Tank Guidelines

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    Tank Guidelines

    Post by Sines on Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:17 am

    So, I'm enjoying my Sorcerer, but I'm looking to see what life is like on the other side of the weight spectrum on another character. I don't know if there's a better general name for it in this game, but I'm looking to play a tank. High poise, screw mobility. Capable of just shrugging off direct hits, and being able to block enemies with swords twice his size without flinching.

    However, upon looking at the options, I'm not too sure on some details.

    First, the tank seems to favor high strength, due to the best shields weighing a ton. However, I've found that strength scaling on weapons tends to be pretty bad, with only a few weapons having better than C scaling. It looks like the heavy weapons are more based on base damage than on scaling. Since I don't know how scaling translates into damage, I can't really make an educated decision here. The Great Club seems the best option, with good strength scaling at a reasonable level of base strength, but I'd appreciate some alternative options, with explanations as to why, so I can better understand the options for heavy weapons.

    Second, there's the matter of auxiliary abilities. Faith, bows, and pyromancy. Bows only ask for a bit of dexterity, with the Heavy Crossbow asking for no additional stats at all. 12 Dex gets me the composite bow which scales with strength, although that bow is apparently bad for sniping, which is a downside. I don't know enough about bows to note anything other than that. Can you aim with crossbows as well?

    Pyromancy will offer some decent options for only a few points of attunement. Nothing here really strikes my fancy, but I'm not familiar with every spell yet. And while nothing seems to me to be a 'must have', they're still solid options, especially for adding another type of damage (is physical resist a big enough problem in this game that I should have something like Pyromancy to even things out?)

    Miracles require the biggest investment, of both Attunement and Faith. But they also provide some nice rewards. When tanking hits, being able to use heal spells between battles will save Estus flasks. 12 Faith and Attunement can let me have Heal, and Force, which can be useful to buy myself some space. The Heal spell may be less useful later on when my vitality starts to climb, though.

    This is not a PvP build, just a PvE build. But despite that, I still want to take it 'seriously' and try to be efficient. I'm a sucker for that kind of thing big grin And please, whenever you make a suggestion, please try to explain why in as much detail as possible. Good advice is fine, but the more I understand about why I'm doing something, the more capable I'll be of making my own decisions later on.
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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by wretchedsausage on Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:31 am

    https://mugenmonkey.com/darksouls/
    Check this site out. It allows you to plan your build, and will show you how much damage each weapon will do with the stats you want. As for strength weapons, just get a few and try them out; see which one you like the best. 

    Some popular strength weapons include: the Great Club, Zweihander, Demon Great Machete, Man-Serpent Greatsword, Black Knight Greataxe, and the Reinforced Club. 

    Pyromancy is very nice to have as it has no stat requirements, meaning you will only need to put a couple of points into attunement. It works as a great utility, and when upgraded, packs an enormous punch. 

    The composite bow is probably the best bow to use, and although its range isn't great, it's more than enough to kill an enemy from outside their aggro distance. 

    If you need clarification or have any other questions, feel free to ask happy


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Sines on Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:59 am

    That calculator is no doubt awesome, but from where I am, it's not too useful just yet. I don't have enough frame of reference to know where to begin to start looking. I'll definitely make use of it once I understand the game better.

    Yah, I'm not really into bows for extreme sniping, I'd just like to be able to shoot enemies I can see but can't lock onto, those damn bomb throwers in the undead burg taught me that bows can do something that spells cannot. I don't need much range to be happy, I'm not planning on a sniper here, just enough range to fight back against enemies on cliffs or ledges that try to attack me when I can't get to them, and the way you describe it, the composite bow is good enough for that.

    No mention of faith in your post. Not worth the trouble, I take it? That's fine, I'd want to make a Faith-focused character later anyway. I can make the call myself on Pyromancy, just figure out where I got some spare points.

