Introduction: Welcome to Boot Camp
How do I tank and really get the job done? What do I do if I’m not just queuing as a tank to skip long que times? What if I really like the idea of tanking, I seriously want to do well? How do I build my character? More importantly, when I’m in the dungeon, what exactly do I do to be successful? What even determines what a successful tank is?
If you are asking these questions then strap in, my man! We are about lay a foundation for greatness. We aren’t going to accept anything less from you.
Most tanks in eso are in one of two ditches: (or you are just now dreaming of tanking and haven’t had a chance to get into one of these ditches)
1. They are a fortress of tankness and the mobs weep over the task of attempting to kill them, yet if there were perfectly honest they feel useless in 90% of the content. Unless there is a monster that can cave in mountains so that they can show off their tankiness they aren’t sure what their purpose is. But the real rub is that they have a terrifying suspicion that the role of tank is completely unneeded in ESO outside of trials. So they walk around with an inferiority complex complaining about game design. To cement their fears, elite DPS laugh about tanks and actually tell them that they aren’t even needed in all but a few dungeons. Well chin up little fellow! I’m going to show you how to be the most important person in the fight, every fight, every mob, every dungeon, from big nasty bosses to the most random of trash packs!
2. The second group finds themselves trying to build a hybrid tank/dps so that they can be more useful. They are very excited and certain that they are the greatest thing that could grace a group casual gaming peasants, and could even be hitting 10k+ DPS as they lead the charge! Nice parses, pal! Heck, they are probably singing “You’re Welcome!” from Moana while they run the dungeon. But aside from the way the hardest content treats you like a rag doll, the real problem is your group never pulls their weight, am I right? PUG after PUG your damage dealers are a pile of crap, and you probably laugh and joke with your friends about how you out do their damage half the time, ya? I know, its like I’m reading your mail. What if I told you there is a common denominator in all your groups? Yeah, I’m going to let you in on something every person in your group but you knows. The reason your group’s DPS sucks is because of you. You aren’t carrying your group, you are killing your group. You’ve sacrificed The Job, for your own personal parsing goals.
Both these groups of tanks, no matter how great the difference may seem, struggle because they don’t understand the job of tanking. Well to be fair, some of them don’t care about The Job, they just want faster group finder times. But I’m talking about the ones of you who are serious about being a tank. You wish you knew why this wasn’t working and bit by bit you are starting to assume the problem is ZOS.
So here is what this guide is going to cover, in general and then a summary of the sections. First, there are always, no matter what role you choose, three aspects of being good. 1.) Build 2.) Skill using your particular build. 3.) Knowledge of the specific content you are playing. This guide is going to be about the first two. I’m not going to give you a build though, you didn’t want treated like a baby, right? No, I’m going to teach you the WHY’s of builds. And then you get to be a big boy, or lady, and decide how you want to get The Job done. We are going to talk about “skill.” By skill, I mean the exact job you as a tank are trying to do, and exactly how to get it done. We will not talk about number three. We won’t cover specific dungeons. Though you need to understand that knowing the dungeon will be a real component of tanking well and you should consult sources and learn from experience. @xynode has a really fun video dungeon guide library he is building. But there are plenty out there.
Part 1: Understanding The Job of Tanking. Getting firm in your mind what you are trying to do.
Part 2: Going above and beyond. How do I add to the group’s damage in a big way?
Part 3: Getting ridiculously tough. Time to put the tank back into tanking.
Part 4: Getting off the regen crack. Why striving for high mana regen is killing your potential. (yeah, this one will *** people off)
This is a guide to “traditional” tanking. Some of you guys come up with crazy unorthodox builds and you still get The Job done. I respect that. As long as you do the job well, you and I are friends. But this guide will be on making what most of us think about when we think an MMO tank. And I believe following these principles will out perform the outside of the box builds ultimately.
PART 1: Understanding “The Job” of Tanking.
First and most important step, getting firm in our minds what exactly we are trying to do.
Forget your other MMO’s. For some of you out there, your biggest mistake is you keep wanting the role of tank to be the same as past MMO’s. While there are overlaps, ZOS has created something truly wonderful in this game’s tanking. That’s right, I think they have made tanking in this game awesome. I even LOVE all the ways they nerfed blocking. GASP! How could I say that? Because it finally forced me to embrace what they were meaning for tanking to be in this game. And it is freaking awesome. And throughout this guide I’m going to teach you to see it and love it.
Tanking is going to be fun when you understand it.
Alright, lets go. Tanks have two jobs. Only two. And sad to say, many tanks in this game don’t truly understand either of them.
1.) Your job is to prevent one shots, and overwhelming damage.
2.) Your job is to control the fight with a specific goal in mind. (you thought I was going to say buffing and debuffing, huh.)
The first Job of Tanking: Prevent One Shots and Overwhelming Damage
Ironically, one of the big reasons tanks sometimes fail at this task is that they are too busy trying to prevent all damage. They are desperately trying to taunt every sing creature and make everything attack them and they let the true threats slip loose and their team mate gets one shotted.
