Dark Knight Tank Rotation, Openers, and Abilities — Endwalker 6.4

Last updated on May 27, 2023 at 17:30 by A Pile of Cats 9 comments

On this page, you will learn how to optimise your opener and rotation in both single-target and multi-target situations. We also cover the use of your cooldowns, to ensure you can achieve the best use of them every time as a Dark Knight Tank in Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker (Patch 6.4).


Dark Knight Rotation Overview

Dark Knight's rotation is one that evolves with the player's skill level and confidence with the job. Initial concerns while learning are simply to avoid losing any Blood or Mana to overcap, and to use your offensive oGCDs as many times as possible. Skilled play revolves around shifting potency into buffs provided by other party members for greater returns.

The typical structure of Dark Knight's damage output is a burst phase every minute, a larger burst on every other minute, and filler phases in between. These burst windows should include between 2-5 casts of Edge of Shadow Icon Edge of Shadow, 4+ casts of Bloodspiller Icon Bloodspiller with the aid of Blood Weapon Icon Blood Weapon and Delirium Icon Delirium, plus Carve and Spit Icon Carve and Spit and two casts of Plunge Icon Plunge. Every other minute should also have Living Shadow Icon Living Shadow and two casts of Shadowbringer Icon Shadowbringer. Salted Earth Icon Salted Earth and its followup Salt and Darkness Icon Salt and Darkness operate on 90-second timers that will coincide with the minute-aligned burst windows on every other use.


Dark Knight Opener

As Dark Knight focuses on resource management rather than a strict rotation, the opener is somewhat flexible. The sequence below is the standard opener, which is specifically arranged to take the greatest advantage of common buff timings. Trying to get the entire opener exactly right can be a bit overwhelming at first, so focus primarily on using Living Shadow Icon Living Shadow as soon as possible and dumping all of your offensive cooldowns after the 4th GCD. The exact order of your offensive cooldowns matters much less than whether you press them or not in the first place.

  1. No more than five second before the pull, use Blood Weapon Icon Blood Weapon. This timing ensures that it will last for your first five GCDs.
  2. Follow up with The Blackest Night Icon The Blackest Night on whichever tank is pulling the boss.
  3. At just under two seconds until pull, use your Tincture. This should ideally be timed so that the animation lock ends right as you reach the boss and try to use your first GCD.
  4. Shortly before the coundown reaches 0, run toward the boss and hit Hard Slash Icon Hard Slash as close to 0 as possible and then use Edge of Shadow Icon Edge of ShadowDelirium Icon Delirium.

Using your Tincture after the second GCD is also an option, and loses a very small amount of potency in exchange for being much easier to time.

This opener counts on auto-attacks from the boss to break The Blackest Night Icon The Blackest Night. If the shield will not break on pull, you can adjust either by simply removing the first The Blackest Night Icon The Blackest Night cast, or by pushing Blood Weapon Icon Blood Weapon back until after the first Hard Slash Icon Hard Slash. The first option will cause you to waste 800~1200 mana due to overcap and may cause you to lose a cast of Edge of Shadow Icon Edge of Shadow depending on killtime. The second option delays Living Shadow Icon Living Shadow and pushes 1-2 hits out of buffs. It also requires some additional adjustment in replacing the Salted Earth Icon Salted Earth weave with Delirium Icon Delirium and then replacing an Edge of Shadow Icon Edge of Shadow cast with Salted Earth. Overcapping mana is usually better in full uptime fights with no chance to re-align the cooldown of Living Shadow with buffs; delaying Blood Weapon is typically better when there is some sort of intermission or the end of the encounter before the second or third use of Living Shadow.

Pulling with Unmend Icon Unmend is not recommended because it delays Living Shadow Icon Living Shadow. If you must use Unmend, use it about one second before the pull begins to account for travel time and use your Tincture afterward, and then proceed with the opener as usual.


