Required for forging Masterwork gear. Obtained from challenging activities or purchasable from the Gunsmith in the Tower
Ascendant Shards (or golf balls, as nicknamed by the community) are the rarest Material in Destiny 2. The Ascendant Shard Material is used for masterworking legendary armor and exotic armor to the tier rank. It costs 1 Ascendant Shard for Legendary Armor, and 3 Ascendant Shards for Exotic Armor. The final armor tier rank will add a +2 to all stats, and allow you to use up to 10 energy for mods in that armor piece.
There is very few sources that they come from, and the majority of sources are end game only. While the description states you can buy them from the Gunsmith in the Tower, this is very very costly and not worth doing at all. Below is a full list of sources as to where you can find and farm Ascendant Shards in Destiny 2 The Witch Queen.
Once you reach and complete Rank 16 with any of the following vendors; Zavala, Shaxx, The Drifter, and Saint-14, you can reset the rank to zero again and you’ll get an Ascendant Shard for doing so. To level up vendors, you just need to earn reputation by playing the activities associated with them (For example, Gambit for the Drifter). This only works once per vendor though, and if you reset again after reaching rank 16 you’ll just get an exotic engram.
This is a good way to get 4 Ascendant Shards each season though just by playing the game.
Season Pass Rewards
Each Season, the Season Pass will reward you with 3 Ascendant Shards in the later tiers of the Season Pass. You can only claim these once, but this will allow you to Masterwork one exotic piece of armor or x3 pieces of Legendary Armor.
In the Vanguard section of the Orbit screen, you can find a certain strike playlist called “Nightfall’s”. The Standard Nightfall has four difficulty tiers; Adept, Hero, Legend and Master. Ascendant Shards can drop from Nightfall completions on “Master” Difficulty. Master Difficulty will be 20 Power levels about the pinnacle light level cap that season. For Example, in Season 15 the Pinnacle Power Level Cap is 1330, and the Master Difficulty is 1350.
Master Nightfall’s are easy to do when you have reached the cap, and have levelled your Artifact up to get even more Power Level. The Ascendant Shard is not guaranteed to drop though, it has about a 30% chance. There is no matchmaking for Master Nightfall’s.
In the Vanguard section of the Orbit screen, you can find a certain strike playlist called “Grandmaster Nightfall’s”. Similar to the Master Nightfall section above, these are the toughest Nightfalls. A Grandmaster Nightfall you can only go in when you are a certain Power Level, so you cannot be carried through them if you are under levelled. Unlike the Master Nightfall, your fireteam will also be returned to Orbit and have to start the entire strike over again if you fail.
Grandmaster Nightfall’s also have a ton of modifiers on them, and also contain the contest modifier. This one means that you cannot over level for the activity and it’ll be the same level of difficulty no matter what power level you are. They also contain the most Champions in them, so your fireteam also needs to be geared and coordinated for what weapons and exotics to use. There is no matchmaking for Grandmaster Nightfall’s.
Grandmaster’s are by far the best way to farm for Ascendant Shards though, as when a strike that is short is active for that week, you can farm it easier than a more difficult strike. Ascendant Shards are also Guaranteed to drop from these activities.
Trials of Osiris
Trials of Osiris is the End Game PVP Activity in Destiny 2, and can be found in the Crucible section of the director. Trials of Osiris is only active Friday rest, through to Monday reset. You can get a guaranteed Ascendant Shard from opening the chest in the Lighthouse after going Flawless (7 wins with no losses).
Ascendant Shards also have a chance of dropping after winning games while you have a completed card. This is not a great method at farming them, unless you are good at PVP. Like with the other vendors too, you can get an Ascendant Shard the first time you reset Saint-14’s reputation rank.