Let this sink in: Players have many survival tools, healers are silly good at healing. But none of them can handle a one-shot.
By one-shot I mean things that drop them from full health to zero in one hit. It’s your job to stop that. You can not, and are not suppose to stop all the nickel and dime stuff. Healers can heal that. Heck, most players can heal that. But healers are serious slackers when it comes to healing one-shots. Get your head in the game, healers!
It is not your job to make sure every monster is attacking you! Stop worrying about that! We will see that its your job to control every monster, but its not your job to be receiving all their attacks. We don’t have AOE taunts. We can’t sustain individually taunting 8 mobs for any serious length of time. You can’t do it. Where you go wrong is when you try. You fail to do what you are suppose to do, because you are trying to do something you can’t do.
There are also many instances where it is your job to prevent overwhelming damage, but strictly speaking its not a one shot. These are things that are designed to be things that healers can not heal through, which the tank is able to prevent. For example: the geysers in Blood Forge and Scale Caller Peak hit way too hard and fast for your team to survive it, even though its not a one shot. Guess what the answer is? You carry your big tank butt over to them and sit on them. That’s what I mean by saying we also prevent overwhelming damage in addition to one shots.
Okay, so how do we go about it?
Tools of the Trade for Preventing One-Shots and Overwhelming Damage
We do this with two strategies. With some we prevent the damage, and with some we raise the threshold of what it takes to one shot our team.
The ones revolving around preventing the one-shot
1. Taunting. Yeah, yeah, most of you get this. But this guide is for beginners too, ya? Taunt the big scary things. You don’t have to taunt all the little ones (we’ll get to dealing with them in a bit.) But you need to make sure the big nasty things are targeting you. This applies to bosses, but not just bosses. In many trash encounters, ZOS loves to throw in one or two creatures that are a real threat to your squishy team members. They are usually taller or visually more imposing than the other creatures. You must identify those, taunt those, and all through the fight keep a weathered eye on them to make sure your taunts don’t lapse. They will likely be harder to kill and the non-priority targets will die first, leaving you to tank those handful of threats to the bitter end. NEVER get so caught up in other tasks, or taunting lesser mobs that you let these guys loose on your group. Now some times I’m standing in a pack and I just start spamming taunt on all the melee trash. But its not because I’m worried about who I’m hitting, its because I want them to stay standing right there with me and a taunt is the easiest way to control them. So I’m not saying don’t ever taunt the non-one-shot’ers. I’m saying don’t get so caught up in it that the true threats to your team members get loose.
Taunts in this game consist of the first ability in the one hand and shield line. The ranged taunt in the undaunted line. And finally a heavy attack from a frost staff if you have the right passives selected. Please don’t rely on the frost staff in a fight where you need to keep multiple mobs taunted. I promise ya, kid. I’m going to give you better things to do in a pack of trash than wait on heavy attacks.
2. Turning the mobs to face away from your group. Pretty simple concept. Many monsters do cone shaped attacks straight in front of them. They will hit your team mates, and they are usually meant to be avoided by squishy people. So you should not be standing with your group. A boss’ back should always be facing your team if mechanics allow it. You have to learn to be mindful of this. If the battlefield was the face of a clock, the dangerous creature should be in the middle, you at the 12’oclock and your team at the 6’oclock. You need to consider this with a lot of trash fights as well. In those fights you don’t need to make sure all the trash is facing away from your team. You just need to make sure the real threats are doing so. The ones I told you to keep a taunt on in number 1.
3. Sometimes shielding with your body. This usually isn’t part of the job. But you need to know your particular dungeon and when this comes up. Most common example is when mobs do the big long charge down a path. Most of the time you can just hold block in that path and stop them in their tracks. You shield the team with your body. One HUGE example of this is the big green guy in Ruins of Mazzatun. When he turns to look at your team, you rush in between them, and block the charge. You also block a rapid blast mechanic against Lord Warden, the fire cage against Zaan and more. You stand on geysers in Blood Forge and Scale caller. You will need to learn these dungeon by dungeon, but just for now, now that its your job and you need to watch for these instances.
4. Interrupt the stupid monster! Seriously, what if I told you that a vast vast number of one shots and overwhelming damage sources in this game have an option to simply never happen in the first place? What if ZOS installed a way you could simply ask the monster not to do that? Guess what they did. When you see the red lines, bash the guy. Now let me press you on this, my padawan. Who should bash a monster? Well, anybody who gets the chance of course, but all things being equal, who shoulders the highest responsibility on this? Could I persuade you that it is the person who is habitually already standing right next to the big nasty, who is using jewelry glyphs that reduce the cost of bashing? I knew you were sharp. Bash the monster. Now don’t sacrifice your primary tasks to rush over and bash no-threat targets, but if they are right next to you, bash them too.
