How To Build Darkest Dungeon 2’s Man-At-Arms – TheFantasyTimes

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By Nikita Gambhir

How To Build Darkest Dungeon 2’s Man-At-Arms

Front line champions in Darkest Dungeon 2 have the critical task of defending against the endless horrors that lurk around the Mountain. Among the heroes who embark on each expedition, few can match the resilience and protection provided by the Man-At-Arms.

The Man-At-Arms is a specialized support hero who excels at safeguarding allies, granting buffs to teammates, and boasting a substantial health pool to withstand heavy damage. While building this seasoned warrior can be a straightforward process, there are times when it can become unnecessarily complex to determine the optimal approach. This guide will help you navigate the process of building your Man-At-Arms effectively.

Man-At-Arms Summary:
– Exceptional at guarding allies
– Can remove most debuffs from allies
– Easily gains Block and Riposte tokens
– Fourth-highest base HP in the game
– Bellow skill provides excellent offensive protection
– Ideal hero for defeating Act 3 Boss
– Incredibly durable due to high HP and Block+ gain
– Flexible Trinket options

– Low damage output without assistance
– Reliant on teammates for healing, damage, or combo setup
– Slower compared to other heroes
– Limited path options result in a somewhat one-dimensional playstyle

Man-At-Arms Stats:
– Bleed: 30
– Blight: 30
– Burn: 30
– Stun: 50
– Move: 30
– Debuff: 20
– Disease: 30
– Death Blow: 78

The Man-At-Arms possesses the fourth-largest health pool in the game, making him a formidable front line hero. His high HP makes items that increase Max HP, such as food and Inn items, even more beneficial. Additionally, he exhibits average resistance against most negative status effects, with exceptional resistance to stuns. This resistance proves invaluable when facing enemies with stun abilities, and it synergizes well with the Oversprung Pocketwatch Trinket, which has a chance to stun the hero. Due to his stun resistance, the Man-At-Arms can often resist the debuff even if stunned.

Man-At-Arms Skills:
Here is a list of all the Man-At-Arms’ skills, along with their effects and upgrade information:

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Man-At-Arms Paths:
Building the Man-At-Arms is relatively straightforward, with the Vanguard path being the most effective choice. The Sergeant path offers some benefits, such as removing Weak and Vulnerable with the Bolster skill, but it sacrifices damage output, resulting in longer fights. The Bulwark path can make the Man-At-Arms nearly invincible but can prolong battles unnecessarily. This guide will focus on two efficient ways to build the Vanguard Man-At-Arms: as a front line hero and as a back line hero.

Front Line Man-At-Arms:
This build emphasizes keeping the Man-At-Arms in Rank 1, absorbing damage, and protecting teammates. Unlike the back line version, this build utilizes the Crush skill for damage and self-sustain, reducing the reliance on teammates for damage and healing. Combining Crush with a teammate who can generate combo tokens enhances the Man-At-Arms’ self-sufficiency.


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Front line heroes in Darkest Dungeon 2 are tasked with the important mission of holding the line against the unending tide of horrors lingering around the Mountain. Out of all heroes who will join each expedition, few will match the resilience and protection offered by the Man-At-Arms.

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The Man-At-Arms is a specialized supporter who protects other heroes, grants buffs to his teammates, and has a large enough health pool to take most damage. Building him can be a straightforward process (especially with how middling his paths are), but there are times when it can still be unnecessarily complex to figure out what works best for this grizzled fighter. Here’s a guide to show you what to keep an eye out for when building your Man-At-Arms.

