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Dark Souls Top Ten Fun, Crazy and Epic Builds and Game Challenges

April 11, 2012

After initially finishing Dark Souls, players thoughts drift to different builds based on PVE or PVP or for the added challenge of NG+.  There is nothing more entertaining than planning and executing a build from scratch, especially where the build is exactly like you imagined it and it’s just a blast.  Everyone has hit on a favorite build for PVP trolling or boss encounters, along with promising builds gone horribly wrong and quickly erased.  It is just this build experimentation that adds a huge amount of replayability and value to Dark Souls, and cements you into the community that loves this game.

Here are my recommendations.  These are all broad build trees that may branch into some familiar and unfamiliar territory.  Have you ever tried a “Nudist New Yorker”? How about a “Lethal Weapon Cosplayer”?  If intrigued, read on for my top ten fun, crazy and epic Dark Souls builds and game challenges.  What are your favorite Dark Souls builds and epic challenges?

#10: The Technocrat

According to the www, a technocrat is “a member of a technically skilled elite”.  What better description for this build!  You may only level one stat during your entire playthrough.  The rest have to stay at your base level.  Yes, you will certainly join the inner Dark Souls “expert elite” circle but only in one stat.  These are actually some of the most entertaining and varied builds to try.  A subset of this build is “The Lance Amstrong”, of course an endurance build that can run-and-gun forever even while fully loaded.  Another is “The Bookworm” an Attunement build which is only really useful for pyromancies.  Then there is “The Merlin”, a massively powerful sorcerer but a complete weakling with no vitality and able to wield a hand axe and some daggers only.  And “The Germophobe” is the ultimate resistance build, immune to fire, poison and toxin.

Golden Rule: finish the game while only leveling one particular stat of your choice

Recommended Starting Build: The Knight is you are not picking vitality, otherwise any other class

Difficulty Rating: Intermediate for Vitality, Dexterity or Strength.  Expert for other stats (attunement and the warrior combo is the hardest).

#9: The Cosplayer

Emulate your favorite enemy or NPC and finish the game using their equipment only.  The Dark Souls universe is replete with different characters, each one with its own unique playstyle.  You can be an agile and cunning thief, or Havel the Rock, the ultimate tank, or even a Dragon!  Don’t forget to maintain the proper covenant for your character.  This is a super fun PVP and PVE build, especially if you can get a group of friends to join-in the fun.  The farming and questing for the proper cosplay item will make the game more meaningful.  My fave: the ninja bodyguard.  I am a sucker for both the Wood Grain Ring and the Washing Pole.

Golden Rule: finish the game as a perfect duplicate of a boss or NPC, including equipment, spells and covenant (if using dragonform, no armor or weapons allowed).

Recommended Starting Build: any and all

Difficulty Rating: Beginner to Expert depending on the NPC.

#8: The Marquess of Queensburry

A build that loves a bare-fisted, knock-down, drag-out fight, and eschews armor and weapons.  This build is for throwbacks and Neanderthals only and is super difficult.  If you want in on the fun but with a more accessible build, try adding the Caestus, Claws, Dark hand or Dragonbone Fist.  For an even easier build, add leg armor or the dragon torso.  These variations are also fun in NG+.  If you can successfully PVP with this build, my hat is off to you, sir!

Golden Rule: finish the game using only your bare fists, no weapons or armor allowed.

Recommended Starting Build: any starting build will slowly mutate into a powerful brute with very high vitality and strength.  Rotate regular increases to resistance after 50 vitality and 50 strength, all other stats can be ignored.

Difficulty Rating: Expert and Hardcore.  Pawn some PVP newbies with this build for fun.

#7: The Strategist

Although Dark Souls emphasizes action, strategy plays a very large role in the game.  Specifically, it is very difficult to “cheese” or button-mash through the boss fights.  You must have a plan and strategy for conquering them even with a highly leveled character.  This build relies on analysis and planning to advance through the game.  The Strategist adjusts his attributes, spells and equipment based on the enemies’ weakness.  He seeks to gain knowledge from every fight and relishes experimentation with different weapons, spells and playstyles.  He obsesses over game intelligence and research, pouring over guides, charts and spreadsheets that track the exact damage and defense rating, and relative effectiveness of every item the game.  The Straegist wishes he could have 100 game save slots instead of 10, because the possibilities are endless.  This build wholly embraces From Software’s concept for Dark Souls, a challenging but infinitely fair game where every death is a learning experience and the key item is just around the corner.  One prominent sub-set of this build is the “Nuclear Bomber” who thirsts for scoring the highest amount of damage possible in the game.

Golden Rule: follow a set strategic plan that culminates in finishing the game

Recommended Starting Build: any and all

Difficulty Rating: Hardcore due to the amount of time you will sink into the game

#6: The New Yorker

Always in a hurry, The New Yorker has places to be and people to see.  He doesn’t only want to finish the game incredibly quickly, he wants to “break” it in the process.  He uses everything the game gives him to speed through it like Sonic the Hedgehog.  He is okay with glitches but the New Yorker is no cheater.   He knows every shortcut and quickly dispatches bosses.  The New Yorker can do things that will make your jaw drop. He has ice water in his veins, lightning quick reflexes, and, damn it, he is a little conceited ‘cause he is a baller.  A subset of this build is the Ninja Warrior, a masochistic build that will take on a specific enemy or area of the game with the worst possible combo of gear and stats.  The Ninja Warrior is an adrenaline junkie that needs to be challenged by the game.  Why climb the mountain? Cause it’s there!

