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Dark Souls 2 – Melee Build Guide with Support Miracles

August 15, 2014

I have transitioned from my beloved Dark Souls and have been enjoying Dark Souls 2, lately on the PC.  I really did not have a favorite build in Dark Souls but I seem to be gravitating to the same type of build in Dark Souls 2.  It is a melee build with support miracles.

Here are some highlights of the build (and a video summary).  I hope these are useful and help you if you are thinking of building a melee character in Dark Souls 2.

Leveling

The build is based around high Vigor, Strength and Dexterity with support miracles.  The end build level is up to the player but for this build Vigor should be at 50, and Strength and Dexterity at 40.  Endurance is the next most important stat and should be 10 at a minimum, with 20 preferred.

When leveling, prioritize Strength over Dexterity once you have the stats to wield your preferred weapon.  That is because in Dark Souls 2, Strength scaling is superior to Dexterity scaling.  An “A” scaling on STR will get you higher attack rating than an “A” scaling on DEX.

Vitality, Adaptability and Faith should be 10.  Increase these further if you want to wear heavier armor, improve dodge capability or do not want to farm Skeptic’s Spice.

Weapons

This is a no-holds barred “quality” build that uses weapons which scale well with both Strength and Dexterity.  Only the best quality weapons in the game should be used.  There are some good quality weapons that deal split damage (such as the Black Knight weapons).  However, weapons that deal purely physical damage are superior and can be enchanted with spells or buffed with resins for additional elemental damage.

The three best options are the Sun Sword, the Claymore and the Curved Dragon Greatsword.  You should obtain the Claymore as early as possible (here is a video on how to do it very quickly).  It will take you through most of the game with frequent upgrading and as the build grows in STR and DEX.  The Claymore is probably the best weapon in the game, at least for your first playthrough.  The move set is breathtakingly flexible.  This sword can break poise when two-handed and deals a solid amount of damage at 40/40.

If you choose to summon for the boss fights, summon phantoms from the Heirs of the Sun covenant.  You will receive one Sunlight Medal for each covenanter summoned.  When you collect 30 medals, turn them in at the Sun Light Altar to receive the Sun Sword as your reward.  The Sun Sword has “A” scaling on both STR and DEX and will have an attack rating of close to 400 with the Ring of Blades +2 equipped.  The Sun Sword can be used as a utility weapon for defeating fast enemies or even in PVP due to its fast attacks and good damage.

Near the end of the game, you will gain access to the Dragon Greatsword.  This is a heavy sword with immense hitting power.  The attack rating at 40/40 with the Ring of Blades +2 will be 625.  Like all curved great swords and great hammers, this one is a bit temperamental when it comes to tracking enemies.  You may lose the tracking even on a locked-on target if he spins on you.  The solution is to point the directional stick towards the enemy as you are attacking, if he has rotated around you.  Once you have mastered this little tip, the Curved Dragon Greatsword will help you tear through bosses in PVE and even invasions in PVE.  This sword has powerful ranged attacks with its strong attacks (especially two-handed).  Invaders can be taken down as they are fleeing to heal.  Boss fights can be finished with a flourish from a safe distance, if you are low in health and do not want to mix it up near the end.

If you prefer great swords or great hammers, you can save points on DEX and add them to your favorite attribute.  The Mastodon Greatsword, the Greatsword, the Great Club and the Gyrm Greathammer are good options if you choose this route.

Rings

Rings are quite important and are essential to the build.  Try to obtain the highest levels of the Cloranthy Ring, the Royal Soldier’s Ring, the Dragon Ring and the Ring of Blades.  An optional but useful item is the Ring of Giants.  This ring can be paired with some of the better light armors to provide you with similar defense as heavy armor without the weight penalty.  A very good combination is the Llewellyn armor with the Ring of Giants +2, which will provide excellent defense and poise on par with much heavier armor when fully upgraded.

Another useful ring is the Southern Ritual Band.  You should not waste any points on Attunement.  Instead use this ring to provide you with 1, 2 or 3 spell slots as needed.

Spells

The best melee spells in the game are Denial and Sacred Oath, respectively.  Denial is the superior one, requiring 3 slots but returning you from death with 1 HP.  This miracle is invaluable and will save you many times in both PVP and PVE.  The Southern Ritual Band +2 will yield 3 slots, perfectly accommodating the Denial miracle.

If you prefer an offensive and defensive buff to cheating death, then use Sacred Oath.  This miracle will not be available until late in the game.  Because it requires 4 slots, you will need the Southern Ritual Band and ATT of 10.

During your first playthrough, you should be able to collect enough Skeptic’s Spice to lower the Faith requirements of either of these spells to about 10.  With some farming, you may be able to lower both within attainable Faith levels.  However, FAI should never be prioritized over VIG, STR or DEX.

Your weapon can be further buffed with resins or with Fire Weapon.  I do not recommend Crystal Magic Weapon or Sunlight Blade.  These spells are too expensive and the same effects can be obtained through resins.

Shields

You should opt for a good Normal shield with 100% physical resistance, if you like to block.  The Royal Kite Shield, the Drakeeper’s Shield and the Stone Parma are very good.  If you want to trade a boss soul, upgrade to the Defender’s Shield or the King’s Shield which have superior elemental resistance.

If you prefer to dodge, you can opt to go without a shield.  This is a viable option once you have reached VIG over 35.  An option for those who prefer two-handed attacks is to use a stamina boosting shield (Slumbering Dragon Shield or the Blossom Kite Shield).