Man-At-Arms Summary

The Hero Man-at-Arms from Darkest Dungeon 2 using his Shield Bash skill with icons for the possible hero paths shown on the perimeter



+ Guards allies extremely well

– Low damage without help

+ Removes most debuffs from allies

– Reliant on teammates to help him with either healing, damage, or combo set up

+ Can gain Block and Riposte tokens easily

– Slow

+ Fourth-highest base HP in the game

– One dimensional because of subpar path options

+ Bellow is amazing at protecting team’s offense

+ Best hero to beat Act 3 Boss

+ Incredibly tanky thanks to high HP stat and Block+ gain

+ Flexible Trinket options

Man-At-Arms Stats

Man-At-Arms on stats screen in Darkest Dungeon 2
















Death Blow


The Man-At-Arms has the fourth-largest health pool in the game. This makes him extremely tanky and perfectly suited to be a front line hero. Since he has such a large health pool, food and other Inn items that increase Max HP are even more helpful.

In addition to his average resistance against most of the negative status inflictions in Darkest Dungeon 2, the Man-At-Arms is extremely resistant to stuns. This makes him wonderful against enemies that have Stun skills, but this Stun Resistance also works extremely well if you come across the Oversprung Pocketwatch Trinket.

The Oversprung Pocketwatch (found in Academic Studies only) has a 50/50 chance of either granting your hero a bonus turn or being stunned. Since the Man-At-Arms has so much stun resistance, even if he gets stunned, there’s a good chance he can resist the debuff.

RELATED: Darkest Dungeon 2: Best Trinkets Items

Man-At-Arms Skills

Man-at-arms skills in Darkest Dungeon 2

Here’s a list of all of the Man-At-Arms’ skills. Be aware that the effects of upgrading each skill are in parentheses.



How To Unlock

Smash (Melee)

  • 4-7 (6-8) Damage
  • 5% Crit chance
  • Heals self for 10% (20%) of Max HP on combo
  • X-X-O-O O-O-O-X

Unlocked by default

Rampart (Melee, Shield)

  • 3-6 (4-7) Damage
  • 5% Crit chance
  • Moves self forward 1 rank
  • Knocks enemy back 1 rank
  • Applies Dazed
  • (Applies Stun on combo)
  • X-O-O-O O-O-X-X

Unlocked by default


  • Applies 2x Block to self
  • Applies 2x (3x) Guarded to target

Unlocked by default


  • Cooldown: 1
  • Apply Block (Block+) to self
  • If Man-At-Arms has 5+ stress, remove 1 (2) stress from self.
  • If target has 5+ stress, remove 1 (2) stress from target.
  • Remove Vulnerable (and Weak) from target

Unlocked by default

Hold The Line (Melee, Shield)

  • 3-6 (4-7) Damage
  • 10% Crit chance
  • Applies 1x (2x) Block and Immobilize to self
  • Moves self forward 3 ranks
  • (Applies Stun on combo)
  • O-O-O-X O-O-X-X

Unlocked by default

Bellow (Ranged)

  • Cooldown: 1
  • Remove Riposte (and Crit) buffs from enemies
  • Enemies lose 3 (5) Speed for 3 turns
  • O-O-O-O O+O+O+O

Complete Chapter 1 of Man-At-Arms’ story

Stand Fast

  • Cooldown: 2
  • Applies 2x Block (Block+) to self
  • For the next 3 turns, apply 1x Block (Block+) to self
  • (Remove a combo token from Man-At-Arms)

Complete Chapter 2 of Man-At-Arms’ story


  • Cooldown: 1
  • Applies 2x Riposte and 2x Taunt to self
  • (Applies 2x Block to self)

Complete Chapter 3 of Man-At-Arms’ story

Courageous Abandon (Melee)

  • 3-6 (5-7) Damage
  • 10% (20%) Crit chance
  • Cooldown: 2
  • Ignores Block
  • Deals an additional +100% damage when Man-At-Arms has Block
  • Deals an additional +100% damage when Man-At-Arms has Block+
  • Removes Block and Vulnerable from self
  • X-X-X-O O-X-X-X

Complete Chapter 4 of Man-At-Arms’ story

Strategic Withdrawal (Melee)

  • 3-6 (4-7) Damage
  • 5% (10%) Crit chance
  • Cooldown: 1
  • Moves self back 1 rank
  • Applies combo to target
  • (Applies Block+ and Speed to self)
  • (Heals 33% of Max HP when at Death’s Door)
  • X-X-O-O O-O-X-X

Complete Chapter 5 of Man-At-Arms’ story


  • Cooldown: 1
  • Applies Strength to target
  • Removes Blind from target

Complete Chapter 5 of Man-At-Arms’ story

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Man-At-Arms Paths

Man-At-Arms path choices in menu in Darkest Dungeon 2

Man-At-Arms paths are fairly straightforward to build because, outside of the Vanguard, the majority of them aren’t particularly useful.

