Hello everyone, and welcome to this guide on how to build and play the Arcanist tank in Elder Scrolls Online. The Arcanist is a new class that was introduced with the Necrom chapter and has been available for testing on the Public Test Server for some time now. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about building an effective Arcanist tank and how to play it to its full potential.
The Arcanist plays quite differently from other tank classes in ESO, with its main strength lying in its damage shields. The Impervious Runeward skill's damage shield value is incredibly high and can be further buffed with the Intricate Runeforms passive. However, the Arcanist is also bad at healing itself, creating an interesting gameplay dynamic that involves less blocking, as block mitigation doesn't apply to damage shields. This means that there are encounters where the Arcanist is the best class for tanking, but also fights where it will perform poorly, such as those with Oblivion damage, which bypasses damage shields. They also have the Crux mechanic, which actually isn't that interesting. The only time you'll have to pay attention to it is in fights with lots of direct damage, where you'll need the block mitigation from your Unbreakable Fate skill and you'll need to use Crux to reach the maximum value of 20% additional block mitigation.
One of Arcanist's advantages is their passives, which provide a whopping 4200 armor, allowing players to finally choose a race different than Nord without sacrificing too much in terms of tanking. Additionally, the Arcanist has multiple passives that boost sustain, resulting in really high stamina and magicka recoveries.
In terms of group support, the Arcanist brings 2200 armor penetration, providing roughly a 4% damage increase to teammates. This allows them to use more medium armor pieces, as they won't need to get penetration from light armor passives. The Arcanist also has much easier access to the Minor Brittle debuff, which increases critical damage by 10% and lasts 20 seconds, compared to the usual 4 seconds that come from proccing the Chilled effect with an ice staff. The Arcanist also brings the almost unique Minor Evasion buff, reducing damage taken from area of effect attacks by 10%, and the Arcanist's Domain skill, providing the Minor Courage buff that was previously only available from select item sets.
By the end of this article, you'll have a solid understanding of how to build and play an effective Arcanist tank, as well as its strengths and weaknesses. So, let's dive in and see what the Arcanist has to offer.
I'll start off by showing you all the skills that can be useful, and then I'll show you how to set them up for different encounters. Starting off with the Arcanist's three skill lines - Herald of The Tome, the damage dealer tree, Curative Runeforms, the healer tree, and Soldier of the Apocrypha, the tanking skill tree, which we're going to start off with, but all of them will be useful to some degree.
The first skill is Runic Jolt, which is the taunting ability that makes enemies attack you instead of your teammates for 15 seconds. It's also your primary ability for generating Crux. Runic Jolt applies Minor Maim, which reduces enemies' damage done by 5%, but it's not crucial because there are many other sources of Minor Maim in the game. Having this ability slotted will cause you to take 2% less damage for each Crux you hold, but whenever you're under pressure, you'll be casting Impervious Runeward, which will spend that Crux, so in the end, you won't gain much from it. The ability also has a unique range. Other taunt abilities are either melee with a 7-meter range, like Pierce Armor, or ranged with a 28-meter range, like Inner Fire or Destructive Clench. Runic Jolt has a range of 22 meters. You should treat it as a melee taunt and a replacement for your Pierce Armor, as 22 meters range is not enough for every situation, so you'll still have to bring an actual range taunt alongside Runic Jolt. And even in fights where 22 meters is enough, you'll still want to bring the 28-meter Destructive Clench taunt, as it provides Major Maim, which reduces your enemies' damage done by 10%. The only exception would be trash fights where Major Maim isn't needed as much.
The first morph of Runic Jolt is Runic Embrace, which causes the ability to heal you for 10% of your max HP and apply Minor Lifesteal. Although the Minor Lifesteal part of this morph is not that important because you'll already have it from the Overflowing Altar skill, the 10% heal can be useful because Arcanists struggle with healing. However, the other morph is even stronger.
Runic Sunder causes the ability to steal 2200 armor from your enemy, providing roughly a 4% DPS increase. It also gives you 2200 armor, which allows you to have much more freedom with builds as you can reach the armor cap easier. This morph unfortunately changes the ability to cost stamina instead of magicka, which is a downside because the majority of Arcanist tank's abilities cost magicka, so you'll be using magicka cost reduction enchants on your jewelry, which would affect the Runic Embrace morph but won't affect Runic Sunder.
The 2200 penetration is great for dungeons, but it can get tricky in trials where there are two tanks holding different enemies. If your DDs balance their penetration with Runic Sunder in mind, they may be 2200 short on the target held by the other, non-Arcanist tank. This can be easily solved by having the other tank run the Tremorscale monster set, which should make the penetration similar on all targets.
Runic Embrace can be useful in extremely difficult fights, but you'll need to get that armor from somewhere else to hit the armor cap, and your DDs will need to adjust their penetration. Therefore, most of the time, you'll want to use the Runic Sunder morph.
Moving on to Runespite Ward, this skill grants you a powerful damage shield that's equal to 30% of your max health when used. When you take damage for the first time after casting it, you'll deal damage to the attacker that scales with your armor. In addition, when you use this skill, you'll consume all your Crux and heal for 10% of your max HP for each Crux consumed. This is the skill you'll be relying on the most when you're under pressure.
Now, the first morph of this skill is Spiteward of the Lucid Mind, which refunds 30% of the ability's cost per Crux spent. While this may seem useful at first, it's actually not very practical compared to the other morph.
The second morph, Impervious Runeward, is where things get interesting. This morph increases the scaling of the damage shield from 30% to 31% (although the tooltip is currently bugged and shows a higher value). But the real deal is, the damage shield is much stronger during the very first second, during which the scaling is a whopping 62% of your max HP! This is an incredibly strong defensive tool that defines the entire gameplay of an Arcanist tank. And it gets even better - your Intricate Runeforms passive boosts the shield by an additional 10%, and slotting the Bastion champion point can give you another 15% boost. All of this means that you can gain a damage shield that's equal to 77.5% of your maximum health with just a single cast of this skill!
Moving on to Fatewoven Armor, this skill grants you Major Resolve for 20 seconds, increasing your armor by almost 6000. This translates to a significant damage reduction of at least 9%, but it's even more effective due to the increasing returns of armor. While Major Resolve can be provided by other sources such as Balance or Warden's Frost Cloak skill, Fatewoven Armor offers more than just the buff. It also applies Minor Breach to enemies who attack you, reducing their armor by almost 3000, which is equivalent to around 6% increased damage against them. You have to provide this debuff so your damage dealers can reach the penetration cap, and normally this would be provided by the Pierce Armor skill. However, Arcanist tanks want to use their class-specific taunt - Runic Jolt instead, so the Minor Breach has to come from another source. It could be Fatewoven Armor, but there are also other sources. For example, whenever you apply the Chilled status effect to an enemy standing in your Frost Elemental Blockade, they'll get debuffed with Minor Breach for 4 seconds.
Let's take a closer look at the morphs. The first one is Cruxweaver Armor, which increases the duration of Major Resolve to 30 seconds and generates Crux when you get hit, up to once every 5 seconds. Crux is useful for various abilities, such as healing yourself for 10% of max health with Runespite Ward, gaining damage reduction with Runic Jolt, and synergizing with other passives that grant you ultimate, increased healing, and restored resources. This morph is the better default choice, as it provides more versatility and can be used in a variety of situations.
The second morph is Unbreakable Fate, which grants you block mitigation starting at 5% and increasing by an additional 5% per Crux spent, up to 20% with 3 Crux. This doesn't synergize well with the rest of your kit because block mitigation doesn't apply to damage shields, and it'll be difficult to build up 3 Crux to fully empower this skill because without Cruxweaver Armor, your only Crux-generating skill will be Runic Jolt. However, it can be worth it in fights with lots of direct blockable damage.
