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Strategies and information in guides may not work for everyone.
Available after completing the Blade of Darkness. "To strengthen themselves in battle, not only have these outlaw warriors mastered the ways of numerous weapons, but they have also acquired certain black magic spells to torment their enemies."
Hume Dark Knights have a decent MP and HP pool. Their balanced stats give them a decent hit rate and allow them to take hits better than Mithra and Tarutaru. They can bring more absorbs to the table which weakens the enemy while enhancing your stats, more so than Galka and Elvaan. Their STR and HP (HP for Souleater) is average which means they won't do as much damage as an Elvaan or Galka but the MP pool will allow you to always get a few absorb spells off where at times a Galka or Elvaan could not. Also on a side note, Hume DRKs, like Mithra and Tarutaru, can sub WHM or RDM as a solo option rather than just NIN (which isn't always viable due to have a low MP pool Elvaan and Galka) which will help you in quests and missions and skilling your magic. Lastly, Hume have the second highest INT meaning their spells will be more likely to not get resisted.
Elvaan Dark Knights have some of the highest STR in the game, which means that they dish out as much damage as possible with each and every hit. However, hitting is the problem with Elvaan, as their very low DEX(2 less then hume) means they will have to make sure they equip plenty of accuracy gear, and always eat sushi(30+). Because of sushi, the lack of DEX isn't much of a problem; sushi is a %acc boost, so they won't miss too often 60+. Though 10-45 range, the DEX loss is noticeable--after that, it really doesn't matter thanks to sushi. Elvaan also have more base HP and VIT than other races (other than Galka), which means they may survive about one hit longer(compared to Hume) in battle if they pull hate. Their small MP pools are also something to think about, as DRK helps the party out by de-buffing the enemy with absorb. But, as with Galka, this really isn't a problem later on (40+ for Elvaan). Elvaan sit along side taru drk in terms of WS damage, while a taru's INT pushes up the numbers, an Elvaan's high strength does the same for them.
Tarutaru make fun Dark Knights to play because of their good hit rate and a large MP pool. The large MP pool means that they can bring out more absorbs which can not only assist the PT but make up for some of the points that Tarutaru lack. An example would be Absorb-STR which gives a bonus to a Taru's Strength so they can do more Damage for a decent amount of time. Tarutaru's lack HP and VIT though, so if they pull too much hate off an enemy they won't last long. Their high amount of MP and INT will mean they will always be able to utilize the dark magic this job has to offer, and has a better chance of landing said spells. Their lack of HP is not a big deal when it comes to DRk, as they can land sizable drain 1 and 2 spells, and dread spikes keeps them safe as well. Taru and Elvaan are the top damage dealers when it comes to drk, as almost all dark knight weapon skills use STR and INT as the modifiers. As taru have the highest intelligence in the game, and strength is so easy to make up for with gear and food, you can hit the big WS numbers easily. Their large mp pool also means they are able to sub WHM or RDM for better soloing power than NIN pre Utsusemi:Ni.
Mithra are seen as nearly identical to Hume DRKs, though the extra DEX boost they receive gives them a bit more accuracy. Mithra's MP pools are also nice because they can pull out a few absorbs and still have enough MP left to do things like Drain or Aspir. Mithra lack Defense and Vitality though so like Tarutaru's they wont last very long if they draw too much hate only really a hit less than a Elvaan as the HP pool isn't too bad. There STR and HP(Souleater) is average which means they won't do as much damage as an Elvaan or Taru but don't let this put you off as the MP pool will allow you to always get a few absorb spells off where at times Galka or Elvaan could not. Also on a aside note Mithra DRKs like Humes and Tarutaru can sub WHM or RDM as a solo option rather than just NIN which will help you in quests and missions.
Galka also have a lot of Strength to bring to the Party. They also have more Dexterity then Elvaan (equal to Humes) do so they can bring hard hits on a frequent basis. Their small MP pools should be considered though because they wont be able to debuff the enemy and have MP left over for other things. On a side note endgame(70-75) this isn't considered as much as a problem as the mp equips are easy to get and the spells you commonly use are still the ones you get 31-45 and are only 33MP(absorb spells) which is relatively low at lvls 65+. However Galka have large amounts of VIT so they can take hits that are sent at them when they pull hate even though it will be hardly noticeable between the races later on as DRKs equips have low defense but then Galka's high HP allow him to take one or two more hits from an IT 50+. For end-game activities, as souleater is HP dependent the souleater damage will be higher than the other races, although that means your large hp pool will need refilled more as well.
Elvaan and Galka hit for hit will be the largest DD but they will lack in the magic department.
Humes and Mithra are well rounded and a bit more versitile than the other races.
Tarutaru will never be the best DDing DRK but will land and cast more absorb spells more often so they arn't pushed to the sidelines.
On a final note; At the end of the day it is the player that makes or breaks a DRK, not the race.