Golden Rule: finish the game as quickly as possible

Recommended Starting Build: The Pyromancer and Knight are to be good choices but any class will do.

Difficulty Rating: Expert to Godly depending on your time.  Go to Youtube for some unholy playthroughs, totaling 35 minutes with a glitch and under 2 hours after the latest game patch.  My best time is 6 hours 18 minutes.

#5: The Boy Scout

Some people like farming and some absolutely detest it!  The Boy Scout is the ultimate farmer, and is “always prepared”.  He longs to obtain every single item in the game because you never know what you will need. His quest will extend through at least 3 playthrough’s and the entire Dark Souls universe.  On the way, he will have savored all of the covenants, ventured frequently online, and experienced life as multiple characters… but wait there is more!  The Boy Scout is no hoarder.  He is practical and “always prepared”.  The Boy Scout must have the capability to wield any and all items he has collected (weapons, armor, rings, spells, consumables, keys).  A full inventory is not good enough.  The path to 58 strength, 20 dexterity, 50 intelligence and 50 faith is long and arduous but quite rewarding.

Golden Rule: find all of the game items and achieve sufficient stats to equip all weapons, armors and spells in your inventory.

Recommended Starting Build: you will end up with a balanced build but don’t neglect endurance.  This is a very important stat, especially in NG+ and further.

Difficulty Rating: Expert.  You will play the game so long you will become an expert.  Truly an epic build!

#4: The Miser

This one spends his souls very wisely, is self-centered and controlled by his possessions.  The Miser will not buy or pick up any item in the game.  His starting equipment is good enough for him, thank you very much!  He uses all of his souls to level up or upgrade his precious equipment.  There are some variations of the Miser based on your starting gift, which allows wielding humanity, firebombs, Tiny Being’s Ring or the Witch’s Ring.  This is an expert build as you will not have access to the most powerful items in the game and rings are off limits too!

Golden Rule: finish the game using only original equipment.  Never put on anything else or pick-up anything other than souls.

Recommended Starting Build: a fully upgraded Knight is pretty strong with an excellent shield.  If you want a challenge, try the Sorcerer or the Pyromancer.  Both are very difficult because they are limited to their starting spell and are very weak.

Difficulty Rating: Intermediate to Expert depending on your starting class.

#3: The Nudist

One of the most difficult builds to play, actually.  This one restricts you to no armor at all.   You may carry a shield and weapon only.  If you want to improve your fighting skills, this is the ultimate training build.  You can wield any weapon, shield, armor set and spells but you will take quite a bit of damage on a single hit, even at high levels.  The emphasis here is avoiding damage.  A good confirmation of owning a boss is to complete the kill with no armor.

Golden Rule: finish the game with weapon and shield only; no armor allowed, ever, seriously!

Recommended Build: any build will work but the Dark Wood Grain Ring is essential.

Difficulty Rating: Expert and annoyingly difficult but ultimately epic!

#2: The Lethal Weapon

This build is centered around your favorite weapon in the game (remember that shields do count as weapons).  The emphasis is on planning your walkthrough to obtain and equip it as early as possible.  Once equipped, it may never be removed and no other weapon used.  An entertaining NG+ build requires you dispatch all enemies and bosses in the game with only your preferred initial weapon.  There are at least 4 variations.  For Lethal Weapon 1 you obtain your weapon as soon as possible and use it to finish the game.  In Lethal Weapon 2, you must beat every single opponent from the very beginning of the game with your favorite weapon (remember, either no shield or using the shield as your only weapon!).  This is only possible in NG+ or beyond.  Lethal Weapon 3 is for super aggressive players who used only their favorite weapon but no shield.  These players favor a two-handed playstyle.  Lethal Weapon 4 is for dual wielders, an addictive, intimidating and expert PVP build.  There are rumors about Lethal Weapon 5 as a summer blockbuster… but we hope those are untrue and do not persist!

Golden Rule: obtain your favorite weapon, max it out as quickly as possible and use it to finish the game.  Dual-wielding is allowed.

Recommended Starting Build: Any and all.

Difficulty Rating: Expert.

#1: The One-And-Done

In this build, you finish the game with level 1 base pyro character.  You will, I repeat, you will be sorely tempted to level up (especially after getting your face crushed repeatedly in early game).  Do not give in to temptation.  Patience is the key.  Keep chugging along with ever improving armor, weapons and spells and you will persevere.  If you want to see a newb digitally soil himself, head online and invade Firelink Shrine with your level 1 pyromancer plus fully upgraded armor, rings, pyro hand, shield and a +5 fire axe.  I am telling you, it is worth it!

Golden Rule: finish the game using the pyromancer and never level up

Recommended Starting Build: must use the pyro.  You can finish as a pure pyro using spells or melee with a handaxe, axe or re-inforced club.

