A rundown of the Arcanas with some suggestions for each one and why I’m not including them in the character spotlights (for now).
Table of Contents
A Note from the Author
Arcanas. What can I say about them. Most of them are a lot of fun and adding them into builds allows you to do some ridiculous builds. They are a nice add to the game and, now that I’m used to and use them often, let you make some of the most broken builds you can think of. The game just isn’t the same after you get them unlocked.
So why am I NOT including them yet in the spotlights?
Main reason? I want to give new players a chance to work on their gaming with what the game gives them. It’s part of the fun of unlocking what the game has and feels more earned once you get it. I’m sure those of you that unlocked Red Death the hard way understand what I’m talking about, even if you don’t play him very often.
I feel it’s the same way with the arcanas. When you first get the game, you don’t know about them. By the time you’ve unlocked Gallo Tower, you might have fifteen to twenty characters unlocked if you focus on unlocking characters. Most people will have less then that unlocked by then.
So I’m skipping arcanas builds for now. So that newer players aren’t getting swamped with things that they haven’t even heard of yet. And for the more experienced players, sometimes it’s just nice to turn off the Arcanas and and polish up on your skills that you developed before we got all the cool stuff that makes Vampire Survivors what it is today.
Thanks for your time and happy hunting.
The Arcanas (in a Nutshell)
As anyone who’s played the game long enough knows, arcanas add so much to any build. From being a unstoppable face tanking beast to standing in a La Borra as big as your neighborhood while you dance and rap “Can’t touch this” to the thousands of enemies coming at you, arcanas certain make the game much more fun and open builds up to ridiculous levels.
That said, I’m going over the twenty-two arcanas and offering a suggestion or two on how to use them for fun and profit.
Just to get the basics out of the way, every character gets three arcanas on a run. They’re gained when you start the run, the arcana table pops up and you can chose one right away, then you gain another at minutes eleven and twenty-one (a box will pop up with four randomly picked arcanas to chose) from a extra elite enemy that shows up, normally a glowing bat. Kill it and it drops a arcana chest, which is blue so you don’t confuse it with the other chests elites drop.
Two characters, Avatar Infernas and Queen Sigma, start able to get more then three. Infernas starts with the Heart Of Fire arcana and will get the normal three, giving him four in total, five if you’re doing a inverted run and buy it from the merchant. Queen Sigma gets five, one to start, then four more at levels two, three, seventy-seven, and one hundred eight. She can buy one from the merchant on inverse runs, giving her six in total.
And if you want to do a endless run, every character can pick up all the arcanas. Granted, that IS eleven hours to sit through. But you can do it if your brain don’t melt and run out your ears first.
The List, Arcanas 0-IV
- 0: Game Killer
- Effect: Halts gaining XP. XP gems become exploding projectiles that shoot at the nearest enemy. All chests dropped will becomes triple chests, possibly quintuple chests if your lucky.
- How to get: Defeat the final enemy in the Cappella Magna.
Tips: There is something to be said for Game Killer. Stopping XP gain makes most levels a walk in the park, as the enemies scale with your level on most stages. Certain characters start with a increased stat the tapers off to normal by level 5. so staying at level 1 insures that your starting weapon, the only one you’ll get unless the stage you picked to run has one on the ground. Then you can use chests to level up your weapon and any passives you find on the ground, most stages will have at least four to get.
Game Killer can be used to kill The Reaper when it shows up at thirty minutes. Easiest way to do that is pick Divano or Gallo. Their starting weapons become the Reaper killing weapons Bloody Cloak and Endless Corridor. And The Reaper will be at level one hp for him (655,350). Which makes killing him fairly easy and also unlocks Red Death as a bonus.
- I: Gemini
- Effect: The following weapons and item come with a counterpart: Peachone, Ebony Wings, Vandalier, Phiera Der Tuphello, Eight The Sparrow, Phieraggi, Gatti Amari, Vicious Hunger, and Nduja Fritta Tanto.
- How to get: Reach Level 50 with Pugnala.
Tips: For those that want more firepower on runs. Birds get a friend for each one, guns becomes double barreled, cats wander around in packs and steal even more of your floor chicken (at least they get stronger the more they eat). and NFT fires a extra stream behind your character for ten seconds.