    The big clarification issue I have left is what is the important distinction between those popular strength weapons? Once I get the character going, with enough strength to wield a heavy shield, I can experiment, but I'd like a bit more info ahead of time so I can know what attribute goals to set. After all, if I'm going for the Black Knight Greataxe with it's 18 dex requirement, I can dump some extra early points into Dex and enjoy the Wing Spear from the graveyard in the early game, for example.

    Oh, and for a more minor issue, where can I find heavy armor in the early game? I don't see anything heavier than chain in the early game, and I'm somewhat disinclined to start with the knight if I'm not bothering with Miracles.
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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by TheMeInTeam on Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:02 pm

    Str tanks have more stats available than other classes.  I'm not sure a greatshield is your best bet, since those can't parry and open you to both dead angles and buffed weapon R1 spam which you can win trades against wile 1 handing.

    Here's a good basic str SL 100:

    http://mmdks.com/35jb

    With this, you use GMB to ignore enemy spells and most buffs.  Consider 2h the club to trade hits; 2 will stagger all but the most poise-gouged builds and help set up the potential for a stagger stab.  Cloranthy helps with the stamina penalty, but you could go hornet ring for some extra strength punish/counter-BS or wolf to poise-gouge yourself (77 lets you eat 1 zwei hit though).

    As we near 120, we get more versatile:

    http://mmdks.com/35jd

    Suddenly, the build has a full complement of the strong faith stuff.  Vow of silence can ruin casters, and the mighty sunlight blade makes even a brief stunlock from the reinforced club a thing to be feared.  If you're fast enough to switch to the rapier during a stagger-stab combo, you'll kill almost anybody (worse with hornet; you'll hit for nearly 1000 damage from a hornet chaos rapier BS alone, meaning 2 buffed reinforced club hits + stagger stab will kill anything but pure vit gouge).  The rapier also gives you an answer to those 2h spear flippers, as the balder shield has stability to pressure them with pokes and force them to either stop doing that or fish...and the counter BS hurts.

    If you want to use larger weapons, you can, but the equip weight will push you into fatrolling...though fatroll can be fun too I find it too much harder to land some of the combos I like with the lighter str weapons.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Sines on Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:29 pm

    This is meant to be a fatrolling PvE character. Brute force and sheer unstoppability.

    I'm thinking of skipping Miracles, as that requires a bit too much of an investment in faith to be useful. I'll definitely want a faith character eventually, but it won't be this character. Your suggested build is actually not too bad a starting point for a faith user, though, once I get around to making one.
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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by RANT on Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:50 pm

    there's actually a lot of weapons that scale well with str and they dont suck, it is up to the player to make them shine. i would go with either 40 str and get the stone shield or 50 str and havel's shield, stone shield is very underrated imo but if you want the best greatshield go with havel's. i recommend the mace, manserpent gs, demon great machete(my favorite weapon), greataxe(one of my favorites), the large and great club, butcher knife and demon greataxe.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by TheMeInTeam on Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:13 pm

    There are multiple viable str weapons, I just like the hammers and they do scale really well :p.  One reason for that is that they're one of the few str class weapons that aren't super-heavy, which gives some flexibility.  However, if one is going fatrolling then that's less an issue anyway.  Greatshields, however, are really bad in PvP because your opponent has little disincentive to either bash on your shield and possibly chip you (buffs) or if you spear/rapier poke fish any time you do it.  Or dead angle you with any assortment of anything while trivially poising through 1h stuff.

    PvE that changes.  Greatshields can block quite a lot that regular shields can't, and at high efficiency.  Even on NG+ where the damage things do is tremendous, their poise break doesn't change much if at all, allowing you to block (check out emarrel's SL 1 NG+7 run; he can use the balder shield to block at lot of maxed-out boss attacks as needed on base stamina...imagine what a tank with 40 end and higher stability could block!).

