Warning, long post ahead. Continue if you can handle reading a novel. Or skim.
Hey everyone, your friendly Tank Vanguard from the Tower here (jk), in this post I'll be making a guide for tanking (primarily PvE-oriented) in ESO. All are welcome to study the course material, whether you're a seasoned veteran Tank, a Tank in training, or maybe not even a Tank. If the proceeding information doesn't apply to you, feel free to maybe share it with a friend who is learning to Tank or is thinking about it. Or don't read it, either way.
First, I want to make it clear that I am by no means an ultra amazing Tank, and I don't claim to be. I just wanted to share some of the things I learned (most of which were on my own) from the beginning of my Tank journey to the well, sort of end, since there's always room to learn and always more to learn. Another reason I wanted to write this was because since I've been in this community, I've seen a lot of new players asking for tanking tips. Anyway, let's proceed.
Let's first begin with what a Tank is and what they do. I know, I know, everyone should know, right? Well, you'd be surprised. So, a Tank is your group's "big guy" or "juggernaut". They often wear heavy armor, use a Sword & Shield (S&S/S&B), and have a lot of health. Also really hard to kill for the most part. As a Tank, you are a combat controller. You control the flow of the battle and adjust situations on the battlefield.
A Tank's responsibilities are as follows:
- Draw and hold aggro (which basically means if something is attacking you, you now have the "aggro" on that monster)
- Positioning bosses and trash mobs
- Increase combat capability by providing both defensive and offensive buffs to teammates. On the flip side, you will also place debuffs upon the enemy
- Studying and knowing mechanics and enemy types. This isn't really a "responsibility" per se, but it's important enough that you should know them, and it would behoove you to know them. This is pretty much an everyone thing too, not just the Tank (but as a Tank you will often learn mechanics better due to having to watch out and react to them more often)
So there you have the main priorities of a Tank. I'm sure many of you have already been doing this, and that's a good sign. I'll go more into detail on some of those priorities later on, such as aggro tactics, grouping methods, enemy types, awareness, etc. For now we'll move onto Combat Practices, which will encompass some of the above mentioned subjects. Any good Tank will incorporate and utilize these practices during combat. I'll also cover some basic stats beforehand if some of you were curious.
For Tank stats in Vet Dungeons, I would shoot for at least 35k Health minimum, maybe a little more for Vet DLC, but no more than like 50k Health. For resistances, if you can achieve 31-33.5k, then that should be more than fine (please keep in mind you will have an extra 5200 or so from your Hardened Armor, Frost Cloak, NB Shadow abilities, Templar Rune, etc. so get to around 27-28k unbuffed if you can, but it's not necessary). Ensure your stam pool is higher than your mag pool in order to receive more stamina from Shards or Orbs for more stam for blocking. Ensure your mag recovery is higher because magicka will recover while blocking, but stamina won't. Mix Infused and Sturdy traits on your armor, or go full Sturdy if you want. This part is kind of personal preference. I went all Sturdy. I threw in my character sheet just for reference. The health is overkill for most, but I built it with an "Ultra Tanky" idea in mind. Again, personal preference, and depends on what kind of Tank you're aiming for. For Normal dungeons, you don't really need to follow a baseline. Heavy Armor and Sword & Shield with the right bar setups for the most part will get you through Normals easily.
