So the other day my brother texts me "What are your favorite classes?" and I say "Probably English and Drama, what are we talking about?" and he says "Darkest Dungeon" and I'm like 'ohhh there's no way I could put all this information into text messages.' So I opened up my email and wrote...
In my opinion, the Hellion is the best tank. As a straight damage-dealer, she’s peerless among the tanks thanks to her ability to strike any position in the enemy line (her main attack hits 1&2, If It Bleeds hits 2&3, and Iron Swan can deal with those pesky casters in 4). Breakthrough is excellent when paired with DoT DPS teammates or AoE teammates like a ranged-attacking Highwayman or a Grave Robber, and if you buff her with a +stun trinket, Barbaric YAWP (stuns position 1&2) can buy a ton of room for your team to lay down DPS without suffering much response from the enemy.
Her campfire buffs are self-focused, buffing her damage and +crit chance (she's more reliant on crits than any other class, save the Grave Robber), at the expense of further committing herself to staying in position 1 at any cost.
Second-best tank. His DPS output is low, but he’s phenomenally survivable when you use his Guard ability. His Guard ability, when combined with his riposte, means a ton of damage will be headed his way – which can raise his stress quite a bit. I never use his group buffs. Absolutely destroys with a lot of +damage and +acc, though, and especially when paired with a melee-damage Highwayman. His main attack is solid, and can hit anywhere from positions 1-3.
He has the best camping abilities in the game, and can buff his entire party with +dodge and +speed or +damage and +crit, in addition to two powerful self-buffs. He's awesome.
A solid all-rounder, won’t work with the Abombination, specializes in taking out the Undead. His AoE is solid, and he deals decent damage to the first two positions, but if you have two corpses in those positions he becomes pretty useless. His stress heal is better than nothing, and his stun can save the day. I wouldn’t recommend using his Lunge ability, as it (1) takes a spot from more important skills (2) can only be used when he’s thrown out of position and (3) relies on enemies being available in positions 3 &4 to lunge after.
His Zealous Speech around the campfire can buff the entire party with stress damage resist.
A very underrated tank, the Leper – like the Crusader – can only really hit the first two positions, but he hits like a freight train. This is balanced by his relatively low accuracy, which you’ll want to buff with trinkets or lock +acc quirks. When your Leper crits, he hits harder than anything in the game. His self-heal is excellent, taking some pressure off your healer, and his Purge ability can quickly clear all corpses – very handy when his attack potential is limited to positions 1&2. Will not work with the Abomination.
His campfire skills are mediocre.
Houndmaster, like the Highwayman, can act as a DPS or your tank, thanks to his stun ability and class-specific trinkets that buff stun. Putting him in position one limits him to Blackjack and Hound’s Harry, but just having him stun up those first two ranks can be a big deal. He survives in this position thanks to his higher-than-average Dodge stat. As a DPS, he pairs well with a marking team (Arbalest, Occultist, Bounty Hunter) from further back, where his self-heal can be used, along with the powerful Hound’s Rush. Does bonus damage against beast-type mobs.
The Houndmaster's Therapy Dog is one of the best campfire stress heal abilities in the game, but his camp skills are otherwise mediocre.
The Abomination has two sets of abilities that you cannot pick and choose – four in human form and four in Beast form. In Human form he excels in position 2, where he can blight rows 2&3, apply a high-damage stun to rows 1-3, heal himself and reduce his stress with a single, powerful move and transform into a beast. When he transforms, everyone in his party will gain stress, but he becomes an absolute wrecking machine with a high-damage single-target attack that moves him forward one position, and a good-damage AoE of 1&2 that increases its own damage the more times it’s used. Transforming back to human will lower his stress and the stress of everyone in the party – but not for more than his caused when he changed…
I will often go an entire run without transforming him, because his blight and stun are so strong – only letting him out of his cage when like, the Collector shows up. Pairs well with the Jester for team stress reduction, but cannot be paired with a Religious hero (Vestal, Leper, Crusader).
His campfire buffs are mostly self-absorbed, but they further increase his damage-dealing potential, and allow him to burn stress off himself and his allies.
I put my Highwayman in positions 2 or 3, depending on the comp I’m running. Best when paired with a Man-at-Arms for double Riposte, he tends to do more melee damage than ranged – though his ranged AoE, when combined with a Hellion and a Grave Robber, can melt entire lines fairly quickly. The problem with the AoE comp is that it’s possible for an entire enemy team to still be alive to hit you at the beginning of round 2, while they just need a little scratch to finish them off – which ain’t good, and puts a lot of pressure on your healer. He has high-end class-specific trinkets that buff his melee damage at the expense of his ranged, and vice-versa. I suggest Lunge, both of his melee slices and Point Blank Shot – which does so much damage, the negative effects of his +melee trinket don’t matter. So you lunge from position 2 to position 1, Riposte anything that comes your way, then Point Blank Shot to throw yourself back to position 2, ready to lunge again. Lunge, importantly, can hit anywhere in the enemy line and deal with those problematic back-line casters.
For this reason – jumping into position 1 - he doesn’t pair as well with the Hellion, as several of her best trinkets and campfire buffs punish her for not being in position one. He’s still a contendah, though, and can serve as a tank or off-tank in a pinch. For my money, he’s the best and most flexible DPS option.
His campfire buffs further strengthen his damage-dealing potential and specialization - like his trinkets - buffing his melee damage, accuracy and crit at the expense of ranged, and vice versa.