Next, we have Runic Defense, which is a skill that grants you and allies around you Minor Resolve for 20 seconds, which increases your armor by almost 3000, equivalent to at least 4.5% damage reduction, but it provides more than that due to increasing returns. There are other sources of Minor Resolve. You can get it for yourself from the Resolving Vigor skill, and healers can apply it with their Combat Prayer skill. However, Runic Defense also provides other benefits. You gain Minor Protection for 20 seconds, which decreases your damage taken by 5%. When you take damage while below 50%, the Minor Protection will get consumed to heal you for 30% of your max HP.
Now, other classes typically get their Minor Protection by slotting the Temporal Guard skill on their front bar, which is an ultimate from the Psijic skill line. This ultimate grants you passive Minor Protection while slotted. But as an Arcanist, you can get your Minor Protection from Runic Defense. This means you can slot an emergency defensive ultimate on your front bar, such as Gibbering Shield or Barrier. Both of these ultimates provide passive bonuses even if you don't end up needing them. Gibbering Shield triggers the Wellspring of the Abyss passive, granting you 129 health, stamina, and magicka recovery. And Barrier triggers the Magicka Aid passive, granting you 10% increased magicka recovery.
Having a heal that procs only while below 50% HP isn't that good, but you don't really have any other better options as an Arcanist.
Let's take a look at the morphs for the Runic Defense skill. The first one is Runeguard of Still Waters, which adds an immobilize effect to the skill, allowing you to snare enemies within a 7-meter range for 3 seconds after a 1-second delay. This can be useful in dungeons where trash mobs can actually be crowd-controlled.
The second morph is Runeguard of Freedom, which grants you 3000 armor and CC immunity for 6 seconds when the heal is procced. This CC immunity can only occur once every 30 seconds. The uptime on this armor buff won't be high enough, so when you're calculating the armor you'll need to hit the cap, you should completely ignore it. Neither morph is clearly better than the other, as they both have specific scenarios where they can excel. Runeguard of Still Waters is better for controlling trash mobs in dungeons, while Runeguard of Freedom can be more useful in trials where snaring trash is pointless, so you might as well try to utilize the CC immunity somehow. Consider the content you're tackling when choosing which morph to use, but I'd say Runeguard of Freedom is the better default option.
Next up is Rune of Eldritch Horror. This skill applies an 8-second stun and 10-second Minor Vulnerability to the enemy after 1 second. The stun is irrelevant in most cases because you won't be using it on small mobs that can be stunned but rather on bosses. Minor Vulnerability can be obtained from a few other sources like Warden's Swarm ability or Nightblade's Teleport Strike, and it has a chance to proc for 4 seconds when dealing shock damage, which is why it can be provided by having a Shock damage enchant on your weapon combined with the Charged weapon trait. However, this will never be as consistent as providing Minor Vulnerability with a skill, which is why you'll want to use the Rune of Eldritch Horror.
The first morph of this skill, Rune of Uncanny Adoration, charms the target instead of stunning it, which is not useful for us in PvE.
The second morph, Rune of the Colorless Pool, not only increases the duration of the skill to 20 seconds but also applies Minor Brittle for the same duration. This effect increases enemies' critical damage taken by 10%, which is crucial for your damage dealers in reaching the Critical Damage cap. While Minor Brittle can be applied to enemies when you proc the Chilled status effect while wielding an ice staff, it only lasts for 4 seconds. Using the Rune of Colorless Pool will make it much easier to maintain Minor Brittle on your enemies.
Next, let's take a look at the ultimate ability of the Soldier of the Apocrypha skill line - Gibbering Shield. This skill costs 180 ultimate points and provides you with a shield that's equal to 192% of your max health for 10 seconds, absorbing 60% of all damage. When the shield collapses, you'll deal all the absorbed damage as magic damage around you within a 5-meter radius over 10 seconds. It's an excellent ultimate that can help you survive when things go wrong. Moreover, having it slotted will provide you with recoveries through the Wellspring of the Abyss passive.
The first morph, Sanctum of the Abyssal Sea, increases the scaling of the shield from 192% to 228% of your max health. While this seems good, the other morph is even better.
The Gibbering Shelter morph also increases the scaling but only from 192% to 198% of your max health. This morph no longer deals damage but now when the shield takes damage, you grant damage shields to up to 6 allies within 15 meters for 4 seconds. These shields can absorb an amount equal to 33% of your max health and can be applied once every second. This provides a lot of survivability to your teammates and is much better than the Barrier ultimate, as long as you're constantly being damaged.
Now, let's take a closer look at the passives in the Soldier of Apocrypha skill line.
First up is Aegis of the Unseen, which grants you nearly 2000 armor whenever you have a Soldier of Apocrypha ability active. This passive should be active at all times, so you'll have a significant boost to your armor.
Next, we have Wellspring of the Abyss, which gives you 129 stamina, magicka, and health recovery for each Soldier of Apocrypha ability slotted. This can provide a significant increase to your overall sustain.
Circumvented Fate grants your group members Minor Evasion, which decreases damage taken from area attacks by 10%. This buff has only 2 other sources - Warden’s Deceptive Predator skill, which affects only the Warden using it, and Abyssal Brace 5-piece set. However, it’s not worth wasting a 5-piece item slot on this, so Circumvented Fate is the only practical way of providing Minor Evasion for the entire group.
Finally, we have Implacable Outcome, which grants you 4 ultimate every time you consume a Crux. This can occur once every 8 seconds.
Now, let's shift our focus to the Curative Runeforms, which is the healer skill tree. We won’t be looking at all skills here, just the ones useful for tanking.
The first skill we'll look at is Arcanist's Domain. This skill allows you to create an 8-meter area that provides you and your allies with various buffs. These include Minor Courage, which grants you 215 weapon and spell damage, and Minor Fortitude, Intellect, and Endurance, which increase your health, magicka, and stamina recoveries by 15%. While other skills offer Minor Intellect and Endurance, such as Regenerative Ward, Enchanted Growth, Radiant Aura, or Refreshing Path, Minor Courage is a unique buff that is not easy to come by. The only other way to get it for 12 players is through the Yolnahkriin and Crusader 5-piece sets, which means that by running this skill, you'll be saving up a valuable 5-piece item slot. However, as a tank, you may not always be in a position to place the area under your teammates, so in some cases, wearing the Yolnahkriin set may still be the better option.
The first morph, Zenas' Empowering Disc, makes it so that the buffs persist for 10 seconds after leaving the circle. This is the better morph as the area is only 8 meters, and forcing your DDs to stay inside it at all times could be problematic. It's much easier to keep up these buffs when they persist for 10 seconds after leaving the area.
The other morph, Reconstructive Domain, heals you and your allies inside the area for 1.8% of your higher resource + 19% of your weapon or spell damage every 2 seconds. However, this amount ends up being very small with tank stats.
Next up, we have the Apocryphal Gate. This skill creates a portal that allows you to travel between two points, generating Crux each time you pass through it. Although niche, there are situations where this ability can be helpful.
The first morph, Fleet-Footed Gate, grants you Major Expedition for 4 seconds after using the portal, increasing your movement speed by 30%.
The second morph, Passage Between Worlds, allows your allies to use a synergy to travel through the portal, which can be used once every 20 seconds, just like every other synergy.
Moving on to the passives of the Curative Runeforms skill line, let's take a closer look at what they offer:
First up is Healing Tides, which increases your healing done by 3% for each Crux active.
Next is Hideous Clarity. Whenever you generate Crux, you restore 225 magicka or stamina, whichever is higher.
Erudition is another powerful passive in this skill line. It increases your magicka and stamina recovery by 18%, which can be a significant boost to your sustain. This passive synergizes particularly well with the Wellspring of the Abyss passive we talked about earlier.