Dark Knight Single-Target Priority/Rotation

Following the opener, Dark Knight's single-target rotation is mainly repeated Souleater Icon Souleater combos while keeping an eye on resources and building toward your next burst window. These burst windows resemble the opener with Blood Weapon delayed until just after Living Shadow, no early Edge of Shadow cast before the GCD after Living Shadow, and potentially 1-2 more Bloodspillers according to how much Blood you have saved up beforehand. Tinctures should be used after the GCD following Delirium if available. It is important to use your offensive cooldowns as soon as they are ready so that they will not come out late against a punctual buff provider and eventually miss buffs entirely.


GCD and Combo Management

  • Hard Slash Icon Hard Slash and Syphon Strike Icon Syphon Strike allow up to 30 seconds to press the next button in the sequence before the combo times out on its own. Because of this extended timer, you can keep your combo going through many brief intermission phases. Make sure to attack the boss as soon as it becomes targetable again in these situations by holding down your target keybind and pressing the next step of your combo in advance.
  • If you are forced to disengage from the boss, using Unmend Icon Unmend will deal some damage while you are out of range of your melee actions. Be aware of just how long you need to be out of melee range; if you are able to return to the boss while your GCD is still rolling, it's better to cut the Unmend cast in favor of your next combo action.
  • Bloodspiller Icon Bloodspiller also does not break your combo, and the extended timeout period allows you to use as many in a row as you can cast without worry.

Blood Management

As of patch 6.1, Blood Weapon Icon Blood Weapon now affects your next five GCDs within a generous time limit rather than working as a purely duration-based buff. Because of this, it can be weaved early or even used shortly before engaging the boss on pull or during downtime. The Blood Weapon buff lasts for 15 seconds and it takes about 10 seconds to use all five charges, so make sure when pre-popping it to use it within about four seconds of engaging.

  • As a first priority, always make sure you have enough Blood for Living Shadow Icon Living Shadow. Living Shadow has the highest potency of any single button press outside Limit Breaks in a normal raid environment, so avoiding losing casts and keeping it aligned with buffs is crucial.
  • Your main focus otherwise should be on avoiding any overcap. Blood can and should be banked for raidbuffs where possible, but only as long as no gauge is wasted in the process.
  • Every use of Delirium Icon Delirium will line up closely with Blood Weapon Icon Blood Weapon. One of the most common mistakes is to enter Delirium with a nearly-full Blood gauge and overcap because Delirium prevents any Blood expenditure. You can avoid this in all cases by using Bloodspiller as your last GCD before pressing Delirium; if you do not have enough blood to use Bloodspiller, then you will not suffer from overcap.
  • As you get comfortable with a given encounter, note any spots where the boss becomes untargetable and pay attention to which combo GCD you usually end on. If you usually end on Hard Slash Icon Hard Slash with 50+ Blood, using Bloodspiller will allow you to end with a completed combo instead. Conversely, if you usually end on Syphon Strike Icon Syphon Strike with 0-50 Blood in your gauge, holding a Bloodspiller will end the phase on a completed Souleater Icon Souleater combo.

Mana Management

Mana is the most complex and demanding portion of Dark Knight's single-target rotation. At a basic level, you should aim simply to keep at least 3,000 Mana on hand at any given moment in order to use The Blackest Night Icon The Blackest Night if needed, while using Edge of Shadow Icon Edge of Shadow during buff windows as much as possible. The following points lay out the process of managing your Mana with an eye on greater effectiveness.


The Mana Economy

  • You generate slightly less than 12,000 Mana every minute in a full-uptime scenario via passive regen, Syphon Strike Icon Syphon Strike, Blood Weapon Icon Blood Weapon, Carve and Spit Icon Carve and Spit, and Delirium Icon Delirium.
  • Your Mana bar maxes out at 10,000, meaning it can hold up to three uses of Edge of Shadow Icon Edge of Shadow at once, and will take most of a minute to refill once emptied.