The ones raising the threshold of the one shot
Okay, now the next batch. Get your mind around this one really quick. You have a damage dealer with 18k health. For sake of example lets pretend no mitigation. How hard does the monster have to hit to one shot them? You might make it after all! 18k is correct. Now you cast a shield on them worth 4k. How hard do they have to be hit to be one shot’d? Right again! 22k! So if the monster does a 20k raw damage AOE, in those two cases one of the players drops, the other lives to get hit with a breath of life, or budding seeds, or healing ward, etc.
This is what we mean by things that raise the threshold of one shots for the team. Lets take a look.
1. Maim. Don’t underestimate this. Minor maim reduces the incoming damage by 15%. You hit the creature with this, now that AOE needs to hit 21,177 damage to kill the 18k squishy team member. You just prevented a one shot, good job. The rest is on the healer and player to recover from. You did your job. You could not have prevented the AOE from going off, but you made it non fatal. Heroic slash is your go-to for keeping maim on bosses. There are other sources, but heroic slash is my primary one. Talons do group maim. I hear wardens rock at applying maim. The Thurvokin monster set is awesome for this. etc etc. Do not underestimate maim.
2. Class skills. The DK’s shields, the Warden’s group armor buff. The fighter’s guild minor protection circle (I don’t recommend this one, but its there.) And each of the classes need to consider what they bring to the table to raise the one-shot threshold.
3. Ebon Armory set. I know some of you hate this set because you think its expected of you, but hear me out. You do what you want. You are big kids, you can make your decisions on how The Job gets done. All I care is that you prevent one shots. And I’m here to tell you that this set will help you do it. 1.2k health (on gold) may not sound that decisive in raising the one-shot threshold, but what you need to understand is that these methods don’t merely stack. They compound. Let’s go back to our squishy friend and consider some more realistic numbers. Lets give him 10k mitigation and say he has his crap together on red tree champion points. He’s got 23% damage reduction on direct damage, and he’s got 9% reduction on hardy and elemental defender. It may shock your to find that this super squishy dude is actually mitigating 40% of damage done to him. So now, to take away the 1.2k health you are giving him…the monster actually has to do an additional 2k damage. But wait! It gets better, because you read this guide and you have minor maim on the boss. Meaning to take out that 2k damage…the boss really has to swing with an extra 2,352 damage. Starting to sound better? Now lets compound it more. You happen to be a DK (other classes figure out your skills you bring to bear on this! Like the warden’s group armor buff) and you cast a 4.5k damage shield because you see the giant AOE swelling up. But…that 4.5k AOE while it doesn’t benefit from their physical/Spell resist, does benefit from their champion points and your maim. So to bust your shield the monster actually needs to do 7,555 more damage! In total you just raised the one-shot threshold by a total of 9,907 damage. Yeah…now its starting to sink in huh? All this stuff stacks such that things that may have been one-shots which you can’t stop from happening, well now they aren’t one shots. They are just big hits your healers can handle. And here is the beautiful thing. This took almost zero skill! It took no attention to keep the Ebon Armory buff running. It took no attention for the maim, because you had that on the boss already. You simply saw the big hit coming, and hit one button to prevent it. You rock. And all these numbers assume no bonuses to health on the squishy. Because if there was, your ebon armor buff will be higher than 1.2k.
The Second Job of Tanking: Controlling the fight in order to magnify every other role in your group
Okay. How do I begin to explain the importance of this? Consider this. Your group is laying down a patch of AOE death. They are doing whatever amount of damage collectively. There is one mob standing there. You cast silver leash, drag another into the patch of death, and now there are two mobs standing there. You just boosted the DPS of your entire group by 100%. You chain a third monster into there. You’ve now boosted the DPS of your entire group by 200%. Shall we keep going? Listen, padawan. Let that sink in. You casted one ability twice, and your tripled the damage output of the group.
There is no set and there is no ability in the game that can match the DPS value of a tank simply doing his job by controlling the fight.
I am sorely tempted to just sit here and write that one phrase a dozen or so times to try to drill it home. Please hear it. Every damage dealer in the game is praying right now that my point gets through your skull and into your game play. All you people who are letting the fight turn into a chaotic pile of crap so that you can hit personal parse numbers, you are killing your group. You are sucking away far more DPS from the group than you could ever hope to give back by your personal DPS.
But wait…it gets better. Healers have a couple oh crap options available to them. But the absolute best tools in their toy box are things they cast and place on the ground in one spot. If the fight moves, it is waisted. If the fight is in two or three different places, their difficulties are now doubled or tripled. Nothing helps them more than a stationary fight in only one location.
There is no set and there is no ability in the game that can match the boost to healing efficiency that comes from a tank simply doing his job by controlling the fight.
Every healer in the game is silently praying right now that what I just said gets through your skull and into your game play. And wait, there’s more! Do you know what healers do when healing is easy? They add to the groups DPS, Champ!
YOUR JOB AS A TANK IS TO CONTROL THE FIGHT IN A WAY THAT MAGNIFIES EVERY OTHER ROLE IN THE GROUP.
