Dark Souls: Polearm Thief Guide - Guide for Dark Souls

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Dark Souls Polearm Thief Guide Introduction through Moonlight Butterfly 
v1.0 bijalba@gmail.com 

1. Guide Introduction
2. Series Introduction
3. Thief Introduction
4. Statistics
5. General Tactics
6. Item list
7. Initial Playthrough


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Guide Introduction 

If you try and play the thief as 
a high dexterity, small weapon assassin, the beginning of the game can 
be downright painful, and you might relish the challenge but you can 
pick up bad habits. The purpose of this introduction guide is how to set 
your thief up so that you are a farming machine and can hold your own in 
any situation, not just those that the thief typically excels at. 

Why polearms? Because they force you to learn how to play properly based 
on how they function inherently. 

...but for a thief? Yes, for a thief. Especially for a thief! The DEX 
balances out the inherently poor qualities that the two starting 
polearms have, and the nature of spears allows you to learn the value 
of shielding and not giving up openings. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Series Introduction 

Those new to the series experience a rude awakening: it is a 3D RPG / 
platformer except you are not supposed to just kill everything once. The 
souls series (demon's souls and dark souls) recall a difficulty dating 
back to NES era games where you might have to grind experience 
repeatedly in order to pass a point. This, coupled with a harsh penalty 
system of potentially losing everything you've earned has given mixed 
reviews to the souls series: you either hate the games because they are 
pure punishment and unintuitively difficult, or you cope with the 
systems in place and they are a refreshing exercise of risk and reward. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thief Introduction 

The thief is considered one of the hardest, if not the hardest, 
playstyle to master in the souls series. Essentially what it boils down 
to is your maneuverability and speed doesn't make up for the lack of 
damage you put out and the difficulty to successfully backstab/crit 
something, especially those things which are impossible to position 
properly. As such, the thief starts out very slow because in order to 
become an assassinating killing machine you hope to you need to balance 
out other stats and that means farming. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Statistics 

The important stats to balance will be strength, dexterity and endurance. 

The thief starts with 9 str and 15 dexterity. It is currently 
unconfirmed that STR also alters your swing speed at various high 
levels. This guide will not get that far for it to matter, the main 
reason we will put points into STR is to be able to equip various 
weapons. 

Endurance is extremely important early on as well, it might be the 
difference between 2 and 3 swings when presented with an opening. 

Your initial goal is to get strength to 16. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ General Tactics 

I. Get used to locking onto a target. This is extremely important for 
polearms as their radius sucks. With swords, even your daggers, you 
swing at a pretty wide open arc. This seems better for now, but 
eventually you *want* your attacks to be in a straight forward, 
controlled motion, especially when hitting the wall reduces your attack. 

II. Hold + Release the shield. Learn your enemies attack patterns, only 
hold shields down when you have to, the goal is to regenerate the most 
stamina possible to block / attack again. Even having a sliver could 
mean the difference between a block and a death. Even if that block 
means you stagger or take some damage, it is better than dying. 

III. Wait for the enemy to attack. If you're getting impatient and want 
to hack and slash, first of all you shouldn't be a thief. Secondly, 
maybe take a break. This game is not like Demon's Souls, it doesn't get 
harder as you die. So any perceived "increased difficulty" is because 
you're going on tilt and losing patience, especially if you just lost a 
lot of souls. 

IV. Don't bother parry + riposte or trying to get behind enemies for a 
backstab. The first dozen or so levels you want to get the hang of 
countering everything. Sure, practice getting good with the timing and 
it is useful on some bosses, but a better habit to learn is playing 
defensively and only counterattacking when an opening is presented. 

V. Spears + Shields don't give the same type of opening as 2h, swords + 
shields, etc. Spearmen with shields, when they attack, is not when you 
are to counterattack. It is when they hit your shield and stagger. 
Sometimes they will stagger you or not give an opening, just wait it 
out. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Item List 

Starter items: use these until you have enough STR for winged spear 

Winged spear: 13 STR 15 DEX, hold shield in while attacking with 1H 
mode. 

Hollow Soldier shield: this is the shield you want to use, it deflects 
all physical and has nice non-interrupt stats, even over later shields. 

Halberd: the goal of this guide, 16STR 12DEX 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Initial Playthrough 

I am not going to go into details of precisely what do to, just give a 
roadmap for how you can go from dying repeatedly to clearing everything 
through the bell gargoyles without dying at all. I put dozens of hours 
into learning this, only to start over and be able to kill everything 
without dying once at 10+ humanity. 

I. Intro. Nothing special here, clear it like you normally would. 
Apparently if you want even more challenge you can kill the boss the 
first time you beat him (with your broken item, without the plunging 
advantage) and get a pretty nice intro weapon... for STR classes. 

II. Your first (and only, for a while) thief-like action: grave robbing! 
When you make it to the shrine, move to the graveyard area and hug the 
right wall, running past any skeleton spawns. You should find a corpse 
with a winged spear (and a huge skeleton spawn). Run in, run back to the 
bonfire, laugh maniacally as you have your first real loot. 
Unfortunately, it requires 13 STR to effectively 1hand it, so you'll 
have to grind a bunch of levels, dumping points into strength. 

III. Grind time. OK, now you're going to follow the path up and into 
undead burg. You've got a bunch of grinding to do, but with all of your 
souls found as treasure/items you should be able to get 4 levels very 
quickly to use the winged spear. Follow the general tactics: hold shield 
down when an attack is coming, thrust after they've staggered. 

Your immediate goal is to get 16STR for the halberd, then start putting 
points into endurance. 

