FFXIV Dark Knight: Tips and tricks

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

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!

About the author


A senior at the University of Central Arkansas with a major in creative writing and a minor in art. I've been playing games for longer than I can remember and have a true passion for all things gaming. I also have a HUGE weakness for chili dogs and redheads.