    What str weapons have the most reach?  Some PvE enemies and PvP opponents it would be nice to have the range.  Spear fast-rollers with dragonslayer are particularly annoying.  So far I've answered that by turtling, but there might be a better str weapon for that.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by sids__09 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:24 pm

    I made one of these recently -- not particularly GOOD, but it's working. The thing to remember about PVE weapons, especially strength-based, is that raw damage isn't really the whole story. A lot of it comes down to 'can you out-swing the enemies in the area,' or 'can you stagger them in one hit,' or 'can you take a hit on the shield and connect with a counter-strike?' Some of these might be related to the math, I don't really know, I'm horrible at math. But a lot of it just seems to come down to, how does the individual weapon handle in your hands?

    It seems like your armor, defense, poise, shield, etc. are (understandably) more important than the weapon you're swinging. Especially in co-op, where your whole job might be to draw aggro and absorb punches so your wizard can cast freely and do all the damage. So, it's probably smart to *start* with the shield you want to use, build up to that; then put on the best armor you can manage, and finally, pick a weapon or weapons that can get the job done without overloading you. Last, if you're lame like me, pick a theme so you look SWAG, because YOLO or whatever. 

    So with all that in mind, here's what I'm starting at (not *the most* effecient I'm sure, but here it is): link?

    I put a point into Faith so I can use Heal (important for co-op phantoms); I use the Ring of Evil Eye to absorb health for the regular level, and swap it out to an applicable Stoneplate when we get to the boss. Evil Eye is great for tanks; you can take a hit while laying into a guy, and recover most of the damage back. I was obviously going for the Iron Golem look, but it's remarkably effective -- granted I'm only using one axe right now, but the Golem Axe does pretty swell damage for not a whole lot of endurance or wind-up time; plus you've got the ranged wind-blast-thingy as an option for confounding invaders or throwing enemies off cliffs, or what have you. All in all I'm very happy with Golem gear; ymmv. Anyway, FROM here, I'd probably be dumping all/most of my points into more Vitality, so I can reach absurd HP levels. I *might* put some points into Attunement, and/or swap out Heal for Iron Flesh, but so far my forrays into Iron Flesh have been pretty disappointing, so maybe not.
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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by LunarFog on Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:40 pm

    Armor-wise there's only a few sets that would e acceptable really.    Giants(highest physical defense in the game) Havels(highest poise), and Black Iron(comparably as strong and looks cool).


    For tanks you' should have the Ring of Favor and Protection definitely since it increases your stamina, hp and equipment weight by 20%.  The 2nd ring will be taken up in some instances(like when you get to the abyss or lost izalith) but for the most part Havel's cloranthy, or iron defense rings should do.


    You should definitely go with high strength for a tank.  Think something like 40-50 vit, 40 end, 40-50 strength.  



    For weapons I would suggest a great shield definitely.  Havel's shield or Artorias' shieldwill block practically anything in the game.  As your MAIN weapon I would suggest a great axe, an ultra great sword, or a great hammer.  And then a smaller weapon like an axe or a mace for back up wouldn't be bad too.  It would deal less damage, but it's only in case you need something quicker.  Then, you should have a long range weapon.  The easiest choice would be a heavy crossbow or the avelyn.  Or you could get the golem axe or the dragon great sword since they have long-range special attacks.


    And trust me, you won't need the use of any spells.  

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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by TheMeInTeam on Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:15 pm

    You don't NEED spells, but going to 10-14 attunement and 12 faith can be very useful in PvE.  You get healing with thorulund talisman for minimal equip weight, or the option to use power within, or both.  PW is GREAT in PvE.

    I don't like GSoA.  It only has 5 more stability than Balder shield and its magic block sucks a big one.  I'd definitely recommend Havel's, Stone, or until you get to them Eagle.

    If you're going to be a PvE phantom and want to see any action though, IMO you don't want to go SL 100 or something, but rather closer to 55 (some variance by area).  At SL 55 it's very difficult to make a pure tank build, since you'll have so much in STR that you won't even get a truly decent stamina bar.  SL 100 can go 50 vit 40 end ~30 str (tower shield) and still have a couple points for spells.

    If you're just running through the game into many NG+ you can go as high as you want obviously.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Sentiel on Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:41 pm

    http://mmdks.com/35mz
    ^ This is a tank.

