FFXIV Dark Knight: Tips and tricks

A few tips and tricks for when playing as the new tanking job in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward.

Heavensward's early access is about halfway done now, and a lot of main story questing players are starting to get their hands on these new jobs. Since Square Enix hasn't posted anything on how to distribute stats or how to properly handle the job in certain scenarios, I figured I'd share what I've learned about it and see if it might help someone. Now I will start by saying that I've only gotten the job to level 50 so far, but I will be making a full guide for the job once I've gotten it to level 60. Edit: My Dark Knight is now at 60! For a full breakdown of their abilities as well as some tips on how to use them click here.

Getting down to basics

Dark Knight is unique from the Paladin and Warrior in a lot of different ways, primarily in that it mainly uses MP instead of TP. This means that if you want to keep emnity, do decent damage, and mitigate damage, then you'll need to have plenty of MP handy. The Dark Knight uses MP for almost everything, and that little pink bar can drain really quickly if you don't watch what you're doing.

Dark Knights have two "stances" that they can utilize to decrease damage or increase damage and emnity. Both of these stances have their good sides and bad sides but knowing when to use them is key to tanking as a Dark Knight.

  • Grit
    • Your tanking stance. You'll want Grit stance active when main tanking, as it reduces damage taken by 20% and generates emnity. However, it also reduces damage dealt by 20%. The effects of certain actions change while in Grit stance - some recover HP and others debuff enemies.
  • Darkside
    • Your offensive stance. While under the effects of Darkside, the player's damage dealt is increased by 15%, while their MP slowly drains. There are a few moves in the Dark Knight's roster that require Darkside to use, and unlike other stances used by tanks, Darkside can be used while in Grit stance.

Using Darkside and Grit together make the Dark Knight the powerhouse of the tanking jobs, only getting a 5% damage reduction while still constantly generating emnity. This makes Dark Knight valuable as both main tank and off tank, as they can change their stances when needed.

When main tanking as Dark Knight, it's better start in Grit stance to generate emnity and then go into Darkside. Waiting to go into Darkside will save you some much-needed MP in the long run, and it will give you a chance to build some emnity without draining half your MP bar at the start of the fight. If it's a boss fight, then you'll fine - generally players will give the tank a few seconds to build emnity on a boss anyway. However, be wary when pulling mobs, as player's don't always target the same enemy. And before you know it you're spamming Unleash over and over until your bar is gone.

For off-tanking, it's better to just stay in Darkside and not go into Grit unless a big hit is coming your way. Using Darkside drains a lot of MP, especially if Dark Knights have a move called Blood Weapon that allows them to convert damage to MP, but it cannot be used while in Grit stance. It can be used in Darkside though, so players can really dish out the big hits while not having to worry about MP consumption.

Actions and Rotations

In the full guide, I'll put a list of all the actions and traits that come with the Dark Knight, but for now I want to just give a few recommendations on some rotations that I have found to be very helpful. I don't claim these to be the most efficient way (yet), but I've found that this is what has worked for me.

Dark Knights have a move known called Syphon Strike that recovers about 20-30% of damage dealt as MP. This move combos off of the opener Hard Slash - this is your bread and butter. You will find this move indispensible in upper level content. I've found that you only have to use the emnity-generating combo (Hard Slash -> Spinning Slash -> Power Slash) once or twice in the beginning of the fight, or to get a mob's attention away from the healer. After that you can use the Syphon combo and have no problem using emnity.

Another handy skill that you'll want to get familiar with is Unchained. This move is a moderate AOE that generates emnity and damages enemies. It's similar to a Paladin's Flash, but it does damage like a Warrior's Steel Cyclone. The really good thing about this move is that if you combine it with a skill called Blood Price, you can effectively spam the move when dealing with larger groups of enemies. Blood Price is a buff that gives the player MP comparable to damage taken for 15 seconds. This includes damage from multiple enemies.

