T his straightforward Guide equips you with everything you need for your Arcane build. We’ve even included the new tools and weapons that the Old Hunters Expansion has added to the Arcane Arsenal!
4 Basic Principles
1) 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 up to 70. 50 is the point where melee weapons stop gaining reasonable AR per stat point. That said, 25 arcane can be a great for supplementing arcane-supplemented hybrids, such as Strength-Arcane.
2) The only true Arcane weapon in the game is the Kos Parasite. Many of the other weapons with inherent elemental damage are, however, incredibly good on high-arcane builds, such as 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.
3) Arcane builds are designed to exploit weaknesses. Therefore, if you learn to utilize these weaknesses against your enemies, your attacks will become very effective.
4) Pure physical weapons do not inherently scale off of the Arcane stat. They need an element on them. Any pure physical weapon - not including weapons with Blood AR - 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 weapons with Blood AR, Beast Claws, Blade of Mercy, and Burial Blade. The Blood weapons 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 true 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), Tonitrus (with the buff), Kos Parasite, Beasthunter Saif, Amygdalan Arm, Boom Hammer (with the buff), Church Pick, Holy Moonlight Sword (transformed state), Rakuyo, and Whirligig Saw
Looking at that list, there are a lot of weapon options! 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 and Kos Parasite? 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 in our 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 such as the Pthumerians. 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. They are also very good on the Boom Hammer and Holy Moonlight Sword.
- Cold Gems from the Pthumerian Elder, as of Patch 1.07, are a gift from the Godhead. They have been effectively buffed to 65 scaling, which makes them potentially better than 27.2% elemental gems in most cases, but they should only be used as a supplementary gem because of their additive nature. They do not increase visceral damage like Nourishing gems, but offer very high raw damage increases that multiply with Nourishing and Elemental Percent gems. Since they increase scaling, it’s best to have at least 50 Arcane in order to maximize your gem gains. It’s possible that these gems were unintentionally buffed, so their benefits may be reduced in a future patch.
- 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 (all the way up to 70).
- 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. Beast Roar in action
- The Augur of Ebrietas has the ability to deal damage, parry an incoming attack (giving all 2-handed weapon users the ability to parry AND backstab when they might not be able to otherwise), backstab an enemy, 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. Auger of Ebrietas in action
- 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. Tiny Tonitrus in action
- 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. Executioner’s Gloves in action
- 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. Messenger's Gift in action
- 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. A Call Beyond in action
- 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. Old Hunter Bone in action
- 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. Empty Phantasm Shell in action
- 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. Choir Bell in action
- Blacksky Eye is a relatively fast, low-cost projectile that can be used to hit enemies from a fair distance. It can be used to finish an enemy off, put pressure on an opponent, chip at an enemy when you cannot effectively attack them at close range, or stagger an enemy while you recover stamina (if applicable). Blacksky Eye in action
- Accursed Brew is a projectile with moderate speed and a small AoE. Manually aiming this spell can be a great way to catch an opponent who is strafing or dodging. While it doesn’t have very high damage per bullet, the fact that you can use the AoE to reduce the unreliability of the spell can make it quite useful with proper application. Accursed Brew in action
Making bullets can be used to effectively reduce the cost of your spells, so make use of this feature often. 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. That said, The Old Hunters Expansion has added some new elemental gems that can be found or farmed in the Fishing Hamlet. 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 (further instructions in 4a) or proceed to the DLC area (4b).
4a) If you wish to abstain from the DLC until a later point in the game or do not have the DLC, proceed 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. Proceed to 5a.
4b) The DLC area is accessed by picking up the Eye of the Blood-drunk Hunter in the Hunter’s Dream after defeating Vicar Amelia and getting grabbed by the Lesser Amygdala in Cathedral Ward, who will do so when you stand by the Formal Hunter’s armor set. Elemental gems cannot be readily found until the Fishing Hamlet, so proceed through the Hunter’s Nightmare, which contains the Amygdalan Arm, Boom Hammer, Beast Cutter, Beasthunter Saif, and the Whirligig Saw. Refer to https://bloodborne.wiki.fextralife.com/The+Old+Hunters+Weapons for more information on the stats and locations of these weapons. Make sure to pick up the Eye Pendant from the Grand Cathedral, held by Vicar Laurence. When you’ve found all of the gear you need, proceed to the fight with the first DLC boss, Ludwig. He is a Beast, so he’s weak to Fire and Beasthunter gems. Proceed to 5b.
5a) 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. Proceed to 6a.
5b) After defeating Ludwig and collecting the Holy Moonlight Sword from his decapitated head on the side of the boss area, head through to the next area. In this area, there are 2 hostile NPC’s, one of which uses a very powerful Blacksky Eye while the other attacks with Ludwig’s Holy Blade. Kill both NPC’s and examine the Altar (requires the Eye Pendant). The elevator will take you to the Research Hall. Proceed to 6b.
