This straightforward Guide equips you with everything you need for your Arcane build, BEFORE The Old Hunters Expansion is released!
4 Basic Principles
- If you’re planning on a proper Arcane build, aim for no less than 50 in your Arcane stat by the time your build is finished. The reason being that spells do not become effective until after you exceed 25 Arcane, and scale extremely well.
- The only 2 true Arcane weapons in the base game are the Logarius Wheel (in its transformed state) and the Tonitrus (with its buff). Both of these weapons scale well in both Strength and Arcane, and they have complementary elemental damage types, making them an excellent pair.
- Arcane builds are designed to exploit weaknesses. Therefore, if you learn to utilize these weaknesses against your enemies, your attacks will become very effective.
- Pure physical weapons do not inherently scale off of the Arcane stat. They need an element on them. Any pure physical weapon – not including Chikage, Reiterpallasch, and Rifle Spear – can be made elemental with gems, making Arcane builds potentially the most versatile builds in the game. Since these weapons lose their physical stat scaling, investment beyond their physical stat requirements is unnecessary.
What Are My Weapon Options?
Fortunately, Arcane builds have few limitations on weapons if properly built. The only weapons they cannot effectively – or efficiently – use are Chikage, Rifle Spear, Reiterpallasch, Beast Claws, Blade of Mercy, and Burial Blade. The Chikage, Reiterpallasch, and Rifle Spear do not accept an element, making them almost useless to Arcane builds. The beasthood buildup from the transformed state of the Beast Claws does not affect elemental damage, neutering your potential damage output. The Burial Blade and Blade of Mercy already have a split between arcane and physical, but the weak arcane scaling on both of these weapons greatly limits their damage potential on a Pure Arcane build. So, what CAN Arcane use effectively and efficiently?
- Saw Cleaver, Saw Spear, Threaded Cane, Hunter’s Axe, Kirkhammer, Ludwig’s Holy Blade, Stake Driver, Logarius Wheel (transformed state), and Tonitrus (with the buff).
Looking at that list, there are a lot of weapon options and they’re soon to grow! In order to make the most out of your build, you need to choose the weapons you want to use. Will you use all of them? Omit the Wheel? Omit Ludwig’s Holy Blade? Use only the starting weapons? It’s up to you.
What about the Flamesprayer and Rosemarinus?
Both of these firearms are extremely potent in regular playthroughs and are of great help to you until you acquire decent elemental and nourishing gems. A Flamesprayer (with Bone Marrow Ash) can rack up thousands of damage against most bosses vulnerable to flame in seconds, especially if you use an oil urn first. The Rosemarinus works similarly, dealing double the damage to “Undead” enemies such as the Pickaxe Miners found in the Chalice Dungeons, and is excellent at bypassing high fire defenses, as seen on the Watchdog of the Old Lords and Keeper of the Old Lords. A word of caution: neither of these firearms will stun your enemies and both will eat bullet reserves rather quickly. To maximize your damage per bullet, remember that it costs 1 bullet minimum every time you spray and that you get 3 tics of damage per bullet. They are most efficient when taking out groups of enemies.
What Kinds of Gems Should I Use?
Now that you have the basics down, let’s talk Gems. More often than not, you’ll get the answer of “the best Elemental gems you have”. In most cases, this is true because Arcane gems are hard to come by in the base game, as seen above in the Progression Guide. If we dig a little deeper however, Arcane builds can make a lot better use of some gems than other builds. It’s all a matter of finding them and knowing when to use them. Categorically broken down, we can see how they work to your advantage:
- Elemental Gems are your friend on otherwise pure Physical weapons. They are the most straightforward way to boost your weapon’s damage, and can be customized to deal with specific enemies, which is typically Fire for Beasts, Bolt for Kin, and Arcane for “Undead” type enemies. There are exceptions, but these rules remain true for the most part.