IV. Levelling pattern: ok, so you will clear undead burg up to the spot 
where the fire barrel is dropped a bunch of times until you have 16STR. 
You will go to the merchant downstairs from where the two spear+shield 
skeletons near the bonfire are and purchase about 1k-1500 souls worth of 
firebombs, a couple dozen. You will also farm until you at least have 
the hollow soldier shield as well, or some other 100% physical resist 
shield. 

With firebombs and that shield, the first boss is completely trivial. Go 
through the white light, go on top of the tower and kill the two 
skeletons, then run across the bridge to trigger the boss. Now run back 
to the white door where you came in and hold down shield, locking on to 
the boss. Throw a firebomb whenever he's far, let go of shield to charge 
up but never let him hit you without shield up. Easy kill. 

Before the next bridge you'll see a knight. it's not an enemy: talk to 
him and he'll give you the coop tool. if you're human you can summon 
ghosts to help you, he will apparently help you with the bell gargoyles 
but i didn't talk to him because i thought it was an enemy and soloed 
the gargs. 

The next part can instagib you if you're not careful, just stutter step 
out on to the next bridge with skeletons until you hear/see the dragon 
coming then sprint back. They'll all die to the breath. 

You have two options here, one is to sprint for the stairs on the right, 
go kick the ladder down to rest and open up the path from the bonfire, 
and two is to wait around in the stairs for the dragon to fly down, then 
you can run past him and there's a bonfire in there and he'll take off. 
I think this is a bit of a meaningless bonfire, as it is literally 5 
enemies away from another one. 

Also there is a secret that if you are underneath and shoot the dragon's 
tail 30-40 times you'll get a drake sword. haven't done it, though i did 
shoot the tail a few times to see what would happen. 

Underneath there is a room of 3 rats, they actually drop humanity at a 
very high rate so keep a note that they're an easy farm. 

So now you've opened up a whole new area, which is still fairly trivial 
if you're holding down shield and using your spear during openings. So 
very much easier than the low damage dagger! 

Clear those areas a bunch of times and it's time to exploit / use 
strategy on the bull boss. Basically you clear all the skeletons then 
drop down behind the boss to the stairs down, you'll notice that it 
charges but gets stuck in that doorway. Firebomb / melee him when its 
walking away and its very, very easy. 

Clear all of the mobs and the next "challenge" arrives and you start 
seeing the power of a polearm rogue, the knights with the red capes are 
ridiculously easy (in fact the polearm skeletons are harder). hold down 
shield, wait for them to attack and stagger, then counterattack. If you 
thought it was easy with the spear, just wait until you get the halberd 
because you're right there. Return to the other side of the gate where 
you killed the boar boss and the halberd is on one of the corpses. 
Success! 

V. Now what? Well you should immediately notice the pros and cons of the 
halberd. If you don't connect your attack you stagger forward giving 
your pretty undead face away to whatever's attacking you. This *forces* 
you to make sure you're locked on and connecting. Next, you'll notice it 
doesn't give the same "shield is still up" benefit of a spear when 
attacking, again it requires you to block then counter. But look at the 
crazy damage it does? You should now be 2-3 hitting things that you were 
previously 4-6 hitting. You have insane reach where, once you learn its 
limit you can hit things hard from far away. Also it is still straight 
forward attacks but it has a much better arc than the spear, so you can 
clear groups much easier. 

Once I got this combo, farming was so easy i farmed up the 20,000 souls 
to unlock the forest door. I wouldn't recommend it, everything in there 
destroys me but it's cool to run through and see a pretty epic boss at 
the end of it. 

VI. Gargoyle time. You've muddle with farming and have everything 
memorized and could do it in your sleep. You've upgraded your flasks by 
taking the fire keeper's soul back to her (don't do what i did and use 
it on yourself...) One of the things that makes this really, really easy 
is magic weapon. In order to get this you'll have to go into lower burg 
and free the sorceror. There is a ton of souls down there and nothing 
should give you problems with your new halberd! You can also start 
upgrading your halberd, its very cheap to upgrade any normal weapon to 
+5, and you should have some materials besides. There are a bunch of 
rarities with the gargoyles. i got the gargoyle helmet which is an 
amazing helmet but plate, and if you chop off the tail you can get a 
nice weapon. Really I just magic weaponed and the rest was fairly 
obvious. No real strategy. 

I accomplished all of this without dying at level 20, with an even 
spread of STR/DEX and endurance. 

VII. Post blacksmith boss. Another exploit/strategy, is circle behind it 
to those steps. Most all of its attacks will go over your head, allowing 
you to slam it from below. He does one plunging attack that will hit, so 
avoid that. 

To fully realize the power of this, try attacking the stone giants in 
the back of the forest near the locked door. You can easily outreach 
them, and when they cast their slow you still move fast enough to range 
them and have time for potions. Any heavier armor and you'll crawl, any 
shorter range and you won't be able to hit them enough between their 
attacks. This is an ideal setup. 

VIII. The butterfly is very simple. I would switch to as much magic 
defense as possible as all of the damage done is magic, roll away from 
any attacks and when she moves in get magic weapon up and clobber it. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Conclusion

So you should be able to have killed:
the Moonlight Butterfly, Bell Gargoyles, two minibosses 

Using: 
your initial items, one shield upgrade, winged spear and halberd, a
handful of firebombs, magic weapon and the halberd upgraded as much
as you care to (I did it with 0 upgrades).

In approximately: 2 hours of farming / playing.

If you do it without dying and only increasing two bonfires to max,
you should end up with your humanity around 8 (~150 item find)
based on how lucky you are with drops.

This is a pretty good start to now continue grinding your dex or
switch back to pure dagger / "real thief" mode while mitigating
the harsh learning curve of this game and training you as to how
you should play even though it feels more fun to hack and slash!

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