Learn it. Value it. Don’t for a moment let your piddly parse make you think you aren’t helping in a huge way. If you don’t believe me, go PUG randoms on a healer or DPS for a week. See the tanks running all over the place, then come back and tell me how much harder your job was and how much you wish you had a competent tank.
What most benefits the other roles?
I’m so glad you asked! You may be smarter than I gave you credit. What you are after is keeping the fight still, and keeping the fight stacked.
You want the fight to remain in one spot if the mechanics will allow it. And if they do not allow it, you want to move as little as the mechanics will allow. This doesn’t mean you can’t move, it means you shouldn’t move so far that the monsters move in response. You want to do this because the most efficient abilities in the game, both in healing and in DPS, are placed in a location and left there. When fight moves, those abilities are waisted, and damage dealers can’t DPS well, and healers can’t heal well. Keep the fight still.
You want to keep the fight stacked, because AOE abilities are the key to trash fights. Why hit one monster when you can hit seven? Why heal one player when you can heal all four? You can only do this one everything is in one spot.
So your job as tank, is to get everything possible in one spot, keep it there, and hold it still.
Let me just say that you can not consistently do this perfectly. That is why tanking is going to always be fun, and you are always going to be useful. From the moment you pull, there is engaging and dynamic work for you to do. Every fight, every dungeon, every pull. If you are one of those who thought tanks were useless for 90% of the content, its because you didn’t understand this part of the job. If you are one of those tanks that wonder why your team always sucks, its because you didn’t understand this part of the job.
IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS PART OF THE JOB, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND DUNGEON TANKING IN ESO.
So how do we do it?
Another seriously astute question. I can tell you are going to be a rising star in the tanking community.
There are three steps. Your opening move. Adding to the pile. Keeping them there.
1. Your opening move. This is so crucial because of the way aggro works. When we say aggro, what we mean is that you have the monsters attention. If you have aggro, that means the monster is targeting you.
In your opening move three things should be going through your mind, a big aggro grab, key threats, and quickly capitalizing on your aggro grab.
First the aggro grab. You want to use some big butt AOE to hit as many monsters as possible. There are tons of choices. My favorite tool for this is razor caltrops because its 8m radius allows me to hit a maximum number of creatures. Beyond this, it keeps hitting them. I don’t care at all that my build means caltrops does minimal damage. Aggro in ESO has nothing to do with magnitude of damage. It is all about who hits first, and if they continue to hit. Razor caltrops lets me establish that on as many creatures as possible in an opening move. Here is a link to a good discussion of ESO aggro.https://forums.elderscrollsonline.com/en/discussion/391895/a-guide-to-aggro/p1 Keep in mind, we don’t truly care whether they all keep attacking us long term, I want all their aggro because that is going to make them all move towards me…I am creating the initial cluster which will be the center of the fight from this point forward. Just a tip. If there are ranged monsters that can not be chained/silver leashed, you need to make them the center of the pack. They are the unmovable factor. You’ll see this in city of ash 2 for example.
Second, you want to make sure as the crazy starts you are very quickly grabbing the key threats. I prefer to open with caltrops and inner fire taunt the one or two truly nasty things as I rush in. These are the things that truly matter not just whether they are in the pack, but they need to be attacking you.
Third, you want to quickly rush to the site of your cluster of monsters. If I throw in caltrops, then stand around, they are all going to start moving towards me. I don’t want that to be in a random place. I’m quickly heading to the center of where I threw the caltrops to let all the monsters stay with me in that snare.
So…in my opening move, I’ve made a big grab for mass attention, I’m moving quickly to the center point for the fight which is just beginning, and on my way I’m taunting the key threats. This in total is how I open the fight such that I set the stage for maximizing the other roles.
2. Adding to the pile. I’m in the center of several mobs, they are snared by caltrops, the main threats are targeting me. The DPS are beginning to unleash their AOE’s on the pile, and I want to chain/leash the remaining mobs into the pile. Your goal is to get every last target into the pile. The sign of success as a tank is if at the end of the fight every dead body is in a pile around you.
3. Keeping them there. For various reasons, these guys aren’t going to want to hang out on the pile of death that your DPS is creating. Two main reasons. First, ranged creatures are programed to scatter. Second, your initial aggro grab will start wearing off and they will roam towards other team members. You can counter this in three ways. First, do regularly reapply your razor caltrops. The constant ticks will possibly keep you as their target. And if they try to roam the 70% at the start of it gives you tons of time to respond. As a DK I also alternate talons with my caltrops. You may have your own class specific ways to stick them in this spot. And finally, you can always start spamming pierce armor if you have an abundance of stamina. This is especially useful on melee, because their aggro is where they will go. But keep in mind, your goal is simply to keep these guys in the circle of doom you have created. You don’t actually care who they are targeting other than the primary threats.
That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Ofcourse, its while you are doing everything involved in preventing one shots still. You keep them still, and you keep them stacked. But its a heck of a lot of work. but if your DPS is doing its job, they are creating a patch where entering that circle is a one way trip.