- Nourishing Gems are wondrous Blood gems. Why? Because they increase attack no matter the type. They supplement any damage type when you cannot find good matching Elemental gems to stack. They also increase Visceral damage, unlike Elementals. They are very effective when used to fill all 3 gem slots on the Wheel and the Tonitrus since they increase BOTH of their respective damage types and self-buffs.
- Beast/Kinhunter Gems are invaluable for fighting each respective enemy type. These gems act exactly like a powerful Nourishing gem against Beasts/Kin, and can be used in the same way. They won’t help you against neutral enemies like Hunters, but they can make fights against bosses, such as Ebrietas (kin) or Bloodletting Beast (beast), much, much easier. You won’t see the actual attack increases from these gems on your weapon, but you will see the difference in damage from them.
Let’s say for example, I’m using the Logarius Wheel for my 25Str/50Arc build, and I slot in 3 Nourishing gems. It gives me just over 500 Physical AR and 130 Arcane AR. The transformed state of the Wheel multiplies your Physical AR by 0.7 and your Arcane AR by 4.0, resulting in about 350 Physical AR and 520 Arcane AR (a total of 870 AR). Now, If I replace 2 of those Nourishing gems with 2 matching Beast/Kin gems, my Attack Rating looks like it goes down to 300 Physical and 90 Arcane, which translates to 210 Physical AR and 360 Arcane AR. It’s not very impressive at first glance, but 2 of those Hunter gems multiplies my AR by 1.6 and suddenly I have 630 Physical AR and 146 Arcane AR against the Beast/Kin I’m fighting. That turns into 441 Physical AR and 584 Arcane AR (a total of 1025 AR). A third Hunter gem would further amplify my damage. That’s nothing to “brush off dust” at! The damage difference then further increases when I use the self-buff, resulting in a substantial damage increase over the Nourishing setup. Beast/Kin gems can also be used to supplement your Elemental weapons in the same way. So where can you find these gems? The Chalice Dungeons, of course! Please check out our Gem Guide for detailed information on these gems.
What Are The Hunter’s Tools (Spells) Good For?
Make sure you become familiar with and make use of the following Spells. They are all designed to be used strategically and most scale very well with the Arcane stat (even past 50).
- The Beast Roar can be used to create space for a heal, knock an enemy off a bridge/walkway/cliff, or to create an exit when you’re surrounded by a mob and can’t get away.
- The Augur of Ebrietas has the ability to deal damage and knock an enemy over, providing an opportunity for an attack. It can also be used to knock an enemy off of a cliff or put them into a tight space for a combo.
- The Tiny Tonitrus allows you to hit a player who is trying to roll away from you after a Visceral or for an enemy that is running at you for an attack. It can also be used to hit a number of enemies simultaneously if you can manipulate them to run in a line. Narrow corridors are perfect for making the most of this tool. Using this spell instead of a Visceral can also be extremely effective.
- The Executioner’s Gloves can be utilized to create pressure, set up a combo with your melee, or bait an attack so you can get a counter-hit during their dodge at you. They are also an effective ranged option for exploiting head-weaknesses on bosses such as Amygdala.
- The Messenger’s Gift is great for disorienting your opponent since it breaks their lock-on (PvP only) and helps to hide your next move.
- A Call Beyond allows you to hit your enemy from afar and deal a considerable amount of damage. It can also allow you to bait attacks in PvP or set up a melee combo if you expect to be attacked while casting the spell.
- The Old Hunter’s Bone will give you that edge you need to get in a few attacks and avoid a counterattack that could potentially kill you. Or make the most of it to psych your opponent out and cause them to make mistakes.
- The Empty Phantasm Shell is a very weak weapon buff and is non-scaling. Since it only adds 80 Arcane AR to a purely physical weapon, its use on an Arcane build is almost nonexistent. This one is more of a novelty than an actual Tool.