Finally, we have Intricate Runeforms, which reduces the cost and increases the strength of your damage shields by 10% while you have a Curative Runeforms ability slotted. This is a great boost for your Impervious Runeward, which is why you should have a Curative Runeforms ability on your front bar.
Now, let's move on to the last skill tree, the Herald of the Tome, focused on DPS abilities. I'll be highlighting the one skill that, in my opinion, can be useful for a tank.
The Imperfect Ring - this ability spawns an AoE under your target that applies a damage-over-time effect to the target and all enemies around it. An ally near the initial target can activate the Runebreak synergy, dealing damage to all enemies within 7 meters equal to 12% of their maximum resource + 126% of their weapon or spell damage.
The first morph, Rune of Displacement, places a rune under the target, which pulls in enemies within 8 meters after 2 seconds. Although it may seem good, 8 meters is a very small area, and any enemy already within 8 meters of your primary target is already being damaged by your allies' AoE attacks and doesn't need to be pulled in further.
The second morph, Fulminating Rune, causes another explosion after 6 seconds and allows up to 3 allies to use the Runebreak synergy. This can be extremely powerful as the synergy deals damage that's around 20% higher than the damage of an average spammable. If the synergies are being used by DDs, this skill will provide a lot of damage per cast, not to mention the sustain it will provide thanks to the Undaunted Command passive or Harmony jewelry trait.
Now let’s take a quick look at the passives of the Herald of the Tome skill line.
Fated Fortune - You gain 12% critical damage and critical healing for 7 seconds whenever you gain or spend Crux. Slightly helpful but definitely not a priority if you’re short on skill points.
Harnessed Quintessence - Whenever you are restored Magicka or Stamina, you gain 5% weapon and spell damage for 10 seconds. Same as the previous one, helpful but not a priority.
Psychic Lesion - While having Herald of the Tome ability slotted, your status effects deal 15% increased damage, and you have a 75% increased chance to proc Status Effects. Normally, this would be great for a tank as status effects can proc important debuffs - Chilled procs Minor Brittle, Concussion procs Minor Vulnerability, and Sundered procs Minor Breach. However, Arcanist already covers all these debuffs. Rune of the Colorless Pool applies Minor Brittle and Minor Vulnerability for 20 seconds, and Fatewoven Armor mostly takes care of Minor Breach. On top of that, this passive only works while you have a Herald of the Tome ability slotted, which would be very hard to fit on your front bar.
Splintered Secrets - Grants 991 penetration per Herald of the Tome ability slotted. Not very useful for a tank and very low priority. Put points into it only once you have an abundance of skill points.
Now that we’ve covered class skill lines, let’s move onto weapon skill lines. You'll only need 2 out of the 6 weapon skill lines - One Hand and Shield and Destruction Staff. Let's start with the One Hand and Shield skill line.
The first skill, Puncture, is basically a melee taunt. It damages your target within 7 meters, causes them to attack you, and applies Major Breach, which reduces enemies’ armor by almost 6000 for 15 seconds, providing around a 13% damage increase. This debuff is extremely crucial to have. However, since you’ll want to use Runic Jolt instead, you have to make sure there is some other source of Major Breach.
If you have a Necromancer in your group, they can easily provide Major Breach with Unnerving Boneyard without losing anything. Dragonknights can provide it with Noxious Breath, but you really want to have at least one Dragonknight using its other morph, Engulfing Flames, so Noxious Breath is only an option with 2 or more Dragonknights.
This shouldn’t be too difficult to cover in trials, but it’s unlikely in dungeons, so you'll have to make sure to provide Major Breach yourself. You could keep Runic Jolt and slot Weakness to Elements to provide it, but that takes up 2 skill slots. So, if you're short on skill slots, you might have to switch out your Runic Jolt to Puncture.
The morph you want to use here is Pierce Armor, which additionally provides Minor Breach. You already get Minor Breach from your Fatewoven Armor, but Pierce Armor is way more consistent since some adds can get stuck in animation and not attack you frequently enough to keep it up with just Fatewoven Armor. The other morph, Ransack, provides Minor Protection, which you already have from your Runic Defense.
It’s also worth noting that you can amplify it with the Puncturing Remedy set so that each cast of Puncture will heal you for 14% of your max health.
Next skill is Low Slash. The base skill only provides Minor Maim, which can easily be obtained from other sources, so it's not particularly useful.
However, its morph, Heroic Slash, is much more valuable. It not only applies Minor Maim but also provides Minor Heroism for 15 seconds, allowing you to gain 10 ultimate per cast, allowing you to cast your ultimate more frequently, which is nice, but you won’t always have enough skill space to slot it. Additionally, you can craft potions that provide Minor Heroism with a 100% uptime, but these require ingredients that drop from Dragons, so the potions end up being extremely expensive. For example, the average price of one on PC EU server right now is 3600 gold.
The next skill is Defensive Posture, which grants you a damage shield equal to 31% of your max health for 6 seconds and allows you to reflect one projectile that would hit you. This can be extremely useful in some encounters, such as the Lokkestiz fight where you can deal a lot of damage by just standing away from the dragon’s melee range and constantly reflecting his Frostbolts, which damage ramps up because they were supposed to act as a punishment for not standing in the dragon’s melee range.
There’s only 1 good morph - Defensive Stance, which reduces the cost of your block and increases your block mitigation by 10%. It’s gonna be crucial for some fights where there’s lots of blockable direct damage.
It’s also worth noting that you can amplify it with the Defensive Position set so that each cast of Defensive Stance will restore magicka.
And the last useful skill from this skill line is Power Bash. This ability doesn’t do anything interesting, but it’ll be required for proccing the Void Bash 2-piece item set, which is great for trash fights and makes stacking enemies a lot faster. It doesn’t matter which morph you choose here, and honestly, you might as well not waste a skill point and leave it unmorphed.
You’ll want to have all the passives from the One Hand and Shield skill line.
The other weapon skill line you’ll need is Destruction Staff. Keep in mind that most of these abilities have different effects based on the type of staff you’re using, but I’ll only be talking about frost variants because that’s the type of staff you want to use as a tank.
The first skill is Force Shock. While it's just a basic damaging ability, its morph - Crushing Shock - will prove to be essential in some fights.
This is because Crushing Shock can be used as a ranged interrupt, interrupting enemies who are channeling their abilities just like a bash, except it has a 28-meter range. This can be incredibly helpful in fights where the enemy is casting dangerous spells from a distance, and you need to interrupt them quickly.
The next skill is Wall of Elements, which is absolutely essential, and you’ll always have it in your skill setup. It places an AoE in front of you for 10 seconds, which deals a tiny bit of damage, grants your allies a damage shield against projectiles, and applies a 40% slow and Minor Breach to enemies that are Chilled. Minor Breach provides almost 3000 penetration, and we already talked about it multiple times when covering previous skills. But the real reason why you’ll need Wall of Elements in every skill setup is different. Every weapon skill applies enchantments of the weapon it’s being used with. You will want to use the Crusher enchantment on your ice staff, which combined with the Infused weapon trait, will reduce your enemies' armor by 2108 for 5 seconds, with a 5-second cooldown. Since Wall of Elements ticks every second, it’ll constantly proc Crusher whenever it’s off cooldown, allowing you to provide 100% uptime on that armor debuff.
You’ll want to use the Elemental Blockade morph, which increases the size of the AoE and increases its duration from 10 to 15 seconds.
But the other morph, Unstable Wall of Elements, also has some uses. That's because it provides the damage shield when it expires, so you can spam it to constantly apply a decent damage shield against projectiles to your teammates. I managed to utilize it quite well in the Blackrose Prison arena.