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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by MosquitoPower on Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:53 pm

    TheMeInTeam wrote:...You don't NEED spells, but going to 10-14 attunement and 12 faith can be very useful in PvE.  You get healing with thorulund talisman for minimal equip weight, or the option to use power within, or both.  PW is GREAT in PvE...

    I second that motion.
    Having a heal spell is a must for co-op as a phantom. Also good to have that extra heal on solo trips deep in enemy territory if you run out of flasks.
    PW is always risky... but soo much power.... droooolllll....

    As for tanking:
    I have a 125 STR build that is more geared for fun/Co-op and for me... having the strength to use the big shields really adds to the "Tank" feel.
    Nothing better than when some big enemy attacks and you just block the attack with your ultra shield staggering it, allowing the rest of the team to run in a beat the enemy down.

    Now for power:
    If you can get the "jump attacks" to work on demand (forward and strong attack) those tend to be a lot faster than the basic strong attack on ultra weapons.
    .... but its a real bummer when I miss my inputs and get smacked while doing the long windup animation for doing a basic strong attack by mistake.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Animaaal on Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:04 am

    Sines wrote:...This is not a PvP build, just a PvE build...

    In that case you'll want the Avelyn.

    Also, you DO NOT need to make a tank a strength build.  The best kind of tank for pve would probably be a vitality build up to NG2, maybe NG3.

    There are plenty of great castings that come in very handy for tanking with low investments, ESPECIALLY in pve.

    ie: force, strong magic shield, homing soulmass, dark bead, all kinds of pyros....

    Tanking pve and pvp are 2 completely different builds....imo, they're not even remotely the same.
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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by wretchedsausage on Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:50 am

    Sines wrote:That calculator is no doubt awesome, but from where I am, it's not too useful just yet. I don't have enough frame of reference to know where to begin to start looking. I'll definitely make use of it once I understand the game better.

    Yah, I'm not really into bows for extreme sniping, I'd just like to be able to shoot enemies I can see but can't lock onto, those damn bomb throwers in the undead burg taught me that bows can do something that spells cannot. I don't need much range to be happy, I'm not planning on a sniper here, just enough range to fight back against enemies on cliffs or ledges that try to attack me when I can't get to them, and the way you describe it, the composite bow is good enough for that.

    No mention of faith in your post. Not worth the trouble, I take it? That's fine, I'd want to make a Faith-focused character later anyway. I can make the call myself on Pyromancy, just figure out where I got some spare points.

    The big clarification issue I have left is what is the important distinction between those popular strength weapons? Once I get the character going, with enough strength to wield a heavy shield, I can experiment, but I'd like a bit more info ahead of time so I can know what attribute goals to set. After all, if I'm going for the Black Knight Greataxe with it's 18 dex requirement, I can dump some extra early points into Dex and enjoy the Wing Spear from the graveyard in the early game, for example.

    Oh, and for a more minor issue, where can I find heavy armor in the early game? I don't see anything heavier than chain in the early game, and I'm somewhat disinclined to start with the knight if I'm not bothering with Miracles.

    One you have access to Darkroot Garden and Darkroot Basin, you can get both Knight Armour and Elite Knight Armour(Elite Knight Armour is a little better), both of which have quite reasonable defence, and are your best options. Spending 20,000 souls to buy the Crest of Artorias from Andre the Blacksmith and using it on the door in the garden will give you access to Stone Armour, the highest defence armour you can get before you reach Anor Londo. 

    It is kind of difficult to give you the differences between these popular weapons, so I would recommend that you look up their movesets on YouTube to get an idea of how they attack, and if it will suit the way you like to play. As mentioned in someone else's post above, smaller weapons like the Reinforced Club can be very useful as a secondary weapon for when a larger weapon is too slow to be useful or effective. As a rule, strength weapons tend to be very slow, so long reach and wide arcing swings can be very beneficial for keeping your foes at a distance.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Green__Eagle on Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:30 am

    I've always been a big believer in mobility to avoid getting hit, but I've had to tank the Four Kings at SL1 (PW was not an option) and I have to say that I enjoyed the ability to take the hits and shrug off  the risk of getting hit again and use a flask.