- The Choir Bell not only heals a large amount of HP, but it cannot be parried. These are both big advantages over Blood Vials! Don’t forget to employ this tool when playing co-operatively to heal all nearby allies. The only downside to the Choir Bell is it’s hefty amount of bullets per use. This tool scales extremely well with Arcane.
Keep in mind that almost all of these Spells can have uses beyond what’s listed here, but with a little creativity and experimentation, you never know what new tactic you may discover!
The unfortunate part of using an Arcane build is that it is greatly hindered by a lack of Elemental Gems in the main game. The only Elemental Gems you get are 8% Waning Fire (found in the alleyways below the Cathedral Ward), 10.5% Triangular Arcane (in the poison cave between Central Yharnam and the Forbidden Woods), 16.5% Waning Bolt (in post-Rom Yahargul), and 18% Droplet Arcane (in the Nightmare of Mensis after pulling the lever to drop the Brain of Mensis into the Abyss). Other than these loot gems, the pickings are slim. You can farm weak Waning Fire and Bolt gems from the Loran Silverbeasts in Nightmare Frontier and weak Triangular Arcane gems from the Small Celestial Emissaries in the lower part of the Forbidden Woods, however the lack of Gem shape variety severely limits the amount of gem-stacking you can do. So, if Arcane is so gimped early-game, how do you even proceed then? The answer is to keep trying, and prepare yourself with a list of items in the order that you can obtain them:
1) It is recommended that you start with either the Hunter’s Axe or the Threaded Cane since the Saw Spear is available very early in the game and is more versatile than the Saw Cleaver. Starting in Central Yharnam, head to the first lamp and talk to Gilbert through his window. Exhaust his dialogue, and return after you defeat Father Gasciogne for a weapon that will carry you through a large portion of the game: The Flamesprayer. This simple firearm is extremely helpful until you can find decent gems, knocking boss HP bars down quite a bit to compensate for a lack of Melee power. It will continue to serve you throughout much of the game as you upgrade it and gain the ability to use Bone Marrow Ash and Oil Urns in unison. Make sure you upgrade this weapon!
2) The Waning fire gem in lower Cathedral Ward is a godsend and is surprisingly effective on the Saw Spear when it comes to fighting Vicar Amelia. The serration bonus combined with a fire weakness makes for some hefty combos without relying on consumables. That said, Fire Paper with physical gems on your Saw Spear may be more effective overall until you can stack at least 2 gems or have 25+ Arcane. To get this gem, you must first defeat the Bloodstarved Beast. Return to Cathedral Ward and the small double doors inside the chapel will have opened. Take the elevator up. You can collect the Radiant Sword Badge from the top of the tower leading to Upper Cathedral Ward or proceed directly to the Fire gem. Walk around the right side of the tower’s base and fall to the lower level. From here, make your way down. Jump down to the platform leading to the Abandoned Workshop, pick up all of the loot here, and light the lamp. Heal up, and then make your way to the bottom of the tower. Kill the Beast-possessed Soul, open the doors, and head down the lane being patrolled by the Masked Huntsmen and their dogs. The end of the lane comes to a “T”. Take a right and the gem is on a body guarded by a Brainsucker. After collecting the gem, return to Cathedral Ward.
3) You can either complete Hemwick at this point for the Rune Etching Tool, allow yourself to be killed by a Kidnapper so it can take you to Yahargul and allow you to retrieve the Tonitrus (recommended, but not entirely necessary), or proceed directly to the Grand Cathedral to fight Vicar Amelia. After defeating Vicar Amelia, you can head down to the Forbidden Woods. Upon reaching the cabin where you receive the Tonsil Stone, proceed past the dog cages and down the hidden path into the Poison Cave. There are 2 valuable Gems here that you should get: the 10.5% Arcane gem and the 9.1% Nourishing gem. At this point in the game, the Nourishing gem is probably the best Triangular gem you have because not a lot of enemies are weak to Arcane at this point in the game. From here, collect the Cainhurst Summons in Iosefka’s Clinic, after which you can go to Cainhurst to retrieve another valuable Tool: the Executioner’s Gloves. This is not necessary at this point, but can help against the Shadows of Yharnam if you have trouble with them.
