Piercing Cold - Aard Build

Piercing Cold - Aard Build - Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

By zanuffas
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This post will cover the best Piercing Cold build in Witcher 3. This is a mutation in the game that upgrades the Aard sign to release a miniature blizzard to either knockdown or freeze enemies in their steps. It is extremely powerful if used correctly, taking out groups of enemies with a few Sign uses.

Piercing Cold - Aard build

As the build name suggests we go all in on the Aard sing and its mutation Piercing Cold. With this, you will be able to release a small blizzard that - damages, knocks down, staggers, and freezes enemies. 4 effects with single-use. Moreover, it will deal at least 10K damage by itself. Not bad?

piercing cold 10k damage witcher 3

That's not all, the Yrden sign will supplement the build. If you decide to wear Griffin Armor set it will boost Sing intensity and stamina regeneration. Moreover, by itself, Yrden will damage constantly damage enemies and slow them down. Sound powerful? There's more

What is magnificent with this build is that you also have Igni Sign, and it is incredibly effective due to the high Sign Intensity the Piercing Cold build does. So in case the enemy is resistant to Aard effects, just us Igni. This also becomes very useful on prolonged fights, where the Piercing Cold effect starts to diminish and you can switch it up with Igni.

witcher 3 aard piercing cold build sign intensity

So let's see how can you reach all of this

The Build is tested on New Game+ and Deathmarch difficulty.

Skills allocation

Here is the skill list for the Aard Piercing Cold build

Before using the build you may want to reset your skills. Witcher 3 allows you to reset skill points with Potion of Clearance. During Blood and Wine DLC, you will get special mutations. You can reset mutations using Potion of Restoration.

piercing cold build skills witcher 3

Name Effect
far reaching aard witcher 3Far-Reaching Aard Increases Aard's range by 3 yard(s).
sustained glyphs witcher 3Sustained Glyphs Increases Sign duration by 10 seconds. Number of alternative mode charges: 9. Number of standard mode traps: 2.
delusion witcher 3 iconDelusion (temporary) Target does not move towards Geralt while he is casting Axii. Increases the effectiveness of Axii in dialogues. Reduces Axii casting time. Failed Axii attempts stagger the target
aard sweep witcher 3Aard Sweep Alternate Sign Mode:
Aard Strikes down all opponents in a certain radius.
magic trap icon witcher 3Magic Trap Alternate Sign Mode:
Damages and slows enemies within a 14-yard radius. Destroys projectiles passing through this area. Damage increased by 50%.
active shield witcher 3Active Shield Alternate Sign Mode:
Maintaining an active shield no longer drains Stamina. The stamina drain for blocked attacks is unchanged. Damage absorbed by the shield restores the player's Vitality.
aard intensity witcher 3Aard Intensity Increases Aard Sign intensity by 30%.
yrden intensity icon witcher 3Yrden Intensity Increases Yrden Sign intensity by 30%.
quen intensity icon witcher 3Quen Intensity Increases Quen Sign intensity by 30%.
shock wave witcher 3Shock Wave Increases the damage dealt by Aard to 300. Damage scales with enemy level
pyromaniac icon witcher 3Pyromaniac Increases the chance to apply Burning by 100%.
supercharged glyphs icon witcher 3Supercharged Glyphs Enemies under the influence of Yrden lose 30 point(s) of Vitality or Essence per second. Damage scales with enemy level and Sign Intensity
heightened tolerance witcher 3Heightened Tolerance Increases potion overdose threshold from 50% to 80%.
acquired tolerance witcher 3Acquired Tolerance Every known level 1, 2, or 3 alchemy formula increases maximum Toxicity by 0.5.
synergy icon witcher 3Synergy Increases bonus for mutagen placed in mutagen slot by 50%.
griffin school techniques witcher 3Griffin School Techniques Each piece of medium armor increases Sign intensity by 5% and Stamina regeneration by 5%.
adrenaline burst witcher 3Adrenaline Burst Increases Adrenaline generation by 5%. Using Signs now generates Adrenaline Points.
piercing cold witcher 3Piercing Cold When the Aard Sign is cast, it additionally has a 30% chance of freezing enemies. This chance scales with your available Adrenaline Points. Enemies knocked down and frozen simultaneously die immediately. Enemies who are not frozen are dealt an additional damage

Detailed Skill Progression

This covers detailed progression for the build as many players will not be high level to have 50+ skill points. So follow the abilities as you progress for maximum effectiveness.