The next useful skill is Destructive Clench, which is a morph of Destructive Touch. This is one out of 2 range taunts available in the game, and it’s the better one. It has a 28-meter range and always applies the Chilled status effect, which in turn applies Minor Maim for 4 seconds and also Minor Brittle for 4 seconds if you are wielding an ice staff. Additionally, it will apply Minor Breach for 4 seconds if your enemy is standing inside Wall of Elements, which they should. Minor Maim, as I said many times before, has many other sources, so it’s not that important. Minor Brittle can be provided by your Rune of the Colorless Pool, so it’s also not that important. Minor Breach can be provided by Fatewoven Armor, but as I said before, it’s a bit inconsistent with how enemies can get stuck in animation and not attack you for 6 seconds straight. The most important part of this skill, however, is that it applies Major Maim for 5 seconds, which decreases enemies' damage done by 10%. It’s a massive boost to your and your team’s survivability, and Major Maim doesn’t have many other sources, which is why Destructive Clench is so important.
The next skill is Weakness to Elements, which applies Major Breach to your enemy for 30 seconds, decreasing their armor by almost 6000. I’ve already mentioned it when talking about Puncture and the importance of Major Breach.
The first morph is Elemental Drain, which extends the duration from 30 seconds to 60 seconds and applies Minor Magickasteal. This causes you and your allies to restore 168 magicka every second while attacking the affected enemy. Minor Magickasteal is important, but it also gets applied by the Overcharged status effect, which has a chance to proc on any magic damage. This means that your Damage Dealers will most likely keep it up by themselves anyway.
The second morph is Elemental Susceptibility, which applies Burning, Chilled, and Concussed status effects every 7.5 seconds. Burning applies a damage over time effect, which won’t deal much damage with tank stats. Chilled applies Minor Maim and Minor Brittle for 4 seconds if you’re wielding an ice staff. Concussed applies Minor Vulnerability for 4 seconds. Arcanist has extremely easy access to Minor Brittle and Minor Vulnerability thanks to the Rune of the Colorless Pool, but there might be situations where you won’t have the time to cast both Elemental Susceptibility and Rune of the Colorless Pool at the same time. For example, in the Cloudrest portal, where you have to very quickly apply Major Breach to all of the crystals, or situations where you have to run Elemental Susceptibility for the Major Breach, and because of that, you cannot fit in Rune of the Colorless Pool anymore.
And the last useful skill from this skill line is Impulse. When activated, it causes an explosion around you, dealing frost damage and applying Minor Protection to your allies for 6 seconds, reducing their damage taken by 5%. While this effect alone might not be enough to warrant using the skill, it becomes more interesting when we look at its morph options.
The Pulsar morph not only applies Minor Protection but also inflicts Minor Mangle on small enemies, reducing their maximum health by 10%. This is particularly beneficial as a tank since you're often the first to engage with enemies. By using Pulsar at the start of a fight, you can instantly shave off 10% of your enemies' health. It's important to note that this effect doesn't work against bosses, but it shines in trash fights. Additionally, the Pulsar morph triples the chance to proc status effects. When combined with the Charged trait on your ice staff, you'll have an almost 100% chance to proc the Chilled status effect on every enemy around you. This, in turn, synergizes with your Wall of Elements.
Using Pulsar inside your Wall of Elements will grant several benefits:
- Minor Protection for your teammates, reducing their damage taken by 5%.
- Minor Mangle on enemies, reducing their maximum health by 10%.
- Chilled status effect, which procs Minor Maim, decreasing enemies' damage done by 5%.
- Since you're wielding an ice staff, the Chilled status effect will also proc Minor Brittle, increasing your enemies' critical damage taken by 10%.
- Minor Breach, which reduces your enemies' armor by almost 3000, resulting in around a 6% damage increase, since the Chilled enemies will be in your Wall of Elements.
- A 40% movement speed debuff on affected enemies.
That's a lot of benefits from just a single skill cast, making Pulsar an excellent choice when combined with your Wall of Elements.
As for Destruction Staff passives, it's important to note that you'll actually want to skip one of them.
The Tri Focus passive, while initially seeming beneficial, can actually be a detriment to your sustain. This passive causes your heavy attacks to grant you a damage shield and makes your block cost magicka instead of stamina when wielding an ice staff. While the damage shield may appear useful, the downside is that blocking with Tri Focus completely stops your magicka recovery instead of your stamina recovery. This is not ideal since most of your skills cost magicka, so using Tri Focus could result in a shortage of magicka and leave you with nothing to spend your stamina on.
By skipping the Tri Focus passive, you can ensure a more balanced and efficient use of your resources, allowing for better sustain and overall performance in combat.
Now let's dive into the armor skill lines. These skill lines primarily consist of passives that scale with the number of armor pieces worn in each respective type. Additionally, they offer one active skill, which can only be used when wearing five or more armor pieces of the corresponding type.
Let's start with Light Armor. You’ll usually wear at least 1 armor piece of that type, so you’ll benefit slightly from its passives.
However, you won't need the active skill, Annulment, since it requires wearing five light armor pieces. When it comes to passives, prioritize Evocation, which improves your magicka sustain, and Spell Warding, which increases your Spell Resistance. Once you have an abundance of skill points, consider investing in Grace and Prodigy as well. It's worth noting that Light Armor also has inherent bonuses and penalties, regardless of skill point allocation.
Here are the relevant details:
- Each piece of light armor reduces damage taken from magical attacks by 1%. Magical damage types include Magic, Flame, Shock, and Frost.
- Each piece reduces the cost of dodge roll by 3%.
- Each piece increases damage taken from martial attacks by 1%. Martial damage types include Physical, Poison, Disease, and Bleed.
- Each piece increases the cost of block by 3%.
Now let's move on to Medium Armor. Similar to light armor, it's common to wear at least one piece of medium armor, providing you with some passive benefits.
The active skill, Evasion, specifically the Elude morph, can prove useful in certain encounters, for example when off-tanking in Asylum Sanctorium.
Evasion grants you Major Evasion, reducing damage taken from AoE attacks by 20%. Elude significantly extends this buff and grants you Major Expedition for 3 seconds after being hit by a direct AoE attack, boosting your movement speed by 30%. Personally, I prefer using more heavy armor pieces and obtaining Major Expedition from a different skill, but Elude works exceptionally well and can make you extremely fast when wearing 5 medium armor pieces.
When it comes to passives, prioritize Wind Walker, which enhances your stamina sustain, and Athletics, which reduces the cost of dodge roll and increases sprint speed. Dexterity and Agility are also valuable passives to invest in once you have an abundance of skill points. It's important to note that medium armor also provides inherent bonuses, regardless of skill point allocation. Here are the relevant details:
- Each piece of medium armor reduces the cost of block by 3%.
- After using Roll Dodge, each piece reduces damage taken from AoE attacks by 2% for 2 seconds.
Lastly, let's discuss Heavy Armor, which is our primary armor type.
In most cases, you'll be wearing 5 heavy armor pieces, allowing you to really benefit from its passives.
The active skill, Unstoppable, provides several buffs. It grants Major Resolve for 20 seconds and provides 6 seconds of crowd control immunity. However, during the crowd control immunity, your movement speed is reduced by 65%.
While the base ability of Unstoppable has limited utility, its morph, Immovable, is absolutely essential for certain encounters. One example is Hard Mode Xalvakka in Rockgrove. The Immovable morph grants you 5% block mitigation per heavy armor piece equipped and increases the strength of the snare by 5% per heavy armor piece. Both effects last for 6 seconds, just like the crowd control immunity. It's worth noting that if you were to use Immovable with a total of 7 heavy armor pieces, the snare's strength would reach 100%, completely immobilizing you and preventing dodge rolling as well.
When it comes to the passives, it's highly recommended to invest in all of them, as they all provide significant benefits. Heavy Armor also offers inherent bonuses and penalties, independent of skill point allocation. Let's review the relevant details:
- Each piece of heavy armor reduces damage taken from martial attacks by 1%.
