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Elemental Hornet Tank


This build takes advantage of the insane damage of the Hornet Ring, while maximizing Vitality and being highly mobile. In addition, it reaches 77 poise which lets you move in for a backstab more easily. It's very good for the Forest Convenant, since you will often find yourself in a 1v2 situation there.

The build (SL125 Pyromancer)

Vitality – 99 (Pump Vitality as high as possible)
Attunement – 14/12 (3 slots for pyromancy, 2 slots if you only go to 12)
Endurance – 41 (enough for equipment and still be under 50% equip load)
Strength – 12 (Base)
Dexterity – 12 (Enough for Rapier)
Resistance - 12 (Base)
Intelligence - 10 (Base)
Faith - 8 (Base)

Equipment Setup

Weapons
RH1: Chaos Rapier +5
RH2: Ascended Pyromancy Flame +5
LH1: Target Shield +15 - this allows for easier riposting, which is one of the primary strategies of this build. Another option is Heater Shield +15 if you want more defense/stability.
LH2: Pyromancy Flame (to use Power Within)/nothing if you decide to not use Power Within

Armor:
  • Helmet - Mask of the Mother
  • Armor - Giants Armor +5
  • Hands - Giants Gauntlets +5
  • Legs - Giants Leggings +5
This setup will maximize your hp while still getting to 77 poise with high defenses

Rings:
  • Hornet Ring - the basis of the build
  • Dark Wood Grain Ring - what allows you to move as fast as possible while reaching 77 poise; also good for the flip roll.

Spells:
  • Power Within - allows for even higher damage on Backstab/Riposte hits. Riposting with a Chaos Rapier + 5 while using Power Within will OHKO almost any build with 40 Vitality, except possibly someone who has both the Ring of Favor & Protection and Mask of the Mother on, and will also probably OHKO most 50-vit builds. However using Power Within puts you on a timer unless you heal, so only use at your discretion. If you choose not to use this spell, you only need 2 spell slots, so you can use your 2 points in Attunement elsewhere.
  • Fire Tempest - great for when you get double-teamed, and works very well on bridges and other tight areas
  • Great Combustion - great finisher and good against turtles

Items: Green Blossom and Humanity are essential for extra stamina and health, which you'll need in the Forest Coventant. Poison Throwing Knives are good for inflicting poison, Dung Pies are good for inflicting toxin (since you have maxed out your health, you will almost certainly outlast your opponent). Lloyd Talismans are good for stopping estus healing against dishonorable duelers. Depending on how dishonorable you are, estus flasks are also a good choice for fast healing.

Strategy

This build revolves around getting backstabs and ripostes. 77 Poise will allow you to walk through any 1 hit and get a backstab. This build works very well against strength-build weapons, as most have a slow startup and are easily parried. The better you get at parrying, the better this build becomes. The rapier still does decently well in a straight-up fight, and with the DWGR and less than 50% equip load you can still move as fast as anyone.

If the opponent starts turtling up, switch to a Lightning Shotel +5 and/or Great Combustion and do some damage. If you get double-teamed, run away to try and get to a safe distance, wait until they close in, then let loose a firestorm. Firestorm is also a very good choice if the opponent runs to a bridge or ledge to try and use WoG to knock you off the cliff.


Variants

There is a small amount of wiggle-room with this build, but it comes with a caveat: you may need to put additional points into endurance to equip your gear and still be able to flip.

MotM + Giants = 37 weight

At 41 Endurance, you have 81 equip load, half of that is 40.5. 40.5 - 37 = 3.5 weight to use however you want for your weapon & shield. Beyond that, each additional .5 weight will require another point in endurance. It's your own personal preference which weapon/shield you go with, however the recommended setup gives the most damage while hitting 99 Vitality, 77 poise, and still giving you 3 slots for spells, in addition it allows you to specialize in riposting (using the Target Shield) or go for a more defensive style (using the Heater Shield).

