Dark Knight Basic Guide
Guide Info
Last Updated: 27 Oct, 2021
Patch Applicable: 5.5

Introduction to Dark Knight

The useless pre-Endwalker guide by nikroulah#1605


Dark Knight (DRK) is one of the four tanks available in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers. Its rotation features large bursts of damage, accompanied by spikes in actions per minute (APM) and requires managing both MP and a Blood Gauge, putting many hard-hitting attacks into party raid buff windows. It also has access to one of the most powerful single-target mitigation abilities available in The Blackest Night (TBN).

The purpose of this guide is to give an overview of Dark Knight’s abilities and to allow you to hit the ground running when picking up Dark Knight, as well as giving a peek into optimization in high-end content.

Skills and Abilities Overview

Skills and abilities can be found on the this page


Goals for DRK openers include:

  • Get Living Shadow out ASAP; the long spawn animation means any delays will push some hits out of raid buffs.
  • Get buffs like Blood Weapon and Delirium, and damaging abilities like Carve and Spit and Salted Earth on cooldown early.
  • Use as many big hits and spend as much mana as possible inside potion and raid buff windows (which typically come up around the 4th or 5th GCD).

4th GCD Delirium Opener

Text version: Prepull The Blackest Night > Prepull Blood Weapon just before pull > Hard Slash + Edge of Shadow > Syphon Strike + Potion > Souleater + Living Shadow + Plunge > Hard Slash + Salted Earth + Delirium > Bloodspiller + Edge of Shadow + Carve and Spit > Bloodspiller + Edge of Shadow + Plunge > Bloodspiller + Edge of Shadow + Abyssal Drain > Bloodspiller + Edge of Shadow > Bloodspiller > Syphon Strike > Souleater

The potion used is whatever the current tier’s Strength potion is (as of the time of writing, and until Endwalker release, it is the Grade 4 Tincture of Strength HQ).

High Latency Adjustments:

At high latency (>100ms), consider using an opener that sticks to single weaves inside Blood Weapon and Delirium in order to ensure five GCDs land in each.

Example: High latency adjustment

Opener notes:

  • Blood Weapon is used prepull to ensure that Living Shadow is used as soon as possible. Any later and a hit will get pushed out of raid buffs.

  • The prepull TBN is used to prevent MP overcap from the first Hard Slash under Blood Weapon, since if it breaks it refunds the MP cost in the form of a free Edge of Shadow.

    • If the prepull TBN will not break, then simply omit it and overcap 600-800 MP before your first Edge of Shadow
  • Try to avoid pulling with Unmend, as doing so will delay Living Shadow. If you need to start with aggro, consider having your co-tank pull with stance on and use Provoke after your opener.


Dark Knight’s rotation is deceptively simple, and follows these simple principles:

  • Avoid overcapping on MP or blood by using Edge of Shadow and Bloodspiller, respectively.
  • Use offensive abilities (such as Abyssal Drain, Salted Earth, Blood Weapon, and Delirium) when available.
  • Fill remaining GCDs with Souleater combo.

Blood Weapon and Delirium

Using Blood Weapon and Delirium

Blood Weapon and Delirium should be weaved at least two-thirds of the way into the GCD roll in order to cover five GCDs.

Both should be used as they come up, without being held for extended periods of time (i.e. both in the opener, BW at ~1:00, Delirium at ~1:30, BW at ~2:00, etc).

The second Blood Weapon in the fight can (and should) be delayed by ~3 GCDs to avoid overcapping Blood and MP before raid buffs.

Because spells (e.g. Unleash) have a longer recast time than weaponskills due to skill speed, it can be much harder to get five GCDs in Blood Weapon while using AoE. Try to save Blood Gauge for Blood Weapon so that two to three Blood Gauge spending GCDs (Bloodspiller/Quietus) can be used during Blood Weapon for the shorter recast. For example, with 100 Blood, use Blood Weapon after Unleash and then use Quietus, Quietus, Stalwart Soul, Quietus, Unleash.

Pooling Resources for Raid Buffs

Edge of Shadow and Bloodspiller can be delayed without loss, as long as MP and Blood do not overcap. Dark Knight is thus uniquely able to pool a massive amount of potency for use during party raid buff windows, which typically come in multiples of 60 seconds.

