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Dark Souls Top Ten Armor Sets

June 13, 2012

Armor in Dark Souls is much more important than in Demon’s Souls.  Stronger armor significantly increases your defense.  There are different armor items and sets with unique attributes that may help you with a particular boss or game area.  Choosing and equipping the right armor for your build can make a world of difference as your progress through the game.

Besides defensive attributes, you must also carefully consider the weight of an armor set, whether it can be upgraded and required upgrade material (normal versus Twinkling Titanite).

So let us take a tour of my very biased list of Top 10 Armor Sets.

Honorary mention: Set of Favor

I could not help myself and had to find a spot on this list for the Set of Favor.  You must invade Lautrec’s world in Anor Londo using the Black Eye Orb.  After you avenge Anastacia, the set is located in the same level as the Chamber of the Princess’ bonfire.  This set requires Twinkling Titanite for upgrades.  It offers good protection across the board for a mid-weight set, including curse resistance.  But my favorite feature is certainly the design of the set.  Let’s face it, sometimes how armor looks on our build is the ultimate reason for equipping it.  The Set of Favor is the best-looking and most bad-ass armor set in Dark Souls.

#10: Smough’s Set

There is very little difference between Havel’s and Smough’s armor.  Smough’s is a bit lighter with better fire and lightning resistance, while Havel’s is heavier but has better poise and curse resistance.  Neither set requires an upgrade.  Havel’s Set is hidden in the basement of Anor Londo (break through a fireplace to get to it).  Dohmnall sells Smough’s Set at Firelink after the boss fight (you must kill the Executioner last).  Ultimately I prefer Smough’s armor.  It is more expensive and difficult to acquire.  But the lighter weight and much higher fire and lightning resistances are useful in NG+.  It also makes for a more comical character, sort of like a blinged-out, Las Vegas version of the Michelin Tire Man.

#9: Crimson Set

This set is available very early in the game if you have the Master Key.  You can immediately go to Blighttown and find it in a chest in the upper levels before the paddle wheel.  This is a light set that can be upgraded with Twinkling Titanite and has good physical and high magic resistance.  What makes this set invaluable is the curse resistance.  You can build up a fair amount of it with upgrades.  But even at base levels, you will have enough curse defense for worry-free strolls in the Depths and the Great Hollow.  Before Path 1.05 dropped the physical defense, I would rate the Antiquated Set superior, since it is lighter, has very high curse defense and the Crown boosts magic attacks.  However, the Antiquated Set is not available until much later in the game when you are strong enough to take on the Hydra.  Either set is a valuable addition to your inventory.  If you prefer melee like I do, the Crimson Set is the better choice.  Magic builds with ranged attacks and low endurance should opt for the Antiquated Set.

#8: Xanthous Set

You will not be able to pick up this set until you leave the Painted World of Ariamis.  First, you must be in human form and kill Xanthous in the snowfield littered with the large blocks.  The set is on a corpse on your way out past Priscilla the Cross Breed.  After upgrading with Twinkling Titanite, this set becomes the strongest light armor in the game, lacking only in the curse department (only the Crown has curse defense).  The Gloves and the Waistcloth are very good, especially the leg armor which outpaces much heavier armor from other sets.  The hot mustard color and crazy Crown makes for a very interesting-looking set indeed.  Highly recommended!

#7: Pyromancer Set

In my judgment, this is the best starter armor set in the game.  While it has low physical defense, the high poison and fire resistance, and low weight make it indispensable for running and gunning.  This is the only starter set with curse resistance, and good magic resistance thrown-in as well.  The set can be upgraded with Titanite and is available in early game.  Go to Blighttown and search in the area with the leech, after heading directly out of the bonfire cave.

#6: Elite Knight Set

It is difficult to take off an item from this set once equipped.  This mid-weight set will definitely grow with your character and regular Titanite upgrades.  It has the potential for very high physical defense and offers good resistances across the board (but no curse defense).  The Elite Knight Set is available in early game.  Head to Darkroot Basin into the area with the Giant Stone Knights.  It will be guarded by several Demonic Foliages as well.  You can run away after grabbing the loot or suicide.  A close but inferior alternate is the starter Knight Set.