If you are below level 11, I suggest following early game build guides

The big problem with this build is that it only starts to make sense once you get mutations. These are usually unlocked at level 34+. Of course, there are ways to get them easier but this requires you to go to a high-level area of Toussaint very early.

So I will be assuming that you get a Piercing Cold mutation at level 34 with the progression below. This means that some Aard-related skills will be taken later in the game

Order Skill Description
1 delusion witcher 3 iconDelusion This is a great quality of life skill. It will unlock some additional dialogue options. Moreover, they usually provide additional XP. We also need it for progression, later on, once you hit the 12th skill I suggest removing this one
2 sustained glyphs witcher 3Sustained Glyphs It increases the duration of Yrden and will be very useful against early-game wraiths. Moreover, Sustained Glyphs make general melee combat easier.
3 far reaching aard witcher 3Far-Reaching Aard We mostly take this for progression, to unlock the next tier of skills, so just 1 point is enough. However, once you get the Piercing Cold mutation this becomes an extremely important ability. Of course, if you start using Aard early in the game then put all of the points early. The perk will greatly boost Aard's reach making combat much easier.
4 active shield witcher 3Active Shield I cannot stress enough how important this ability is. It provides a sustained Quen shield that restores HP when hit. This is mandatory on Deathmarch difficulty where you have limited options to restore HP
5 aard sweep witcher 3Aard Sweep
or
magic trap icon witcher 3Magic Trap
If you started using Aard, take the Aard Sweep. If not, take Magic Trap. Magic Trap is a good ability but takes fairly long to create, which can cause problems mid-combat
6 heightened tolerance witcher 3Heightened Tolerance At this stage, you should already be able to craft some Decoctions. Ancient Leshen Decoction would be your goal. Moreover, you will be able to use some good potions, so this perk will allow Geralt to chug more of them
7 quen intensity icon witcher 3Quen Intensity This skill will increase Quen intensity resulting in a stronger shield created.
8 yrden intensity icon witcher 3Yrden Intensity Increases the duration of basic and alternative modes. Moreover, increases the damage that it deals once you get the Supercharged Glyphs perk
9 pyromaniac icon witcher 3Pyromaniac I love this ability, especially on high levels. It will give 100% to start burning enemies. This will make most of the foes easy preys in case you cannot use Aard against them
10 supercharged glyphs icon witcher 3Supercharged Glyphs Another powerful skill. It will allow Yrden to deal damage over time. Although not much, it stacks over time, making many of the encounters trivial if you are good at dodging.
11 acquired tolerance witcher 3Acquired Tolerance By getting this skill, we will increase our maximum toxicity. This means that you can chug a second decoction without negative effects and use 1 or 2 potions. I personally just use 1 decoction and then spam 3 potions during a fight if it is a challenging one.
12 adrenaline burst witcher 3Adrenaline Burst For Piercing Cold built, you need adrenaline points. Each one gives additional chance to freeze enemies.
13 magic sensibilities icon witcher 3Magic Sensibilities Although each mutation is costly, we need this one to unlock Piercing Cold
14 piercing cold witcher 3Piercing Cold Now you get the main mutation that you need for this build to come to fruition. It will make Aard look like a miniature Blizzard and freeze enemies in case they are not knocked back.
15 shock wave witcher 3Shock Wave This is a great improvement to Aard. It will provide bonus the damage to Piercing Cold effect
16 aard sweep witcher 3Aard Sweep
or
magic trap icon witcher 3Magic Trap
As previously you went for one of the two, now take the another. At this stage you can unlock Entanglement, so Magic Trap becomes extremely powerful. Otherwise, pick Aard Sweep as it will make Piercing Cold hit enemies in 360 degrees.
17 Any 2 abilities in the Alchemy tree with 3 levels You will need to spend additional 6 points to unlock the next perk
18 synergy icon witcher 3Synergy This is a very powerful ability but it requires 12 point investment into the Alchemy tree. It will greatly boost Sign Intensity on mutagens resulting in much stronger Aard, Igni, and Yrden.