Skill Point Allocation

This is where it gets a little tricky. Dark Knights use a variety of stats when calculating damage, MP, and HP. Out of the six stats available, Dark Knight can effectively use:

  • Strength (dealing physical damage and emnity generation)
  • Dexterity (parrying rate)
  • Intelligence (magical damage)
  • Piety (Total MP)

Each of these stats offers something different for the Dark Knight, and at this point I'd say that a lot of your stat allocation will come down to personal play style. Dark Knights have almost as many magic attacks as they do physical, and the one AoE that they have is a magic attack. Parry is also a very important stat for Dark Knights, because they have some moves that can only be used after a parry. Not to mention that parrying lessens damage taken. The Dark Knight is a powerhouse already, but a little extra damage couldn't hurt. And let's face it - without enough MP to use these moves, it's pointless.

But what about Vitality?

Yes, vitality is a very important stat for tanks. More HP equals more hits right? While I agree with that, I've seen a few tanks clear the Final Coil with only 8000 HP. I see Vitality as sort of training wheels - not that that's a bad thing. I just don't think it's a necessary stat. With no Vitality on my Dark Knight, he tops off at 8666. That's plenty to raid with.

Personally I prefered to put most of my points in Strength, with a few tossed in Piety and Dexterity. Why? Having strength will not only help my party get the clear faster, it also helps generate emnity. Sometimes I don't even have to use a move that generates emnity to lure enemies my way - and that's without Grit!

I only put a few into Piety, because when I started I had trouble managing my MP usage. Plus, each point of Piety is about 6 or 7 MP points. While that doesn't sound like a lot, note that one Piety point on a Paladin or Warrior doesn't change anything. I plan to put more points into Dexterity once I have about 20 strength. Since Dexterity raises my parry rate and Dark Knights have a couple of good moves locked behind parry requirements, it seems like the way to go. Also, with this latest addition to the game, parry, spell speed, and skill speed all got reworked. So it's a lot more useful than it was in A Realm Reborn.

Thanks for reading! More on the way!

Hopefully these tips will be useful. As I progress through the expansion and level up my Dark Knight, I will have more to go off of. So far I really enjoy the class, much more so than Paladin and Warrior. Square really did a good job of making it feel similar to the two but still having its own feel.

What do you guys think? Agree with my stats? Got any tips that you want to share? Leave them in the comments below!

Published Jun. 21st 2015
View Comments
  • Syru
    All points in strength and GIT GUD. Simple. That's all this guide needs. Xeno said so. -Kappa-
  • FrustratedUser
    Using chrome, the Facebook/twitter/otherjunk buttons you have floating on the left side make your article unreadable.
  • TheBlaksamuraiX
    OK thank you for letting me know! I'll fix it as soon as possible
  • Senyaichiya
    Im not sure why item level is even mentioned these days honestly shouldn't skill and stats matter more than an over inflated item level that doesn't mean much other than for someone's epeen?
  • TheBlaksamuraiX
    I agree to an extent but ilvl does serve a purpose. Especially in these new Extreme primal fights.
  • Ryno_9383
    Don't ever put stats into Dex, it doesn't give enough parry stat to make it worth a whole stat point lost into something else.

    Strength, while great, only helps with damage. It doesn't make parry stronger so as a tank you hurt yourself with more strength only to do a little more damage.

    Parry as a stat, only allows you to parry more often, parry as of patch 3.0 only prevents 20% of physical damage hurting you. So yes having parry on your armor and accessories is nice, but you can't neglect other important stats so only rely on your gear giving you these stats and always always always go for more armor on gear upgrades (Chest and Legs first never accessories).

    Now for Vitality, I think you misunderstand the importance of Vitality by far. Things hit much harder and crit much more often in this patch. At level 60 I'm getting hit on my Warrior for 12k hits on tank crunchers and parry sometimes the hit right after. My stat build is mostly Vit with some into Strength and I'm Ilvl 170. I know Warrior mitigate is mostly their hp and now parry but without the HP I don't see any one surviving big hits on any other tank job.