Support Job Options
There are a number of subjob choices available to a Dark Knight.
The choices listed here are by no means the only ones available, but tend to be the most widely used.
It is recommended for parties that you use WAR(10-75) THF(30-75 tho is strongly recommned only 66+) SAM(70-75) NIN(75) Other sub jobs are considered far less useful and haven't been proven to be a useful as the job combinations above though they may have uses outside parties.
The standard expected subjob before level 60 and in many situations afterwards (For Example, Merit Parties), a Warrior subjob will greatly enhance a Dark Knight's damage over time, TP gain, and survivability.
- Provoke - though a Dark Knight's defense is quite low, Provoke is still useful in a pinch and can be used to set up a Thief's SATA weaponskill.
- Berserk - an obvious attack-boosting ability.
- Warcry - If timed correctly and used in a perfect pattern, Dark Knight's could have an attack booster every time while the other is on timer. i.e. Use Berserk First, Then Last Resort, Then Warcry, Then Souleater. Warcry can grab hate, be sure to use wisely or be sure that the tank has kept hate already.
- Double Attack - critical for TP gain.
- Defender - barely useful at best; should only be used in dangerous situations where the Dark Knight has excessive hate.
Thief is a widely-expected subjob after the Dark Knight reaches level 60, thanks to its damage amplification and hate control.
- Sneak Attack - used primarily on weapon skills to create high-damage skillchains.
- Trick Attack - can be used to transfer weapon skill hate onto a tank, a Dragoon to shed it, or a low-hate member of the party, such as a bard.
- Flee - obviously useful to escape dangerous situations.
Dark Knight benifits from Samurai as a subjob. Samurai offers a boost to Strength and TP. SAM sub also offers the abilities Hasso and Seigan, which can be alternated between at will. At 60 you get Meditate which increases the TP gain of a job that has really slow gain to begin with.
- Meditate - (lvl 60) 60% TP in a few seconds, which means you can get another weaponskill off. When combined with Absorb TP, DRKs can be a force to be reckoned with. Just be careful with hate control.
- Hasso - (lvl 50) Hasso gives +5STR at 75, along with +10%Haste and +10 accuracy. The attack boost, along with the haste effect, which helps DRK attack faster with heavy two handed weapons, makes them impressive damage dealers. The -50% recast penalty on spells isn't too much of an issue, since DRKs lack the MP pool to spam their spells, though having a longer Stun recast timer can hurt on fights where Stuns are needed if you don't have others that can cover for you.
- Seigan - (lvl 70) For those occasions where DRKs drag excessive hate, Seigan can temporarily keep you from getting hit until the tank can get the target back on him/her. Consider it a version of Utsusemi for two-handed weapon users. The only downside is that Third Eye doesn't block spells, and AoE attacks can ignore it.
- Store TP - Grants extra TP per hit, further helping a DRKs normally slow TP gain.
- Zanshin - (lvl 40) Allows a second swing to go off should you miss the target the first time around. While it's not quite Double Attack, it can allow you to land successful hits more often.
- Third Eye - (lvl 30) Allows the user to dodge a single attack. With Seigan on, the effect stays on longer, and the user can occasionally counterattack
- Notes on playing DRK/SAM
While spike damage may be somewhat less than a DRK/WAR, a DRK/SAM has the advantage of being able to perform WSs more often, for effective damage over time. DRK/SAMs can beat DRK/WARs in overall TP gain, as well as DRK/THFs. Hasso and Seigan can also be switched at will depending on the situation. The recast timer penalty though means less chances to use Stun, so plan accordingly.
DRK/SAM, compared to other Dark Knight subjobs, offers the greatest Damage Over Time but is below DRK/THF and DRK/WAR in terms of spiked damage. However the TP gain on DRK/SAM is very powerful: with the Meditate ability and the Absorb-TP spell, it is possible to execute three weaponskills in a row, or space it out and have almost constant weaponskills. Hasso can be used when both Meditate and Absorb-TP are unavailable to add more Haste, thus quickening the TP gain speed. The Zanshin trait is a weaker version of Double Attack, which the WAR subjob offers, but this is useful as a miss means no TP gain, and DRK/SAM is all about TP gain. Ideally, as DRK/SAM, you would use a Scythe and use Guillotine every time you are at 100% TP (as it does not gain in power as TP increases), but due to enmity issues this is not always possible. However, with Dread Spikes, Seigan Third Eye and intelligent use of Stun, it is possible to "semitank" or at least hold hate until the tank can get it back. DRK/SAM is like DRK/WAR, but exchanges "spike damage" for far greater Damage Over Time, and has a lot more defensive capabilities than DRK/WAR. It is a challenging subjob to play, but one that is very powerful in the right hands.