6a) 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.
6b) Once in the Research Hall, you’ll find a lot of enemies that are weak to Bolt and Fire. There’s an elevator nearby that leads to Saint Adeline and a Shortcut. Open the shortcut and speak to Adeline, who requests Brain Fluid (obtained by striking the blob NPC’s in the rafters of the Research Hall and on the platform guarded by the hostile Hunter NPC. Giving Adeline Brain Fluid will result in her giving you the Blood of Adeline. A second offering, after encountering and/or defeating the Living Failures, will yield you the Balcony Key. Proceed to 7b.
7a) 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.
7b) Head out to the base level of the Research Hall’s main area. Use the key to open the door in the far corner from the entrance to the Hall. Drop down to the Lumenflower Gardens that are filled with spell-casting Blob-heads. The altar they guard holds the new spell, Blacksky Eye. Proceed through the area as if you were in the real Lumenflower Gardens by smashing the large window. Collect the loot as you make your way back down to the chapel below the Research Hall. From here, take the elevator back up and proceed to defeat the Living Failures. Proceed to 8b.
8a) 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.
8b) After defeating the Living Failures, speak with Adeline. By this point, she should have already transformed into a blob, or will when you return to the area from the Hunter’s Dream. Speak with her and she will ask for more Brain Fluid. Attack her, collect the fluid, and then give it to her. She will give you the Milkweed Oath, which pairs with the Kos Parasite, a weapon you cannot yet obtain. Proceed to 9b.
9a) 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. Or you can take a shot at the DLC area before moving on to the dungeons (go back to 4b).
9b) Head through the Living Failures’ boss area and into the Clocktower to defeat Lady Maria. She has very fast attacks and long range, but she has one vulnerability that arcane builds can easily exploit. When you stagger her with melee while she’s facing you, she will almost always try a counterattack afterward. Using Augur of Ebrietas immediately after you attack her front will often result in a parry. Hit her with a visceral, then use a running attack as she gets up and you can chain this damaging strategy in all three stages. Just be sure to get away from her while she transitions into each phase and close that distance the moment she exits the transition animation. Proceed to 10b.
10b) After defeating Lady Maria, use the Celestial Dial to open the path to the Fishing Hamlet. Make your way through the first area, picking up the Rakuyo from the well guarded by the first of many curse-spewing mages that litter this area (if you plan on using the weapon). The Bolt Mages that litter the next area drop good Radial Bolt gems frequently and can be farmed. Proceed through the area until you reach a point in the caves where you see a circular hole in the middle of the cave opening below you. Drop down into this area, collect the incredibly valuable rank 19 Cursed Kinhunter Damp Blood Gem from the bottom of the hole, then pull the lever near the top of this hole. An elevator platform will come down where this hole is. Take the elevator up, open the shortcut, and then proceed back down. You can either take the path to the boss or the path guarded by the Winter Lanterns. Taking the latter route eventually leads to a Blood Rock, so it’s worth the trip. Proceed to 11b.
11b) After obtaining your Blood Rock, enter the fight with the Orphan of Kos. He’s a very tough adversary, as he hits both fast and hard. Many of his attacks will take a huge chunk of hp out of you and he sometimes acts quite erratically. Bolt and Fire are both effective against him. Even BL 4 can beat him flawlessly, so there is hope. Orphan of Kos boss battle. He drops Kos Parasite, which needs the Milkweed Rune to fully activate. This is the only Pure Arcane weapon in the entire game and has great moveset modifiers. Proceed to 12b.
12b) After defeating Orphan of Kos, travel to the Fishing Hamlet lamp and speak with the NPC that walks toward the Clocktower. He will give you Accursed Brew. Now that you have all of the gems, weapons, and spells that you need, you can take on the Chalice Dungeons or obtain anything you need from the main game.
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, Kos Parasite, Holy Moonlight Sword): 50Vit, 18End, 25Str, 12Skl, 5Bld, 50Arc
Strength-Arcane (Cruel Fate; Logarius Wheel, Tonitrus, Boom Hammer, Amygdalan Arm, Holy Moonlight Sword) 50Vit, 18End, 50Str, 12Skl, 5Bld, 25Arc
Holy Knight (Cruel Fate; Holy Moonlight Sword): 45Vit, 20End, 25Str, 25Skl, 5Bld, 40Arc
Pure Arcane (Cruel Fate; Starter weapons and Kos Parasite): 49Vit, 17End, 10Str, 9Skl, 5ld, 70Arc
Strength-Skill Fakeout (Cruel Fate; LHB and Stake Driver): 50Vit, 25End, 18Str, 12Skl, 5Bld, 50Arc
Skill-Arcane (Cruel Fate; BoM, Burial Blade, and Rakuyo): 50Vit, 20End, 10Str, 25Skl, 5Bld, 50Arc
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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