4) Once you return to the Forbidden Woods, collect the Beast Roar hunter tool. From here, you can either farm the little Blue Aliens for more Arcane gems and hope for that low-percentage Radial drop, or you can defeat the Shadows of Yharnam and go to Byrgenwerth.
5) Upon reaching Byrgenwerth, collect all of the loot you need and defeat Rom. The battle against him will be tough. Kill the first round of summoned spiders, and then wail on him with everything you’ve got. Once he teleports, you can simply circle him and use your sprayer at his side. Sometimes, he will not react for a long time except to pivot, allowing you to rack up some serious damage. Rinse and repeat. The Beast Roar is a helpful tool here, as it can help you avoid getting trapped by the spiders.
6) After defeating Rom, you will be brought to the entrance to upper Yahargul. Collect Tiny Tonitrus, the Upper Cathedral Ward key, and the 16.5% Bolt gem in one of the prison cells here. If you haven’t already done so, collect the Tonitrus. That new Gem you just got is a great asset on the Tonitrus, which can make the upcoming battle against The One Reborn much easier.
7) After defeating The One Reborn, proceed to the Lecture Building and pick up the Augur of Ebrietas. From here, you can either go to the Nightmare Frontier or the Nightmare of Mensis (recommended). Run through the Nightmare of Mensis, collecting all loot that you deem necessary at this point, and defeat Micolash.
8) After defeating Micolash, proceed up the stairs and take the broken elevator down. Roll onto the ledge that leads to the Blood Rock. Do whatever you can to get past the Winter Lanterns, pull the lever to drop the Brain of Mensis, and drop down to the lower level. We suggest picking up the Droplet Arcane gem before going after the Choir Bell, guarded by a patrolling Winter Lantern. After that, if you didn’t die, collect your blood rock. Head back up to Mergo’s Middle and collect the 15% Nourishing gem from the path with the 3 Maneating Boars. Congratulations! You can now stack the Nourishing gem, the Droplet Arcane gem, and the Triangular Arcane gem on a weapon with a Triangular slot (such as the Threaded Cane, the Hunter’s Axe, or the Kirkhammer if you chose to invest for it) and are ready to take on the Chalice Dungeons for more powerful elemental gems or to collect any of the remaining Spells that you need! Since many of the enemies in the Chalice dungeons are quite weak to arcane damage, your trip should now be much easier.
What Should My Final Stats Look Like?
Well that’s entirely up to you, but here are some successful Level 110 builds to consider:
Arcane-Strength (Cruel Fate; Logarius Wheel+Tonitrus): 50Vit, 18End, 25Str, 12Skl, 5Bld, 50Arc
Holy Knight (Cruel Fate; Ludwig’s Holy Blade): 50Vit, 27End, 16Str, 12Skl, 5Bld, 50Arc
Pure Arcane (Cruel Fate; Starter weapons): 50Vit, 22End, 10Str, 9Skl, 5ld, 64Arc
Strength-Skill Fakeout (Cruel Fate; LHB and Stake Driver): 50Vit, 25End, 18Str, 12Skl, 5Bld, 50Arc
Skill-Arcane (Cruel Fate; BoM, Burial Blade, Simon’s Bow): 50Vit, 20End, 10Str, 25Skl, 5Bld, 50Arc
Note: Because we do not know what the new weapon requirements – or their ultimate scaling – will be from the DLC, it is recommended that you hold back on the final 10-15 stat points for your build to accommodate the stat reqs of any new weapons you like.
These builds are a perfect example of how customizable Arcane builds can be in their Stat allocation. Use it to your advantage and you can most certainly succeed with this underused build type!
We hope this Guide has been most informative and helpful. Special thanks to EMonaghan (TurquoiseWaters) for her contribution. Any feedback is greatly appreciated 🙂
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