Now that we covered stats somewhat, let's move onto some Combat Practices:
Aggro: You always want to be the first one into the battle, whether it's a trash mob or not. This is so you can pull some sort of initial aggro. It won't work all the time, some enemies will run straight past you, gunning for a teammate. That's just how it goes sometimes. Instead of running around chasing these runaways down, start the battle off by taunting those in your immediate vicinity, primarily melee mobs. Ranged mobs can be dealt with in two ways: A. Pull them in via Silver Leash (morph of Silver Bolts found in Fighter's Guild skill line) or if you're a Dragonknight, Unrelenting Grip (morph of Fiery Grip found in the Ardent Flame skill line). These two "chain" abilities can also act as a soft taunt. For example, if you cast Unrelenting Grip on an enemy and it can't be pulled to you, it not only returns your magicka to you, but it also forces the enemy to attack you, often times they will move close enough to where you can apply your actual taunt. B. Taunt and aggro the melee mobs, then drag them to the ranged enemies. Melee mobs will follow you, therefore you can simply taunt them in and drag them to the casters/archers. Hold in a tight group for your DPS to burn them down easily. For boss battles, you always want to hold aggro on the boss. Generally, hold aggro as best as possible until everything is dead. Never drop the taunt in a boss battle (only in a very few, very rare situations should you not hold aggro). Any adds that spawn during a fight require different methods of handling, depending on the dungeon. Sometimes you will have to group adds up and kill them, other times, you can burn the boss.
Note 1: You can halfway AoE taunt with an Ice/Lightning staff via Elemental Blockade, provided you cast it before an impatient DPS gets there before you. The way this works is I usually run in, drop the Elemental Blockade where it'll strike most of the enemies, and I'll actually hold aggro for some time. It provides enough time for me to secure actual aggro and group everything up. Very nice little technique.
Note 2: Wanna know a nice little trick for those pesky mobs that channel powerful abilities such as an archer with Snipe, or those Stoneshapers on Ruins of Mazzatun that throw rocks at you and your friends? Here's the trick: don't CC them until they start throwing rocks or channeling the snipe or whatever else. If you stun them before they start channeling, you will grant them CC immunity, meaning they won't be able to be chained in. Instead, wait for the channel to start, the pull them in with a Silver Leash or DK chain. This provides the dual-effect of both pulling the mob to you AND interrupting the channel.
Note 3: Blocking. You don't need to block everything, I mainly only block heavy attacks, from both adds and bosses. You're a Tank, you can take some measly light attacks. It's the big ones you need to block. Save that stamina for other things.
Threat Prioritization: This goes hand-in-hand with the knowing enemy types subject I mentioned beforehand. Learn and know your enemies. Some need priority over others for aggro. This isn't WoW and you don't need to aggro every single living thing in sight. Personally though, I do aggro as many of the enemies as I can, the sole purpose being so that everything can be grouped up tightly and killed all around the same time, quick and clean instead of having enemies all over the place. Prioritize hard-hitters like 2-Handed enemies, Sword & Shield, archers who might be getting ready to snipe a teammate, and obviously, the boss(es). These types of mobs can and often will oneshot your squishier colleagues if you forget to taunt or drop aggro on them. Everything else normally deals otherwise negligible damage and can be burned down with AoEs as the bigger mobs go down. If someone is being harassed or chased around or someone is trying to revive someone else, then you can definitely pull the guilty mob in.
Positioning: This is another core skill that everyone should know, but more so the Tank. Positioning is very important in many fights. Face bosses and high-threat trash away from the group where possible. This should be common knowledge, but it doesn't hurt to reinforce. Move bosses out of redzones where possible; just because you can survive standing in the red, doesn't mean your Stam/Melee DPS can. In certain situations you will need to move the boss to certain points in the arena/stage, or kite adds around, such as Moon Hunter Keep with Mylenne, City of Ash 2 with the Titan's spinning adds, Bloodroot Forge's final boss, etc. Study the guides so that you know how to recognize these special mechanics, because the newer DLC Dungeons have much more engaging mechanics that require interesting positioning.
Note: Positioning ranged bosses can be more tricky, as they leave a larger distance between you and them. For example, the final boss of Fungal Grotto 2, Vila Theran, requires you to taunt her, then run almost to the complete opposite side of the room just to position her in a spot where your DPS can deal damage without being obliterated by her shadow circles. So be cognizant of the differences in positioning melee bosses and ranged bosses.