If you will do this, I promise, you will do way way more for your group than any other thing imaginable. Now go out there and tank. In part two, we will dive into how you should go above and beyond the role of tank to add to the group DPS in other ways. But this, mighty warrior, is the task of dungeon tanking in ESO.
PART 2: Going Above and Beyond. How Do I Add to the Group’s Damage in a Big Way?
Welcome to part 2 of the guide! If you actually read the whole first part then you are awesome, persistent, and people like you! Or something. I know this is a lot, but even though there are some absolutely fantastic tanking resources out there, they all seem to assume people know what they are doing in theory and just need to know some details on builds. We are teaching the role of the tank here, mi amigo!
So next question? How do I contribute to the groups damage? Or should I?
Let me start by saying something controversial. Contributing to the groups damage, either directly through personal damage or indirectly through buffing and debuffing, is not The Job when it comes to dungeons. Whoah whoah whoah. Calm down. You absolutely should do it. And I’m going to tell you how. But its very important you understand that adding to the DPS of the group is not tanking. Its icing on the cake. Its you going above and beyond the call of duty to make your group outstanding. And we want you to be outstanding! We aren’t spitting out mediocre tanks in this boot camp, buster.
But understand this: The Job comes first. And The Job is preventing one-shots. Preventing overwhelming damage. And controlling the fight to maximize the effectiveness of all other roles. The moment you begin to sacrifice The Job to get personal DPS, you are selling out, and hurting your team.
Alright, we have two routes before us, and sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason. Do I try to actively contribute with huge numbers of my own DPS, or do I maximize the DPS of my team mates. What is going to make my group more successful?
The highest numbers I’ve heard boasted of regarding personal DPS from a tank is 12k. I think that boast was bull crap. I don’t see somebody pulling that number and still being anything resembling a tank. Now where he was getting that number he didn’t say. It could have been what he was doing in trash AOE fights. But what I do know is this, when pressed he admitted that his 12k parse was only when he was in normal dungeons with crap damage dealers and he swapped out of his regular tanking gear and put on DPS gear. In other words he stopped focusing on being a tank and consciously tried to fill the gap by becoming a third damage dealer. In other words, in a hard dungeon, 12k DPS is a way unrealistic number for a tank. But what the heck! Let’s use this fellow’s drunken boast and see how things match up!
How can my buff/debuff build match up to this fellow’s drunken boast of 12k personal DPS
Strap on your math hats, this is about to get intense.
Now let me just say something first. As I go through this, you may object that you don’t have access to a particular set or a particular skill. That’s ok. You can find something helpful, and ALWAYS keep in mind that the biggest way you boost your group’s DPS is by doing your job, not your buffs and debuffs. No gear, no ability will ever match the contribution that simply controlling the fight will. So even if you contribute to the group DPS in no way whatsoever, just doing your job will be massive for your groups.
Ok…what am I bringing to help the group’s DPS? This is going to consist of debuffing the monster and buffing my group. And what you have for these things will come from the skills you have access to, and the class you choose. I happen to be a DK. This guide is suppose to matter for any class, but I can’t help that I’m a DK so my case study is going to be me.
First. I massively reduce the monsters resistances. And I mean, massively. You really need to see how big of a deal this is. And the biggest parts of my build are available to all classes.
Pierce Armor 5,280 against both physical and spell.
Infused Crusher 2,109 isn’t it?
All for a total resistance debuff of 10,489. Now some factoids. The heaviest armor mobs that we find in vet dungeons have a mitigation of 18,500. Their mitigation scales differently than ours. For them, every 500 points equals 1% mitigation. So the most important creatures for our discussion are resisting 37% of your groups damage. That is a whole lot.
In comes my resistance debuff. And I give ~21% of that damage back to the team. But if you think that means I give a 21% damage boost, then you don’t understand the math. You see…the team was only doing 63% damage. And I give them 21% damage. That is a 33.3% in crease in team damage, not 21. Confusing? Just turn it into real numbers. Johnny was going to hit for 100 damage. After mitigation, Johnny was going to only hit for 63 damage in reality. My debuffing the monster made Johnny’s attack jump from 63 to 63+21=84 damage. That is a 33.3% increase in his damage.
But wait, there is more! I’m not just doing that. I’m also casting Igneous weapons. Giving my group Major Sorcery, Major Savagery. Best I can tell this is boosting the entire teams DPS by 10%. But wait, because of the way it works, this isn’t additive, it compounds. So now I’m boosting the groups DPS by 1.10 (igneous weapons)X1.333(resistance debuffs) for a total of a group wide 46.63% increase to DPS. Not bad if I do say so myself.
And just to be generous, not only are we going to honor this guys 12k drunken boast, but we will also not try to factor in my aggressive warhorn (which you should be using, and I promise any tank hitting 12k isn’t using), nor will we factor in my piddly 3k personal DPS.