Here are some other good setups:
  • Bandits Knife - weighs a bit less than the Rapier, and has excellent backstab damage, but not as high as the Rapier, and it's normal attack damage also isn't nearly as high as the Rapier's. However if you are more comfortable with the dagger moveset, then this is your best choice.
  • Shotel - the Shotel weighs 2.5 and requires 14 dexterity, so the build will have to be slightly modified. As far as I'm aware, the only way to maintain 99 Vitality, 77 poise, and 3 spell slots while using a Shotel is to use the Wanderer as your starting class, drop endurance to 40, and use a 0.5 weight shield (this leaves Dark Hand, Small Leather Shield, or Parrying Dagger as your only viable options). However if you don't mind taking a few points away from Vitality and put them in Endurance, then the build can be easily adjusted to fit your preferred shield
  • Heavier Shields - if you prefer something that provides better defense/stability than the Heater Shield, you'll have to move up to the 3.0 weight class, since there aren't any 2.5 weight shields. Note that this will require at least 2 more points in endurance to stay at 50% equip load, which means you'll have to drop below 99 Vitality (probably not a big deal). Some good 3.0 weight class shields:
    • Crest Shield - high magic defense (80%), good against sorcery builds, 66 stability
    • Kite Shields - highest stability for a 3.0 shield (72)
    • Spider Shield - 100% Poison/Toxic resistance, 70 stability
    • Bloodshield - excellent resistances, 66 stability
    • Dragon Crest Shield - 85% Fire Resistance, 66 stability
After the 3.0 weight class, the only good shield is the Balder Shield, since it has 75 stability. After that, the 5.0 weight class shields require at least 14 strength, which requires 2 additional points in strength. If you want to do that, go with the Silver Knight Shield, it has the highest stability of any parrying shield. The only other good shield after that is the Black Knight Shield, but its stability is lower than the Silver Knight Shield, and its high fire defense doesn't make up for its additional weight. For reference, using the Rapier:
  • 3.0 weight class = 97 Vitality, 43 endurance
  • 3.5 weight class = 96 Vitality, 44 endurance
  • 4.0 weight class = 95 Vitality, 45 endurance
  • 5.0 weight class = 92 Vitality, 14 Strength, 46 Endurance
  • Remember that you can drop attunement to 12 and use those points instead, if you don't feel like using Power Within

If you want to stay at 99 Vitality/77 Poise and like the parrying setup but don't want to use Power Within, put those points in Endurance and use a Bow in your LH2 slot. With such low dexterity, your best bow is a Chaos Composite Bow +5 using fire arrows, with poison arrows as backup. If you prefer a more accurate bow, use the Chaos Shortbow +5, but you will lose 64 AR compared to the composite bow.

Alternate Armor setup:
If you want some extra equip load and don't mind giving up some defenses, there is another armor setup that reaches the 77 poise breakpoint with less equip load, and still allows you to wear the MotM:
  • Havel's Armor
  • Stone Gauntlets
  • Hollow Soldier Waistcloth +10
These reach 77 poise using only 31.4 weight. Adding in the weight of MotM, this brings your armor weight to 32.6, giving you 7.4 weight to use for your weapon/armor combo. This opens up your choices significantly! For example, you can use Silver Knight Shield + Rapier without needing to pull any points out of Vitality.

Depending on how many points you are willing to take out of Vitality/Attunement to put into Strength/Dex/Endurance, you can significantly increase your weapon damage. Some notable weapons:
  • Barbed Straight Sword - weighs 4.0, has 454 AR, causes bleeding
  • Claymore - weighs 6.0, has 586 AR, excellent moveset
  • Uchigatana - weighs 5.0, has 508 AR, causes bleeding, very fast
  • Reinforced Club - weighs 4.0, has 549 AR, causes bleeding
  • Gargoyle's Halberd - weighs 6.0, has 653 AR, the highest AR for any 6.0 weight class or below weapon
  • Great Scythe - weighs 5.0, has 567 AR, causes bleeding



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