Dark Knight generates around 12000 MP per minute, from a combination of Blood Weapon, Syphon Strike, Carve and Spit, Delirium, and natural MP regen ticks. Since MP caps at 10000, we delay the first (and only the first) Blood Weapon after the opener in full uptime to prevent overcapping before raid buffs come out, allowing four Edge of Shadow to naturally fall in every one-minute raid buff window.

Similarly, try to use three Blood Gauge spenders (i.e. Living Shadow, Bloodspiller) during every one-minute raid buff window.

Helpful Macros

Salted Earth (on self)

/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/ac "Salted Earth" <me>
/micon "Salted Earth"

The Blackest Night (mouseover)

/merror off
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/ac "The Blackest Night" <mo>
/micon "The Blackest Night"

Shirk (assumes party slot 2)

/merror off
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/ac "Shirk" <2>
/micon "Shirk" 

Why are there so many repeated lines?

FFXIV macros do not queue, so hitting a macro while in animation lock from another action will cause the macro to not go off. Since macros execute lines sequentially at around one line per frame, repeating the /action lines simulates mashing the ability every frame for ~15 frames and gives the macro a semblance of queuing.

Mouseover? <2>?

will attempt to target whatever your mouse cursor is currently hovering over when that macro line is reached, whether it be their physical model or a name on your party list.

<2> targets the second player on your party list, which is the other tank by default in 8-man content.

Stats and Itemization

Before obtaining best-in-slot gear, pick gear and meld according to stat priority on each piece of gear. Best-in-slot sets can be found on the BiS page or in the Balance discord.

Because of stat tiering, the Tank Gear Calc is the best tool to directly compare specific gear pieces https://bit.ly/TankDPSCalc520.

Highest priority

  • Weapon damage (main-hand weapon only)

    • Significantly affects all damage dealt
    • Proportional to item level
  • Strength

    • Affects all damage dealt
    • Proportional to item level
  • Critical Hit

    • Affects critical chance + critical damage
    • Often naturally capped on BiS gear pieces
    • Priority meld on all gear (unless number turns red when melding)
  • Skill Speed

  • Direct Hit

    • Affects only direct hit chance
    • Meld remaining slots (filler stat)
  • Determination

    • Increases damage dealt
    • Sometimes used in 1 slot due to stat tiering
  • Tenacity

    • Increases damage dealt and reduces damage taken
    • Rarely melded due to weak scaling and minimal mitigation

Lowest priority

Choosing your skill speed

The Dark Knight rotation is functional at almost all skill speeds. The only requirement is a minimum level of skill speed in order to fit five GCDs in Blood Weapon, which is possible at virtually any realistic recast speed (less than 2.45). In optimization, common recast speeds can be anywhere from 2.38 to 2.43.

Outside of high-end optimization, choice of skill speed has little impact on the Dark Knight rotation, and can be chosen for comfort (faster speeds can be more forgiving and latency-friendly with Blood Weapon and Delirium, provided double weaves don’t clip your GCD). At certain speeds, 90-second cooldowns like Delirium must be drifted or clipped while the same is true of 60-second cooldowns at other speeds.

In optimization, each encounter must be considered separately to determine what GCDs are gained or lost by different skill speeds, as well as lining up the GCD with any melee disengages. In general, the slowest speed that doesn’t lose any major GCDs within a phase will be the strongest choice.


Keeping Aggro

Turn on Grit and never turn it off. As long as you keep hitting the mobs, you will have aggro on them. In multi-target situations, use AoE so that you can keep aggro on all mobs.

Pulling Mobs

There are a variety of ways to ensure you pull all of the mobs in a pack quickly and reliably, without stopping on your way to the next pack of mobs:

  • Run up to the mobs so they see and run to you and use an AoE combo GCD once they are in range to secure aggro.
  • Tab through the mobs and use Unmend while weaving any damaging oGCDs or Provoke.

Try to position the mobs so that they are in a tight clump: this lets you, your dps, and your healers use their AoE damage more effectively. Pull melee enemies onto ranged enemies so that the ranged enemies are also in the clump. Alternatively, drag mobs around a corner so the ranged enemies are forced to run next to you in order to attack.