But what is better? +46.63% group DPS or a 12k DPS contribution?
Well, that’s hard to say. Let me say this. Suppose that the two DPS in my group are doing an undetermined value. We will call that value X. Both damage dealers are doing this value, X. My healer is doing half that. So the healer is doing 0.5X. Algebra time, hang in there, padawan! So how much damage is my group doing? 1x from each DPS, plus 0.5X from my healer. My group is doing 2.5X DPS. We don’t know what my group is doing, but my group is doing a theoretical 2.5X damage. We following?
Ok, so what do I bring to the table with my build? I buff their 2.5X by 46.63%. So what is 46.63 of 2.5X? 0.4663 * 2.5X= 1.166X
What does 1.166X mean for us? It means I’m the biggest damage contribution to the group. After all what are the others doing?
Healer = 0.5 X
DD = 1 X
Tank = 1.166 X
Let that sink in. Even if we count the role of tank as utterly worthless. Just my buffing the groups output means that I remain a better choice than a 3rd or 4th damage dealer.
What is the conclusion of our investigation?
If I am in a group where my damage dealers are simply pulling 10.34k. I will bring more damage to the table than this fellows drunken boast of 12k. And get this kiddo, I am offering that in VETERAN DLC dungeons where the monsters would chew up this other guy and spit him out. I don’t even need good damage dealers. I just need remotely competent ones.
But we need to be fair here. In a very poor group, his 12k DPS (if he were really hitting it) would probably begin to outstrip me. Because to be completely fair, not all of my debuffing is going to have 100% uptime, and some of the things I”m bringing to the table he is also going to bring if he’s just using pierce armor.
BUT HERE IS THE MAJOR THING YOU MUST UNDERSTAND AND GETTING THIS IS GOING TO OPEN YOUR EYES TO TANKING
Even if we are in a group where his direct DPS out contributes in comparison to my indirect damage contribution…I still win.
How can that be!? Because every bit of my DPS is passive. And while he is working his arse off to generate his parse. I am putting 100% of my attention into doing the job of tanking. All I’m thinking about the whole entire fight is doing The Job. I’m preventing one-shots. I’m preventing overwhelming damage. I’m controlling the fight to maximize every other role in the group. All my massive contribution to the groups DPS is just happening on its own, with zero attention from me.
This is why it was so important at the start of this part of the guide for you to realize DPS contribution is not tanking. It is going above and beyond and The Job always comes first. So even if groups can be so pathetic that direct damage contributions begin to outweigh the indirect, it wouldn’t matter. Because one route robs from The Job and the other doesn’t. And son, I don’t know if you read part 1 of this guide, but if you did, you’d know that you have some serious work to do. Rejoice that your massive DPS contribution is passive. Do The Job.
Part 3: Getting Ridiculously Tough. It’s Time We Put the Tank Back in Tanking.
I’m about to tell you a secret, lads. Listen close. I’m going to tell you why you are constantly struggling with stamina. And no its not because you chose something other than an Argonian DK. This secret is going to give you infinite stamina sustain. Its going to set you free from perma block. And its going to set you free to help your group like nothing else.
Here is the secret: you are too dang dainty. You are like a prissy little school girl who bruises like a peach.
What if I told you the biggest help to doing the job of the tank, was being a “tank”? Whoah! All we hear on these forums over and over and over is that DK’s are unfair because they can hold block longer because they can use battle roar and helping hands to feed themselves stamina. Bull crap. I’m not saying that those aren’t seriously nice passives. But you are surrounded by free stamina literally every single fight. All you have to do any time you want stamina is reach out and pick the crap up. Its free with a simple heavy attack. And you can do it all you want. Stop and chew on that fact for a second.
Why are you whining about stamina then? Because if you were to stop hiding behind your shield for half a second, they’d kill you. Why? Because you are too stinking fragile, my man! Its time to toughen up. Time to get so freaking hard that the next time a monster bites you on the rump the only healer needed will be a dentist.
Where did we go wrong on this? Well, it started with a right concept applied in the wrong way. Top tanks rightly understood that a certain point where tankyness became redundant, it did more for the team to instead use a group DPS boosting set like alkosh or Torig. The idea was there, that good tanking, meant surviving on a little bit less so that your group could have more. And this was true then, and it is true now.
But then this idea was applied in wrong ways, and they thought it meant to keep making yourself less tanking for the sake of group DPS, and it got pushed into things like your attribute spread so that you could have better attributes, even though if you are tanking like we discussed in part 2, you don’t need them to be crazy high, because you aren’t directly DPS’ing much. So we all started to see how “not tanky” we could get without dying because we thought we were being all leet. And here we are with a bunch of candy arse tanks with glass jaws wondering how to hide behind their perma block longer.
Aside: This is one reason I absolutely love @Liofa When that guy makes a tank, he makes a TANK. If any of you are playing wardens, you should go check out his new summerset warden build. (Love the build, Liofa). And even then, if you watch the build video he makes it plain he’s looking for more tankiness in some of his choices. Smart guy.