Difficulty Rating: Expert and hardcore to the max; in other words, epic!  Melee-only is harder than pure pyro (melee took me about 21 hours).

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20 Comments
  1. John permalink

    Hi, I was just wondering, would it no longer count as the miser build if you buy a 2nd copy of your starting right-hand weapon to be upgraded to Divine (i.e. Bandit class buys 2nd Battle axe to be upgraded to a divine weapon for the catacombs)?

    • This can be your very own version of the miser build. Let me know if you do finsih the game with the Bandit equipment and good luck. By the way, Dark Souls PC is much harder than the console versions. When the DLC comes out for the PS3 abnd Xbox, I will have to think up of more crazy builds. Calamity build anyone!!!!!!!

  2. psych permalink

    My challenge was:

    golden rule: beat the game without leveling, just melee and only your starting equipment.
    additional no healing and shield allowed while bossfights, and only weapon and armor upgrades from andre!

    recommended starting build is the knight because of his armor

    did the ornstein and smough battle without taking damage in that challenge.
    this challenge was some serious fun!!

    • Wow, I would like to see a video of your gameplay in action. Try Dark Souls PC for a little bit more of a challenge. The enemies and equipment stats have been tweaked making the game more difficult for PVE but more balanced for PVP.

  3. psych permalink

    really? pc version is harder? Thats great ! 😀 im soooo excited bout the DLC, i misread the release date yesterday and thought its already released 😀 i had an adrenalin kick 🙂

    • Some people may find the game is actually not harder. It depends on whether you relied on elemental weapons and the Dark Wood Grain Ring, both have been nerfed signficantly. I am one that liked fire weapons and ninja flipping with heavy armor, so I think it is harder… On the plus side, this has added more challenge and reward to finishing the new bosses. Check out my Youtube channel for the new boss fights.

      • soulrazr permalink

        The PC version doesnt sound harder, they nerfed those things on the console versions too…

      • As of this writing, you are correct. But it took weeks for the patch and DLC to come to the consoles. If you want to experience the original slightly unbalanced and little buggy Dark Souls, re-install the game on the console and do not patch it. Memories…

  4. PureBlaze permalink

    What about an Archer.
    You start out as a hunter and you have to only use the hunters starting equipment. and you use the Red tear stone ring and it has to be activated at all times ! You`re allowed to upgrade you armor and bow. and you`re only allowed to put points into dex?

    • I don’t know how you always have the ring active unless you have a large health bar and you only do partial heals with a base Estus Flask? Anyway, that sounds like a fun build. Check out Epicnamebro’s youtube channel for some tips on the Butcher Knife.

  5. Domino permalink

    I barely was able to beat Dark Souls 1.06 without cheating. I cannot even think about winning with your epic builds, LOL.

    How about SL1 with calamity ring? That would be insane!

    • I just beat Knight Artorias with a level 1 character. Epic!!!!!! I think it took me 20 or 30 tries before I finally figured out how to do it. I was basically naked and burned him to death. The fight took about 7 minutes. I am going to try to beat Kalameet and Manus and then post the videos. I agree with you that the new bosses are more challenging than the original (don’t know about NG+).

      • Domino permalink

        Do you have this on video? would LOVE to see it. That’s really amazing and truly epic. I had full black iron set at +5, SL120 havel’s and cloranthy ring, lightning gargoyle halberd +5 of course, and still took me 15 or possibly more times to beat Knight Artorias, had a harder time with Kalameet, for some odd reason, beat Manus after only 2 tries, I was like wtf?

      • Which one of these are you talking about? I have done the Lance Armstrong endurance build and the Level 1 builds several times because they are my favorites. I am probably going to post a walkthrough on Youtube of the Level 1 build including the DLC.

      • Domino permalink

        oops, I mean RoFaP since I forgot I was using green blossom like there was no tomorrow, so didn’t have cloranthy ring equipped.

  6. edwardo555 permalink

    These are some really great suggestions! Thanks!

    I have finished the game as maneater mildred. I started as a deprived and did not allow myself to use any other gear other than the starting gear…until I got the sack and butcher knife. Even upgraded all the way, the sack is almost useless. Also, a fully upgraded wood plank shield is nothing to write home about lol.

    I also enjoy doing speed runs. My fastestest time is 2hr 41 min…no glitches, abnormally quitting game, etc. summoning phantoms is allowed, but no quitting the game when you get invaded. My 2hr 41 min run included 2 invasions.

  7. DregstarLP permalink

    WOW i’m curently trying the just fist weapons and no armor run. SO fucking hard but also very funny. I even pvp with it lol. And I seriously just killed a guy . Parried him to death XD But these challengesa are really good. great work!

  8. Jasonbecker permalink

    These aren’t builds, just personal objectives…a real build would be the Dragon King, Giantdad, the Peasant, etc.

  9. JumboRancher permalink

    The Pyromancer one I’ve seen from a YouTuber called VoicesFromTheDark and he called it the Charcoal Challenge bc he and his friend made it up. Maybe yours is based off of this? Ive started it but haven’t had much success.

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