Look out for hidden bonfires
There are two regular shields with 100% phys block available fairly early on, after Pursuer and once you bring McDuff the ember. Getting Greatshield-Strength just for one or two bosses would seem a bit excessive.
And I did notice I did serious damage to smelter with the magic mace, I guess he's (like the fire-based beasts in the first game) not a big fan of magic (and vice versa, you can usually nicely burn magic users). Hence I am not that worried about smelter with an int-build, after all I could circle around at safe distance and pew-pew him to death
Anyway... I'm still busy with my NG+ where I got back to the Lost Bastille and No Man's Wharf respectively. I'm not sure if co-op is across difficulties or not? Most of the phantoms I summoned yesterday did not that much damage and got themselves killed quite quickly in general. Except for one occasion I ended up alone in front of the boss gates, despite summoning 2 phantoms each. Weird. That last guy was sadly slain at the very last stretch of the Ruin Sentinels, because that stupid sentinel completely ignored me punching him and did one divebomb after the other on the sunbro instead -> no sunlight medal
In other news: the official GC verdict on Dark Souls 2 - http://www.gamecritics.com/kristin-r...souls-2-review