Buffs & Debuffs: Always apply these when possible. There are many ways a Tank can supply buffs to their team. By way of gear sets, weapon enchants, ultimates, and skills, you can make yourself much more marketable as a Tank if you can keep the team buffed in some way. For buffs, think of the DK's Fragmented or Igneous Shield, the Warden's Frost Cloak, NB's Bolstering Darkness, Aggressive Warhorn, Lord Warden monster set, Ebon Armory set, etc. These various buffs serve as a way to bolster your team's defense and offense, which is the supplemental to a smooth run. For debuffs, think Pierce Armor (which not only is it your primary taunt, but it applies Major Breach and Fracture to the enemy), a DK's Choking Talons (which not only CCs enemies in place, but also applies Minor Maim, which reduces their damage done by 15%), Heroic Slash (which not only reduces their speed, but also applies Minor Maim, AND provides Minor Heroism, which increases Ultimate regen). As long as you keep yourself and your team buffed, while debuffing the enemy, you're on the right track for a smooth run. Personally, I run S&B on frontbar, Ice staff on backbar with a Crusher enchantment.
Group Composition and Awareness: This is more so for random dungeons, but it helps to know regardless. Knowledge of your group and its composition, along with a general awareness is key because it can allow you to make a decision on how you want to run the dungeon. When I use the Dungeon Finder and find a group, there are a few things I immediately look for:
- What type of DPS do I have? Stam/Melee? Mag/Ranged? If I have melee DPS in the group, I know that I need to position bosses accordingly so that they can deal damage without having to stand in the redzones to do so. I can't just sit in the red, because like I mentioned before, just because I can stand in the red, doesn't mean they can. If I have ranged DPS, I know I can sometimes afford to chill in the red (provided it doesn't deal too much damage) and let them DPS from their distance.
- How much DPS am I working with? If it's low, I take smaller pulls, so as to not overwhelm the Healer or DPS. For boss battles, I know we're going to have to play by the rules and abide by the mechanics. If I have high DPS, I know I can go for some big pulls, maybe skip a few mechanics for a faster run.
- Is the Healer running Warhorn? Most times, they seem to be, otherwise it's usually Gravity Crush or Supernova. In this case, I'll normally wait and let them pop their Horn first, in order to avoid any double Warhorns, since they don't stack.
- Ultimate timing. Since I normally run randoms, I need to pace my Ultimates in correspondence with my team's. I normally "eyeball" this since with randoms you don't always have people talking in chat or a Discord call up to communicate. So the thought process goes: Since a DPS ultimate aside from Dawnbreaker normally costs 200-250 ultimate, and as a Tank I have slightly faster Ultimate regen, by the time I have my Warhorn and cast it, they'll have their Ultimates shortly after. This works for the most part, I should say. I normally alternate between my Warhorn and the Healer's, and I'll usually wait until I have around 300 ultimate saved up before I cast my second, because I know if I'm at 300 due to Minor Heroism, the DPS shouldn't be far behind. Basically, find the groove and pace your ultimates with your group's if you can.
In conclusion, a super simply put conclusion, in a nutshell, is that a good tank essentially knows their stuff. From the mechanics to the core combat practices, to the awareness, to the build. So go and study the Dungeons, learn the mechanics, then get out there in the field and put whatever you might've learned here to practice; because that's the only way to improve. All of this stuff I basically learned by myself, and it was kind of nerve-wracking just jumping into the Tank role with all the responsibility you have, but I just wanted to share what I've learned with anyone who's new to Tanking or to the game in general. Practice the harder dungeons in Normal first, then once you feel you're ready, tackle the Veteran mode. This is generally a good way to go about it. Don't just rush into a hard dungeon without at least learning the mechanics and running through it on Normal first.
Anyway, I hope this helped some people. I'm sure I missed some things as I typed this up at 6 am and sorta tired, so any other experienced Tanks can chime in any time on anything I got wrong or missed. And if you're a Tank in training, I respect you and your chosen profession. We're in short supply, but enjoy your instant queue times.
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