Introduction to Dark Knight
The useless pre-Endwalker guide by nikroulah#1605 (now updated for 6.x).
Dark Knight (DRK) is one of the four tanks available in Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker. 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.
Dark Knight Opener
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).
Best raid buff alignment and a good default choice
Text version: Prepull Blood Weapon > Prepull The Blackest Night > Provoke (if pulling) > Hard Slash + Edge of Shadow + Delirium > Syphon Strike + Potion > Souleater + Living Shadow + Salted Earth > Hard Slash + Shadowbringer + Edge of Shadow > Bloodspiller + Carve and Spit + Plunge > Bloodspiller + Shadowbringer + Edge of Shadow > Bloodspiller + Salt and Darkness + Edge of Shadow > Syphon Strike + Plunge + Edge of Shadow
The potion used is whatever the current tier’s Strength potion is (as of the time of writing, it is the Grade 7 Tincture of Strength HQ).
Provoke should be used if you want to start with aggro, and left out otherwise.
Blood Weapon is used pre-pull to ensure that Living Shadow is used as soon as possible. Any later and a hit will get pushed out of raid buffs.
The pre-pull 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 pre-pull 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, Provoke can be used to pull.
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 without charges (such as Carve and Spit, Salted Earth, Blood Weapon, and Delirium) when available.
- Use offensive abilities with charges (Plunge and Shadowbringer) in raid buffs or to avoid overcapping. In practice, it is often possible to get all uses of Shadowbringer under raid buffs. Plunge, having a shorter cooldown, is best used twice a minute — inside buffs at even minutes, and more freely during odd minutes.
- Fill remaining GCDs with Souleater combo.
Using Blood Weapon and Delirium
Both Blood Weapon and Delirium should be used as they come up, without being held for extended periods of time (i.e. in the opener, at ~1:00, at ~2:00, etc).
The second Blood Weapon in the fight (around 1:00) can (and should) be delayed until two GCDs after Delirium is used. This means using Delirum -> two combo GCDs -> Blood Weapon -> one combo GCD -> start spending Delirium stacks. This delay allows you to avoid overcapping on MP and Blood Gauge before raid buffs come up.
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 2-minute raid buff window.
Similarly, try to use three Blood Gauge spenders (i.e. Living Shadow, Bloodspiller) in addition to your free Delirium Bloodspillers during every 2-minute raid buff window.
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"
/merror off /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /ac "Oblation" <mo> /micon "Oblation"
Shirk (assumes party slot two)
/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.
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 eight-player 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. Linked here..
Weapon damage (main-hand weapon only)
- Significantly affects all damage dealt
- Proportional to item level
- Affects all damage dealt
- Proportional to item level
- Affects critical chance + critical damage
- Often naturally capped on BiS gear pieces
- Priority meld on all gear (unless number turns red when melding)
- Reduces weaponskill recast time
- Meld only to reach preferred GCD speed (commonly anywhere from 2.40s to 2.50s) (see https://www.akhmorning.com/allagan-studies/stats/speed/ for precise skill speed tiers)
- Affects only direct hit chance
- Meld remaining slots (filler stat)
- Increases damage dealt
- Sometimes used in one slot due to stat tiering
- Increases damage dealt and reduces damage taken
- Rarely melded due to weak scaling and minimal mitigation
Choosing your skill speed
The Dark Knight rotation is functional at almost all skill speeds, although certain speeds keep oGCD abilities better aligned with your GCD. In particular, 2.40 and 2.50 maintain perfect alignment for 60s cooldown oGCDs.
Outside of high-end optimization, choice of skill speed has little impact on the Dark Knight rotation, and can be chosen for comfort. At certain speeds, 90-second cooldowns like Salted Earth 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.
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.
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 or Oblation. The Blackest Night is one of your most powerful mitigation tools and can be used liberally (at least once per mob pack) once unlocked.
Living Dead can be extremely strong in dungeons, as a single AoE GCD will often heal you to full after Walking Dead is activated. However, an inexperienced healer may heal too much during Living Dead, preventing Walking Dead from activating. It may help to let your healers know ahead of time where you plan to use Living Dead, to avoid this problem.
On any number of targets, prioritize spending Blood on Living Shadow.
On two or more targets, replace Souleater combo with Stalwart Soul Combo.
On 3+ targets, replace:
- Bloodspiller with Quietus
- Edge of Shadow/Darkness with Flood of Shadow/Darkness
- Carve and Spit with Abyssal Drain
Try to maximize the number of targets you hit with Salted Earth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I overlap Blood Weapon and Delirium?
Yes, although you need to be careful to not overcap on Blood, as Delirium prevents you from spending Blood with Bloodspiller until all three of its stacks have been used. With typical alignments of Blood Weapon and Delirium, you can accomplish this by making sure that you are at 40 Blood or less before pressing Blood Weapon or Delirium, whichever comes first.
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 raid buff window without any further adjustments. However, since raid buffs windows happen every two minutes, it is beneficial to use The Blackest Night during odd minutes 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
||Mug||Target takes 5% more damage 20s duration||120s|
||Battle Litany||Critical rate increased by 10% 15s duration||120s|
||Brotherhood||5% damage increase 15s duration||120s|
||Arcane Circle||3% damage increase 20s duration||120s|
||Technical Finish||5% damage increase 20s duration||120s|
||Battle Voice||Direct hit rate increased by 20% 15s duration||120s|
||Searing Light||3% damage increase 30s duration||120s|
||Embolden||5% damage increase 20s duration||120s|
||Chain Stratagem||+10% critical rate on target 15s duration||120s|
||Divination||6% damage increase 15s duration||120s|
|AST||Various||Cards||Target gets ~6% damage increase 15s duration||30s|
Alternative Opener - Early Delirium
Useful if a fight benefits from a slightly earlier Delirium due to downtime or phasing
Text version: Pre-pull Delirium > Pre-pull The Blackest Night > Pre-pull Blood Weapon just before pull > Hard Slash + Edge of Shadow > Syphon Strike + Potion > Souleater + Living Shadow + Salted Earth > Bloodspiller + Shadowbringer + Edge of Shadow > Bloodspiller + Carve and Spit + Plunge > Bloodspiller + Shadowbringer + Edge of Shadow > Hard Slash + Salt and Darkness + Edge of Shadow > Syphon Strike + Plunge + Edge of Shadow
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.