So any who, its time we reverse the trend back to a place of sanity. Its time for you to get tanky, my man…
Alright, so now the big question: What does it mean to be tanky?
Well…being tanky means you are hard to kill right? No. It is more specific than that.
I once saw a night blade in PvP who was so dang good ten people couldn’t kill him because his vanish game was top notch. Was that tanky? No. Why? He was hard to kill.
What if I can spam shields and stack them so strong that you can literally survive more damage than anything I’m about to suggest, is that tanky? No. Not by my definition.
What if I play a tankplar and I have high magicka regen and I can spam BoL on myself so long my healer gets to go home? IS that tanky? No, not what I mean by the word “tanky.”
What if I have achieved the holy grail of being able to perma block all day long? Surely that is tanky? Nope! Again, that’s not being tanky. And its not what we are talking about in this part of the guide.
Why? What is it about each of those things that although it makes these people hard to kill, its not making them tanky?
Each of those examples are cases of actively using skills and resources to make yourself hard to kill. What I mean by tankiness is being hard to kill when you do nothing, simply because it takes an insane amount of damage to take you from full life to no life when you are just standing there. That is being tanky.
When we are done with this guide, you are literally going to be able to put a number on your tankiness down to the decimal point. (actually you are going to be able to put four numbers to it). And what we can quantify we can improve, good sir!
Introducing the concept of Effective Health
Effective health is the amount of raw (unmitigated) damage a creature(s) must throw at you in order to reduce your life from full health to zero. This is distinct from your max health. If a person has a max health of 25k. But no mitigation. The monster must do a total of 25k damage to kill them. Their effective health is 25k. If that person has a mitigation of 50%, now that same monster must generate a raw (unmitigated) amount of 50k to kill that person. His effective health is 50k.
Effective health is what I mean by Tankiness.
You determine your effective help by taking your actual max health and progressively dividing it by the fraction of damage getting through each type of mitigation you bring to bear.
So for example. If I’m getting hit with direct physical damage. If my physical resistance is 40% and my health is 35k, I divide 35k by the fraction of damage getting through to me, which is 60%. Or 0.6. So 35k divided by 0.6= 58,333.33. I can now factor in the next layer of resistance such as my ironclad tree. If it is mitigating 23%, then 77% of the damage is getting through to hurt me. So 58,333.33 divided by 0.77 = 75,757.58 Now I factor in my last mitigation hardiness which for me happens to be 9% reduction. 91% of the damage is getting through. So 75,757.58 divided by 0.91 = 83,250.08. My effective health in the face of physical direct damage would be 83,250.08.
(These are not all my real numbers)
That is the actual raw damage the monsters would need to throw out in order to kill me if I took no active measures to heal or mitigate it such as blocking. That is my effective health in this example. That is how tanky I am.
Now its time to get controversial…
Why the Common Wisdom in the ESO Community has Completely Misread the Implications of how Mitigation Stacks
Now I want to be very careful in what I am saying here. The ESO community has NOT misunderstood HOW damage mitigation stacks in this game. Rather they have misunderstood the implications of that data. @paulsimonps has made an extensive post somewhere concerning how it stacks, and the different sources interact. His post is breath taking work of love and though I couldn’t find it right now, you should find it and read it. That post is amazingly detailed and I don’t want to contend with a single piece of data in it. Dang fine job.
But the ESO community has completely misunderstood the implications for being tanky. You will constantly hear even big name tanks refer to another source of damage mitigation like minor protection and say something along the lines of, “its not really that valuable because of how mitigation works.” Well, let me show you why they say that before I show you why they are wrong.
Here is the angle they are looking at it which makes them think there is a diminishing value in stacking mitigation.
Say a monster wants to hit you for 10,000 damage. “Come at me, bro!” Or something like that. I’m about to turn 39 and I’ve got three kids, I’ve no clue what phrases you youngsters throw around.
Monster’s 10,000 damage attack is mitigated by a monster tank’s max mitigation and cut completely in half!
(I’m so not trying to be precise about the order of the mitigation here, just the cumulative effect. Forgive me, Paul if you are reading. I know that the CP stuff kicks in before the resistances.)
The incoming damage is now down to 5,000. Next it goes up against my Ironclad 23%.But wait! Something is bad wrong here. Iron clad only mitigated 1,150 damage. But that is only 11.5% of the original 10k attack, not 23% as advertised.
The reason is that it is going to mitigate the 5k, not the 10k. Such that each layer of mitigation is going to be a smaller and smaller amount. Now its down to 3,850 and we come to my hardy mitigation. Lets make it easy and say that’s at 10%. The common wisdom will complain that really mitigating 10% of a 10k hit should mitigate another 1k. But no, its 10% of 3,850. That only mitigate a measly 385 damage reducing the attack to 3,500 damage.
