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Dark Knight Guide
Behold the power!
The Dark Knight. Some call it the most powerful job in the game. Some call it lolDRK. This guide is to hopefully put you on track to be the former and help kill the reputation of being the latter.
- 1 Suggested Weaponry
- 2 Important Attributes
- 3 Races
- 4 Subjobs
- 5 Job Abilities/Traits
- 6 Spells
- 7 Gear Suggestions
- 8 Weapons
- 9 Headgear
- 10 Body Armor
- 11 Back Armor
- 12 Offhand
- 13 Neckwear
- 14 Handgear
- 15 Waist Equipment
- 16 Ranged/Ammo Slot
- 17 Earrings
- 18 Rings
- 19 Leg Armor
- 20 Footwear
- 21 Tips and Strategies
Most of the time, scythe should be your weapon of choice. Scythe is your A+ skill; your A- skill, Great Sword, tends to have far worse DOT(damage over time) than scythe for the majority of your DRK career. In general, however, if you don't mind leveling Scythe outside of your EXP parties (or have it preleveled for whatever reason), then I suggest using Great Axe until 49. There are some fantastic great axes out there (Horror Voulge comes to mind), and Sturmwind is a far better Weapon Skill than anything Scythe brings to the table until Guillotine. Under no circumstances should you ever dual wield on DRK (OK, maybe if you have a Ridill).
When gearing up for DRK, choosing the correct stats is of paramount importance. Here's a quick rundown of what to look for:
- Accuracy should be the first thing you worry about. In general, you should shoot for +35 or higher accuracy. Take into account the fact that 1 DEX now equals .75 Accuracy for two-handed weapons. However, even though Accuracy is of paramount concern, do not sacrifice massive amounts of other stats for it: Two accuracy is not better than 5 attack. Do not overkill Accuracy; there is a limit to effectiveness on it and beyond that point it is useless. If you have a 95% hit rate you probably are wasting some vital slots where you could be improving your Attack or gaining Haste.
- Your next concern is Haste. Though early on in your DRK career there is very little to no haste gear, Haste becomes vital to your success as soon as you have it available. Basically, if you can get a decent haste piece for a slot, use it. Period. It is necessary for your TP gain and spell recasts. You will get far overshadowed in damage output without haste gear, so don't neglect it. One thing to remember is that haste is unique among stats in that the more you get, the better it is. While 10% haste is merely a 11.1% increase in damage, 50% haste doubles your damage, and 75% haste quadruples your damage. Learn it, love it, and embrace the brokenness of haste.
- Your next important stat is Attack. Throughout our DRK careers we can get some pieces with massive attack bonuses. Even as early as level 25, our Republic Subligars can give us +5 attack, which is massive for that level. Attack is a stat you will rarely hit the effectiveness cap on, unlike Accuracy, so pile it on. Just don't sacrifice necessary accuracy or haste for it while TP building. Remember that 1 STR = .75 attack as well for two handed weapons (which you are of course using!)
- For primary attributes, only STR and DEX are of real concern. The rest are pretty useless, honestly, aside from MND having a very minor effect on Guillotine damage. For your WS gear, STR is your #2 concern after Accuracy.
- You don't need a lot of extra HP or MP gear. By the time you get useful spells, you should have enough MP to cast them. HP gear isn't useful for general DRK use. The huge exception to this rule is Souleater. If you make a gear set for Souleater use, piling on the HP+ can help increase your damage a great deal.
In all honesty, all races work fine for DRK. Though some might say that Galka or Elvaan are by far the best, I disagree. It doesn't make a huge difference, and all deficiencies can be overcome. All you need to know is, while leveling it, you need to make up for weaknesses. Galka and Elvaan can make up for a lack of MP with RSE until more MP is sufficient. Tarutaru has a bit of a problem with STR, but it's no seriously big deal that can't be overcome by good gear. Mithra and Hume don't really need anything specific. Just adapt the job to your race, and you should be fine.
Standard Use Subs:
- WAR - Your basic DoT pray-I-don't-die subjob. If you follow this guide, your damage output with WAR sub might be a bit too much and might just get you mauled even more than you otherwise would; but damn, it's fun being a double attacking fiend. Berserk is a godsend that will increase your already high Attack through the roof. You will have great damage output and great WS damage with this Sub, just no significant extra damage mitigation ability. It is definitely by far your best choice until level 50 since Berserk is better than the very little other subjobs provide until then.
