TLDR: SorcTanks have the most Block Mitigation (I've seen upwards of 92%), a guaranteed 35% Heal, the most AoE (which generates the most threat because threat in ESO is determined by who performed the highest number of actions in the vicinity of the enemy NPC, with each DoT click included as an action
Introduction For many years, the Sorcerer Tank has been considered low-tier and overlooked due to the supreme authority of the Dragonknight – their natural class skills mix extraordinarily well with the tanking role and demands of a tank. Most notably, Magma Shell and Unrelenting Grip provide the greatest bonuses of the DK tank for pressable actions, and Battle Roar is easily in the top 5 skills for resource sustain. But in 2019, the Sorcerer Tank is a marvelous choice, chock full of tanking treats you wouldn't believe without the math behind it.
Threat Generation Recap It's important to understand that in ESO, threat is generated by the greatest number of actions in the vicinity of the enemy NPC. This includes DoT ticks, which is considered damaging the enemy, like you would with a Light Attack or nuke. Healers, for example, tend to generate the most threat because they are constantly dropping HoTs, or heals over time. Each heal tick is an action as well.
Block Mitigation Sorcerer tanks have the greatest Block Mitigation in the game. And when they're fed orbs/spears, they have decent Magicka regen, with a Destruction Staff backbar (I prefer Lightning staff) they are able to upkeep a wonderful +36% Block amount increase known as Bound Armor. This lasts for 3 seconds. I morph to Bound Aegis, for the boost in Magicka (which lets me cast it more), Minor Resolve and Ward are also nice for solo queue dungeon finder, or for situations where your healer else is unable to provide it for some unreasonable reason.
Clannfear So, first things first: you won't typically be allowed to use a clannfear in trials. You can replace this with Conjured Ward, Defensive Posture, and/or Bone Shield in those cases. They're still strong in their own right, and in a trial, you have dedicated healers anyway. That being said, the Clannfear is incredibly valuable in that the heal is guaranteed to be 35% your maximum health. That means you have the most reliable self-heal in the game because Green Dragon Blood requires missing health and the majority of other heals are HoTs, or heals over time. For a mere 3.3K Magicka, you are guaranteed to instantly heal for 35% max health. An amazing feature for Vet dungeons.
Sorc AoE Most people would scoff at this because they are unaware that there is no real threat resource meter like in WoW, but rather that threat is based off of who did the most heals, damages, blocks, buffs, etc. in the area of the enemy NPC for every 7 seconds to begin, and then roughy 10 seconds afterward. This means that when a Sorc Tank uses a staple combination of Lightning Form + Elemental Blockade (+Restraining Prison optional) they actually end up generating a phenomenal amount of threat, and when combined with block weaving you can maintain the attention of pretty much any enemy in your vicinity. While DPS and healers do offer their own DoTs and HoTs, you are essentially doing more if not equal – you just aren't out-damaging or out-healing them. Also pair that with Silver Leash, taunt, Buff, blocks, etc. I figure you understand. It's moot if you permablock, but you should really only permablock for situations you are not comfortable in – like when you're facing a boss for the first time.
Ultimate Cost Reduction Because of Daedric Summoning's Power Stone ability, sorcerers have the most natural ultimate cost reduction in the game. Couple this with a set like Akaviri Dragonguard, and you have 26.8% total ultimate cost reduction. Let's dive into the numbers, because it's not that complicated. Remember, each additional reduction % only reduces the currently reduced value. this is partially why we have natural diminishing returns in this game. So what does that look like when we take Aggressive War Horn (AWH)- a 250 ultimate skill, and apply some staple tank skills and sets?
- Power Stone reduces the cost by 15%. This makes AWH cost 213 ultimate.
- Akaviri Dragonguard reduces that cost an additional 15%. This makes AWH cost 183 ultimate.
Now let's see what this looks like when we use skills like Heroic Slash and apply the good ol' Nord racial, Stalwart III, which gives you 5 Ult every time you take Damage, with a cool down of 10 seconds. What we want to know is the amount of time in between each AWH, because it is an incredibly useful skill, and we'd like it up as much as possible. 1. So 10 seconds is our baseline because of Stalwart III, which has the longest cooldown of our typical ultimate generators. 2. Blocking/Healing/Light Attacking grants 3 Ult every second for 9 seconds. that's 30 ultimate per 10 seconds. 3. Heroic Slash grants 6 Ult per 9 seconds, roughly 6.67 Ult per 10 seconds. Our total is 41 Ult per 10 seconds. AWH's main feature lasts 30 seconds. 1. 183 / 41 (per 10 seconds) = 4.463 x 10 seconds = 46 seconds. 46 seconds – 30 seconds = 16 seconds. That means as long as you refresh Heroic Slash consistently and take Damage every 10 seconds, you will be able to cast AWH every 46 seconds or so. That means there's ideally only 16 seconds of time between Aggressive War Horns active in combat. I'll move on.
Resource Sustain The main source of stamina regeneration is a 1.2-second cast time skill known as Dark Deal that activates Block for that one second of casting. That is helpful because the sorcerer has access to the best Block Mitigation of course, but it also restores 5980 stamina (2380 of it over 20 seconds). For a mere 2164 Magicka, that's not a bad price – also because it heals you for 9106 health instantly, and generates decent threat despite a long cast time. Ultimately, Deep Thoughts is going to be your best bet – but that goes for any class. What this means is that sorcerer tanks have a good placeholder in the interim, since the Psijic Quests take decades to complete. OK, not really decades, but it feels like it.
Conclusion Ultimately, I hope you have realized the potential for the Sorc tank. It's a hidden gem in ESO, and because I'm posting this at 1 AM on a Thursday, it likely will stay that way. But if you do read this and you do try it out and you run your own numbers (if you'd like) then you too may become woke. 🙂 Thanks for reading.
Edit 1 Fixed grammar.
Disclaimer I understand that healing/DPSing for Sorc Tanks can be difficult because they go kinda hard to see when they are in Lightning Form, however a Sorc tank can and is encouraged to use Finvir's Trinket which is gained from completing the Bad Man Hollows public dungeon quest "Can't Take it With Them" which takes about 2 minutes to complete by itself, since you just need to collect 3 gems from corpses. I use it, and my guild is quite thankful for it. It doesn't just make my Sorc easier to see – it makes every tank easier to see.
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