the Dark Knight from the Kingdom Baron. Though found in previous games like Leon (Leonhart in JP version) of FF II, Final Fantasy IV made the class front and center in the series. Since then it has been a popular class known for its mix of melee and dark arts. In Final Fantasy XI, the class carries on that tradition by filling a pure damage dealing role. Dark Knights are usually easy to spot with their black spiky chaos armor and grim scythe. It’s a testament to the havoc they wreak in the midst of combat. They stand in stark contrast to the Paladin. The Dark Knight class posts impressive damage numbers at the sake of all else including defense, health and sometimes life itself. I think the appropriate quote for the job is “I’ve seen the face of death and wear it always” by John Wick, and sums up what the job is all about. It’s about learning to walk the fine line between pouring out all fury upon a mob so as to lead to its untimely demise and not pulling so much aggro as to lead to your own. In a worse case scenario, poor judgment can create a domino effect that can wipe out an entire party. An exuberant Dark Knight drops the hammer too heavily, generating so much enmity that the tank cannot regain control. Then the healer, in desperation, pours all their mp into futilely trying to save your hide yet you die anyway. Now the party is facing a mob with no mp for healing, a mob on the loose striking casters in the back and your damage dealing skills dead, to be quickly followed by the rest of the party. The Dark Knight can be the hero or the villain of a party and it’s all based on the judgment of the player.
The Dark Knight has a number of weapons at their disposal. They can use: Scythe, Great Sword, Axe, Great Axe, Sword, Dagger, and Club. Depending on your level the scythe, great sword and great axe will be your primary weapons. As you progress you will find yourself switching between them based on what stats they have for that level. The Great Axe offers some good weapons skills like Shield Break (lowers evasion) and Sturwind (two fold attack) and can be a good early weapon, especially if you levelled to 30 using Warrior to unlock the job. The Scythe becomes a formidable weapon when you are able to use the weapon skill Guillotine as it delivers a four fold attack that silences a target, if it manages to survive. The Great Sword is thrown in there for good measure as it provides good damage, open/close light skill chains and strike a touch faster than the Scythe and Great Axe. Should you have the funds, at level 75, some turn to using the Kraken club because of the chance to strike up to eight times per hit but they also come with a hefty price tag on most servers. It’s a nasty combination with your two hour, Soul Eater. Dark Knight also has a low Marksman skill that comes in handy for solo play. You can use Bloody Bolts to drain HP and other status aliments like sleep and lowering a targets defense with Acid Bolts. Though somewhat redundant with your spell list, it’s nice to have on hand since it costs no mana to use.
Dark Knights are one of the lucky few classes that can wear the heaviest of armor. It doesn’t allow you to tank because of the job’s low defense and defense lowering abilities. Like a boxer, you sometimes leave yourself exposed for the sake of the knock out blow. Most of your gear will be for accuracy, attack power and strength. HP is important especially when using Soul Eater but Vitality should be a secondary consideration to those listed above. The Dark Knight can utilize nearly any stat including mind (Guillotine) but accuracy is paramount. It doesn’t matter how much damage you can deal if you can’t hit your target.
Melee isn’t the only service this job has to offer, the Dark Arts play an important role in your offensive capabilities. The Dark Knight shares many of the same spells as the Black Mage though not as powerful. Spells like Drain (HP) and Aspir (MP) allows the Dark Knight to drain HP/MP so even while you are regaining needed reserves you are still weakening an enemy. Many of the spells available to you are Absorb spells that allow a Dark Knight to temporarily drain a stat from a monster and add it to your own. The best of these spells is Absorb TP, enabling you to use more weapon skills against a target. One of the most over looker spells is Tractor which allows you to pull a dead companion’s body to your location. It’s one of those spells nobody thinks about until you need it. I’ve been the recipient of a much needed Tractor spell on more than one occasion especially after getting myself in a pickle with a named mob or surrounded by linking mobs. Probably the two most desired spells by parties are the Dark Knights ability to sleep and stun a target both allowing a short breather during a fight. Dread Spikes is a nice self buff that steals HP from a mob that hits you. Your spell list also allows for some enfeebling and limited nuking.
The sub job choices change as you progress throughout your levels. Warrior is a good all around choice for your early years. It adds some to your damage output with Beserk. Provoke is nice to have on hand to off tank with. A dark Knight has enough HP and armor to take a few hits should your tank get a nasty crit handed to them at a bad time. I leveled Warrior first and used it to unlock Dark Knight which made it nice to have capped weapons skills starting out. Samurai begins to become a preferred sub job at level 30 with Third Eye and only gets better the higher you go. The ability to gain TP for more weapon skills really boosts the offensive capabilities of the Dark Knight. At level 60, Thief becomes a great subjob to have on hand. Having to freedom to unload on a monster then point at the tank and say, “he did it!” is incredible. Using SATA (Sneak Attack, Trick Attack) along with your Dark Knight abilities like Last Resort and Soul Eater, make for posting some insane damage numbers. DRK/THF is a beautiful thing. Ninja has some limited use end game and solo. In some situations Black Mage is handy to use, especially for Warp/Escape and is taken for solo play or imbalanced parties. White Mage and Dancer are decent choices for solo play which allow you to heal yourself in emergencies and to limit downtime. In a traditional party the Dark Knight will look to WAR/SAM/THF throughout their career, delving into other subs mainly for solo or small party play.
I’ve always been partial to melee/caster classes and Dark Knight is one of my favorites. If you want to be as bad as you look then Dark Knight is your job. Managing aggro is a difficult task until you get into the higher levels but Dark Knight can be a rewarding class that offers some cool spells and abilities. If you are looking for a new advanced job to level then you might give Dark Knight a spin. And as always…Good Hunting!