- Each piece increases your block mitigation by 1%.
- While immune to crowd control, each piece reduces damage taken by 1%.
- Each piece of heavy armor increases damage taken from magical attacks by 1%.
- Each piece increases the cost of roll dodge by 3%.
Now moving onto Guild skill lines, starting with the Fighter's Guild.
The first skill is Silver Bolts, which is a simple ranged spammable. It's not really useful on its own. However, it can be morphed into Silver Leash, which is a fundamental skill for tanks.
Silver Leash will pull an enemy towards you, snare them, and taunt them if they haven't been taunted. You'll use it in every trash fight and in boss fights that include additional adds.
You'll also want the Intimidating Presence passive, which reduces the stamina cost of your Fighter's Guild abilities by 15%, because you'll be using Silver Leash a lot.
Moving on to the Mages Guild skill line.
The first skill to mention is Fire Rune. This skill allows you to place a rune on the ground that explodes, dealing flame damage to enemies. While it may not seem particularly useful for tanks at first, it becomes valuable for proccing the Encratis monster set. Encratis increases the flame damage taken by enemies and reduces the flame damage taken by allies, but in order to activate it, you need to deal flame damage. Since weapon enchants cannot proc the set, the easiest way for an Arcanist tank to utilize it is by using Fire Rune.
I recommend using the Scalding Rune morph, as it will continuously deal flame damage for a duration of 26 seconds. This means you won't have to recast it as frequently to keep Encratis proccing consistently on cooldown.
The next skill is Equilibrium, which allows you to trade health for magicka. However, be aware that using Equilibrium will reduce the strength of your healing and damage shields by 50% for 4 seconds.
Its morph, Balance, also grants you Major Resolve for 30 seconds. This skill is quite important for other classes, but as an Arcanist, I never found it useful as you want to use Fatewoven Armor as your source of Major Resolve, either to generate Crux with the Cruxweaver Armor morph or increase your block mitigation with the Unbreakable Fate morph. Still, I thought it'd be good to mention Balance as another option if you're struggling with magicka sustain, but on a properly built Arcanist, that really shouldn't happen.
If you're going to use Scalding Rune or Balance, you should get the Mage Adept and Everlasting Magic passives. Magicka Controller can also be useful, but it's not a priority.
Next, we have the Psijic Order skill line.
The first skill I want to discuss is Time Stop. I have to mention that it's an extremely niche skill and not a priority to invest a skill point in. Time Stop allows you to stun enemies in an 8-meter radius for 3 seconds. Personally, I've found it to be useful only in the Vykosa boss fight in Moon Hunter Keep dungeon. However, I decided to mention it so you know the option exists, and perhaps you'll find it useful in other situations.
If you do decide to use Time Stop, I recommend using the Time Freeze morph to remove the 2-second cast time, which can be quite annoying.
Moving on, we have Accelerate, which is again rather niche but absolutely essential in a few fights. Accelerate grants you the Major Expedition buff for 4 seconds, increasing your movement speed by 30%. It also grants Minor Force for 20 seconds, increasing your critical damage by 10%. While the Minor Force buff is not crucial for us as tanks, the reason Accelerate is truly essential is because of its morph - Race Against Time.
This morph not only removes snares and immobilizations but also provides you with 2 seconds of immunity to them. One fight where this skill is extremely important is when off-tanking Nahviintaas. The statues in that fight will put a stacking snare on you, which eventually becomes so strong that you won't be able to move. To counter this, you'll need to use Race Against Time to remove the snare. Additionally, the Major Expedition buff provided by Race Against Time will be highly useful in that fight.
Lastly, let's discuss Undo. This ultimate skill allows you to go back in time by 4 seconds, resetting your position, health, stamina, and magicka to what they were at that moment. However, you're not meant to use it actively. The reason this ultimate can be useful is because of its morph - Temporal Guard.
This morph will passively grant you Minor Protection while slotted, reducing your damage taken by 5%. While this ultimate is extremely important for other classes, it's not as vital for Arcanists since you already receive Minor Protection from Runic Defense. However, I wanted you to understand why that's the case. So if you ever decide to unslot Runic Defense, you should slot Temporal Guard on your front bar to make up for the missing Minor Protection.
When it comes to passives, if you're planning to use Time Freeze or Race Against Time, I recommend acquiring the Clairvoyance passive, which reduces the cost of Psijic skills by 15%. And if you're using any Psijic skill, it's worth getting the Concentrated Barrier passive, which grants you a small damage shield when you start blocking.
Let's dive into the Undaunted skill line now.
First, we have Blood Altar, which is an essential skill to have in every fight. While it doesn't necessarily need to be run by you, someone in your group should use it on every boss fight, as it greatly enhances survivability. When Blood Altar is placed down, every enemy within a 28-meter radius will constantly be afflicted with Minor Lifesteal. This effect restores 600 health to your allies whenever they attack these enemies, up to once every second. However, the more important aspect of this skill is the synergy it provides. When your allies' health drops to a low level, they can activate the Blood Funnel synergy, healing them for 40% of their maximum health. Like all synergies, it can be used once every 20 seconds. But it gets even stronger.
The Overflowing Altar morph instead grants the Blood Feast synergy, which restores 65% of your allies' maximum health when they use it. This can be a lifesaver in many situations.
Moving on, we have Trapping Webs. This ability places a web on the ground that deals damage, slows enemies, and explodes after 10 seconds. However, the most crucial aspect is that it grants a single use of the Spawn Broodling synergy to your ranged allies, which summons a spider. Unfortunately, due to the "ranged" requirement, this synergy is quite niche, as your ally needs to be really far away to activate it. However, in certain situations like in Asylum Sanctorium, where your allies need to be distant from the main boss, they can utilize this synergy.
I recommend using the Shadow Silk morph, as it grants the summoned spider a strong damage-over-time effect.
Next, we have Inner Fire. This is the second of the two ranged taunts available in the game, but it is considered the weaker option. It has a range of 28 meters, just like Destructive Clench, but deals magic damage. The additional benefit it provides is a 50% chance to provide a single use of the Radiate synergy. Similar to Trapping Webs, this synergy can only be used by ranged allies, making it somewhat problematic to use in most situations.
The Inner Rage morph increases the chance of providing a synergy from 50% to 100%.
The Inner Beast morph changes the cost from magicka to stamina and increases your own damage dealt to the taunted enemy by 10%.
These morphs are useful when you're trying to contribute DPS as a tank. However, in traditional tanking scenarios, I have found Inner Fire and its morphs to be useful in only one situation. There is an article set called Nunatak that procs on frost damage, but you don't want to activate it randomly. Instead, you want to trigger it in a cluster of enemies. The other ranged taunt, Destructive Clench, deals frost damage, which means that you would accidentally proc Nunatak on the very first enemy you taunt. In this specific niche situation, you would use Inner Fire for taunting.
The next skill is Bone Shield. It grants you a damage shield equal to 30% of your maximum health, which is identical to the shield you get from the Defensive Stance skill in the One-Handed and Shield skill line. However, Bone Shield also grants your allies a single use of the Bone Wall synergy. When used, this synergy provides them and up to 5 other allies with a damage shield equal to 33% of their maximum health. It's important to note that if you receive the damage shield from someone else using the Bone Wall synergy, it will trigger the 20-second cooldown for you as well. This means that you can't spam Bone Shield and have your allies use it one by one. In content such as a 4-man dungeons, if one person activates the synergy, it goes on cooldown for everyone, assuming they were within range to receive the shield.
I recommend using the Bone Surge morph. This morph changes the synergy to Spinal Surge, which not only provides the damage shield but also grants everyone affected by the shield Major Vitality for 6 seconds. Major Vitality increases their healing received by 16%, and it’s a rather rare buff. Bone Surge is an excellent skill to enhance your group's survivability against mechanics that deal significant damage to the entire group, such as, for example, the Choking Pestilence mechanic from Bal Sunnar dungeon's final boss, Matriarch Lladi Telvanni.