Like the Leper, the Bounty Hunter produces huge, single-target burst damage. He has trinkets and abilities that increase his damage against marked targets – his weakness being that he can only ever hit a single target at a time, and his damage output is entirely reliant on marking the target. He’s higher risk-reward than the more consistent DPS and greater utility of, say, the Arbalest. His strong constitution means he can also serve as a tank or off-tank, when need be.
He has some powerful campfire buffs, allowing him to increase the accuracy of his entire party, and increase his own damage against large (2-position) targets.
I love the Grave Robber, purely because she’s one of those high-crit Rogue style classes. Her daggers can hit anywhere in the enemy line, her fade ability buffs her dodge to the point that she basically can’t be hit, her AoE (positions 2&3) is solid and can be huge when her +crit bonus comes into play, and unlike the Arbalest she can still smash position 1 with Pick to the Face. Does not tank well, as all of her best abilities require her to be behind position 1.
Her camping abilities are pretty meh.
One of the most powerful DPS classes, the Plague Doctor’s ability to Blight rows 3&4 in a single turn is huge, and building up her DoTs on a boss or high-health target is a great way to burn down enemies with high health or PROT. I use her with Plague Grenade, the single-target frontline DoT grenade, her small heal and Incision. You want Incision because sometimes she gets thrown forward and you just want that little extra bit of damage, and her heal becomes a big deal when you’re dealing with enemies who lay heavy DoTs on your team. She becomes incredibly powerful when combined with the DoTs of an Abomination or Houndmaster, but is an excellent DPS in any team comp (unless you’re headed to the Warrens, where the swine are heavily blight-resistant.)
Her campfire buffs are mediocre, but she can buff her own accuracy (never bad) and she can remove a disease from herself or an ally - very important, particularly when you consider how expensive (and time-consuming) curing diseases is in the hamlet.
The Arbalest is another one of the best DPS classes, thanks entirely to Sniper Shot or whatever it’s called – a single-target high-damage attack that hits anywhere from rows 2-4, and is buffed by Marked targets. Her bandage ability increases the healing received by the target, so you can buff a tank with it and the next heal from your Vestal or Occultist will do +20%, or something along those lines. Her only weakness is an inability to land that high DPS on position 1, but when you’re down to just one enemy she may as well be doing some off-healing anyway. Can’t be used well with the Plague Doctor, as both of them need a backline position to work, and that means you can’t have an effective healer.
Most of her campfire buffs are excellent, including a +speed buff for the entire party, and a massive buff to her own (already impressive) damage and accuracy.
Best healer in the game, for my money, and nicely flexible thanks to her ranged attacks. Judgement does good damage and heals the Vestal – so there’s no reason to use anything else when you want to heal her, or when no one in your party needs heals. Her party-wide heal is one-of-a-kind, and her single-target heal is far more reliable than the Occultist’s occasional burst. Once you stack +heal trinkets on her, you can get her heals up to +50%, which is huge.
Her campfire buffs are mediocre, but she has an +Accuracy buff for a single teammate that can come in handy.
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An all-rounder, the Occultist’s incredible burst healing potential is offset by the fact that he’s just as likely to heal for 0 as he is for 20. He’s the only healer that will work with the Abomination - making him crucial to some compositions - and his enemy debuffs are without peer. Like the Plague Doctor, he can also hit positions 3&4 with a decent AoE, and often a single grenade from the Plague Doctor and the Occultist's tentacles will do enough damage to a back line that when their turn comes around next, they just die from the DoT.
His camping skills, while they may seem a bit stupid, can be very powerful. Specifically, his ability to give an ally a major damage buff is huge.
The Antiquarian's entire kit sucks. Her primary attack is decent - fine damage, and it can hit positions 1-3 - but her most powerful ability is hitting her entire party with +dodge. While this is valuable in extended fights, it takes multiple turns to become really effective - during which she contributes little, and is basically a drain on the team. Get Down, which forces an ally to guard any attacks made against her, buffs that ally for a bit more dodge and a LOT more PROT.
Her passive ability becomes hugely important later on, when cash to upgrade your heroes becomes the most valuable thing in a dungeon. Having an Antiquarian in your party allows your collected gold to stack to 2,500 instead of 1,750 - but most important, when the Antiquarian interacts with a curio and there is any loot to take - even a torch on the wall - she will also find unique valuables. These valuables are worth either 500 or 1,250 gold each, and those will stack to 20 and 5, respectively. If you have an Antiquarian in your party and say, your Crusader opens that chest, you don't get the extra loot.
A low-light run with an Antiquarian can net you 40,000+ gold. Suggested comp: Anti, Vestal, Highwayman, Man-at-Arms, as discussed. Her camping skills suck.
Don't underestimate the Jester. His buffs can make quite a difference, his stress heal is without peer, but I recommend using him primarily as DPS. His ability to DoT positions 2&3 with a powerful bleed makes him pair very well with an Abomination or Hound Master, and when it's time to finish off the big dog you can use Solo (moves him to position 1) or Dirk Stab (moves him forward 1) to put him into position 1, from which he can use Finale. If Point Blank Shot hits like a truck, Finale is the building that falls on that truck. It moves him back to position 4, which means your team has to be okay with getting shuffled forward or back a bit. Thus, he pairs well with other more mobile heroes like the Highwayman, Grave Robber and Man-at-Arms.
His campfire buffs are exemplary, with Turn Back Time offering a powerful stress heal, Every Rose Has Its Thorn is a party-wide stress heal and stress damage defensive buff, and Eye of the Tiger makes a Highwayman, Hellion, Man-at-Arms or Leper explode.
And that's our show!