As you can guess, Delusion should be removed at some point in the game to accommodate other late-game skills.

Tactics

In this section, I would like to share some tips on how to best play Piercing Cold build in Witcher 3

Do not rely only on Aard Piercing Cold

Although this sounds contrary to what the build aims to achieve it has one big weakness. Some monsters, especially on high levels have accumulating resistance to it. So using it nonstop will make it do negligible damage to enemies like forktails.

Due to this, always have Yrden, and fight enemies in them. Moreover, include a few Igni Signs, as they have a 100% burn chance with Pyromaniac and can deal decent damage thanks to our high Sign Intensity.

Yrden to control the battlefield

Although we mainly use Igni, Yrden is a mandatory sign. It provides these benefits:

  • Damages enemies (with Supercharged Glyphs upgrade)
  • Slows them down

Once you get Grandmaster Griffin Set with 6 pieces:

  • Increases stamina regeneration
  • Boosts Sign Intensity by 100%
  • Decreases damage taken

With these bonuses having Yrden all the time is mandatory. It will also give more time to react against enemy attacks as they are heavily slowed down.

Another thing to have in mind is that some enemies will be resistant to Aard or Igni. Yrden can still damage them giving small damage over time.

Quen Active shield to restore health

If you are playing on Deathmarch, it is not so easy to restore health. However, with upgraded Quen - Active Shield you can easily restore HP from enemy hits

witcher 3 quen active shield health restore

As you can see, with a few hits from the enemy Geralt was able to restore 2/3 of HP. Moreover, this ability is very good at slowing down the combat to evaluate your situation.

Piercing Cold makes normal enemies very easy

Aard will be able to knock down enemies easily. This means, that once that happens, you can just run up to them and wait for the prompt "Finish off" to appear.

finish off prompt witcher 3Once you see it, just use a fast attack and it will result in an instant kill. Have in mind, if there are other enemies which are not knocked down they may still attack you.

Main Rotation

Generally, I approach combat differently depending on what enemy and how many of them I will fight.

In case it is multiple ones, that will surround me, using Aard Sweep and just spamming helps it wonders

witcher 3 piercing cold build instant kills

What makes this great is that Piercing Cold may kill some of them instantly due to its unique effect. Moreover, this mutation is perfect for multiple weak enemies as it can kill them before any kind of resistance is accumulated by enemies.

Now, it is much different when you fight one or multiple strong enemies. For example, here I fight a Forktail. Unfortunately, just spamming Aard would not work as after a few hits, the damage starts to drastically diminish.

witcher 3 piercing cold boss enemy

Against strong enemies utilize everything you have in your arsenal - decoctions, Yrden, Aard and Igni. Although you can just go by with Igni, Aard, with a first few uses will do very high damage. Moreover, some enemies like elementals are much better fought with Aard. Moreover, Yrden is very important, as the Next Gen update made it do crazy amounts of damage.

Equipment

Here is my suggested gear for the Aard Piercing Cold build

Weapons

Steel Swords

Item Description
grandmaster griffin steel sword witcher 3Grandmaster Griffin Steel Sword Needed to have the full Griffin set. Gives a boost to Sign Intensity and bonus experience from humans

Silver Swords

Item Description
grandmaster griffin silver sword witcher 3Grandmaster Griffin Silver Sword Necessary for the Griffin set. Provides increased Sign intensity, three slots, and bonus experience from monsters.