The Sergeant’s biggest benefit is that it gives the Bolster skill the ability to remove Weak and Vulnerable without an upgrade, and allies have a 20% chance of gaining 50% Bleed, Blight, and Burn resistance for 3 turns. However, this comes at the cost of 20% less damage, which means fights will take much longer than they should. Since Bolster already removes those debuffs with an upgrade, that buff from the Sergeant isn’t very useful unless you find yourself struggling with upgrade points constantly. Gaining the extra resistances is the selling point of the Sergeant, but having it happen at inconsistent times further hurts how useful this Path is.

The Bulwark path isn’t a terrible option, but its builds have a tendency to become a worse version of the Vanguard ones. While the end result turns the Man-At-Arms into a nigh-impenetrable wall, it can also lead to some fights getting dragged out despite Rampart becoming an amazing offensive tool. This path stands out the most, since it can also deal out more stuns than the others.

Instead of the normal focus on how to build each Path, this guide will focus on two effective ways to build the Vanguard Man-At-Arms – as a front line Hero and a back line one. Before looking into those two builds, let’s see what makes the Vanguard such a good choice.

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Vanguard Man-At-Arms

Man-At-Arms standing resolute after a stress test in Darkest Dungeon 2

  • +20% Max HP
  • Ripostes gain 25% more damage
  • Crush skills gain 50% more damage
  • -20% res against Bleed, Blight, and Burn

The Vanguard gets several relevant buffs that bring it far above its alternatives. More Max HP allows the Man-At-Arms to both tank more damage and heal more. The increased Max HP also gives him a buffer if he needs to equip Trinkets that cost him max HP to be useful.

Next, Ripostes are a large part of the Man-At-Arms’ damage. They allow him to attack out of turn order and, since Retribution is the main way he gets these buffs in the first place, it also meshes well with his game plan of setting up Retribution and using Defender to protect allies.

Crush is a versatile tool in the Man-At-Arms’ kit. It fulfills a few important functions likes helping with stress relief, building Affinity, and finishing off enemies on Death’s Door. Its two most important functions, however, are healing and damage. With a partner who can help the Man-At-Arms set up combo tokens, it becomes an amazing tool to help the Man-At-Arms sustain himself, since each swing of his mace will also heal up to 20% of his Max HP. A Strength buff or an increased critical chance, combined with this path’s 50% increased damage, allows this skill to hit for solid chunks of HP. Plus, it can target Rank 3 from the front lines, which can help remove some obnoxious enemies hiding behind their allies.

Front Line Man-At-Arms

Man-At-Arms using Crush in the Tangle in Darkest Dungeon 2

This is the most common and straightforward build for the Man-At-Arms. It wants to focus on keeping the Man-At-Arms in Rank 1, tanking as much damage as he can and keeping his teammates out of harm’s way. Unlike the other version of the Man-At-Arms, front line builds have the option to use Crush for damage and self-sustain, allowing the Man-At-Arms to have more self-sufficiency instead of relying solely on teammates for damage or healing.

Since you’re using Crush in this build, a teammate that can put down combo tokens will help as much as a healer does for this Man-At-Arms.

