / Guard / Renewal

  • Quick Riposte will allow Death Knight to make a follow-up attack whenever he is above 70% HP on Enemy Phase. This will be a huge boost to his offensive power due to his low Speed making it difficult for him to perform follow-up attacks naturally.

  • Mystic Boost can be another great option, healing him for six HP after combat and negating the effect of adaptive damage and Wrathful Staff.

  • Guard is a cheaper but still strong option. This prevents the enemy from gaining Special charge and negating the bonus gained from skills such as Heavy Blade whenever above 80% HP. Guard should not be used with Steady Stance 4.

  • Renewal is a cheap but good option that provides Death Knight with some healing every other turn.

Passive C: Close Guard / Cavalry Buff / Player Preference

  • Close Guard is Death Knight’s default C slot skill and will be a fine option to keep on him, allowing any ally near him to be stronger defensively against melee threats.

  • If alongside other cavalry units, a Cavalry buff such as Hone Cavalry can also be a fine option.

Sacred Seal: Distant Def / Quick Riposte / Fierce Stance

  • Distant Def makes for a great Sacred Seal choice, allowing Death Knight to be stronger defensively against ranged threats.

  • If Quick Riposte is not being used in the B slot, one can opt for using the Quick Riposte Sacred Seal instead to gain the same effect.

  • Fierce Stance can be another good choice, granting Death Knight with an Attack boost on Enemy Phase.

Heretic Blood (Aether Raids Defensive)

Build by
Scythe of Sariel A Fury (3 or 4)
Reposition B Lull Atk/Def 3
Alternate: Guard 3
Alternate: Escutcheon
C Close Guard 3


SDarting Blow 3
Alternate: Speed +3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Scythe of Sariel 

  • For Aether Raids Defense, Scythe of Sariel can prove to be quite the oppressive weapon.

  • Because it activates based on Death Knight’s opponent having visible buffs, attackers will have to choose between having no buffs and not letting Death Knight activate his weapon or use buffs and have to face a more powerful Death Knight.

Assist: Reposition / Player Preference / No Assist

  • For sets specifically designed to be used on Aether Raids defense, choosing an Assist is a tricky task as there is the turn order of the AI to take into consideration. Reposition is a good choice of Assist for Death Knight as it can allow him to pull back the offensive units on the defense team to safety.

  • While it may seem strange to leave a skill slot empty, having no Assist could be a very real option. Leaving Death knight’s Assist slot empty can manipulate the AI into choosing him to attack first in cases where no units in range can KO or deal more than five damage. In cases such as this, having Death Knight attack first will often be beneficial.

Special: Moonbow / Escutcheon

  • Moonbow is a good offensive option for Special thanks to its low cooldown of two that is reduced to just one by Scythe of Sariel.

  • For utility, Escutcheon can also be a good Special option. Since it will also have a cooldown of one with Scythe of Sariel, Death Knight will instantly charge it after he makes his first attack (so long as the enemy doesn’t have a Guard effect) and now he will be further protected from attacks, making him harder to defeat.

Passive A: Fury (3 or 4) 

  • Fury is a great A slot choice that boosts Death Knight’s all around combat capabilities.

  • While Fury 4 is a stronger option than Fury 3, it is a much more expensive option. Fury 3 can work well on a budget.

Passive B: Lull Atk/Def / Guard / Wings of Mercy

  • While using a Lull skill may seem like a strange option for Death Knight since he wants enemies to be buffed for his weapon, it actually works well here. 

    • Given attackers in Aether Raids will typically buff all the stats they can regardless, Lull Atk/Def is less likely to negate Scythe of Sariel’s ability to activate. If the attacker chooses to not utilize buffs, then Lull Atk/Def will still offer benefit through debuffing the Attack and Defense of whoever Death Knight attacks.

  • Guard is a good budget option that prevents attackers from more easily utilizing their Specials through preventing them from gaining charge and negating the effects of skills such as Heavy Blade.

  • For certain defense teams, Wings of Mercy could be a very strong B slot option. If one can guarantee that Death Knight would safely reach below half HP, this can set up a trap where other offensive units move adjacent to Death Knight and attacking the attacker’s team.

Passive C: Close Guard / Player Preference 

  • Close Guard is the default C slot that Death Knight comes with and is a fine choice to keep if one doesn’t want to switch it out. This will make any of Death Knight’s nearby allies more resistant to melee range attacks.