    Yes you have cool downs but what do you do once those are down? Do you expect your small buff into strength is going to help the fight go much faster when it's DPS job to take out the mobs or boss? On paladin they can sacrifice some HP for the strength due to the fact that they have so many mitigate cool downs but I'm not hearing that about Dark Knight.

    If you plan on being an off tank Dark Knight I can understand doing a strength build and such but solo tanking your going to struggle handling big pulls or hard hitting bosses. It's not impossible but you are solely relying on your healer to do which btw wont be able to do any dps since you will probably drop in hp very fast.
  • TheBlaksamuraiX
    Thanks for the response! When I wrote this I was still only lvl 50, but now that Ive reached max l've realized a few things:

    First, yes yes you actually don't have to put DEX into the character stats but that doesnt make it any less important. While it does only prevent 20% of damage from being negated it also procs the only stun move that DRKs have. So the more DRKs parry the more damage they do as they can stun more. Even if the enemy is immune to stun, they can still use the extra dps.

    Vitality is a very important stat but honestly I have not had ANY problems with low HP and yes even when my cool downs were down. I think that falls on the player to know when to use the proper cool downs in the right situations. ( really only use cool downs on big pulls and tank busters and haven't had any problems) DRK have more HP than Paladins but less than Warriors, but Warriors don't have as many cool downs as Dark Knights. So long as you pay attention in the fight and use proper coolvdown management then you should be fine. Now Im not saying that they shouldn't allocate points to Vitality, but it's not entirely necessary. Most of the high level gear you get end game really pours on the VIT. Even the i180 weapon gives you 84 vitality! I think that's more than enough. right now with no points in vitality my DRK's HP is sitting at 13,657 and the biggest hit Ive taken (from Bismark EX tank buster) was about 10K and that was with no cooldown and no parrys.

    As for strength it says in the text when you hover over the stat with the mouse that strength "Affect physical melee damage as well as damage prevented by parrying and blocking". Im not sure where you read that strength doesnt affect parry but you may want to look at the stat in game. As for it's effectiveness I've tested this by reallocating stats a couple of times as I leveled up and found that stregnth is the most important stat that I use as a DRK. Like I said in the guide it depends on the player on how they want to play but I still think that the majority of points need to go into strength and whenever I ask other DRKs they tend to agree. It also increases your hits by more than a little as my biggest hit for my DRK (with no buffs from party members) was about 6K. from what I hear most DRKs struggle to hit 4K.

    Right now my DRK is ilvl 170 and growing and for my stats I have about 20 in strength (for agrro, attack ,and damage stopped by parry) 8 in piety (for max MP which by the way gives about 7-10 MP per point. Very useful for big pulls and MP managment) and 8 in dexterity (because of the block and parry rates. Now at around 6 your parry rates increase enough to notice, but I added a little more and i honestly parry about 2-3 times every 10 strikes. This may not seem like a lot but again it helps mitigate damage and resets your stun. Couple this with a Dark Arts enhanced Dark Dance and the procs go like crazy.) Foir accessories I use mostly fending but I do have a strength necklace and a dexterity ring to help with mitigation.

    I think that you might have misunderstood the purpose of this guide. I'm not saying that this is the best way to handle dark knight but rather what works for me. I honestly have had little to no problems holding aggro and staying alive on big pulls and boss runs. Nor have I had a healer say that I was too squishy. Ive actually lasted longer than warriors with 17000 HP on Bismark extreme so just pouring your stats into vitality doesnt seem to work but then again, I dont play warrior nor do I know what they did as far as stat allocation.

    Thanks again for your input! Im working on a more complete Dark Knight guide as we speak and any feedback is welcome. Dark knights have been getting a bad rep on the official forums and in-game but they really are an amazing job! From what I've seen some of them CAN be squishy but usually those are the ones who are playing a tanking job for the first time or don't comprehend how to use the job effectively. Hopefully I can make a guide that will at least get people started on the right path. Just out of curiosity what job do you play? Do you main WAR?

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