- SAM - Post 50 you get Hasso, an ability that gives you 10 Acc, up to 5 STR, and 10% Haste. With a haste build this will be your strongest sub, so learn to love it. SAM sub also gives you more defensive capabilities than WAR due to Seigan and Third Eye. It also will help you gain TP faster than /WAR due to Store TP, Meditate, and the haste from Hasso. Once you hit 70, it becomes a GREAT defensive sub due to Seigan, which makes Third Eye a extremely potent defense that doesn't always wear off in one hit and can occasionally counter attacks. One thing to look out for though is Hasso and Seigan's recast killing ability, they increase recast of your spells by 50%, nasty for Absorb-TP spammage.
- NIN - In situations where you need a huge defensive boost, you need the NIN sub. You sub NIN for one reason only: Utsusemi (ok, Tonko as a cheap prism powder.) It won't help your damage output directly; however, you don't have to worry about getting hate since you can actually tank with NIN sub. A NIN sub may actually lead to greater damage since you can reach your full potential without dying. Just don't Dual Wield, for the love of God, just don't. That's what WAR/NIN and NIN are for. Since NIN doesn't add anything that will help with your TP gain, proper Absorb-TP usage can help your damage output substantially.
- THF - What was once the gold standard of DRK subs is now rarely used. THF is good for hate control and massive WSes. Your DoT will be terrible and your TP rate substandard, but few things are as powerful as a Sneak Attacked Spinning Slash. Only really useful on HNMs where gaining hate is deadly (and thus can be prevented by Trick Attack) or HNMs that have high high defense that can be pierced by the forced Critical Hit from SA.
- BLM - 4 ur nukes mang cuz nukes 4 teh 1337. Please note that this is utter sarcasm, do not use /BLM for anything but warp.
|Blood Weapon||1||2h||30s||Adds a draining effect to each of your hits so that every hit heals you for as much damage as that hit does (unless the enemy has resistance to drain.) It only works on normal hits and Jumps, not WSes. It's a pretty terrible 2h ability in most cases, and it should always be used with Souleater when you do use it so that you actually get some damage output increase. Also note that though it may look like it adds Drain damage, it merely makes the damage you already dealt heal you. It does NOT double your damage.|
|Arcane Circle||5||10m||1m||Gives your party in an area of effect Arcana Killer. It's terrible. It doesn't even generate any significant enmity. That's right, its so bad the enemies don't even CARE.|
|Attack Bonus||10, 30, 50, 70||Passive||Passive||Gives +10/22/35/48 attack. Don't worry about it, just appreciate it.|
|Last Resort||15||5m||30s||+15% Attack/-15% defense. Generates a large enmity spike on on the DRK. Proof that SE hates DRKs. There is no other explanation for normal Last Resort. It's basically a Berserk with tons of suck tossed in. Just toss it on for a WS once in a while to get a minor increase in damage. Please note that after spending many merits in Desperate Blows and using full haste gear with full haste spells/songs on you, it becomes badass (though it's still only 30 seconds.)|
|Arcana Killer||20||Passive||Passive||Occasionally intimidate Arcana (e.g., Bombs, Dolls, etc). Killer effects mostly suck and this is no exception. This does not mean you should tank Arcana.|
|Weapon Bash||20||5m||Instant||A quite useful little ability that has you smash your 2h weapon (2h weapon only, but you rarely use anything else anyways) into the enemy for pitiful damage but a high chance to stun. An almost certain chance to interrupt spells. Be careful though, it generates a high amount of enmity.|
|Resist Paralyze||25||Passive||Passive||Occasionally you'll resist a paralyze. It's never reliable, though.|
|Souleater||30||6m||1m||The trademark move of DRKdom. Souleater is a buff that makes it so that with every hit, no matter what the strength of the base hit is, 10% of your HP is added as damage with no strings attached. Ok, one little string: that 10% of your HP is subtracted with every hit. This is, by far, the most powerful ability in the DRK's arsenal, as it can turn a 150 damage scythe hit into a 300 damage scythe hit, or a 2 damage club hit into a 152 damage club hit (more on that later.) Once again, however, the enmity is huge. The enmity gains are not just from using the ability (a sizable spike that is over 2/3 of a Provoke), but the amazing damage you do practically guarantees you will pull hate -- and your HP will already be low from the ability itself. So use Souleater with utmost care. One important thing to note: the Merit Skill Muted Soul can reduce enmity gain using Souleater, making it much safer. Oh and Souleater also increases Accuracy while active so that you can make those super hits count.|
First things first, I'm not going to list the elemental spells. They are useless. We get the 2nd highest elemental magic skill but ONLY TIER 2 NUKES and NO MAGIC ATTACK BONUS. Just don't use them. They're also a large chunk of the spells so I save a lot of work, go me!