  • Outside of this, there’s a wide range of C slot skills that can make for great options. Drive Atk in particular is one example as it can help allies that are near him to finish off attackers.

Sacred Seal: Darting Blow / Speed +3

  • Darting Blow is Death Knight’s optimal Sacred Seal for this set. This is not to try and make Death Knight perform a follow-up, but more to prevent enemy follow-up. In combination with Fury, Death Knight can become tricky to naturally perform a follow-up against without the attacker receiving Speed buffs, in which case Scythe of Sariel will activate anyway. This makes him even trickier for the attacker to deal with.

  • If Darting Blow is being utilized elsewhere, then using a Speed +3 Seal is the next best choice.


Good Stat Spread

Death Knight benefits from an overall good stat spread. Offensively speaking, he has a solid 35 Attack which makes him strong on the attack. Defensive, he has a strong 40 HP, 30 Defense, and 27 Resistance which makes him tricky to take down, especially when Scythe of Sariel activates.

Scythe of Sariel

Scythe of Sariel is Death Knight’s personal weapon. While functioning like a Slaying Lance by reducing Special cooldown length, it also debuffs the foe in all stats and prevents them from performing follow-up attacks. However, this debuff and prevention of follow-up attacks only occur when the opponent has a visible buff or movement buff present.


Scythe of Sariel Requirements

The requirement Scythe of Sariel has is by far Death Knight’s greatest hindrance. The reliance on the opponent being buffed makes it inconsistent as best as it’s very easy to be facing enemy AI that are not buffed. This severely limits Death Knight’s usability in many PvE centric game modes.

One place where this requirement is less of a hindrance and arguably more of a benefit is when Death Knight is used on an Aether Raids defense team as he can act as a great deterrence to any attacker that relies on visible buffs.

Low Speed

The one main weak point in Death Knight’s stat line is his Speed stat of 25. When Scythe of Sariel is not active, his low Speed makes it easy to perform follow-up attacks against him. Furthermore, he is reliant on skills such as Quick Riposte in order to ensure he achieves follow-up attacks.

Weapon Skills

Weapons SP Rng. Mt.
Iron Lance
Learns by default at 1 ★
Unlocks at 1 ★
Lance Users Only
50 1 6
Steel Lance
Learns by default at 3 ★
Unlocks at 2 ★
Lance Users Only
100 1 8
Silver Lance
Learns by default at 4 ★
Unlocks at 3 ★
Lance Users Only
200 1 11
Scythe of Sariel

Accelerates Special trigger (cooldown count-1).

If a bonus granted by a skill like Rally or Hone and/or extra movement granted by a skill like Armor March or Armored Boots is active on foe, grants Atk/Spd/Def/Res+4 to unit during combat and foe cannot make a follow-up attack.

Learns by default at 5 ★
Unlocks at 5 ★
Non-Inheritable skill.
400 1 16
Weapon Evolution
Weapon Upgrades
Weapon Upgrades

Special Skills

Special Skills SP Turns
Rising Flame

Before combat this unit initiates, foes in an area near target take damage equal to (unit's Atk minus foe's Def or Res).

Learns by default at 4 ★
Unlocks at 3 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
150 4
Blazing Flame

Before combat this unit initiates, foes in an area near target
take damage equal to 1.5 x (unit's ATK minus foe's Def or Res).

Unlocks at 4 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
300 4

Passive Skills

Passive Skills SP Slot
Escape Route 1

If unit's HP ≤ 30%, unit can move to a space adjacent to any ally.

Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 3 ★
Escape Route 2

If unit's HP ≤ 40%, unit can move to a space adjacent to any ally.

Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 4 ★
Escape Route 3

If unit's HP ≤ 50%, unit can move to a space adjacent to any ally.

Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 5 ★
Close Guard 1

Allies within 2 spaces gain: "If foe uses sword, lance, axe, dragonstone, or beast damage, grants Def/Res+2 during combat."

Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 1 ★
Close Guard 2

Allies within 2 spaces gain: "If foe uses sword, lance, axe, dragonstone, or beast damage, grants Def/Res+3 during combat."

Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 2 ★
Close Guard 3

Allies within 2 spaces gain: "If foe uses sword, lance, axe, dragonstone, or beast damage, grants Def/Res+4 during combat."

Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 4 ★

Other Info

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

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