First and foremost, this guide's goal isn't to tell people what weapons to use. It will only list weapons that good players have been consistently successful with. These are some of the strongest weapons available and if you want to compete with good players, you will need to know what makes them strong and why said good players use them when playing competitively.
- Some weapons that are extremely strong in random invasions, humanity fights or high SL (SL200 for instance) will not be mentioned in this guide; instead, it will focus on SL125 no-heal duel meta.
- All weapons that can be upgraded to crystal are considered crystal by default, as it is the most common upgrade path at high level play, including in tournaments.
- Weapon buffs won't be accounted for as they are rarely used in meta duels. They are indeed fairly easy to kite until they fade off, making the stat investment for buffs partly or completely useless.
- All meta builds should remain above or around 50 Vitality.
- Almost all meta builds that include a weapon scaling with Dexterity should use 45 Dexterity, despite Dexterity's 40 points damage scaling hard cap. That is because 45 Dexterity is the fastest casting speed for Pyromancy spells, allowing Great Combustion and Black Flame to, among other things, get a guaranteed hit after a kick.
- If you don't know what a certain word or expression means, check the vocabulary section at the bottom of the guide.
- If you want to know about some of these weapon's Poise Damage, here is the link for you: http://darksouls.wikidot.com/poise
- If you want precise frame data on weapons speed in general, here is the link for you: https://u.pomf.is/nezavr.txt (thanks kcufsihttihs for his research)
High on-hit damage
High backstab damage
High poise damage
The Claymore's neutral R1 has a fast start up, deals good poise and physical damage, but has a very slow recovery, making this weapon a high risk high reward weapon that relies on punishing mistakes consistently, reading your opponent to get a lot of damage in and capitalizing on Poise pressure, whilst being vulnerable to whiff punishes.
Its safest option is its long range rolling R1, hard to punish when not predicted.
Build example: http://mmdks.com/8fjy