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Dark Souls 2: Hard-Hitting Buff Build

September 2, 2014

One of the most enjoyable aspects of “souls” game has been the ability to tweak and modify character builds.  Unlike previous versions of the game, Dark Souls II introduced the re-spec mechanic through the Soul Vessel.  In other souls games, you could not deviate from the path you had decided to embark upon.  Once a magic build, always a magic build!  It was possible to hybridize the build at higher levels but resetting the attributes was not possible without trainers, or carrying large number of souls (to experiment just prior to leveling).

Thank you FromSoft for the re-spec ability.  This ability is almost a requirement since some NPC’s will not interact with your character without possessing minimum levels of intelligence or faith.  The soul vessel item can be given to a firekeeper who will then allow you to re-assign leveling points. Souls vessels are relative rare.  You can still make mid-course adjustments but soul vessel are not abundant, so you must still think about the best way to progress the build. 

The art of optimizing your build to take advantage of a specific weapon, armor, ring or spell (or combinations of these) is now more accessible to all players through the use of souls vessels.  I for one did not want to miss out and I proceeded to think about the best way to buff a character.  The second episode of Dark Souls 2 is out.  The difficulty and boss battles have been scaled even higher.  A hard-hitting build is essential to take on the extremely strong bosses in the new DLC.

I would like to describe this build and get your thoughts and suggestions for how to improve it.  Here is the link for the video description of this build.

The build is predicated upon buffing physical damage using rings, spells and an appropriate weapon. Physical damage is the most potent for the DLC, as bosses have extremely high magic and fire defenses, and have very high vigor (life bars).

Rings:

The Ring of Blades +2 adds 50 points of physical damage to the attack rating of your weapon.  This item is obtained by beating the Pursuer duo in NG+ or by using bonfire ascetic in NG.

Flynn’s Ring also adds 50 points of damage to your weapon.  However there is a catch.  Your equipment load must be at 60 maximum.  Otherwise you will lose 1 point of attack for every half a point of equipment load over 60.  For example, if your equipment load is 61, the buff from Flynn’s Ring will be 48 instead of 50.

The other rings slots are discretionary.  I have selected the Cloranthy Ring +2 for its stamina regeneration.  The last slot uses the Third Dragon Ring.  This ring will increase your equipment load.  With Vitality at 10 or below, you will not exceed 60 equipment load and your will receive the full 50 point buff from Flynn’s Ring.

I really like the mechanic of Flynn’s Ring.  It forces you to select lighter armor in exchange for higher attack.  You can still benefit from this ring even at higher equipment loads.  Imagine increasing your equipment load to 65 for a reduced but still significant Flynn’s Ring buff of 40.  You can increase it permanently by increasing Vitality, or temporarily with the Royal Soldier’s Ring.  You might want higher equipment load based on the armor, shield or weapon combination that you prefer.

Weapons:

A strength-based weapon makes sense to me as it requires the least amount of stats.  Quality weapons, magical weapons or elemental weapons usually are accompanied by more expenditure of stats for dexterity, intelligence or faith.  Weapons with strong attack combinations (combos) can hit multiple times.  I chose the Red Iron Twin Blade +10.  This weapon has good scaling with strength and very good combo potential.  The only negative is the 20 dexterity requirement, since the DEX scaling is quite low and does not contribute much to the attack rating of the weapon.

A bow is a good option for kiting or pulling.  However, you will be doing so much damage that rushing in for an all-out attack is more fun and a viable strategy with this build.  Alternatively, knives can be used to pull enemies and avoid being surrounded by enemy hordes.

Spells:

The best option here is Sacred Oath.  This miracle will buff both your attack and your defense.  It can be cast with a base level chime, requiring only faith of 10.  Other buff spells like Crystal Magic Weapon or Sunlight Blade have high stat requirements and will use up an attunement slot.  Fire Weapon is a possibility but again requires an attunement slot.  Resins can mimic the effect of buff spells.  These consumables can be purchased without limit from various merchants.

Attunement is important because Sacred Oath requires 4 slots.  I eventually settled on 20 Faith for my character.  That is because I used spices to lower the requirements of both Sacred Oath and Denial during testing.  The final build should have Faith of 10 and will use all of the Skeptic’s Spice on Sacred Oath.

Equipment and Consumables:

The Red Iron Twinblade is quite heavy at 14 units of weight, leaving a small amount of available equipment load for armor and shields.  I chose the Alonne Knight Armor +10 for its high physical defense and poise.  A lighter weapon, such as a greatsword, will allow you to don heavier armor or shields.  Remember you always have the option to increase equipment load and give up some attack rating based on your preferred load out.

The Royal Kite Shield is the perfect complement since it is the lightest shield with 100% physical damage block.  You can select other light shields for elemental resistances or buffs, or a heavier shield at the expense of less armor.

The Hexer’s Hood and the Lion Mage Cuffs and Skirt round out the armor.  I like the high resistances of these items along with the additional spell cast of the hood, and its INT and FAI buff.  The head, arm and leg can be swapped out for other situational items based on the area you are in.