The amount of things one can do with this use pretty fun. for some bit rate killing fun, use Cosmo with both guns, both birds, cats, and Laurel. and once guns and birds get evolved, get two extra weapons of your choice and watch your computer chug along to victory
- II: Twilight Requiem
- Effect: The following weapons go BOOM when their duration expires, dealing damage affected by Curse. King Bible, Unholy Vespers, Lightning Ring, Thunder Loop, Peachone, Ebony Wings, Runetracer, Shadow Pinion, Bone, Celestial Dusting, Bi-Bracelet, Silver Wind, and Festive Winds.
- How to get: Reach Level 50 with Dommario.
Turns Curse into a weapon. Pure and simple. Any of the weapons listed give you a sizable damage increase depending on if you want a lot of Curse. This is almost a necessary pick for level runs as you’ll be gaining tons of Curse and the extra damage is more then welcomed. And the extra area you get from the explosions is a nice little perk as well.
- III: Tragic Princess
- Effect: The following weapons gain a cooldown reduction while your character moves:
- Garlic, Soul Eater, Santa Water, La Borra, Lightning Ring, Thunder Loop, and Carréllo.
- How to get: Reach Level 50 with Porta.
Tips: If you want fast firing weapons, Tragic Princess is the way to go. Reduced cooldown just makes any build better. Combine this with Endless Tome for some serious CD reduction on the listed weapons and go clean house with the best of them.
- IV: Awake
- Effect: Gives three revivals. And also +10% Max Health, +1 Armor, and +5% Might, Area, Duration, and Speed, even from power Ups and Tiragisu.
- How to get: Reach Level 50 with Krochi
Tips: Dying too much? This is the arcana for you. There’s a couple ways to use this. The most common way is to get killed A LOT to get bonus stats. Krochi, Antonio, and Divano become disgusting when they use up all the revivals (6 for Antonio and Divano, 8 for Krochi). Divano becomes the tanks’ tank with Awake as he’ll end up with eleven armor before even getting armor, making sure he only takes one damage when he evolves Laurel. And it helps Pugnala as well. Her guns gain extra beams with Revivals when they get evolved. And combined with her growing Might, makes for some pretty impressive damage. Though there is the downside that it gets more difficult to kill your character early on, the best time to do it since you have fewer weapons and passives, as you just get stronger, faster, and tougher. Even standing still, it can take a bit to get killed and you could be using that time leveling instead.
The List, Arcanas V-IX
- V: Chaos In the Dark Night
- Effect: Overall projectile Speed continuously changes between -50% and +50% over 10 seconds. The character starts gaining +1% projectile Speed every level.
- How to get: Reach Level 50 with Giovanna
Tips: Speed helps overall with builds. Combined with cooldown, you get some interesting burst firing builds. CITDN further amplifies that to some wonky levels with it getting slower and ramping up over ten seconds. And all the while, the overall shot speed grows steadily as you level. The growth is what should be paid attention to. The changing speed is more of a thing that just comes with it, like when you something to eat. sometimes there’s something with your meal you just put up with cause it’s there when you get it. The speeder characters benefit the most from CITDN, but it really shines when you use it with cooldown. So characters that are slower can add a speedy weapon and gain decent benefit from. and slower weapons, like Ax, start to become way more effect the more you level. That said, projectile speed is nice, but not necessary. pick it up if you want to have some speed for your build and not get Bracer so you have a free passive slot.
- VI: Sarabande of Healing
- Effect: Doubles healing. ALL healing, from floor chicken to character recovery to the weapons. Character generates a damaging pulse equal to how much was healed.
- How to get: Find the Randommazzo
Tips: Healing good. It’s great, actually. So double heals on everything, high health Revivals are a joy to behold, comes in handy. The damage pulse helps out, giving a pseudo Garlic AOE. But it’s not going to help much in the long run, as Garlic helps with knockback and the pulse don’t, as well as being a very low amount of damage. It is constant damage. Not bad. But your playing to mow down everything coming your way, not mildly amuse it with tickling. Unless you run Cosmo. he turns healing into a weapon of mass destruction with his growing Recovery as he levels. his only drawback to this is his low health. but he does have enough HP to take a hit here and there and Sarabande will have him back to full in no time while saving up floor chickens to use them like 60 damage grenades while getting your build of choice going
- VII: Iron Blue Will
- Effect: The following weapons get up to 3 bounces, possibly passing through enemies and walls.