Moving on, we have Necrotic Orb. This skill sends an orb slowly floating forward, dealing damage to all enemies around it. It also provides a crucial synergy to allies, dealing damage and restoring 4000 of their dominant resource when activated.
The first morph, Mystic Orb, increases all of your recoveries by 100 while the orb is active. The second morph, Energy Orb, transforms the orb and the synergy to heal allies instead of damaging enemies. The synergy is essential for sustaining resources, but most of the time, you won't have to use it yourself because someone else in the group will already do so. The Necrotic Orb ability itself may not be the most potent damaging skill, but it's still competitive with others.
Healers often utilize the Energy Orb skill, which means it's typically covered in trials and dungeons when you have a dedicated healer. It's worth noting that the synergy shares cooldown with Templar's Blessed Shards and Holy Shards synergies. Overall, as a tank, it's unlikely that you'll need to use Necrotic Orb frequently because it's easy to rely on others for it. However, if nobody happens to run it in your group, you can provide significant sustain and damage by using it yourself.
As for the Undaunted passives, you’ll want both of them.
Next up, we have the Assault skill line. It’s worth noting that all skills from this skill line will proc the Powerful Assault item set.
The first skill is Vigor. It grants you and your allies in an 8-meter radius a 10-second heal-over-time effect. It’s a decent heal, especially in an article environment where your weapon damage will be buffed by other supports. It’s also the skill you’ll be proccing the Powerful Assault set with most of the time.
The first morph, Resolving Vigor, doesn’t heal your allies anymore; it heals you for a higher amount in half the time and grants you the Minor Resolve buff for 20 seconds, which increases your armor by almost 3000. Minor Resolve is essential, which is why for most other classes Resolving Vigor is the straight-up better option, but Arcanists already get Minor Resolve from Runic Defense.
The other morph, Echoing Vigor, increases the duration from 10 to 16 seconds and increases the radius from 8 to 15 meters.
Both options are viable; one is more selfish, and the other one is more group-oriented. You’ll want to use the selfish Resolving Vigor in difficult fights like, for example, Exarchanic Yaseyla in Sanity’s Edge, but in fights that are a bit easier on tanks, you can get away with Echoing Vigor to heal your group a little bit.
The next skill is Rapid Maneuver. This skill grants you and your allies within 28 meters Major Expedition for 8 seconds, which increases movement speed by 30%. It’s also worth noting that this skill is very expensive and costs 6426 stamina without any modifiers.
The morph you’ll want to use is Charging Maneuver, which also grants Minor Expedition for the duration, increasing movement speed by 15%. This morph also has its cost reduced to 6156. I use this skill in trash fights in trials just so our group can move faster towards the next trash pack, but this is obviously not necessary and it’s just a time saver. However, there are places where Charging Maneuver will be actually really useful and not just a time saver. One example is the Lord Falgravn fight in Kyne’s Aegis trial. There’s a mechanic where your team has to run around the arena and form a line to transfer lightning towards the boss in order to interrupt him while he’s channeling an ability that will eventually kill your entire team. Charging Maneuver is extremely helpful in that phase, and with a 28-meter range, you should be able to reach your entire team when timed correctly.
The next skill is Caltrops. It places an 8-meter AoE that deals damage and slows enemies inside it by 50%.
The reason you’ll want to use it is because one of its morphs - Razor Caltrops - applies Major Breach to all enemies inside it, reducing their armor by almost 6000, providing around a 13% damage increase. It’s extremely good for trash fights.
And the last useful skill from the Assault skill line, and a very important one - War Horn. This is the ultimate you’ll be using most of the time. It costs 250 ultimate and applies a buff to you and all allies within 20 meters that increases their max stamina and max magicka by 10%. This translates to roughly 300 weapon and spell damage, so it’s comparable to the bonus Powerful Assault provides. And it gets even better when it’s morphed.
The Aggressive Horn morph also provides Major Force for 10 seconds, increasing your allies' critical damage done by 20%. It’s a massive boost to your group’s DPS.
As for the Assault passives, none of them affect PvE combat, but you’ll definitely want to put a single point into Continuous Attack to get the permanent Major Gallop, which will increase your movement speed while mounted by 30%.
Next, we have the Support skill line.
Starting off with Purge, it’s a very expensive ability that will cleanse up to 3 effects from you and your allies within 18 meters. It’s extremely useful in some places, such as, for example, the first boss in the Halls of Fabrication trial - Hunter-Killer fabricants.
You’ll want to use the Efficient Purge morph to make the cost a bit more bearable.
Siege Shield’s morph - Propelling Shield - increases the range of abilities with a range of at least 20 meters by 7 meters while you’re standing inside it. It’s going to be really useful in some encounters.
The next skill is Guard. This skill allows you to form a link between you and another group member, which transfers 30% of the damage they take to you. The link has a range limit of 15 meters. There will be fights when one of the tanks, usually the main tank but sometimes the off-tank, takes significantly more damage. In those fights, the tank with the easier job will guard the other tank to help them survive.
One of its morphs - Mystic Guard - also provides constant Minor Vitality, which increases healing received by 8%, and it’s quite a rare buff with very few other sources.
The next skill is Revealing Flare, and it's an extremely important skill for a tank. Activating the skill itself exposes invisible enemies, which you’ll never find useful in PvE, but it also passively grants you Major Protection, which decreases your damage taken by 10%, and that is huge. It’s basically trading a skill slot for 10% damage mitigation. Major Protection doesn’t have any reliable sources other than this skill.
And last, we have the Barrier ultimate. It costs 250 ultimate and grants you and your allies within 12 meters a massive damage shield for 30 seconds. Normally, this would be the go-to ultimate when your team needs more survivability, but Arcanists have access to Gibbering Shelter, which has the potential to be better against sustained damage. Barrier can still be better if the damage you’re trying to shield your allies from comes in a single massive hit.
The Replenishing Barrier morph is the better one; the healing you gain from Reviving Barrier is very small, so it’s better to get some ultimate from the Replenishing morph to be able to gather enough ultimate for the next barrier faster.
As for Support passives, you’ll absolutely want the Magicka Aid. It will increase your magicka recovery by 10% for each support ability slotted.
Now let’s talk about the Vampire skill line. Being a Vampire can be situationally useful for any tank class, but it synergizes exceptionally well with Arcanist. There are 2 ways of utilizing the Vampire skill line.
You can stay on Stage 1 and gain access to Exhilarating Drain, an ability which is a 3-second channel that generates 20 ultimate. It can be very useful when you don’t have much to do and you’re not under pressure, so you can constantly channel to generate a lot of ultimate and spend it to increase the group’s DPS with Horn or increase its survivability with Barrier or Gibbering Shelter. Being a Stage 1 Vampire will increase the cost of all of your non-vampire abilities by 3%, increase your flame damage taken by 5%, and decrease your health recovery by 10%.
You could also be a Stage 3 Vampire and also gain access to the Undeath passive, which reduces your damage taken by up to 30% based on missing health. This will synergize well with Arcanist’s playstyle because you’ll be mostly shielding yourself rather than healing yourself, which means that you could be, for example, at 50% HP and have lots of damage shields stacked on top of that, and Undeath would apply to those damage shields, meaning you’d be benefiting from 15% damage reduction from Undeath while also being relatively safe. I’m saying you could because you’re not supposed to actively try to stay at low HP; I’m just saying this situation can simply happen due to the nature of the Arcanist tank. Being a Stage 3 Vampire, however, will increase the cost of your non-vampire abilities by 8%, increase your flame damage taken by 13%, and reduce your health recovery by 60%. It’s definitely not something you should be using for most of the fights; it’s mostly useful in fights with absurd incoming damage like the Flame-Herald Bahsei boss in Rockgrove trial.
