In this Demon’s Souls Remake Build Guide, I’m going to be covering my Death Cleaver Build, which is a PvP Build that does staggering damage very early on in the game, allowing you to often one or two shot most hosts. If you like to invade other players and you want to do so very very quickly with a high chance of success, then this Beginner PvP Build might just be what you’re looking for.
Demon’s Souls Builds: Death Cleaver (Beginner PvP)
The Death Cleaver Build uses a combination of the Dozer Axe, high Strength and good mobility to catch hosts off guard by the unusual moveset of the Dozer Axe. Many of its attacks have hyper armor, allowing you to continue through with your swing even if struck in the middle, which is simply not the case with many other Weapons in Demon’s Souls.
Additionally, you can use this setup from the lowest levels of the game, often allowing you to kill hosts before they’ve even had a chance to put their Build together. This Build is a bit trollish to be sure, but it can be a ton of fun, and it has a pretty good success rate if you know what you are doing. It might not be as OP as invading with Soulbrandt or Northern Regalia, but the Build comes together much more quickly.
Death Cleaver Starting Class
The starting Class I chose for this Build was Barbarian because of the high Strength, high Endurance, and high Vitality. However, if you want to play this Build at the absolute lowest level possible then you can select either the Knight or Temple Knight Class. Select Barbarian if you wish to level up past meeting the requirements for the Dozer Axe, and select either of the other two if you plan to stay at the lowest possible levels. The lower the level you are, the higher chance of success you will have with this Build.
Death Cleaver Starting Tips
The first thing you should realize is that how you are setup at the beginning of the game is not how this Build will play out of after you gain the Dozer Axe. You can pickup the Great Axe after you defeat the Armor Spider in order to get a better idea of how this Build will play, since they have the same moveset, but you will get the Dozer Axe not too long after that. Still, it’s a good idea to pick up the Great Axe and I’ll explain why.
Dozer Axe vs. Great Axe Comparison
Using the Crushing upgrade path, the Crushing Great Axe +5 will outperform the Dozer Axe in nearly every way at 30 Strength, which is the minimum Strength you will need in order to one-hand the Dozer Axe effectively. It has more damage 372 > 340, it weighs 10 compared to the 22 of the Dozer Axe, and it has the exact same moveset. So why on earth would you use the Dozer Axe then?
The reason to use the Dozer Axe is that at 20 Strength you can two-hand the weapon effectively, because you gain 1.5x Strength when two-handing. At 20 Strength, the Dozer Axe outperforms the Crushing Great Axe +5, and you don’t have to spend any time farming materials whatsoever.
Additionally, the two-handed moveset of the Dozer Axe is much much better than one-handed, since you can actually attack with R1 twice in a row while doing so, and the rolling R1 will net you more kills then you could possibly imagine. You can still Parry one-handed and then swap to two-handed for the Riposte, so this is not an issue.
Basically, if you are intending to PvP at the lowest level possible then the Dozer Axe is the way to go, but if you plan to level up to 30 Strength, then you should aim to use the Crushing Great Axe +5 instead. Just keep in mind that while you can get both of these Weapons by defeating the Armor Spider and progressing, it will likely take you hours to get the materials needed to get your Crushing Great Axe to +5, unless you have someone that can drop you Greystone Chunks and Pure Greystone.
Learn Your Moveset
No matter which large weapon you are using, it’s always a good idea to learn the moveset. This is particularly important for this Build, because the strength of the Dozer Axe is its rather unique moveset.
A couple of attacks that work really well for this Build are first the default R1 attack while two-handing. It swings much more quickly than some other large Weapons, and the slight step backward before swinging will often confuse opponents into Parrying prematurely. This often nets you at least a couple of hits against hosts or phantoms trying to Parry you.
And second, the rolling R1 attack does a small AoE that often destroys opponents because it is very very fast and cannot be interrupted. This works particularly good against Spear users, who will usually wait for you to finish your roll before thrusting, which means you will trade damage. Your Dozer Axe should hit way way harder than their Spear at low levels, so trading damage is a win for this Build.
Death Cleaver Stats
The only Stat you absolutely must have for this Build is Strength in order to be able to use the Dozer Axe two-handed. However, if you plan on leveling up higher you’ll want some Endurance and Vitality as well.
At 20 Strength you’ll be able to wield the Dozer Axe two-handed and at 30 Strength you can one-hand it. However, if you wish to reach 30 Strength then I suggest swapping to the Great Axe for even more damage with less Weight.
Your Endurance should only be enough that you can carry a Shield or Iron Knuckles in your left hand and the Dozer Axe in the right, still wear some light Armor and be able to roll normally (under 50% Equip Load). It’s very important that you can roll normally because the rolling R1 is much more effective this way, and it’s your bread and butter. You’ll likely need to use the Ring of Giant Strength for this setup, because the Dozer Axe weighs a ton!
And lastly, Vitality will help to keep you alive, allowing you to trade blows and come out on top. How high you wish to go is really up to you, but remember the higher level you are the lower the odds you’ll win with this Build.
I’ll show you the two setups you can use for this Build, to give you an idea what it’ll look like if you don’t level past 10, and if you do:
Dozer Axe Setup
- Strength: 20
- Endurance: 15
- Vitality: 15
Great Axe Setup
- Strength: 30
- Endurance: 15
- Vitality: 20
The idea here is to keep your level as low as you can regardless of what weapon you are using, so that your damage is markedly higher than your opponent. The higher you get, the higher level your opponent will be, and the more they’ve invested into Stats that improve their damage, or had time to find a better weapon.