Cycle through your mitigation on trash pulls (they hurt more than bosses). Rather than using it all at once, keeping something up at all times can help your healer keep you alive more easily. More powerful mitigation cooldowns like Rampart, Shadow Wall, and Arm’s Length can be paired with weaker ones like Reprisal. The Blackest Night is one of your most powerful mitigation tools and can be used liberally (at least once per mob pack) once unlocked.

With a skilled healer, Living Dead can be one of your most powerful dungeon mitigations. With a bad one (or a Scholar), try to stay away from relying on Living Dead and prefer using The Blackest Night and other mitigations. A panicked healer might heal your Walking Dead buff away immediately, rendering it useless.

Living Dead has some synergy with White Mages, as their Benediction can fully heal your Walking Dead on its own.

AoE Priority

AOE Priority On any number of targets, prioritize spending Blood on Living Shadow.

2 target 2target 2

On 2+ targets, replace Souleater combo and Edge of Shadow/Darkness with Stalwart Soul Combo and Flood of Shadow/Darkness.

3 targets On 3+ targets, replace Bloodspiller with Quietus.

Salted Earth Abyssal Drain
aoe 1 aoe2

Try to maximize AoE with Salted Earth and Abyssal Drain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I fit five GCDs in Blood Weapon (or Delirium)?

The single most likely reason is that you aren’t weaving Blood Weapon late into the GCD. As long as you are weaving Blood Weapon late and keeping the GCD rolling during it, five GCDs in Blood Weapon should be very consistent. With high latency (100+ ms), double weaves can cause the last GCD to fall out of Blood Weapon. It is possible to mitigate some latency by using a gaming VPN (for example, Mudfish or PingZapper).

I’m disengaging from the boss, should I use Unmend?

Generally no. Breaking a combo by using Unmend in the middle of it is a bigger loss than waiting to get back to the boss. You can safely Unmend if you are leaving the boss for long enough that your combo would drop anyway (15s or roughly six GCDs), or if you are between combos and disengaging for at least one full GCD.

Should I hold Blood Weapon for Delirium? Should I hold Delirium for Blood Weapon?

No. There is no inherent synergy between Blood Weapon and Delirium—Blood Weapon will always give 3000 MP and 50 Blood, regardless of if you use Delirium at the same time. Unless you know your kill-time and that holding one or the other will not lose a usage, do not hold either Blood Weapon or Delirium.

Advanced Gameplay

This section assumes that you are comfortable with the entirety of the Dark Knight kit as well as the basic rotation outlined above. If you blindly try to do these optimizations without grasping the fundamentals, it is likely to be detrimental to your play, rather than improve it. Also see the Advanced DRK guide here.

Optimizing Raid Buffs Further

Moving Mana with The Blackest Night:

Upon delaying the second Blood Weapon, the standard rotation allows four Edges of Shadow to be used in each one minute raid buff window (Trick Attack) without any further adjustments.

However, since most parties also possess two minute raid buffs, it is beneficial to only spend three Edges of Shadow in odd-minute buff windows and use The Blackest Night to proc Dark Arts afterwards, which allows five Edges of Shadow to be used in the next even-minute buff window without overcapping MP.

List of Raid Buffs

Job Icon Name Effect Cooldown
NIN icon Trick Attack Target takes 5% more damage 15s duration 60s
DRG icon Battle Litany Critical rate increased by 10% 20s duration 180s
MNK icon Brotherhood 5% damage increase 15s duration 90s
DNC icon Technical Finish 5% damage increase 20s duration 120s
BRD icon Battle Voice Direct hit rate increased by 20% 20s duration 180s
SMN icon Devotion 5% damage increase 15s duration 180s
RDM icon Embolden Increases physical damage by 10% Decays over 20s 120s
SCH icon Chain Stratagem +10% critical rate on target 15s duration 120s
AST icon Divination ~6% damage increase 15s duration 120s
AST Various Cards Target gets ~6% damage increase 15s duration 30s

Alternative Opener - 3rd GCD Delirium

3rd GCD Delirium Sometimes useful if a fight benefits from a slightly earlier Delirium due to downtime or phasing.

Fight-specific optimization

For discussion around fight-specific optimization, please visit the #drk_encounter channel in the Balance discord and view the pins to see any up-to-date information on current encounters.