Large shields are not recommended.  I prefer to use the weight savings on either a heavier hitting weapon or better armor.

Armor

Armor can be varied based on your play style.  I prefer heavier chest and leg armor, and use utility armor for the legs and head.  I recommend the Sanctum Knight, the Drakeblood Knight, the Veldstadt and the Smelter Demon sets for heavy armor.  Good light sets include the Llewellyn, the Black Witch, the Chaos and even the Jester Set.  It is important to note that sets offering resistance to petrification and curse are superior for late in the game and in the DLC.  Other sets are viable but may lack petrification, curse resistance or other resistances.

I want to make special mention of the Sanctum Knight Chest, the Sanctum Knight Leggings and the Drakeblood Knight Gauntlets.  These items are very strong at base level.  If you do not plan to level up armor, these items can be used through multiple plays of the game.  The Leggings may be swapped if you do not care for the useful fall resistance buff they impart.

Putting It All Together

When the build is complete, your character should be able to trade blows with any enemy in the game.  Boss fights are made easier thanks to the survivability of the build, and the flexibility of available weapon move sets with high buffed damage.  This flexibility is unique to “quality” builds and may be sorely missed if you decided to go full strength.

This build is difficult to kill.  The combination of heavy armor, high Vigor and Denial is a powerful deterrent to failure in even the toughest of boss encounters, like the Smelter Demon or Sinh.  Alternatively, a double buff from Sacred Oath and resins transforms your quality weapon into an instrument of death in PVP or PVE.

I hope this guide will help you with your Dark Souls 2 build.  Feel free to drop me a line with your comments and questions.

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9 Comments
  1. I have played a view times through dark souls 2,easier than dark souls 1 but I think its cause players helped.
    dark souls 1 I played alone so its hard but with the sorceries aka easy mode its possible,thanks for all the advise and dark souls 1 is still the best.
    I cant wait for blood borne,i will be forced to buy a ps4 for that one.

    • Domino permalink

      Agree with you Johan regarding NG. DS2 was so much easier than DS1 with sorceries/miracles on NG playthrough, and the mace was viable throughout (except for possibly the DLC content). But for NG+ and beyond, DS1 is vastly easier b/c the sorceries are much more powerful, plus you have crown of dusk, power within, bellowing dragoncrest ring, TCC and/or manus catalyst.

      I have to say thanks to TPR, my favorite build for DS1 is DEX/INT using Great Scythe+15 for trash mobs, then the OP Dark Bead, CSS, HCSM, CMW for bosses. This build destroys even on NG+7 and beyond.

      For DS2, I’m leaning toward high vig50, and FTH/STR with high ATT as they nerfed FTH casts. I also like Agility at least 100, and END/VIT 20s for heavier armor and you can trade more blows in with the END. I’m addicted to Gyrm and Havel’s GS.

      TPR, I think I’m going to try those slow but powerful strength weapons as the mace is underwhelming beyond NG and in the DLC content, so maybe the above plus a heavy hitting STR weapon can carry you through NG+x? I still have yet found a melee weapon equivalent to the DS1 great scythe which is my stalling point in progressing to getting the majula map blue flame (NG+10)!

  2. Domino permalink

    It’s really great to see you back TPR! I took your advice and upgraded the curved dragon great sword, and I’m so glad I did! I was trying to find a decent melee weapon, and this thing is a beast! I have STR45, DEX20, and I’m sure it will continue to do massive power once I get my Dex up to 40.

    It’s really incredible as the base damage fully upgraded is already 400, NOT including STR/DEX bonuses. It’s also rather fast and tracks well unlike the other great swords (crypt, regular great sword). I can do three R1 with END20 (also will beef this up). Could this be the equivalent of the DS1 Great Scythe?

    • I have found nothing like the GS in DS1 but the Curved Dragon Greatsword is pretty good!

      • Domino permalink

        Indeed! You also showed us the fabulous red iron twinblade–i think that can be the new GS in DS1 for both PvE and PvP? The more I’m getting used to it, the more effective it is compared to even the lovely Curved Dragon GS!

      • Johan permalink

        is it possible to make a guide on how to get enough twinkling titinite and petrified dragon bones in one hour to make a early boss soul weapon,its the only thing i dont like about ds2 is that you can only at the end of the game make a boss weapon i would like to start the game just after killing the first few bosses with a boss weapon like the warped sword fully upgraded ,thanks.

      • Domino permalink

        Hey Johan. You’re right, once you get the boss weapon and enough twinkling and petrified dragon bones, you’re near end game. I think it’s b/c DS2 wants you to do repeated cycles since you get more powerful spells and different items in NG+ and beyond.

        Ironically, I found that boss weapons are quite underwhelming though. Tech Phantom showed the best PvE weapon, Red Iron Twinblade (RIT), which you should definitely check out! It’s beast, b/c it does fast combinations so the attack rating is multiplied. The only time I use the Curved dragon Great sword is against bosses where you can ONLY get in 1 hit, such as Sir Alonne and Lost Sinner, as it has higher attack rating per strike than the RIT. But if you can get in multiple hits, the RIT exceeds everything else!

      • johan permalink

        yes the red iron twin blade is very strong,my favourite weapons now are the estoc and rapier,when you two hand them and poke you do great damage even against non flesh enemies.

  3. Domino permalink

    TPR and Johan are you all enjoying DS3? I just beat the game!

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