Best Skills For The Front Line Man-At-Arms

  • Crush
  • Defender
  • Bellow/Command/Hold The Line
  • Retribution
  • Bolster

These skills help the Man-At-Arms protect his allies and draw attention to himself in the front lines. Ideally, you’ll want to use Retribution each chance you get, so the enemies focus on the Man-At-Arms while leaving the rest of your team (mostly) unharmed. If a teammate needs protection, Defender will keep wounded heroes alive. Defender is also a wonderful way to make the most of Retribution’s Riposte stacks (if you have any left over by the time the Man-At-Arms’ turn rolls around again).

Bolster is an underrated skill. It can remove the Weak and Vulnerable debuffs from teammates, applies Block to the Man-At-Arms, and it can remove up to 2 stress from the Man-At-Arms’ target and himself. Team compositions that lack a Jester or other means of stress control will want Bolster for its stress removal alone. If you pair the Man-At-Arms with a Highwayman or Grave Robber (two classes that have high burst potential that could be ruined by a Weakened status effect), then Bolster will pay off in massive dividends later in your runs.

The final slot is flexible depending on what you need. Bellow helps remove Dodge stacks, and lowering the enemy’s Speed helps your damage-oriented heroes set up their tricks before the enemies get to act. Heroes that rely on damage-over-time effects, like the Plague Doctor and Grave Robber, will appreciate this, since they want to stack on as many Blight effects as possible before the enemy gets their turn. Command is best used with the Leper, since it removes Blind and adds Strength. Hold The Line helps keep the Man-At-Arms in Rank 1, regardless of foes’ attempts to shuffle him to the back.

Best Trinkets For A Front Line Man-At-Arms

  • Befuddling Sundial: (Academic Study only) Healing over time is amazing for the Man-At-Arms, since he’ll be taking most of the hits for your team. A chance at rolling stress is a small price to pay as you’ll have Bolster with you.
  • Ghastly Gruel: (Harvest Child only) Passively heals your team by 2 HP each turn, and increases the amount of healing a Man-At-Arms in Rank 1 will receive from skills.
  • Fate’s Foreteller/Prodding Pedant: (Hoarder only) Both of these Trinkets heal whenever the Man-At-Arms resists a status effect or resists stress.
  • Vanished Vanity: (Sluice only) An amazing Trinket for teams that need combo markers on enemies.
  • Clenching Claws: (Tangle only) Useful for applying a debuff to an opponent when they attack the Man-At-Arms. The penalty of being immobilized isn’t a bad thing for the Man-At-Arms.
  • Reverberating Redoubt: (Dreaming General only) The only Trinket in the game that acts like a traditional Thorns effect. Whenever an enemy attacks the Man-At-Arms, they take 2 damage. If you don’t speed up your Man-At-Arms at all, you’ll also have a 20% chance to get a bonus turn when the Man-At-Arms is attacked. With Oversprung Pocketwatch, you could potentially get three turns in a single battle round.
  • Stone Mount: (Tangle only) Turns stacks of Block into Block+. Very useful to increase the Man-At-Arms’ survivability.

A front line Man-At-Arms can also be built in the Bulwark path, by swapping out Crush for Rampart and Retribution or Defender for Stand Fast. This gives you more disruption at the cost of self-sufficiency and damage.

RELATED: Darkest Dungeon 2: All Heroes Ranked

Back Line Man-At-Arms

Man-At-Arms using Retribution in Darkest Dungeon 2

The back line Man-At-Arms functions in every slot and will focus on solely support. This version of the Man-At-Arms is usually paired with another hero that can take over the front line duties and a healer that can keep both the Man-At-Arms and the Rank 1 hero healthy. From there, the Man-At-Arms can now be placed in any rank and becomes a buffing machine who removes debuffs, applies buffs, and guards vulnerable teammates from damage.

Best Skills For A Back Line Man-At-Arms

  • Defender
  • Retribution
  • Bellow (Flexible)
  • Command
  • Bolster

This version of the Man-At-Arms trades Crush for a purely supportive set. Using Defender and Retribution together will be its main form of damage. Bellow, Command, and Bolster will be used to support his team from any rank.