|Name||Level||MP cost||Cast time||Recast time||Description/Commentary|
|Poison/II||6/46||5/38||1s/1s||5s/5s||Just DoT, useful when you just want DoT -- though maybe better left to RDMs and BLMs so as not to waste your MP. Poison I can be a useful spell to pull with though.|
|Drain||10||21||3s||1m||Seems useless at first but later on it becomes the most MP efficient nuke in the game, let alone the awesome healing power also inherent in the spell! 21 mp for damage/healing that gets up to 300. Also remember that drain will not work at all on undead and will rarely work on dark based monsters such as Demons.|
|Bio/II||17/40||15/36||1.5s/1.5s||5s/5s||More DoT, but now with additional Attack Down action and 100% accuracy rate! Still, usually RDM or BLM will cast this, and in most cases you'd rather have Dia on the mob (which can't coexist with Bio.) So you should rarely cast this.|
|Bind||20||8||2s||40s||Binds an enemy in place. Your 3rd best spell for running away from enemies.|
|Aspir||20||10||3s||1m||Steal an enemy's MP. It seems useless when you first get it but later on it becomes vital to your success. This is because it grows with your Dark Magic skill; while you might only get 20 MP returns early on, later on you get 100 or higher. Quite useful and one of the best ways to keep your MP up when you can't rest (which is most of the time.)|
|Poisonga||26||44||2s||10s||Great for pissing off your party after a Sleepga and great for aggroing a bunch of mobs!|
|Sleep/II||30/56||19/29||2.5s/3s||30s/30s||Your 2nd best and best spells for running away, and the best reason to level your Enfeebling Magic. Though in parties there will usually be a better sleeper, more sleepers are always better since a sleeper being 1/2 second late can be the difference between life and death. Also, nothing is as useful for solo stuff as sleeping mobs for emergencies.|
|Tractor||32||26||3s||10s||Sure you can't raise the dead, but dragging them around is equally (or more) fun!|
|Absorb-Stats||31-43||33||2s||60s||Not especially useful. If you want major epeen WSes toss an Abs-STR before you use the WS, but you don't really need it. Abs-CHR is nice for making people wonder what's wrong with you.|
|Absorb-TP||45||33||2s||1m||Awesome spell. The Absorb that's worth casting. At first it will seem like it's kinda crappy with inconsistent TP drains, but as you learn to time it better, you will get higher yields. It's definitely a hard spell to use, but it is 100% worth it. Just remember: Mobs gain TP from every hit they take at a rate of [TP gained by attacker + 3]. Every hit. So timing this approximately 10-20 seconds (depending on how many melees are whacking the mob) after the mob WSes is optimal for most party setups.|
|Drain II||62||37||3s||3m||Just like Drain, but more powerful and the amount of HP drained exceeds your maximum HP. Great for use before Souleater since you get higher HP than otherwise possible.|
|Dread Spikes||71||78||3s||3m||An extremely nice recent addition to DRK. Dread Spikes gives you a spikes effect that drains HP from your enemies when you are hit. The good part is it drains the exact amount of damage dealt to you, so it is a nice amount of damage and makes you take none. The bad part is it wears off after it heals up to half of what your maximum HP was on casting (otherwise it has a 1m duration.) Still, even with that and an annoying 3m recast, it's damn useful as a defensive spell when you can use it.|
Throughout your DRK career you will have piles and piles of gear. This section should help you choose what those piles should be made of. I'm not going to list all the gear, just the gear that is worth noticing. There is a lot of 'filler gear' that's worn with, say, +1 DEX that isn't worth mentioning. This is not that gear. Gear that should be your ultimate goal for level 75 will be bolded. You should always carry around a basic TP and WS set (though I won't list all that gear here), and by 75 you should also carry around a Dark Magic set.