Keep in mind you can switch between Vampire and non-Vampire using the armory station. You should switch the Vampirism off if you don't plan on using Exhilarating Drain or utilizing the Undeath passive so you don’t have to deal with the drawbacks.
And the very last thing I have to mention regarding skills or rather passives, you’ll actually need one of the passives from Craft skill lines, specifically from Alchemy. You’ll need the Medicinal Use passive to increase the duration of bonuses you gain from potions.
And now we've come to the end of the skill descriptions. Now, let's move on to creating skill setups for specific encounters.
It's important to note that making skill setups will vary greatly between PC and console players. PC players have the advantage of using addons that allow them to instantly swap entire skill setups, either through keybinds or automatically when approaching a specific boss. This means PC players can specialize their setups for each encounter. On the other hand, console players will need to create setups that work effectively against both trash mobs and bosses. However, even for console players, there are situations where it might be worth taking the time to adjust your skills, especially when facing particularly challenging bosses.
Keep in mind that the setups I’m going to show are just suggestions and a base to build off of. You will always get better results by adjusting for each fight, and in the previous part of this article, I mentioned every useful skill for you to choose from. It might seem overwhelming, but that’s a great thing that adds depth to the game and makes it much more enjoyable when you eventually learn it all.
I’m always going to show the trash setup first, then the boss setup, and then the merged setup for both trash and bosses for console players to use. I’ll keep skill descriptions very short since I talked about them all in the previous part of this article.
Let’s start off with the trash setup for dungeons.
The first, most important skill is obviously taunt. We’re gonna use Runic Sunder, and we don't even have to consider Pierce Armor in this case because we’ll cover Major and Minor Breach with our other skills.
Next is Razor Caltrops. It’s absolutely necessary to keep up Major Breach on all enemies, and it will also slow them down by 50%. It’s the skill you’ll want to start fights with.
Impervious Runeward, a massive damage shield that will help you survive under pressure.
Power Bash, the skill you’ll need to activate the Void Bash item set, which will pull enemies in toward you. You’ll obviously want to swap it out for something else when not using Void Bash.
Runeguard of Still Waters will provide some additional survivability to you and your teammates, and it will snare your enemies.
And the frontbar ultimate - Gibbering Shelter. Not necessarily with the intention of using it because trash in dungeons usually doesn’t hit hard, we’re gonna slot it mainly to get a bit more stamina and magicka recovery from the Wellspring of the Abyss passive. But if something goes terribly wrong, you’ll have this emergency button available to you.
Another frontbar ultimate you could slot is Vitalizing Glyphic, and it doesn’t matter which morph because we’d use it only to activate the Intricate Runeforms passive to make Impervious Runeward stronger and cheaper.
On the backbar, we’ll start off with Cruxweaver Armor because we need the Major Resolve buff. It’ll also apply a little bit of Minor Breach to enemies and generate Crux.
Next, Silver Leash. You’ll need it to pull enemies in so that they can die faster in your allies' AoEs.
Frost Clench is a taunt with a range slightly longer than Runic Sunder. It’s not completely necessary, but I like being able to taunt enemies from a tiny bit further to make it safer. You can change it to something else if you want.
You’ll need Blockade of Frost as it will synergize with Pulsar. Blockade will apply Minor Breach and a 40% slow to all enemies standing inside who are also Chilled.
Pulsar will Chill your enemies, apply Minor Maim, Minor Brittle, and Minor Mangle. It will also apply Minor Protection to your teammates.
As for the backbar ultimate, you’ll want to use Aggressive Warhorn - the increased resources will boost your group’s damage and healing done, not to mention the 10-second Major Force.
To sum it up, there are two skills that aren’t mandatory - Power Bash and Destructive Clench. And a few skills that you can slot instead of them are Zenas’ Empowering Disc, Fulminating Rune, and Revealing Flare.
Now moving onto boss setups, and here it gets a bit more tricky and changes a lot depending on the rest of your team.
This is the base setup for an environment where you don’t trust your teammates to provide anything. For example, when queuing alone with the dungeon finder, which, by the way, I think you absolutely shouldn’t do because it’s a trap. The random queue is filled with damage dealers who have 0 clue about the game, and you as a tank are in demand and can very easily get into pre-made groups instead.
So what changes compared to the trash setup from before? You swap out Caltrops for Zenas’ Empowering Disc. This will increase your group’s weapon and spell damage, as well as all recoveries. It will also activate the Intricate Runeforms passives, increasing the strength and reducing the cost of your damage shields. If, for whatever reason, you can’t use Zenas’ Empowering Disc in a certain fight, you should swap Gibbering Shelter for Vitalizing Glyphic to activate Intricate Runeforms this way instead.
Instead of Power Bash, you’ll use Rune of the Colorless Pool to provide Minor Brittle and Minor Vulnerability.
Instead of Silver Leash, you’ll use Elemental Susceptibility to provide Major Breach. The Minor Vulnerability and Minor Brittle provided by this morph are useless to us for now because we’re using Rune of the Colorless Pool. But we’ll be using this over Elemental Drain regardless because it’s very likely we’ll have to unslot Rune of the Colorless Pool, which I’ll talk about in a bit.
And instead of Pulsar, you’ll use Blood Altar to massively increase your group’s survivability.
But this obviously won’t work for every boss. Some fights will straight up require situational skills like Silver Leash, Crushing Shock, Immovable, Revealing Flare, etc., not to mention being forced to use an Assault skill when using the Powerful Assault set. So which skills from the setup I’ve shown are the first to go?
If you’re playing with a healer in your group, they should definitely be the one to use Overflowing Altar, and they could also fit in Elemental Susceptibility, but not necessarily.
Another case where you can unslot Elemental Susceptibility is when you have a Necromancer in the group and they’re using the Unnerving Boneyard skill, or if you have a Dragonknight in the group and they’re using Noxious Breath.
Oh, and I also want to mention something about Destructive Clench because in the trash setup, I said that you can unslot it if you feel like the 22-meter taunt range is enough. But against bosses, that’s not the case because Destructive Clench brings a very important Major Maim debuff, which reduces enemies’ damage done by 10%.
If your DDs are using the Oakensorc mythic, they’re already getting Minor Courage from that, and Zenas’ Empowering Disc becomes less useful. It’s still useful because it empowers your damage shields and grants Minor Recovery buffs, but if you need a skill slot in this specific scenario, this would be the first skill to go.
Otherwise, the first skill to go will be Rune of the Colorless Pool. It’s a loss, but keep in mind that you still have Elemental Susceptibility for applying Minor Vulnerability and Minor Brittle, with a lower uptime of course. But sometimes, some skill has to go.
Another thing you could do to save a skill slot would be swapping Runic Sunder for Pierce Armor. In that case, you wouldn’t need Elemental Susceptibility anymore, and it would also allow you to utilize the Puncturing Remedy weapon set. But then you’d lose the penetration, armor, and Crux generation from Runic Sunder, and I don’t think you’ll ever end up in a situation where you’d need this many flex skill slots.
If you have some free skill slots, for example from your healer running Blood Altar but you don’t need any of the situational skills, you can further support your group with, for example, Fulminating Rune.
Now, to give you some examples, these would be my builds for the last bosses of some dungeons in Hard Modes:
Moon Hunter Keep without a healer
Moon Hunter Keep with a healer
Fang Lair without a healer
Fang Lair with a healer
Stone Garden without a healer
Stone Garden with a healer
Now let’s make a build that will do well against both trash and bosses, so it can be used by console players who don’t have access to setup-switching addons.