Extending Your Mana Pool

  • The Blackest Night Icon The Blackest Night grants a Dark Arts proc if the shield breaks rather than expires, allowing free use of your next Edge of Shadow (or Flood of Shadow Icon Flood of Shadow). This proc does not stack, but lasts indefinitely. Holding this proc in addition to the 10,000 capacity of your Mana bar allows you to use Edge of Shadow up to four times in succession.
  • Blood Weapon Icon Blood Weapon grants 3,000 Mana over its duration. By timing Blood Weapon so that it coincides with the application of raidbuffs, you can gain and immediately spend all of that Mana in the duration of those buffs. In practice, this means holding your Blood Weapon until just after Living Shadow in the burst window around two minutes into the encounter, and then using it promptly on cooldown afterward to keep it aligned with the start of buffs. This allows yet another use of Edge of Shadow within a short timeframe.
  • Either of these techniques allows for the effective storage of 13,000 Mana, or slightly more than one full minute's worth. Any mana not immediately spent can then be held for the next minute, allowing for four Edges in each burst window. This so-called "4/4 Plan" is the basic goal for intermediate-level Dark Knight players.

Further Mana Optimization

  • By using both a stored Dark Arts proc and the delayed Blood Weapon timing together, you can effectively bank 16,000 Mana, or five Edge of Shadow uses, at once. While you still only generate about 12,000 Mana per minute, the extra capacity allows you to use five Edges during raidbuffs alternating with three Edges in burst windows without buffs.
  • In the past, this was mostly a method of shifting Edge casts from weaker buffs into stronger ones. With all raidbuffs now coming in two-minute intervals, this "5/3 Plan" sees increased value as the method for maximizing the number of Edge casts in these consolidated buff windows.
  • While it is good practice to keep your burst windows consistent, and good preparation in case of further adjustments to buff timings, the three Edge casts in odd-numbered minutes do not necessarily need to be used together with your other 60-second cooldowns.
  • One final optimization involves paying attention to your Tincture windows. You will almost always want to use a Tincture of Strength in your opener, and then again later on in the encounter. Because Tinctures last a full 30 seconds, you can generate an extra Edge of Shadow over their duration. This means a total of six Edges in one burst window, followed by two in the next minute, before settling back into the regular 5/3 schedule.

Defensive Cooldowns

  • Your first priority with defensive cooldowns is to avoid dying. Mitigation stacks multiplicatively, so the best efficiency against consistent damage is to spread them out, but many tankbusters in high-end content will kill you outright if you do not stack multiple cooldowns together.
  • Your second priority is to smooth out non-lethal damage to make your healers' lives easier. Boss auto-attacks often comprise the majority of your damage taken, and mitigating them if you know you will not need the cooldown to avoid death elsewhere can help quite a bit.
  • The Blackest Night Icon The Blackest Night is an extremely strong tool and should be used wherever necessary to ensure the safety of a party member. This usually does not conflict with the idea of shifting Mana expenditure into raidbuffs, but takes precedence when it does.
  • Oblation Icon Oblation is similarly versatile with the ability to target any party member. While not extremely strong on its own, it is a welcome addition to any circumstance requiring damage reduction on one or two specific party members.
  • Prioritize using Dark Mind Icon Dark Mind for incoming magical damage. Doing so can free up Rampart Icon Rampart or Shadow Wall Icon Shadow Wall to cover a different source of damage.
  • Reprisal Icon Reprisal shines against raid-wide damage, as it can mitigate as much damage as a healer's shield prevents. Coordinate with your co-tank to cover as many raid-wides as possible. Reprisal can also be used against tankbusters or other periods of heavy tank damage if the incoming damage is especially high or raid-wides are already comfortably mitigated.
  • Living Dead Icon Living Dead allows you to soak up any amount of damage from most sources for its duration and can be used in a wide variety of situations. While using it in an emergency is usually better than dying, you will get the most value out of it by coordinating with your healers. A healer who is aware that you plan to use Living Dead can save resources both before and after its use that they would otherwise spend keeping you alive. The healing effect after proccing Walking Dead heals you for roughly 25% of your HP, and you will usually—but not always—get four GCDs over its duration, so a small amount of help from your healers will ensure your safety. The healing applies per hit and not per cast, so in AoE situations, you will usually cleanse yourself with a single cast.