- Knife, Thousand Edge, Axe, Death Spiral, Phiera Der Tuphello, Eight The Sparrow, and Carréllo.
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Gennaro
Tips: Dear player, welcome to… The Bounce build. this build has been around for awhile. but was limited to Bone, Cherry Bomb, Carréllo, and Runechaser. now you can have a full six weapons of bouncing bit rate killing goodness. Carréllo in particular is really potent with IBW, as it has some bounces already, allowing 5-6 bounces before it breaks. Bounce builds are mostly done for fun. but it’s also a good way to help get more out of the weapons listed. and if you feel like filling the screen full of bullets, just get the guns up 8 and enjoy the chaos. just watch out for area gains, which make your weapons bigger and therefore making seeing what’s going on harder
- VIII: Mad Groove
- Effect: Attracts everything on the ground, stage items/pick-ups/light sources, once every two minutes and drops them in a circle around the character
- How to get: Defeat The Reaper or reach minute 31 on the Mad Forest stage
Tips: MG completely removes the need to run all over a stage to get those ground pick-ups and all that XP you left lying on the ground in the process. this helps slower characters (Dommario, Peppino) out the most. but will help any character out. think of it like a super Attractorb with a two minute cooldown. Just watch your time and gather up everything. Then rinse and repeat. Profit!
- IX: Divine Bloodline
- Effect: The following weapons have their damage affected by Armor and reflect damage back at the enemies. Cross, King Bible, Garlic, Santa Water, Lightning Ring, Song of Mana, Vento Sacro, Victory Sword, and Silver Wind. Enemies killed with Retaliatory damage give +.5 Max Health as well
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Clerici
Tips: Ever see a video on Youtube or Twitch or wherever you watch for VS content and see someone hit 30 minutes and they’re at some insanely high level and they then smack The Reaper down? if you have, that person was probability using a Divine Bloodline build. DB is almost a broken arcana. I say almost cause it can still get you killed when you start your run, as your characters’ HP is still normal at that point. since every character should have some armor by the time DB is unlocked (if you don’t, get back to the power-ups and max that ♥♥♥♥ out right now), they all become a retaliating character, allowing face tanking and gaining max HP along the way. DB really starts to shine when you get a weapon effected by armor that DOESN’T have a large AOE attached to it. weapons like Garlic, Song Of Mana, and Silver Wind have AOEs built into them, which makes the retaliatory kills harder to get. as does weapons that give a lot of self healing, like Celestial Dusting. it’s surprising hard to out gain the healing it does and you lose damage cause of it. remember you want to keep your HP low. you also have to watch your HP closer. having low HP grants massive damage as your max HP gets higher and higher, but you still have to be careful when you get too low and enemies have a chance to kill you, causing you to lose a massive amount of damage cause the Revival pops you back up to 50% HP. Running around 20-25% HP is best. yes, you can get more if you go lower, but play it safe till you get to around 20K HP. by then your current HP should sustain you enough to let Recovery do its’ thing as you get more retaliatory kills. if you REALLY want to make sure you become un-killable, get Laurel and evolve it. Bloody Cloak not only ensures damage taken becomes a moot point, it’s probably the best source for retaliatory damage, which is affected by Might AND Area. Bloody Cloak causes a decent egg shaped explosion whenever you take any damage. get a little extra Armor, up to about 6-8, and use a character with better starting Recovery, Clerici with un-evolved Santa Water comes to mind, and what damage that does get through will be will be healed away, removing the need for a weapon with self heals.