The main way to use this set is to focus on protecting other back line heroes who may not be able to take very many hits with Protect, then use Retribution so the Man-At-Arms himself can both deal damage and be protected as well. Command and Bolster are best used to remove debuffs once the protection and Ripostes have been set up, or if you need to push through damage that might be dulled by a Blind or Weak debuff. This combo works particularly well with the Leper, who suffers from self-inflicted Blind debuffs and can take damage in Rank 1 extremely well.

Bellow performs a similar function in this set when compared to the front line Man-At-Arms. However, you’ll have more opportunities to use it in the back line than the front.

Best Trinkets For A Back Line Man-At-Arms

  • Price of Pride: Since you’ll be guarding teammates and using Bellow more often, this Trinket is perfect to reduce the amount of damage the Man-At-Arms will take. Bellow will also disrupt the enemy’s turns by having a chance to apply Stun.
  • Undeserved Commendation: If you’re using the Leper with this version of the Man-At-Arms, you’ll want to find this Trinket as soon as possible. Once equipped, it makes your Man-At-Arms more tanky in Rank 2 and it gives your Command target an assured critical hit, which is a huge advantage for the Leper’s already devastating attacks.
  • Blistering Bugle: (Tangle only) Gives the Man-At-Arms a 50% chance of starting a combat with Taunt. If they go first in turn order, they’ll also start out with a Vulnerable debuff. Since the Man-At-Arms is so slow, though, this will rarely happen.
  • Unwavering Standard/Insulating Insignia: (Tangle only) Both of these have a 33% chance to grant allies a stack of Block at the beginning of the turn.

This build can also benefit from the Sergeant path and its team-wide buffs. However, dealing 20% less damage on Ripostes and losing the Vanguard’s +25% Riposte damage can be an annoyance.

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First Skill To Upgrade For The Man-At-Arms

Man-At-Arms using the Bolster skill on the Plague Doctor in Darkest Dungeon 2

The first skill you want to upgrade is Bolster or Retribution. Bolster is the better option when you need a strong stress heal on your team, and/or if a stack of Weak will ruin a teammate’s burst damage. This is especially useful for the Highwayman and Grave Robber, who will take a turn or two to set up their damaging skills.

However, if you have a Jester (or another way to handle stress damage) and you don’t mind dealing with the Weak debuff, then Retribution is a priority to upgrade first. This gives the Man-At-Arms much more survivability, because each hit they take while Taunt is up will also deal reduced damage.

Best Position For The Man-At-Arms

Man-At-Arms, Highwayman, Plague Doctor and Grave Robber in battle in the Tangle in Darkest Dungeon 2

Front line Man-At-Arms will want to be in Rank 1. This way they can soak up damage and still have access to all of their relevant abilities. While you can put them in Rank 2, there are usually other Heroes that can perform better in Rank 2, like the Flagellant or the formidable Highwayman.

Back line Man-At-Arms can be in every rank, including Rank 4. The available Trinkets and the roles of the rest of the team will determine the best position for this build.

Best Team Composition For The Man-At-Arms

A party of four heroes standing together in Darkest Dungeon 2

Plague Doctor

    • Man-At-Arms applies plenty of tokens to himself, which empowers Indiscriminate Science
    • Man-At-Arms removes debuffs, while the Plague Doctor removes status effects like Bleed
    • Plague Doctor is fragile with almost no ways to mitigate damage to herself, so she’s the perfect target for Guard
  • Jester
    • Helps with stress relief
    • Sets up combos
    • Moves Man-At-Arm to where he needs to be
    • Man-At-Arms is a good encore target
    • Man-At-Arms can remove vulnerable if Jester uses Finale
  • Leper
    • Man-At-Arms can buff Leper’s damage and remove blind
    • Leper can front line for Man-At-Arms
    • Both of them can protect the other two heroes
  • Highwayman
    • Deals lots of damage and can also perform well in every rank
    • Man-At-Arms removes detrimental debuffs like Weak
    • Highway Robbery manages enemy’s buffs while Man-At-Arms handles team’s debuffs

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