This is a strength build that focuses on using a high-damage strength weapon + Greater Magic Weapon for as much attack as possible. There is a recommended equipment setup, but also a variant section at the end for different weapon/shield setups.
Attunement – 14 (3 slots for Greater Magic Weapon + Pyromancy spells)
Endurance – 40 (standard for max stamina)
Strength – 40 (to 1h most high-str weapons including Demon Great Machete)
Dexterity – 12 (Equip basic weapons)
Resistance - 12 (Base)
Intelligence - 15 (Greater Magic Weapon)
Faith - 8 (Base)
RH1: Demon Great Machete +15
RH2: Ascended Pyromancy Flame +5
LH1: Grass Crest Shield +15 (for stamina regen, very important when using a heavy weapon) if 2-handing, or your choice of good parrying shield if 1-handing
LH2: Oolacile Catalyst (for maximizing AR with Greater Magic Weapon)
- 2-handed setup:
- DGM + Grass Crest Shield + Oolacile Catalyst = 21.5 weight
- 40 Endurance + RoFaP = 96 equip load, using DWGR means you can go to 48 weight and still flip
- Mask of the Mother for health boost, puts you at 22.7, this means you have 25.3 weight for chest/hands/legs
- Catarina Armor +5- 11.7 weight, 21 poise
- Havel's Gauntlets - 11.5 weight, 28 poise
- Hollow Soldier Waistcloth +10 - 1.5 weight, 7 poise
- This puts you at 56 poise using 24.7 weight, hitting the breakpoint for tanking almost any hit from a weapon except a 2-handed BKGA/Zweihander hit.
- 1-handed setup - if you keep a 3.0 weight class shield, the setup will be the same; however if you want to use a heavier shield, you'll have to switch the armor setup around a bit. You can still meet the 55 poise-breakpoint at 40 Endurance using the RoFaP
- DGM + Silver Knight Shield + Oolacile Catalyst + Mask = 24.7 weight
- This gives you 23.3 weight for chest/hands/legs
- Havel's Armor - 19.5 weight, 47 poise
- Eastern Gauntlets +5 - 1.5 weight, 2 poise
- Hollow Soldier Waistcloth +10 - 1.5 weight, 7 poise
- This puts you at 56 poise using 22.5 weight, I believe this is the least amount of weight you can have and still meet the 55 poise breakpoint
- If you want a heavier shield than the Silver Knight Shield, you will not be able to meet the 55-poise breakpoint without putting additional points into endurance (1 more point should do the trick though)
The armor setup will change if you use a different weapon. Depending on what weapon you choose, you may be able to get to the 77-poise breakpoint without putting additional points into endurance (albeit the weapon/shield will be a bit weaker). Some other good strength weapons:
- Man-Serpent Greatsword
- Large Club/Great Club
- Dragon King Greataxe (requires 50 strength to 1-hand, has 24.0 weight, will require some changes to build)
- Demon's Greataxe (requires 46 strength to 1-hand, has 22.0 weight, will require some changes to build)
- Demon's Great Hammer (same as above)
- Dragon Tooth
- Greatsword/Zweihander (good because of stunlock, although these 2 are probably better as elemental weapons)
Rings: Ring of Favor & Protection(a.k.a. ring of FaP, RoFaP, FaP ring, etc.) and Dark Wood Grain Ring(DWGR) are almost mandatory here. At max stamina (40+ endurance), the stamina boost from the FaP ring will allow you to swing the DGM an extra time before running out of stamina, and the extra equip load will help when using such a heavy weapon.
Spells: Great Magic Weapon is required here. Using Oolacile Catalyst, it will add 198 magic AR to your weapon. In my experience, 1 slot is enough if you plan on invading, since your spells refill after each invasion. However if you plan on hosting, you may want to use additional slots (another NG+ is required for each copy).
Power Within is a decent option for a strength build; with Greater Magic Weapon, you can easily backstab for over 1k damage. However if you use this, you will need to use it with an unupgraded Pyromancy Flame. This means you won't have a slot to use for your Ascended Pyromancy Flame +5. If you are consistently invading, you may want to use Power Within, then switch to your Ascended Pyromancy Flame +5 right after.
For other Pyromancy spells, the standard choices are Great Combustion and Fire Tempest/Chaos Storm
Items: Green Blossom and Humanity are essential for extra stamina and health. 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.
Always use Green Blossom + Great Magic Weapon right before any fight. If you run out of Great Magic Weapon, use resins; Gold Pine is the best, since it adds 150 AR, but they are limited quantity and must be farmed from the giant mushroom men in the Darkroot Garden if you want a lot of them.
If you want to hit the 77-poise breakpoint, you'll need to add more points into endurance.
The lightest-weight setup that gets 77-poise is Havel's Armor/Stone Gauntlets/Hollow Soldier Waistcloth, which has 31.5 weight. Add in mask + Oolacile Catalyst, and that puts you at 33.2 weight. At 40 endurance + RoFaP + DWGR, you can go up to 48 while flipping, giving you 14.8 weight. If you want to use the Demon Great Machete + Grass Crest Shield, that's 21 weight, putting the total at 54.2. You'll need 108.4 equip load to be able to flip with that. To get that using RoFaP, you'll need an additional 11 points in Endurance, putting you at 51 Endurance. These points can come from attunement, dexterity, or vitality.
As a final note, using a strength build opens up the possibility of using Greatshields (other than Eagle Shield). However using these shields isn't recommended since they are immensely heavy, and will not allow you to reasonably reach even 53 poise. However if you are unconcerned with poise, your best shield is probably the Greatshield of Artorias, it has 88 stability and 100% resistance on poison/toxic/bleed.