Resins and Bright Bugs to buff the damage, along with Green Blossoms, had a permanent home in my hot bar.  I was pleasantly surprised that Repair Powder was rarely needed in spite of the reputation of twinblades to degrade quickly, especially through the frequent use of its strong attacks.

Leveling:

The build can be pieced together at various levels.  I recommend a minimum of 40 STR and 20 DEX, and of course low VIT.  Vigor can be kept low at low levels and increased as the build progresses.  END needs to be high and should be prioritized after meeting the weapon requirements.  The Red Iron Twinblade uses up much stamina for its strong attacks and combos; the smaller Royal Kite Shield also will consume stamina upon blocking.  Therefore, high stamina from high endurance and buffed stamina regeneration are important.

At higher levels, increase VIG to 50 and STR to 50.  Vigor will provide survivability. Strength will give you the flexibility to increase equipment load through a ring, while still maintaining high attack rating. The endurance minimum is 20 but can be leveled higher.  Attunement also has a minimum of 20, unless you equip the Black Witch Hat which drops it to 16.  I do not recommend using the Southern Ritual Band +2 to lower ATT.  Two ring slots are mandated for the Blade of Ring’s +2 and Flynn’s Ring; the other two become highly valuable and you must choose wisely amongst other available rings.

Faith is the last stat with a hard requirement of 10, to let you equip the fast casting Cleric’s Chime.  Other stats like INT and ADA can be adjusted as needed.  I would like to test high Adaptability between 20-30 to maximize agility, rolling and invincibility frames.

Putting It All Together:

I was really surprised at the amount of damage output available to this build.  Fully buffed, the Red Iron Twinblade mows down even the strongest of enemies.  Remember to allow time to buff.  Imagine a sequence where you stand in front of the fog gate, consume a Bright Bug, buff with Pine Resin and then cast Sacred Oath.  However, it is very satisfying to see this build in action.  The buffs can be massive.  A brightbug will increase your attack rating by 20% for 2 minutes, Sacred Oath will add 50 points for 60 seconds, resins or ooze will add 50 points of elemental damage for 90 seconds.  Don’t forget the passive 100 point buff of the Ring of Blades +2 and Flynn’s Ring.  A weapon with 400 physical attack rating will have a buffed rating of 400 + 80 + 50 + 100 = 630 physical and 50 elemental!

Alternate Builds:

One intriguing build variation is a buffed powerstancing, dual wielder.  Vengarl’s Red Rust Scimitar and Sword are both strength weapons that can be powerstanced by this build.  These weapons hit extremely hard and have up to 6 hit combos, if powerstanced with the curved sword in the right hand.  The shield can be omitted for heavier armor.  Alternate weapon combinations would be the Warped Sword and the Sun Sword, with more of a tweaked quality or dexterity build.

Another build made possible by the Crown of the Old Iron King is a left-handed sword master with the Majestic Greatsword.  This sword receives an additional 50 attack points when placed in the left hand.  It has unique left-handed combos with is 1H and 2H attacks.  It would require an additional expenditure to 20 INT to meet the weapon requirements.

I hope you have enjoyed this post.  Please let me know your thoughts on this build and how you would improve it.

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4 Comments
  1. Domino permalink

    Thank you TPR for showcasing the Red Iron Twinblade–it is an amazing weapon, high base damage, ability to stun lock, and the combos. It did take time to get used to it as it is very different from the swords and mace I’ve been using.

    I also love your idea of powerstancing Vengarl’s sword and scimitar–a 6 hit combo is very devastating. I’m just so dependent on using a shield–maybe I just need to “git bud” and work on dodging, lol.

    I wonder if it’s better to forego the Flynn’s ring, and level up VIT instead, taking advantage of rolling at further distances (i.e. under 25% equip load) which seems needed against the DLC bosses?

    • I would say that better rolling is more important for NG+ runs. Have you tried to test if high ADA is better than high VIT? I think you actually gain 1 frame of invincibility at 20 ADP and 20 ATT. I guess Flynn’s Ring is better for lighter weapons (like curved swords) and twinblades and not as good for heavy weapons because of the equipment load penalty.

      Also, don’t forget that you can still use a shield even if you powerstance 2 weapons. Just swap out after you attack. You get the best of both worlds that way.

      • Domino permalink

        I do agree that having higher agility is crucial for NG+ and beyond. After getting addicted to bonfire ascetics and doing the Giant Lord runs, I no longer had to worry about min/maxing points, and I just get all stats at STR/INT/FTH to 80, ADP to 99 and ATT to 99 (for max agility), and VIT to 99 so I can wear heavy armor and use red iron twin blade without encumbrance, LOL. With such high stats, I was able to get through NG+7 rather easily, except I refused to do Lud and Zallen b/c that snow storm literally gives me migraines.

        I look forward to your bloodborne videos and streaming!

  2. Domino permalink

    Now that the Scholar of the First Sin, next gen is out, I hope you’ll be doing an easy mode like the brilliant series that you’ve done for Dark Souls 1.

    Also, a Bloodborne easy mode (without using that 12 hour glitch, but I believe that will be patched soon) is sorely needed.

    It needs to be repeated, so I’ll say it again. Your Youtube Dark Souls 1 easy mode IS the best video game series I have seen.

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