#5: Ornstein’s Set

This mid-weight to heavy set is a suitable reward for taking on Smough and Ornstein.  Domhnall will sell it if you kill the Dragonslayer last, which makes for a tougher boss fight.  The set offers excellent resistance to everything from magic to curse, along with good physical defense.  While it is a bit expensive, it does not have to be upgraded.  This set is an excellent choice for builds that need to melee but cannot wear the heaviest armor sets.  Try it for the boss fight with Seath The Scaless or just because of its bad-ass looks.

#4: Gold-Hemmed Black Set

Even after the 1.05 patch downgrade, this is still the best light armor in the game.  It can be complimented with items from other sets to make up for the lack of curse defense.  This set has very high poison and fire resistance with decent physical and magic defense.  It cannot be upgraded.  As one of the best designed sets in the game, you will want to equip it for its looks alone.  I especially like how the Hood hides your face for a more mysterious and menacing look.  The game developers purposely prevent you from using this set during the Quelaag boss fight.  If you go on to NG+, put it on and take on that Chaos Bitch, I mean Witch.

And now for my top 3 armor sets in Dark Souls.  You can tell I have a predilection for melee since these are all heavy sets that require high endurance plus Havel’s Ring or the Dark Wood Grain Ring for normal movement.

#3: Stone Set

The Stone Set is available immediately after purchasing the Crest of Artorias and unlocking the door in Darkroot Garden.  You can run past the enemies, bound down the stone stairs and loop around the ruins to find the set inside a chest.  The set cannot be upgraded.  It offers massive physical defense, high magic and fire defense, and very high lightning resistance.  Because the Crest can be purchased relatively early in the game (see my post for more info), you can take advantage of this strong armor for the Quelaag boss fight.  Havel’s Ring or the Dark Wood Grain Ring are highly recommended for equipping as many items in this set in early game.  As soon as you equip this armor, you will notice a significant change.  It is as though your character has leveled up several times.  Enemy attacks do much less damage and several continuous blows can be easily absorbed.  The Stone Set has no curse protection and it is quite heavy but has no other weaknesses.  This is the best armor for the Anor Londo boss fight, the toughest in the game, because of its high lightning resistance.

#2: Paladin Set

You normally get this item later in the game once you are able to make it past the treacherous Catacombs.  In you are in human form, Paladin Leeroy will invade just outside the entrance to the Tomb of the Giants.  His armor will be on a corpse in the area where you fight Gravelord Nito.  Don’t forget to pick it up after the boss fight.  This is an excellent all around armor set, with the highest curse protection in the game.  Upgrades with Twinkling Titanite will unlock high physical defense but all other resistances are also very good.  This armor is significantly lighter than the Stone Set so it can be worn by lower endurance builds with Havel’s Ring, the Dark Wood Grain Ring or the Mask of the Father.  This is an excellent armor for NG+, where it can be quickly maxed out with Twinkling Titanite.

#1: Black Iron Set

When you first happen upon this set, in a corner next to the painting that sends you to Ariamis, you may not be impressed with the initial stats.  This is a heavy set but lighter than Smough’s and the Stone sets and much lighter than Havel’s armor.  Twinkling Titanite is very expensive and somewhat difficult to farm in your first playthrough.  But believe me, spending as much time as needed to max out this set is absolutely worth it.  The Black Iron Armor (the main body piece) and the Black Iron Gloves should be your first priorities for upgrades.  Even if you cannot wear the complete set, these 2 items alone will engulf you in a massively strong protective cocoon.  The set has the highest rated physical defense, very high fire protection and high ratings for all other resistances too.  It may lack a bit in poise relative to other uber-heavy sets like Havel’s but its impressive overall stats and lighter weight more than make up for this small and lone weakness.  Melee builds should increase endurance until they can wear the entire set.  Other builds with lower endurance can mix and match with other items (try it with the Crown of Dusk and Xanthous’ Waistcloth).  The Black Iron Set is my choice for best armor in Dark Souls.