    A tank for PvE sounds like a great (new) experience for Dark Souls. I'm not sure how the Sanctuary Guardian fight will work though. Unless you're strong enough to withstand his blast attack. O&S would be a challenge, too, if you solo.

    I think I'll try this next. Would the Knight class be the best choice to begin? Stone Armor would be available pretty fast, but how would you get the tank affect very early in the game?


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by TheMeInTeam on Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:58 am

    I think I'll try this next. Would the Knight class be the best choice to begin? Stone Armor would be available pretty fast, but how would you get the tank affect very early in the game?

    Kill Taurus, upgrade light crossbow a few times, kill hydra (make the hydra kill the golems), get stone armor.

    Full knight armor + wolf ring is pretty tanky and also high poise though.  IMO knight armor > elite knight armor.  The defense is slightly less, but the poise is identical and it's lighter.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Green__Eagle on Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:58 am

    I remember going in the back door to the Forest once; Those big cats convinced me 20,000 souls was worth it for the key.

    I'm very close to starting my tank build, but I was interested in which are the heaviest armors to use and how soon are they available? Anything worthwhile, beside stone armor, before you get to Anor Londo (Giants and Havel's sets)? I want to try barely able being able to move if I'm practically invincible. Iron Flesh pyromancy would probably help, too. But that's probably been nerfed by now.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by TheMeInTeam on Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:07 pm


    I remember going in the back door to the Forest once; Those big cats convinced me 20,000 souls was worth it for the key.

    You can go that route and not encounter the cats though.  Once you're up the big ladder, just cross the bridge, climb up the smaller ladder, and you're right near one of the forest hunter covenant spawns.  You'll have to run past a few ents and cross alvina's bridge to get to sif so the route's longer, but the danger is virtually identical to the crest shortcut route if you go that way (just run past the NPCs and talk to alvina, which will de-aggro them).

    Has anybody tried opening the crest shortcut from the opposite side of the door?  I know you can open the chaos servent shortcut from the back side w/o even being in the covenant, but I've never tried it with the forest door.

    Demon ruins, New Londo, and Catcombs/tomb all lack heavy armor of any useful variety to you (IE nothing as heavy or efficient for this purpose as stone or knights...cleric and pally sets have only 6 more poise than knight's and much less than stone).  It's stone, anor londo, knight armor, or bust.  Anor Londo also opens up black iron and smough's, so literally 4 of the 5 heaviest sets are from Anor Londo, with the only remaining super heavy set being stone.

    Wolf + knights gets you to 86 poise.  Stone will push you even higher.  Trust me, getting stone through hydra route is very easy after taking down the hydra, which you have the souls to upgrade light xbow to +5 and get a bunch of wood bolts to do easily right after taurus demon if you plan for it.  Just pick the OTHER direction, not straight into the bearcats lol.

    Xbow +5 and summon solaire will beat the gargs with no skill at all too, so you can then upgrade whatever weapon you care about and continue.  Stone isn't upgradeable so you've that maxed from go.
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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Green__Eagle on Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:06 pm

    Thanks for the info. I have tried to open the crest door from the backside and it wasn't possible. Granted that was patch 1.01 though. I received the game on the day of release and I had to patch it immediately. I don't remember how many patches, or what version, had to be installed.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Sines on Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:03 am

    I think I'll keep this post here. Ironically, I've abandoned the tank build for the short term. I wanted to try out other builds, and wound up with one that I think I'll be completing the game with. I'll probably return to my Sorc and Strength Tank when I do. Currently, I'm working on a Dex / Faith build. Bandit Knife / Balders Side Sword enchanted with Sunlight or Moonlight blade. Until I can enchant them, I'll be using Astoras Straight Sword.

    I plan on getting sunlight spears and sunlight blade the first playthrough, with moonlight blade to be obtained in a second playthrough. Stop Faith at 30, at least for the short term.

