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Dark Souls 2 Top Ten Armor – Chest Pieces

August 20, 2014

There are 2 reasons to wear armor in Dark Souls 2.  Which camp you fall into might depend on your character, intended build or even whether the action will be mostly PVE or PVP.  One camp 1 calls for optimized defensive ratings, resistances, and passive buffs and effects.  Another camp is for the more relaxing times that call for “Fashion Souls”.  While I can’t recommend how to outfit your character in the most fashion-forward manner, I can provide you with my analysis and thoughts on the best armor available in the game.

I have set up some ground rules to make an objective comparison from item to item.  I am limiting this discussion to chest pieces.  Head, arm and leg armor typically provides a much lower level of physical defense.  These items more often have passive buffs that help round out the character with useful attributes.  For the sake of this analysis, I will generalize that you are more likely to wear a non-chest item for a passive effect.  Therefore, the majority of defenses will be provided by the chest armor.

I set up a scoring system that takes into account the physical damage rating, resistances (elemental, curse and petrification), poise, weight, durability and the bonus factor to defense when the item is fully upgraded.  Physical damage, resistances and weight were scaled more heavily since they are more important than the other factors (this is another subjective call on my end).  The goal was to have a score that reflected all resistances (physical and elemental), poise and durability, relative to weight.  The highest scorers should provide the biggest “bang-for-the-buck” when outfitting your character.

I would like to confer an “honorable mention” to an outstanding item.  While it does not make the top 10 when fully upgraded, the Sanctum Knight Chest Armor provides very high defense and poise per weight as-is, without any upgrading.  I actually suggest that you do not upgrade it all. Rather, use it as an alternate while you obtain and upgrade your main piece.  You will not be disappointed.

Now, let’s count down the Top 10 Armor pieces in Dark Souls 2:

#10 Mad Warrior Armor+5

This is a well rounded out armor that requires some farming in NG+.  The defensive rating at +5 is 257.  It does have higher than normal bleed and poison resistance.  Poise is acceptable but durability is relatively low for a “heavy” set.  The Faraam and, especially the Gyrm Armor, are good alternates.

#9 The Jester’s Robes +10

Who would have thunk it!  This is actually a great armor piece no matter whom or what you are facing.  The defensive rating is 131 at +5.  More importantly, the resistances are very high, especially poison protection.  While it does not enter into the calculation, this item makes you invulnerable to backstabs.  It does have a dexterity requirement of 14.  Alternates are Lucatiel’s Vest or the Saint’s Dress.

#8 The King’s Armor +5

The Shrine of Amana holds this little gem.  You must find the secret location while in human form to don the King’s regalia.  This is a moderately heavy set with very high resistances to Magic, Fire, Poison, Bleed and Petrify.  The physical defense is 215 at +5, which is very high for its weight.  However, poise is very low relative to similarly weighted armors.  The lack of curse resistance may have been forced by the developers to fit into the lore (since the King hollows out eventually).  The Drakeblood and the Elite Knight Armors will provide marginally equivalent protection.

#7 Drakeeper Armor +10

A lucky drop from the hard hitting Drakekeepers, this is essentially a granite-black, slightly heavier version of Velstadt’s armor.  Physical defense is a whopping 333 at +10.  Resistances are high and consistent across the board, with higher than normal bleed and curse ratings.  However it does lack petrify resistance and suffers from low durability relative to its weight.  The Imperious Armor and the Drangleic Mail are good alternate choices.

#6 Alonne Captain Armor+10

A rare drop from the bow-and-lighting-katana wielding Alonne Captains, this is the only item in the Top 10 that has 0 curse and petrify resistance.  However, the physical damage rating is outstanding at 324 for a +10 armor.  Very high Fire, Bleed, Magic and Dark resistances help it move up the list.  The Dragonrider’s Armor is a good alternate with lower resistances.

 #5 Agdayne’s Black Robe +5

Agdayne will gift you this item in late game, or you could literally tear it off his dead body if you are impatient.  Normally I am not tempted to off NPC’s but this Robe will tempt even the best of us.  The resistances are high at base level and ridiculous when fully upgraded.  Physical defense is 139 at +5, a high number for light armor.  The Monastery Longshirt is a surprisingly close alternate.