Weapon upgrades

Upgrade Description
greater veles runestone witcher 3Greater Veles Runestone I recommend equipping this rune on Silver Sword. Because monsters cannot be parried it makes much more sense to increase Geralt's Sign Intensity for more effective signs.
rejuvenation witcher 3Rejuvenation It will restore stamina each time you deal a deadly blow, and these will be constant when using Piercing Cold build

Armors

Griffin Armor set

Item Effects
grandmaster griffin armor witcher 3Grandmaster Griffin armor
  • +24% Sign intensity
  • +19% Resistance to piercing damage
  • +17% Resistance to bludgeoning damage
  • +24% Resistance to slashing damage
  • +26% Resistance to damage from monsters
grandmaster griffin trousers witcher 3Grandmaster Griffin trousers
  • +12% Sign intensity
  • +6% Resistance to piercing damage
  • +9% Resistance to slashing damage
  • +11% Resistance to damage from monsters
  • +33% Resistance to elemental damage
grandmaster girffin gauntlets icon witcher 3Grandmaster Griffin gauntlets
  • +12% Sign intensity
  • +5% Resistance to piercing damage
  • +6% Resistance to slashing damage
  • +4% Resistance to damage from monsters
  • +12% Resistance to elemental damage
grandmaster griffin boots witcher 3Grandmaster Griffin boots
  • +12% Sign intensity
  • +5% Resistance to piercing damage
  • +5% Resistance to bludgeoning damage
  • +6% Resistance to slashing damage
  • +4% Resistance to damage from monsters

Armor upgrades

Upgrade Description
greater glyph of arrd witcher 3Greater Glyph of Aard Stacking these will improve Piercing Cold damage, moreover, the Aard sign will have a higher chance to stagger the enemy.
entanglement witcher 3Entanglement Improve Yrden alternative mode Magic Trap skill. Each hit with lightning will spawn a Yrden circle. This is good for a few reasons:
  • No need to spawn Yrden yourself multiple times
  • Enemies will automatically be inside the Yrden circle, receive damage over time, and get slowed down.
  • Move to the spawned circle to get bonuses of Sign, stamina regeneration and damage protection

Potions and tonics

Item Effects
superior petris philter icon witcher 3Superior Petri's Philter The main potion that I recommend using in almost all encounters. It increases Sign intensity making them more effective. Also, signs always apply their effects.
superior tawny oil icon witcher 3Superior Tawny Owl Improves stamina regeneration. This way Geralt can reuse Signs much faster.
superior blizzard witcher 3Superior Blizzard This is an extremely powerful potion. It slows time, allowing for much easier combat overall. Moreover, if you have 3 Adrenaline Points, no action uses stamina. This means that you can cast Signs as long as you have the potion active.
superior white raffards decoction witcher 3Superior White Raffard's Decoction I recommend having this potion in the quick slot. It instantly restores 100% HP and grants immunity to damage for a short period of time

Decoctions

Item Effects
ancient leshen decoction witcher 3Ancient Leshen Decoction Each Sign cast increases Stamina regeneration for the remainder of the fight.
+2 Stamina regeneration in combat.
foglet decoction witcher 3Foglet Decoction Increases Sign Intensity during cloudy weather.
+25% Sign intensity
ekhidna decoction witcher 3Ekhidna Decoction I only suggest using it if you have problems with sustaining health. Otherwise, avoid it.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading the post on the best Piercing Cold build in Witcher 3. I covered all essential parts to be effective - skills progression, recommended gear, tactics, and general tips.

If you have any questions or suggestions leave a comment below

Discussion

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Post author zanuffas avatar zanuffas
Gamestegy Founder. I have been writing game guides and builds for 4 years. I like to push myself to create something wonderful for the readers!