A note on Toasty: If there was any character that DB screams to be used on is Toasty. Not only is Toasty a cute character to play, but also one of the hardest. Starting with 1 HP, 2 if you picked up the full Health power-up, just keeping Toasty alive is a challenge in it’s own right. with DB, you can start using Toasty to bop enemies on the nose to get her max HP up to something decent. I aim for around 100. once Toasty is there, finish out your build and get the cute pink ghost to level 100 and take in the single best damage boost any character can get with DB when her HP jumps by 9998, making getting to level 200 a breeze for all that sweet sweet armor Toasty gets. just remember to be careful with Toasty. even with 3 armor at the start of a run, Toasty is still pretty fragile till you get some HP to work with
The List, Acanas X-XIV
- X: Beginning
- Effect: The following weapons get 1 extra Amount
- Bone, Cherry Bomb, Carréllo, Celestial Dusting, and La Robba
- The character’s main and evolved weapon gains 3 extra Amount.
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Antonio
Tips: Beginning makes all those Machine Gun builds even better. but it’s mainly to help out get a little extra oomph out of your character’s main weapon. anyone that’s played VS for any decent amount of time knows all weapons suck till you can get them to around level 4, give or take a level. Beginning helps with that, making most weapons fire off 4 at a time instead of a single shot. and Bayonetta… Sorry, Pugnala just flips her guns to full auto as each one fires off seven shots. getting Duplicator now isn’t as important as it used to be. Beginning makes getting Duplicator nice. but it isn’t needed unless it’s for evolving Lighting Ring. Any of the characters that gain extra Amount benefit the most from Beginning as starting with 3 extra Bones or Cherry Bombs is very nice. especially since they’ll be getting more as they level
- XI: Waltz of Pearls
- Effect: The following weapons gain up to three bounces
- Magic Wand, Holy Wand, Fire Wand, Hellfire, Cross, Heaven Sword, and Carréllo
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Imelda
Tips: Dear player, welcome to…. the Bounce Build. Again. Waltz is the counterpart to Iron Blue Will. Though not as useful since it don’t allow for shots to pass through walls. But that don’t slow it down at all. Except for Fire Wand, all the listed weapons ether get penetration or have it from the start. Cross is greatly benefited by Waltz, as the bounces seem to happen the most often after it does its’ first pass. But pretty much like with IBW, it makes weapons more useful with the bounces, is a lot of fun to play around with, and will kill your bit rate if you get any Area going.
- XII: Out Of Bounds
- Effect: Freezing enemies can make them go boom. the item Orologion becomes easier to find and it makes enemies go boom as well.
- How to get: Defeat The Reaper or reach minute 31 on the Gallo Tower stage
Tips: Bomb builds are a lot of fun. there’s something to be said for just carpet bombing a couple hundred enemies in one shot. and Out Of Bounds just adds to it. normally, freezing enemies is good. frozen enemies can’t attack. so you walk through them and make a quick escape when things get hectic. now those quick escapes can be covered with explosions, handy for level and kill runs as well. Clock Lancet works best with OoB. it provides the most coverage and the explosions ignore how much HP enemies have. get enough cooldown going, you get a very nice defense that even freezes The Reaper when you hit minute 30
- XIII: Wicked Season
- Effect: Growth, Luck, Greed, and Curse get doubled at fixed intervals. the character gets a gauge under them showing the symbol of what stat is active that drains and then swaps the next stat in. characters start gaining a .5% every level in Growth, Luck, Greed, and Curse from the time Wicked Season is picked
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Christine
Tips: Wicked Season changed the records game. level, kill, and gold runs jumped through the roof with this one arcana. and brought new issues as well. characters players used for such runs now needed to redo their builds to just be able to survive running with Wicked Season on, as the Curse it gives will overrun any character a few minutes in with both the Curse gain and the timer. And there’s not really much use for Wicked Season unless you want a challenge or are going for a record of some type. if you’re a causal player, you should probably get a different arcana
- XIV: Jail of Crystal
- Effect: The following weapons have a chance to freeze enemies
- Magic Wand, Holy Wand, Runetracer, NO FUTURE, Eight The Sparrow, Twice Upon a Time, Cygnus, and Bracelet.
