What separates an average WAR from a great WAR to me:
- Damage Output: Not to be mistaken for a tank that plays like a DPS wannabe. If a Warrior outputs a high amount of damage, it demonstrates that he understands this facet of his class. Many average and below-average tanks neglect this aspect of their job because they think it’s not their job to deal damage. They think that it’s solely the DD’s job and as long as they’re holding aggro, it’s enough to say that they’re effectively doing their job. Warriors have a huge advantage over Paladin in this category because of the ease at which they switch in and out of Defiance (it doesn’t cost a GCD and it doesn’t interrupt their combo). Bad Warriors stay in Defiance 24/7. Good Warriors deal a ton of damage with little to no compromise to survivability or any other tank duties.
- Tank-specific Mechanics: How well do they deal with the tank-specific aspects of each fight? Are the targets positioned and faced properly? Are tank swaps being executed cleanly? How good is their management of things like Spiny Plumes (Garuda EX) and Lightning Orbs (Ramuh EX)? A good tank has a firm grasp on these things and makes it easy for the rest of the group to do their job too.
- Defensive Cooldown Management: The nature of this game is that damage bursts are predictable. Boss fights are completely scripted and with enough experience in the fight, a good tank commits to memory when these pressure points occur. They will apply Inner Beast and/or other defensive cooldowns in anticipation, before they happen. Defensive cooldowns are optimally used to prevent emergencies, rather than simply as “oh shit” buttons in response to an emergency. Mistakes are made by even the best tanks, but you can notice which tanks have put careful thought into their cooldown usage and which tanks use them willy-nilly.
- Gear Decisions: A good Warrior thinks about how much HP he needs for a given fight and adjusts his VIT & STR accordingly through crafted accessories and attribute points. Ruby accessories grant 13 Strength & 15 Vitality. Meanwhile, i110 Fending gives 21 Vitality & 0 Strength and i110 Slaying gives 18 Strength & 0 Vitality. Ruby should be the default accessory for Warrior and should only be changed if he can’t reach his desired VIT from just attribute points alone. Ruby Accessories are the only thing I use in FCoB. Aside from that, be above the Accuracy cap after food, don’t be too far above the cap, and don’t invest too much into Parry.
- Intangibles: Good tanks are also good leaders. Tanks are like quarterbacks in (American) Football. They are in control of the flow of the fight and it naturally puts them in a good position to lead. Tanks often must act decisively without someone else directing them, so a good tank makes smart decisions and makes them quickly. Good tanks communicate well with the other tank and the rest of the party. Everyone knows what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it. While these things are independent of the buttons the player is pressing on the keyboard, they are important aspects that contribute to an exceptional tank.
On the subject of toggling defiance on/off
As soon as you know the other tank has Provoked the boss from you, you can drop Defiance.
If you’re just tanking adds, once the adds are dead, you can drop Defiance.
More advanced stuff…
Using defensive cooldowns as offensive cooldowns:
If the situation calls for it, you can drop Defiance WHILE tanking and use Vengeance or Thrill+Convalescence in its place. Vengeance gives you 30% Damage Reduction, acting like a better Shield Oath. Thrill of Battle + Convalescence is equivalent Defiance.
As long as aggro is solid and as long as you don’t need those cooldowns for defensive purposes, dropping Defiance and popping either Vengeance or Thrill+Convalescence gives you the same or more defensive capability as if you are still in your tanking stance w/o a defensive cooldown while removing your damage penalty for being in tanking stance. It’s almost like having an extra 35 seconds of Unchained.
Use this technique sparingly and don’t be reckless about it. I do this a lot vs Titan EX, Levi EX and Moggle Mog EX since incoming damage is low/steady in these fights. This technique is less practical in Coil where you need your defensive cooldowns for defense.
Understanding the costs of changing stances and how to mitigate them:
The beauty of stance swapping as a Warrior is that activating/deactivating Defiance doesn’t cost you a GCD. The drawback is that it does cost you something: Your HP. If you are at 7500/7500 HP and you deactivate Defiance, you now drop down to 6000/6000 HP. Reactivating Defiance now puts you at 6000/7500 HP. The stance change has costed you a total of 1500HP.
Contrast this to Paladin who would remain at 6000/6000 HP when changing from Sword to Shield and back to Sword. Instead, it costs him two Weaponskills since Oaths use GCDs.
A Warrior can sometimes negate this HP cost by deactivating and reactivating Defiance at the right times. When deactivating Defiance, if you do it while you are already missing HP, you lose nothing. For example, if you’re at 6000/7500 HP when you deactivate Defiance, your HP becomes 6000/6000, the stance change costed you 0 HP. Moreover, if you reactivate Defiance when you are about to receive an AoE heal, you can use that 20% Healing boost to get topped off without requiring a conscious effort from your healer.
Take Rafflesia (Turn 6) for example. As you get hit by the second Bloody Caress and the other tank is about to take the boss from you, drop Defiance as soon as it connects, so that you’re lowering your max HP while you’re already missing some health and therefore not wasting any. Meanwhile, the best time to reactivate Defiance is just as Rafflesia is casting Spit. Your healers are going to have to AoE heal the group anyway. You may as well be in Defiance with more missing HP while it happens, and it’s your turn to tank soon.
Can you explain briefly why Parry is bad?
There are several reasons why Parry is bad:
- Low returns on the stat. ~14 Parry equates to 1% chance to Parry. Parry mitigates about 25-28% of damage taken (depending on your STR). Mathematically, someone with +200 Parry from gear will take about 4% less physical damage than someone with +0 Parry from gear.
- Parry doesn’t mitigate non-physical damage. You’re going to be taking damage from physical and magical sources, and Parry won’t help you against the latter. It will vary from boss to boss, but there are even boss fights where none of its attacks are parryable (Ramuh, Leviathan).
- You are only tanking a percentage of the time. In 8-man content, you are sharing the tanking role with the other tank. If you’re only tanking 50% of the time, that means that Parry only becomes half as valuable. Again, this will vary from fight to fight.
- Parry is based on chance. In other words, you might get lucky and Parry most of the boss’ important attacks or you might get unlucky and Parry none of them. Increasing your Parry stat improves your chances, but it’s still unreliable. The nature of boss fights in FFXIV is that your HP is only really threatened in large predictable bursts of damage, sometimes in the form of a 10,000 damage single hit. Since you can’t depend on a Parry actually happening, you and your healers still need to prepare for it as if the Parry is not going to save you. You need cooldowns and damage shields to survive.
Given all of these pitfalls of Parry, you’re better off investing your secondary stats in damage stats like Determination, Critical Hit Rate, and Skill Speed.