If I am missing something, please fill it in.
Early weapons should be the best weapons you can find of whatever type/s you choose. One weapon worth pointing out is the Horror Voulge, it's quite a good weapon for its level.
Tips and Strategies
- Haste is really overpowered in FFXI, and DRK is the job that can get the highest attack speed increase from Haste (as long as it is using a 2h weapon). The haste caps are 25% from equipment and 43.3% from spells; however, two things can bypass these caps. The first is Hasso, which gives 10% haste and contributes to no caps. The second is a DRK exclusive Merit ability (and is otherwise a useless ability), Desperate Blows. With full gear Haste (possible with the Rune Chopper) + full magic Haste + Hasso + Desperate Blows, the total becomes 93.3% haste. This is a 15.625x increase in attack speed, which, with a 504 delay Rune Chopper, it gives you a delay of 33.47 -- which is a .56 second delay between attacks. With the hardest hitting attacks in the game, this is freaking ridiculous.
- Souleater + Blood Weapon enables you to have the highest damage output in the game when used with certain weapons, abilities, and gear. You can use the previous tip with SE+BW and become a pure beast, but not even that is the highest damage output possible. Using the haste build with Bahamut's Zaghnal is an improvement on HNM, but even still, it's not the highest. The absolute highest possible damage comes from the mighty Kraken Club. Every round of attacks with the KClub does 1-8 hits, with an equal chance of each number of hits. This ends up being an average of 4.5 attacks every round with a delay of 264. With 68.3% haste (the highest possible with a 1h weapon), this becomes a delay of 83.7 which equals a 1.39s delay between attack rounds. That is 22 attack rounds per 30 seconds with an average of 99 attacks per 30 seconds. Thanks to the power of Souleater + Blood Weapon, those attacks are all for a lot of damage. Assuming 150 damage per hit, that means that in the course of Blood Weapon's 30 seconds, you will deal an average of 14850 damage (if every hit lands). This can be increased even further with a proper Souleater build using Souleater enhancing gear and HP+ gear. Using /DRG also adds a lot of hits since Jumps count as 1 full attack round, and you can use the Wyvern Earring which gives +5% haste.
- Absorb-TP is a great ally but can actually become a hindrance if you misuse it. Do NOT use it as soon as its up. Use it when your TP is less than 60% and the mob hasn't WSed in at least 12 seconds. Wasting 2 seconds to cast this when you will get no significant return is a waste of time and MP.
- If using Last Resort or Souleater in a standard party, try to use them right before you hit the mob. If you haven't gained any enmity on a specific mob, a self-buff will not gain you any enmity.
- When using Drain, Aspir, or Drain II, try to use it during a period you can't hit the mob for whatever reason so you don't waste time in which you could be attacking.
- Never forget that you can Sleep things. You may not be the best sleeper around, but you CAN do it.
- Staying alive as DRK is a constant struggle, but there are many things you can do. If you are about to do something like a buffed up Guillotine early in a fight, you might want to cast Dread Spikes first. If Dread Spikes is down and the mob has low enough HP, stun it after the WS. The extra hate from Stun is no big deal if the enemy is going to die in a few seconds. If you are /NIN, cast Utsusemi: Ichi between battles so that your Ni cooldown is always prepared and so that you can overwrite your Ichi with a Ni; and always make sure to cancel an Utsusemi: Ni while casting an Ichi.
- Though you are not a tank, you CAN tank when subbing NIN at level 74+. Stuns, Last Resort, Souleater, Sleeps, Bind, and Absorbs are all potent hate tools and proper use of them can keep the enemy focused on you. Your problem lies in being able to take hits and inability to evade often, of course. Dread Spikes only absorbs so much and Drains are quite inconsistent, so unless you have enough haste keep casting Utsusemis, you will need the mob to have slows and/or elegies applied. With the proper setup, tanking as DRK/NIN can be quite fun and effective.