So here we are. and we ask ourselves. Is minor protection worthwhile? The common wisdom says it has a tremendously reduced value because of the way we are seeing the mitigation stack. And indeed, it only mitigates 280 damage from the original 10k hit.
And that is the case for decreasing value of mitigation sources. At the end, minor protection is only giving that tank 280 damage off a 10k hit. And they are completely correct on the data…100% wrong on the significance of that 280 damage.
Looking at the same data from another angle. What is stacking mitigation doing to my effective health?
The common wisdom will say that an extra mitigation source will have MORE value for a squishy because they haven’t so drastically reduced the incoming damage already. If a mage has a cumulative mitigation of 30% with their resistances + CP. Then they still have 7k of that 10k hit incoming. In which case minor protection will mitigate for them a total of 560 damage. Exactly double the value of our tank friend! So minor protection is twice as effective on them than on tanks, right? Wrong. Lets do a case example.
Two dudes, lets see what happens to their effective health (their tankiness).
Case study number 1: Mr. Squishy mc’squishum, your friendly neighborhood mage.
I’m not going to keep producing the step by step math. I’m going to use this site https://jscalc.io/calc/fiasVNPSGsOdmsF6 to give me the total final mitigation values and you can input the data there and check me if you want.
So Mr. Squishy has 18k health (good boy) and he has 9k resistances with 23% reduction from iron clad and 9% reduction from both hardy or elemental defender. He has a cumulative mitigation of 40.515%. Now remember we get effective health by dividing the max health by the fraction of damage getting through. In his case 59.485% of the damage is getting through. So 18 /0.59485=30,259.73.
Mr Squishy has an effective health of 30,259.73 in the face of physical direct damage.
Now we add the 8% from minor protection. What does this do to his effective health? We divide by the amount getting through.
30,259.73 / 0.92 = 32,891.01 Minor protection has increased his effective health by 2,631.28. The monster must now do this much more raw unmitigated damage to him to kill him. Not bad Mr. Squishy.
Case study number 2: My own actual pre-summerset numbers
Max health 44.7k. Physical mit 32561. 23% from iron clad. 9% from hardy. For a cumulative mitigation of 64.394% mitigation.
35.606% damage getting through.
Effective health= 44,700 / 0.35606 = 125,540.64
Now common wisdom says minor protection is actually less valuable for me because I’m so tanky. Let’s see what it does for my effective health.
125,540.64 / 0.92 = 136,457.22 Just shy of 11k boost to my effective health. So who gets more from minor protection?
Mr Squishy = +2,631 effective health
Me = +11,000 effective health
But wait! A clever person might say this is just bi-product of my high max health. YES! A big part of it is indeed. But its also from the way mitigation stacks.
Case study 3: Mr. Squishy’s mitigation but he is magically boosted to the same max health as me
Health 44.7k Cumulative mitigation 40.515%
Effective HP = 44,700 / 0.59485 = 75,144.99
Now we add minor protection
75,144.99 / 0.92 = 81,679.34 Increases his effective health by 6,534.35
New Mr. Squishy = +6,534.35
Still just me = +11,000
I guess its not just the max health huh.
The common wisdom in ESO community is wrong. Stacking mitigation has increasing value for our effective health/tankiness not diminishing value.
Alright, we know what tankiness is. It is effective health. We can measure it, so how much do you want and why does your survivability NEED to be on a foundation of effective health for you to be a great tank?
How high do you want your effective health to be? You want it high enough that you are free from Perma Blocking even in the veteran DLC dungeons. If you want me to throw out a number I would imagine a MINIMUM of 100k effective health against all direct damage, both spell and physical. I personally want much more. I want my effective health number to be as high as possible without sacrificing other aspects of my tanking role.
Why is it so important that the heart of your survivability come from tankiness? Because that is what sets your free to do your job. While that tank over there is spamming some shields, I am chaining in mobs. While the other dude is holding down block and nervously watching his stamina, I’m feeling free to keep caltrops, taunts, and heroic slash up. In fact I”m usually spamming them, knowing at any time I can heavy attack to get resources back. We have way way to much to be doing as tanks to constantly have to use active skills to keep ourselves alive. I give my health and my own survivability about 5% of my attention. Any time I want I can just pop a green dragon blood or potion. I feel free to crank balance down to half my life, if I need the magicka because they aren’t going to be able to take the rest from me, especially if I decide to hold block for 6 seconds or so. My whole attention is on doing the job of tanking, not surviving. Because my survivability is entirely PASSIVE other than blocking heavy attacks and the occasional green dragon blood.
If you’ve read the other parts of this guide, you should see a theme building here. All of my damage is passive. It requires no attention from me. Almost all of my survivability is passive, because I’m tanky. 100% of my attention is on doing THE JOB of tanking. I’m giving every thought to preventing one shots, preventing overwhelming damage, and controlling the fight to maximize every other role in my group. And while that is getting 100% of my attention and effort, I’m nearly impossible to kill, and I’m insanely boosting the groups DPS by the way I buff the group, with zero effort.