Sandora the Shieldmaiden – part 2: Practice

I wrote about my inspiration for a character based off of being Uthgerd’s follower in my character article Sandora the Shieldmaiden – part 1: Inspiration.  In today’s article I expand upon the development of my character Sandora, and the process I went through in defining her playstyle.

Sword and board?

I had originally planned on committing to Sandora as a warrior in heavy armor, equipped with a shield and mace.  As expected the attack animations for such a character are slow and lumbering, and in practice I had a difficult time deciding if it was worth it to have both Uthgerd and Sandora be slow attacking, slow moving units.

Skyrim_20161119114847Skyrim_20161119114516(In fighting stance with Uthgerd, with only a shield equipped and using a fist to pummel enemies)

For a brief period of time I actually put away Sandora’s weapon and went into battle with a shield and fist.  However, this proved to be disappointing due to a lack of finisher animations for being equipped with a shield and fist.  The advantage to this playstyle though, was that the small damage dealt with fists helped to focus my attention on blocking, shield bashing, and leveled up my heavy armor skills by staying in fights long enough to take copious amounts of hits.



Skyrim_20161119161507(Enjoying the flair of shield finishers )

Enjoying tankiness 

The experience of being able to stay within combat and take hits was incredibly rewarding, and the feel of Sandora as a character began to shine as she became tankier. As I progressed with Sandora I quickly found out that combined with Uthgerd, the two of them actually dealt too much damage, meaning that enemies’ camps were cleared too quickly to gain any experience with the heavy armor skill due to a lack of hits being sustained, and the block skill due to a lack of needing to use her shield to block enemies’ attacks.

For a brief moment I sent Uthgerd back to Whiterun and ventured on alone.  While this time apart immediately felt as if the character of Sandora had lost her purpose, it did help me isolate the strengths of focusing on survival skills such as heavy armor and blocking, and the weaknesses of not investing in damage skills like one-handed.  Based on these assessments I decided to reconnect with Uthgerd, allowing for her to be the primary source of damage in combat and to hold off on investing in one-handed skills and to maintain my focus on being a tank until enemies became more of a challenge.

Skyrim_20161119113732(Sandora and Uthgerd reunited and ready for combat)

Sandora the Shieldmaiden 

Sandora’s playstyle is one of survivability; being able to walk into a fight, take devastating blows, and use her shield to both antagonize her enemies and to bash them into a defenseless state within which she or Uthgerd can come in with a finishing blow. I am now focusing Sandora on the following skills:

  • Block: to leverage the use of a shield to withstand harsh assaults
  • Heavy Armor: to further negate damage and to be able to keep up with Uthgerd in surviving battles
  • One-Handed: to contribute to the fight with punishing blows from a mace once enemies begin to present more of a persistent threat.

Below is some early gameplay footage of Sandora using her Shield to block enemy attacks and push them back with a powerful shield bash.


This is the second installment in my character series titled Sandora the Shieldmaiden, if you enjoyed it please feel free to read through the other articles within the series. I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to


Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on FacebookTwitterInstagramand Youtube.


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