    So the next question is a big tangent, but hey, why stop now! Basically, I want to get into the sunlight covenant so I can get my sunspears. But there are two issues. First off, I don't know much about getting summoned. I've kind of ignored the online aspects of the game. Now, it's pretty basic, but I'm curious as to where are good places to get summoned for the medals. I'm too high for the Taurus demon, at SL 27-30 (I can't recall exactly). I figured the Capra Demon might be good, but it strikes me as a rare summon choice.

    I'm thinking Bell Gargoyles are my best bet, due to the tail chopping, and the help a phantasm can bring in doing that. However, I haven't beaten them myself, I've planned on keeping them alive so I can gather humanity while farming up my Balders Side Sword. What happens if I beat the gargoyles as a phantasm when I haven't done it myself?
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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by TheMeInTeam on Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:09 am

    I'm thinking Bell Gargoyles are my best bet, due to the tail chopping, and the help a phantasm can bring in doing that. However, I haven't beaten them myself, I've planned on keeping them alive so I can gather humanity while farming up my Balders Side Sword. What happens if I beat the gargoyles as a phantasm when I haven't done it myself?

    You get souls and humanity.  The gargoyles in your world will still be waiting for you.

    Gargs, O&S are probably the most common summons*.  Depths is surprisingly common too, especially at depths bonfire.  People would probably appreciate the help with 4kings also, assuming they're not just out to gank.

    *Forest is the most common summons in practice, but you'll rarely actually fight sif.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Sines on Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:17 am

    Unfortunately, all three of my characters are stalled at the Depths Bonfire, so I don't know much about the world beyond them just yet. O&S and 4Kings are the bosses of what zones? Just want to know what to watch out for.

    I'll probably make getting Sunlight Spear a goal before fighting the Depths boss, and then continue this character through the rest of the game as normal, with maybe a few stop-overs to farm souls, titanite or sunlight medals.

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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Sines on Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:39 am

    Oh, and in practice, do people more likely respond to summon signs near the bonfire, or near the bosses fog door?

    Ugh, so many questions! The wiki seems a bit sparse on advice for running past the hellkite wyvern to get to the shrine. Any suggestions on that, or on whether or not I can (reasonably) defeat him with at SL 29 with a +4 Astoras Straight Sword?
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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by wretchedsausage on Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:00 am

    He'll be very tough to beat at that level. There is a simple trick to running past him though. head up the ladder from the Burg bonfire, and walk up the stairs, then quickly run across to the opposite side, and press yourself against the wall closest to the dragon. 

            |DRAGON |         
            |              |
            |              |
            |              |
            |              |
            |              |
    ____|              |____
    | X                            |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    |___               _____|
            |            |
            |            |

    Wait here, and he will eventually jump down, and start attacking. as soon as you see him start to jump down, sprint for the end, going past his left leg. hide behind one of the walls once you get there, and then light and rest at the bonfire. the dragon will fly away, but travelling too far down the bridge will cause it to return.


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    Re: Tank Guidelines

    Post by Green__Eagle on Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:15 am

    The Sunlight Spear can only be acquired in ng+ when you trade the Soul of Gwyn for it while you are a Warrior of Sunlight+1

    The Sunlight Spear gets stronger as you progress through levels +2 and +3. The spell takes two slots and you need faith of 50 to use it.

    I've got to say that I am enjoying the challenge of a tank build. Blighttown was a nightmare; I actually ran out of estus flasks a couple of times. I also did not buy enough Blooming moss. When you move slow, you're going to get hit a lot.

    I actually survived a blast from Queelag whilst I was under her! Give me some loving. I never thought I would stand toe-to-toe with the butcher and trade hits (and win)!

    I'm SL21 now and this run has been harder than a SL1 challenge. I'm at Sen's Fortress and looking forward to grabbing havel's gear.

    Okay, I have a quick question: I was able to buy the Stone Sword, but is it still true the only way to get the Stone Shield is to farm the giants before the Moonlight Butterfly? My current sword hardly damages them. I might as well go for the complete stone outfit since I'm so close.


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