Death Cleaver Equipment
In this section we’ll take a look at what equipment you’ll need in order to play the Death Cleaver Build effectively. Keep in mind that you will likely change this up some depending on what section of the game you are on, but this should serve to give you some idea of what setups you’re looking for. First let’s take a look at early game.
Early Game Equipment
At the beginning of the game you’ll want to pick up and equip the Cling Ring as soon as you can to further increase your Health in Soul Form. You’ll be in Soul Form whenever you invade, so you’ll need to keep this Ring on or have very low HP.
I like to use the Old Ragged Set with this Build, but it requires being a female character to use. It gives you some protection and is extremely light weight, allowing you to roll normally and still use the Dozer Axe. You can obtain it by cutting the chain in the Boletarian Palace, and then looting the corpse below. A good alternative if you are a male character is the Saint’s Set found in the Valley of Defilement.
Be sure to pick up the Ring of Great Strength beneath the Blue Dragon in the Boletarian Palace because the Dozer Axe weighs a ton. You won’t be able to roll normally while using it without this Ring, so this one is a must!
It’s a good idea to swap out your Wooden Shield for a Heater Shield once you’ve defeated Phalanx, or before even if you can spare the Souls. This way you will have a 100% Physical Protection Shield and you’ll stop taking chip damage when you block normal attacks. It can be purchased from Blacksmith Boldwin in the Nexus for 2000 Souls.
The Shrine of Storms
A really good pick up early on is the Crescent Falchion in the Shrine of Storms. It takes almost no time to acquire, and gives you a strong melee attack that deals Magic Damage. You should look to get this as soon as you can, as it can really help out with Stonefang Tunnel and beyond, since most enemies there are weak to Magic Damage. Just note that you’ll need to place 1 point into Dexterity in order to use it effectively.
Once you have this then you’ll need to defeat the Vanguard Demon in this area, if you didn’t defeat the one during the tutorial area. This will grant you the Grey Demon Soul, which you will need later to craft the Dozer Axe.
Next you’ll want to pick up the Regenerator’s Ring, which can be found near the boss area along a cliff path past the Crystal Lizard. This is a great ring for regenerating your health, and you’ll likely swap the Ring of Giant Strength for this one if you intend to use the Great Axe at some point.
Once you’ve gotten the above you’ll head to Stonefang Tunnel, and the first thing you should do while there is unlock the lift to Blacksmith Ed so that you can craft your Dozer Axe once you have it, and also so you can upgrade your Great Axe if you wish using the Crushing path.
Once you’ve defeated the Armor Spider you can loot the Great Axe from the lava cliff area, by dropping down on the platforms from the top. There is also a Greystone Chunk on one of these platforms, so grab it as well in order to save you time if you decide to use this later on.
Stonefang Tunnel is a great place to farm Hardstone and Sharpstone, and you will neet a good amount in order to make a +6 Axe of some sort, since this is needed to craft the Dozer Axe. Make sure to kill all the Miners with bags, and loot everything. The Crystal Lizards past the Armor Spider also give tons of these materials.
Make sure to defeat the two Black Phantoms on the way to these Crystal Lizards in order to obtain the Black Eye Stone, which you will need to invade other worlds.
You can also acquire Iron Knuckles from the Miners here, the ones that don’t seem to be carrying any weapon. This Weapon is much better than a Shield for PvP, since you won’t be Blocking, because it’s lighter and still allows you to Parry. Additionally, you can upgrade it using Faintstone (once it’s +6), in order to gain additional healing while you are fighting. This equipment is not necessary, but if you were to 100% optimize this Build you would have it.
The last thing you need to do here is defeat Flamelurker and get the Seering Demon Soul so that you give it to Blacksmith Ed. This will allow him to craft the Dozer Axe for you if you have a +6 Axe. I suggest buying a Battle Axe from Blacksmith Boldwin in the Nexus to upgrade, that way you don’t lose your Great Axe, and you can keep it if you should decide to level up at some point.
Remember that both the Dozer Axe and Great Axe can be buffed. This means that you can use Pine Resin, Black Pine Resin or Sticky White Slime on them to deal even more damage. Black Pine Resin and Sticky White Slime are harder to get, but Pine Resin is not. You can purchase it from the Dreggling Merchant in The Lord’s Path for 500 Souls. Be sure to buff your weapon whenever you can to further increase your invasion success rate.
As I mentioned before, even if you only meet the requirements of a weapon while two-handing, you can still Parry with a Shield or Iron Knuckles and then swap to both hands for the Riposte to deal full damage. This is an advanced move to be sure, but one that once you get the hang of will really help you out. Practice it on easy enemies if you need to!
Endurance, while usually helpful for most large Weapons won’t help you out as much as you’d think here. This is because you only need a tiny amount of Stamina to roll and then R1, or simply R1. This Build is very much a hit and run Build, and managing your Stamina, while tricky, is not as hard as you’d think.
Lastly, another piece equipment that works amazing with this Build is the Eternal Warrior’s Ring, as it helps tremendously with Stamina regeneration. It’s probably a bit over kill, but if you find you’re having a hard time with the little Stamina you have, this might solve your problem. It can be hard to get a lower levels since you need to defeat Old King Doran, which is why I have not recommended it for this Build in the equipment section. Note that you will need to kill Ostrava for the Mausoleum Key in order to face Doran.
Stay tuned for more Demon’s Souls Build Guides, as we explore just what kind of Builds you can make. And be sure to check out the Demon’s Souls Wiki if you have specific questions about the game! As always, you can read our Demon’s Souls Review and Getting Started Guide to get going with the game.