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Pasqualina
Tips: so you want a bit more oomph with your Out of Bounds build? trying one of the other weapons instead of Clock Lancet? well, let me help you make your Frozen Bomb build complete. JoC just gives you MORE weapons to freeze enemies with. even if you’re not running it with OoB, the freeze still helps to give breathing room as the more enemies fill the screen. with OoB, you get a pretty good kill build as you can just fill your weapon slots up with freezing weapons and then watch the fireworks. this does make normal runs a bit lopsided as you’ll have two arcanas set to get the Frozen Bomb build going and just one left for you to pick. but it’s a fun build and will net you a decent amount of kills and levels
The List, Arcana XV-XIX
- XV: Disco Of Gold
- Effect: Get Gold Fever from picking coin bags. All gold gains will heal for the amount picked up. Applies to Vicious Hunger
- How to get: Defeat The Reaper or reach minute 31 on the Inlaid Library stage
Tips: Gold runs used to be very simple. grab a high luck character and Stone Mask with a few decent AOES and see how much gold you could get in 30 minutes. that changed when Big Trouser and Disco Of Gold entered the picture. now, gold runs can can be done for as little or as much gold as you want. a gold run can double as a leveling or a kill run as well. the best gold runs use Disco Of Gold, a AOE to break light sources (Garlic and Bible do nicely for that), and Vicious Hunger (evolved Gatti Amari), and Big Trouser. due to his Greed gain per level, coins and coin bags will give more and more as he levels. and Gold Fevers last longer for him as well, which leads to even more gold gained. make sure the AOES you get are decent sized so you can just run by light sources while looking for gold bags to reset Gold Fever Early and often. Two things to know. evolve Gatti Amari last. this is so it don’t cut into your XP gains, as Vicious Hunger will turn XP gems into gold and drastically slow down leveling. and let Gold Fevers end every now and then. as a Gold Fever runs, the amount you’ve gained during a Gold Fever is shown at the bottom of the screen. it also grows in size the more you get. if a Gold Fever last long enough, it will grow until the amount gained is covering most the screen
- XVI: Slash
- Effect: The following weapons gain critical hit chance with critical hit damage doubled
- Knife, Thousand Edge, Whip, Bloody Tear, Axe, Death Spiral, Heaven Sword, Vento Sacro, Fuwalafuwaloo, Victory Sword, and Muramasa.
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Lama
Tips: Crit builds weren’t very prevalent when VS came out, as only 2 weapons could crit and you had to get them evolved for those crits. so crit builds were nice, but limited. not anymore. Slash lets you make a kill run start out nicely right from the get go with base weapons and those that can crit when evolved gain a sizable X4 damage bonus to crits, as those evolved weapons already did double damage. any character using one of the listed weapons will crank out massive damage if you run a crit build with them. a Luck Divine Bloodline Slash with Lama build is quite the thing to behold
- XVII: Lost and Found Painting
- Effect: Duration changes from -50% to +50% over ten seconds while base Duration gains +1 as your character levels
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Poppea
Tips: If you ever wanted weapons that stick around for a LLOONNGG time, LAFP has you covered. Now, I’m a bit tossed up over Duration and Cooldown. Duration does allow for weapon overlap, a good way to make sure anything coming toward you is getting hit. A lot. but you can do the same thing with cooldown by getting weapons to fire more due to their cooldown being reduced. It’s probably a matter of preference. weapons like Bible and Santa Water let you mow down enemies decently or leave damage areas on the ground longer so you kite enemies to them. Duration is nice to have. but there’s better arcanas to use in that slot
- XVIII: Boogaloo Of Illusions
- Effect: Area changes from -25% to +25% over ten seconds while base Area gains a +1 as your character levels
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Concetta
Tips: Remember that example I gave up in the Arcanas in a nutshell section? about dancing in a neighborhood sized La Borra. Boogaloo is how you do that. Area coverage no longer matters as your characters’ area for their weapons just gets bigger and bigger, as do most the weapons. Bible becomes a issue if you run it with Boogaloo active. its’ area does get bigger. but the way Bible is set up leaves you in trouble if anything gets past the ring of bibles, now very far away from your character, leaving them unopposed to get to character at the center of area. a lot of weapons can help deal with that. but bible is too good a weapon to give up its’ effectiveness for area. don’t sweat it if you decide to run The Holy Trinity (Bible/Garlic/Santa Water). all three evolved work so well together and it’s fun to watch enemies just disappear when they try to cross the street to get to you. Fun fact. Boogaloo makes certain weapons, like the whips and La Boora, look like they’re breathing