Dark Knight Two-Target Priority/Rotation

  • Use Unleash Icon Unleash into Stalwart Soul Icon Stalwart Soul instead of Souleater Icon Souleater combos. In lower-level content (<L40) where Stalwart Soul is not unlocked, use Souleater combos instead.

Blood Management

  • Living Shadow Icon Living Shadow is even more important than on single targets because two of its skills will cleave both targets
  • Continue using Bloodspiller Icon Bloodspiller to spend your Blood gauge.

Mana Management

  • Continue to use Edge of Shadow Icon Edge of Shadow instead of Flood of Shadow Icon Flood of Shadow to spend Mana.
  • Mana generation is slightly faster due to having a two-step combo rather than a three-step combo. Current encounters with prolonged two-target phases also include heavy tank damage, so focus on surviving with The Blackest Night Icon The Blackest Night more than setting up a perfect 3/5 Plan.

Defensive Cooldowns

  • As mentioned above, The Blackest Night Icon The Blackest Night has a higher priority in existing two-target phases. Otherwise, mitigating incoming damage is not radically different with two targets instead of one.

Fighting Three or More Targets as a Dark Knight

Generally speaking, large multi-target situations mainly arise in dungeons, though some bosses will summon a good number of usually pretty weak adds.


GCD and Combo Management

  • Use Unleash Icon Unleash into Stalwart Soul Icon Stalwart Soul instead of Souleater Icon Souleater combos.

Blood Management

  • Living Shadow Icon Living Shadow has even greater value because of its AoE actions. Do not save it for bosses in dungeons, and consider holding it for the following trash pull if a boss is about to die.
  • Use Quietus Icon Quietus to spend your Blood gauge.
  • The same 5-GCD Blood Weapon Icon Blood Weapon plan as listed under the two-target priority is doable with Quietus instead of Bloodspiller.

Mana Management

  • Use The Blackest Night Icon The Blackest Night as much as possible in trash pulls, as long as it will break. Flood of Shadow Icon Flood of Shadow can be used to dump mana at the start of a pull, as your natural generation will outpace what you can spend on The Blackest Night, but should be saved for when you have a Dark Arts proc after that.
  • You regenerate Mana much more quickly while not engaged in combat, so try to spend Mana before you finish off a pack to avoid overcapping while running to the next one.

Defensive Cooldowns

  • Spreading out your mitigation gives the best value. You want to spend as much time as possible taking less damage than your healer can heal.
  • Do not forget to use Arm's Length Icon Arm's Length. The slow in its description means an attack speed slow, and it applies to enemies which strike you even when not negating a knockback effect. This makes it nearly as effective as Rampart Icon Rampart for reducing incoming damage.
  • Abyssal Drain Icon Abyssal Drain now shares a recast timer with Carve and Spit Icon Carve and Spit. While Abyssal Drain is damage-efficient at three or more targets, the main value it provides is the healing per target hit. Use it as a heal that also does damage rather than a damaging cooldown that also heals you.
  • Living Dead Icon Living Dead has excellent value for trash pulls when used in coordination with your healer. Communicate your intentions beforehand, and they can focus on dealing damage while allowing your HP to drop to 1. Once Walking Dead procs, you will near-instantly heal yourself back to full. Make sure to follow this up with conventional mitigation as your healer turns their attention back to keeping you alive.


  • 20 Jan. 2024: Adjusted opener slightly, updated for Patch 6.55.
  • 27 May 2023: Updated for Patch 6.4.
  • 13 Jan. 2023: Updated for Patch 6.3.
  • 28 Aug. 2022: Updated for Patch 6.2.
  • 20 Apr. 2022: Updated for Patch 6.1.
  • 16 Feb. 2022: Updated for Endwalker.
  • 27 Nov. 2021: Guide added.
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