A subjob usually only used in the late 60's and 70's. Utsusemi is useful in Dynamis, certain BC battles, and for soloing capabilities. Later levels allows one to Dual Wield axes and gain access to the highly damaging weapon skill Rampage; at the end of the the day, a DRK/NIN will never out damage a DRK/WAR, DRK/THF, or DRK/SAM but it has added safety with Utsusemi.
A powerful use of the Ninja subjob is to take advantage of the amount of damage that Souleater adds to a weapon, and combining it with a low delay or multiple hit weapon, such as a Kraken Club, Mercurial Kris, or Ridill, and allowing these normally weak weapons to do tremendous and rapid damage. This is often used in tandem with the Blood Weapon two-hour ability. Utsusemi and Dread Spikes are used to protect the Dark Knight from harm when doing this, in addition to a team of healers specifically designated to "cure bomb" the Dark Knight.
A relatively new subjob that has gained popularity of late. Useful for its relatively good attack and accuracy bonuses, but also for the ability to Jump and High Jump which, when coupled with a Dark Knight's high attack power, do decent damage in addition to shedding some of the hate a Dark Knight may have acquired from a recent weaponskill.
- Jump does not shed hate & High Jump removes 33% of your current hate. Super Jump sheds all hate, though if you are subbing Dragoon will not receive it. (lvl50DRG ability)
- Good outside parties for soloing as you have access to cure and debuffs.
- Also Dia can be used to skill enfeeble magic efficiently and quickly.
- Dispel/Erase can come in handy too as long with the bar spells.
- Useful for soloing and maybe if you're in a group that needs healing when doing a quest or skilling because DRK can get refresh equips and PLD grants an extra +1MP/sec and Cure III.
- With a 3-4mp refresh available (via DRK equips and PLD auto refresh) to you, you could be the difference of a group needing to rest for MP and a group not needing to stop.
- Also is an awesome combo for soloing undead because of the defense boost/abilities and traits and because all of DRKs good spells are ineffective against undead, you can use Cure III instead.
- Summery: Similar to DRK/WHM and DRK/RDM but you trade the enfeebling magic for some defense and a 1 MP refresh
DRK/BLM is a specialized combination. The BLM subjob grants a significant MP boost, has better spell success rates from its higher INT, and introduces with a wider variety of spells. Also this combo will make spells like Drain, Aspir, and Stun a bit more effective. The utility of this combination is limited to filling in gaps in imbalanced parties, or soloing.
- Magic Attack Bonus (DRK20/BLM10) -- The DRK/BLM will receive two of the five upgrades from this BLM job trait to improve the potency of spells.
- Elemental Seal (DRK30/BLM15) -- Dramatically improves success rate for spells, especially a desperate Drain or Aspir.
- Conserve MP (DRK40/BLM20) -- Further enhances the ability of a DRK in a magic-dependent situation to dish out a balanced attack.
- Elemental DoT Debuffs -- An interesting companion to the Absorb-* spells, the BLM's elemental DoT spells (Choke, Shock, etc.) can further tear apart a mob's defenses.
- Escape (DRK58/BLM29) -- If the party lacks a main BLM, or if soloing in dungeons, the DRK/BLM may provide the only ability to cast Escape in a crisis.
If you find yourself headed for a situation where foes' physical defense is particularly high, where your DRK will be exceptionally dependent on magic, or if you're soloing and need the utility of spells like Escape and Warp, DRK/BLM may be considered as a viable alternative.
DRK/BLU seems to be a stupid choice but, at low level, it allows you to solo Even Match and Tough with the help of Cocoon and Metallic Body. /BLU also gives the Stats+ from the Blue Magic spell, what can be nice.
- I would like to add a note here:
Personally I play a DRK/BLU and love it. Yes, I can customize my BLU spell list to give me various stat mods. Since I am a Elvann, I do know I have a problem with DEX, so I add many spells that increase this stat (Also don't forget you can tailor your mix of Blue Magic to give yourself [killer traits]!). Because of this, I currently have +19 DEX without even trying! I would also like to point out the addition of " Head Butt" the Quadav Spell for BLU, which has a low recast timer, low MP usage, and is a "stun". Also, "Blood Drain" which is a level 20 BLU spell learned from Large Bats. Together these simple spells give a 3rd Stun and a 2nd Drain ability. Don't underestimate this combo! I have had to deal with complaints from parties that would like me to sub THF or SAM, but once they see the added effects of BLU, I get people who remember me and ask me to join them in the future!
For any of you familiar with /DNC at higher levels this will probably come at no surprise to you but DRK/DNC makes a very viable job combination in certain situations. /DNC adds survivability with more curing power than just DRK's own Drain and Drain II spells, while Spectral Jig gives a very nice free Sneak/Invis.
I tend to use DRK/DNC when doing certain missions or quests where we have no main heal, or when I'm escorting a lower level friend doing a Limit Break run. /DNC is also a good choice for solo skill up runs or an NM hunt where you think maybe a few extra cures would come in handy.