- XIX: Heart of Fire
- Effect: The following weapons become explosive upon contact with enemies
- Fire Wand, Hellfire, Valkyrie Turner, Phiera Der Tuphello, Red Muscle, Zhar Ptytsia, Tri-Bracelet, as does the character when damaged and light sources when broken
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Arca
Tips: What? you again? Not enough things going boom for you? Frozen Bomb build, Cherry Bombs, Gorgeous Moon, and No Future isn’t enough? I got something that can help you. the joys of HoF. this is a great way to get more boom into the Bomb builds out there. and make your character a Retaliation weapon like Divine Bloodline, just a bit squishier since you don’t have as much Armor like a DB build does. and you can cause explosions at a distance with the listed weapons and light sources unlike DB, which excels at face tanking to victory. HoF allows for the Fire and Ice Bomb build. and on inverse runs, you can pick up Boogaloo to get those screen spanning booms
The List, Arcanas XX-XXI
- XX: Silent Old Sanctuary
- Effect: Gives 3 extra Rerolls, Skips, and Banishes. as well as giving +20% Might and -8% Cooldown per open weapon slot
- How to get: Defeat The Reaper or reach minute 31 on the Dairy Plant stage
Tips: Of all the arcana you can get, SOS is hands down probably the best in the game. I know others do their intended purpose well. but none of them work with every single build you can think of. the Might is a nice bonus for Might characters like Antonio or Pugnala, adding to their considerable damage on top of Spinach and their Might leveling gains. but the cooldown one gets from using limited weapon slot runs, via the Mindbender relic, is too good to pass up. with a 3 weapon build, Christine can hit -89% cooldown, with some Might tossed it to take care of that pesky negative Might she starts with. give her Laurel and max it out and she becomes Immortal, as Laurel is gaining back it’s charges faster then enemies can hit her. and every character easily get into the -70% range with a two weapon build and maxed out Endless Tome. If you do decide to run a normal six weapon build, don’t bother with SOS. it’s a wasted pick that could be used for something else. but if you want to try your hand at limited weapon runs, SOS is your best friend
- XXI: Blood Astronomia
- Effect: The following weapons emit special damage zones affected by Amount and Magnet within Magnet range
- Garlic, Soul Eater, Pentagram, Gorgeous Moon, Song of Mana, Mannajja, Clock Lancet, and Laurel
- How to get: Reach level 50 with Poe
Tips: This one is a interesting pick. extra coverage from weapons is always welcomed. and I’m not sure I’ve seen what all the weapons do for their zones as they seem to have a different shape for each weapon. at least I think they do. I’m still tinkering around with this arcana on runs. it’s biggest drawback is it’s using Amount for damage. most characters will only have 1 Amount, gained through Power-Ups. and even tossing in Duplicator, that goes up to 3. so it’s doing some damage, but I haven’t seen it do anything serious once you get past minute 15. though it does seem to do much better with characters like Cavello and Mortaccio, as well as pairing up with Beginning. it’s decent and does its’ job. if you want more AOE, this one fits in nicely with AOE builds
Whew! that was a LOT of typing there. 😛 but I hope it helps you out when you get the Arcanas going for you.
Now I’ve seen people doing tier lists for the Arcanas. DO NOT pay attention to them. all the Arcanas are useful. some more then others. but all of then have a intended purpose and, when combined together in a build, will have you double taking to make sure you just saw what you did on a run.
Arcanas are OP in most cases. but each one fits a niche to make that build you’re running just that much better. there’s a depth to builds in Vampire Survivors that few games even come close to touching. from the character you pick to your choice of weapons and passives, to the Arcanas to even how you want to play the game. there is no wrong or best way to play Vampire Survivors. don’t feel like banging your head against Inverse mode? shut it off. want to focus on a specific stat to see how much you can crank out of it? turn off the stats you don’t want getting powered-up or do a full refund and just fill out the stat you want to focus on. you paid your money for the game. it’s yours to play as you want.
In the end, that’s all that matters. just remember that the arcanas can be so satisfying to go back to that stage that made you pitch a fit so you can show it what’s up as you lay waste to it with the +5 Flaming Acid Spiting Great Sword Of Pettiness