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17 Comments
  1. weasdfe permalink

    Giants is better than black iron in my opinion

    • It is really close. The Giant’s set is a tiny bit heavier with better physical and magic resistance and poise. The Black Iron set is lighter, has better bleed resistance and has curse resistance. I think it comes down to a matter of preference and whether you can afford the additional weight of the Giant’s set. Weight is now more important than ever since the Dark Wood Grain Ring has been nerfed. I have to admit, this set should have been in my Top 10 list. I am going to try it in the new DLC areas because of the magic resistance. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. asdasd permalink

    If it’s close, then why isn’t it even on the list? (Giant’s set)

    • The Black Knight Set is better in my opinion because of the higher bleed and fire resistance, and the smaller weight. Even a very few units of weight can make a huge difference between a mid-roll and a fat roll. The Black Knight set is also free and looks cooler. Go Tarkus!

  3. Alderon permalink

    Thanks for this post man. I have been looking for something like this to give me a descent brake down and explanation on the top sets.

    • You’re welcome. I have stopped posting because I have been spending most of my time uploading to my Youtube channel. Check it out if you want to learn more about Dark Souls secrets and lore. By the way, the nerfing of the Dark Wood Grain Ring really affects armor strategy. One set that should not be neglected for light endurance builds is the chain set (but with the Elite Knight Gauntlets) because it provides good physical defense and poise at the weight of a light set.

      • tarkus permalink

        can you please tell as to how it is easy to farm twinkling titanite on ng+(i am new to dark souls) nd thanx fr the article i gt d black iron set all juiced up and it is AMAZING(looks and stats) i upgrade the big hat to as i use it instead of the helm when facing magic weilding foes.

  4. tarkus permalink

    can you please tell as to how it is easy to farm twinkling titanite on ng+(i am new to dark souls) nd thanx fr the article i gt d black iron set all juiced up and it is AMAZING(looks and stats) i upgrade the big hat to as i use it instead of the helm when facing magic weilding foes.

    • The fastest way to farm twinkling titanite (TT) is to warp to the Crystal Cave after defeating Seath. From there, you can equip the gold covetous ring and 10 humanity and farm the man-eating clams. They have a very high drop rate for TT. In NG+, you will also get lots of souls, which can be used to buy TT from the Giant blacksmith in Anor Londo. Look in my youtube channel on one of my playthroughs for the Seath episode to find out the exact location and method.

      • manuelvidal permalink

        You can also try in Ash lake, The drop rate of the giant clams its bigger. (so much better if you equip Covetous Gold Serpent Ring)
        In my experience i get aprox 1 Twinkling per minute .
        (excuse me for my basic english)

  5. Karly permalink

    Dinghy Robe + 10 is amazing.

  6. Eric permalink

    The absolute best armors overall are as follow. 1. Black Iron set 2. Smough set 3. Dingy set 4. Paladin set 5. Favor set 6. Brass set 7. Iron set. Dingy is great because of how light it is. Use wolf ring and steel protection ring with it. Remember these armors are OVERALL BEST, meaning they do everything superb, physical def, elemental def, POISE, bleed, poison, CURSE

  7. JDog permalink

    Absolutly agree man. Favor is definatly nice. And if you farm the spear guys in ariamis it doesnt take long at all to get the full upgrades. Good read

  8. Josh permalink

    What about havels armour

  9. PrinceCobra925 permalink

    Is nobody going to talk about artorias’s armor? Relatively light, high physical and fire defense, and, beyond that, it looks badass.

  10. This post must be renamed as melee best armor sets since; clerics, pyro and sorcerers don’t use this type of armors most of the time, some does but only a few, also guardian armor from dlc offer the 1-2d top defense of any set.

  11. Must be renamed as best melee armor sets, since pyros, sorcerers, clerics barely use this ones, only sometimes when needed for a boss. Also the best heavy armor is the guardian one (1-2d best one) since offers high overall defense than any other (DLC one).

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