#4 Velstadt`s Armor+5

One of the best options for heavy sets, it can be purchased after defeating Velstadt.  The physical resistance is 330 at +5.  It has outstanding bleed and dark resistance but strangely it is somewhat susceptible to lighting.  Poise and durability are high as well. Frankly, this item will provide you with excellent resistances across the board.  It is only slightly inferior to the top 3 items in the list.  There are no good alternates but Vengarl’s comes close without the high resistances.

The next 3 items are excellent choices for armor.  Each one excels at a particular attribute with high ratings all around.  These items can be used as guiding set pieces for a build, something normally reserved for weapons.  Here are the Top 3 Armors in Dark Souls 2:

#3 Smelter Demon Armor+5

Your reward for one of the toughest boss fights in the game; this is my personal favorite, and a fabulous choice for armor.  Physical defense is 324 at +5.  Fire and bleed resistance is superior.  It is somewhat susceptible to poison, however other resistances are high and consistent.  This item has excellent ratios of weight, physical rating, high resistances and poise.  The Looking Glass Armor is a slightly heavier option but lacking in some of the resistances.

 #2 Havel`s Armor +5

The Gutter has some surprisingly good treasures, none more valuable than Havel’s Armor.  This item has the highest defensive rating, a massive 399 at +5, and the highest durability.  It is a suitably heavy item, perfect for tanks builds and requiring high Vitality.  Bleed resistance is high but, just like in Dark Souls, poison is the only weakness for enemies to explore.  If you want an alternate, try the Gyrm Warrior Armor.  It is heavier but not as good, lacking in defense and overall resistances.

#1 Black Witch Robe +5

In a surprising upset, a light item takes the crown for best armor in Dark Souls 2.  This is not an easy item to get.  You must purchase it from Navlaan in late game after figuring out how to get him to talk to you.  The Black Witch Robe has good physical defense of 146 at +5.  However, its resistances are without equal in the game.  It has the highest magic, lightning and dark rating, and the second highest fire resistance.  It also offers high protection from curse and petrify and shields you from poison and bleed as well.

I hope you have enjoyed this list.  I reserve the right to modify it later on as more items are introduced in the upcoming DLC’s.  Let me know what your list of Top 10 Armors look like.

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2 Comments
  1. Domino permalink

    Thanks so much for this list TPR. Unlike Dark Souls 1, I wasn’t sure which armor sets/pieces are optimal since DS1 has the mugenmonkey armor optimizer, so it was very easy to see which pieces you should use for different situations. So your list is sorely needed, to say the least!

    For tank, yes Havel’s is clearly the best, but it was too ugly for me to wear, and I intuitively went with the Smelter as I noticed it is almost on par with Havel’s but more importantly less ugly and lighter. So I was happy to see it be #3 on your list! I find the Havel’s gloves, on the other hand, rather nice looking, so I tend to wear the hexer hood, smelter chest and leggings with Havel’s gloves when I want to tank.

    About the black witch dress being #1–VERY surprising!!!! I didn’t expect that at all. I decided to upgrade it fully! I believe calibration 1.10 nerfed the black witch dress, but I’m not sure by how much.

    I know this is a focus on chest pieces, so I was wondering if you will do another list on pieces that confer status effects? In one of your videos, you pointed to the sanctum knight leggings, which is actually phenomenal b/c it includes 2 rings effects (slumbering dragon crest ring and silver cat ring), with pretty good defense ratings for its weight.

    • Hey, I am really sorry I never read your post about the rage quit on your no death run. That had to be devastating. Keep it up and I am sure you will get there. It sounds like you have the strategy down but you may have gotten a bit unlucky or nervous at crunchtime. I know you can do it.

      Let me know about the Black Witch Dress. I am using the Wiki.dot data which is fairly well updated. Do you know if the numbers are still good?

      I agree with you on Smelter’s being a goo looking set. I love how it pairs with the Executioner’s Leggings.

      As far as other awesome armor pieces, here you go but I have not looked at the min/max stats.

      Head: Velstadt’s Helm (this thing is ridiculous), Hexer’s Hood
      Arm: Bloodknight Gauntlet’s (un-upgraded), Steel Gauntlets
      Legs: Alonne Knight’s, Sanctum Knight (even if it’s upgraded)

      Two really good sets of armor that don’t have curse or pretrification are the Steel Set and the Dragonrider’s Set. They are both really outstanding.

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