This is what I would use. It’s basically the base of the setup for bosses with Rune of the Colorless Pool swapped out for Silver Leash, and then Silver Leash was also swapped around with Cruxweaver Armor. The reason for that is Cruxweaver Armor will trigger the Wellspring of the Abyss passive, and since you’ll be spending more of your time on your frontbar, you’ll get more resources out of it if it’s on your frontbar.
I feel like this setup can tackle any trash and most bosses. "Most" because for those few very difficult ones, like for example in Stone Garden, you really should ask your team to give you a minute to put on a specialized setup right before the last boss.
Now moving onto trials and starting off again with the trash setup. I’ll simply list the changes compared to the dungeon boss setup so I don’t have to repeat myself as much.
- Instead of Rune of the Colorless Pool, you’ll want to use Pulsar.
- Instead of Elemental Susceptibility, you’ll want to use Silver Leash.
- And instead of Blood Altar, you’ll want to use Charging Maneuver.
In this setup, Pulsar is on your frontbar, which means it can only be used with 2 ice staves. If you simply don’t own 2 staves and have to use one hand and shield on your frontbar, you can swap Pulsar around with Charging Maneuver.
Charging Maneuver is not really needed; it’s just a matter of convenience and it just makes you reach the next trash packs faster. I assumed that in a 12-man group, there surely would be some Necromancer providing Major Breach with their Unnerving Boneyard, but in pug groups, you might want to swap Charging Maneuver to Razor Caltrops.
You might also want to swap the morph of your Runeguard of Still Waters to Runeguard of Freedom.
Now moving onto trial boss setups, this is going to be extremely similar to the base boss dungeon setup.
The only definite difference would be that you absolutely won't need Overflowing Altar in trials because you'll always have a healer in those.
It is also much more likely you'll have a Necromancer or a Dragonknight providing Major Breach with their class skills, so it's much less likely you'll need to bring your own Major Breach with Elemental Susceptibility. Other than that, everything I've said about situational skills in the dungeon boss setup section of this article applies here, so I won't be repeating that.
But I'll show you a few examples, these would be my builds for bosses of some trials in Hard Modes:
For main tanking Flame-Herald Bahsei, also that's the type of fight where I'd use stage 3 Vampirism
For main tanking Xalvakka
For main tanking Yolnahkriin
And that's it for the skill setup part of this article. Just a friendly reminder, the key to getting better results is to adjust your skills based on the situation. There are a bunch of things you need to consider when setting up your skills, like who's in your team and the type of enemy you're facing. And don't forget about all those niche skills that come in handy only in specific situations. Experiment a bit and see what works best for you.
Now moving onto gear, I'm going to talk about armor weight, traits, and enchants, then the same for weapons, and then the same for jewelry. I'll talk about item sets later on. One very important thing for console players - once again, you're at a disadvantage because you won't be able to quickly switch your gear with addons. While for skills I was showing a compromise setup for console players, I won't be doing that with gear as it's more straightforward here - simply use the boss gear everywhere and don't optimize it for trash at all.
So other than the armor passives I've talked about before, the three armor types provide different amounts of armor, with heavy providing the most, then medium, and then light.
The armor value also varies depending on the body part the armor goes on. A chest piece provides the most armor, then legs, head, shoulder, boots provide the same amount, and then gloves and belt provide very little armor.
You'll want to always use at least 1 piece of every armor type to trigger the Undaunted Mettle passive from the Undaunted skill line, so most of the time you'll be wearing 5 heavy, 1 medium, and 1 light. You'll be able to fit in 2 5-piece item sets and a single 2-piece Monster Set that comes only in the form of head and shoulder pieces. It's easier to work on examples, so let's say we're using 2 heavy 5-piece sets - Turning Tide and Yolnahrkiin, and we're using Archdruid as our monster set. In this scenario, which is the most common one, these are the weights you're going to use.
You're basically forced into heavy on 5 of those pieces, but you can use any weight you want on your head and shoulder, so you'll want light and medium to get the full value off of Undaunted Mettle.
Changing the medium piece to light will reduce your magical damage taken but also reduce your maximum resources, including max health. So while it might make sense against magic damage that scales with max HP, such as the Bahsei fight, it's still better to keep the medium piece against magic damage that doesn't scale with max HP, such as in the fight against Z'Maja.
It's impossible to show you all the combinations because there are so many variables, but let me show you 2 more examples.
Let's say you're wearing Yolnahkriin, Olorime, and once again Archdruid. In this setup, you could shift the weights a bit and have your belt be light because the belt provides very little armor anyway, so the difference between heavy and light is 516, while for the head or shoulder, the difference between heavy and light is 1204. And you're able to have a light belt because one of your body sets is Olorime.
The second example is the same thing but with Powerful Assault, which is a medium set. I hope this gives you the idea.
Now let's move onto traits. Out of 10 traits, we're only gonna look at 6 of them:
- Reinforced, which increases the item's armor by 16%.
- Nirnhoned, which increases the item's armor by 253.
- Divines, which increases Mundus stone effects by 9.1%. I haven't talked about Mundus stones yet, but all you need to know for now is that this 9.1% translates into 27 additional magicka recovery.
- Invigorating, which increases health, stamina, and magicka recovery by 16.
- Sturdy, which reduces the cost of block by 4%.
- Well-Fitted, which reduces the cost of roll dodge by 6%.
The first step is getting enough Reinforced or Nirnhoned pieces to reach the armor cap, which is actually going to be much easier on Arcanist because it gets a lot of armor from passives and from Runic Sunder. Reinforced becomes better than Nirnhoned on pieces which have a base armor value higher than 1581. There are also a lot of other variables that will have an impact on our armor, such as race, item set bonuses, champion points, or weapon type. After you've hit the armor cap, Divines is the best default trait to put on the remaining pieces, and by default, I mean it's the best all-around trait that you should have on your first set of armor.
Invigorating is not far behind in terms of magicka recovery and also gives you some stamina recovery, so it's a viable option, and I'd even say it's better if you have a decent amount of stamina abilities. Sturdy can be situationally best for some encounters where you're forced to hold block for a long time, such as, for example, the Valinna and Lamikhai boss in Scrivener's Hall dungeon. Sturdy can also be good for beginner players who are mindlessly holding block when they shouldn't or when you're using the Ward Master slottable Champion Point, which kind of forces you into this permablocking gameplay to benefit from the damage reduction. Well-Fitted, similarly to Sturdy, can be situationally best for some specific encounters where you're forced to dodge roll a lot, such as, for example, the Reef Guardian boss in Dreadsail Reef Trial.
Now, these would be the traits I'd use on a Nord Arcanist tank with no additional armor from item set bonuses, no armor champion points, and with an ice staff front bar, which means no additional armor from shield.
These would be the traits I'd use with the same setup but with the Fortified CP added on top of that.
These would be the traits I'd use on, let's say, an Imperial with Bulwark champion points, no armor from item set bonuses, but with a sword and shield.
And when you want to use the situational traits like Sturdy or Well-Fitted, you'd simply swap out Divines pieces to those and keep Reinforced and Nirnhoned the way they are.
Now let's move onto enchants. There are 4 types of enchants you can put on your armor - Health, Stamina, Magicka, and Tri-Stat.
Body enchants are simple, and there's no situational stuff - Tri-Stats are straight up best. But they're also very expensive, so before you can afford tri-stat enchants, you'll want to use a mix of health, stamina, and magicka enchants so that you get roughly similar amounts of all 3 of them.
Enchants on the chest, legs, helm, and shield provide more, so prioritize those when upgrading to tri-stats.
Now we're moving onto weapons. Weapons obviously don't have weights, but they have types, and that's what we're gonna start off with.
As a tank, you'll be using either a one-handed weapon with a shield or an ice staff on your front bar. On your back bar, you'll always be using an ice staff.
So, how to decide which one to use in a certain situation? When it comes to trash pack setups, it's very simple: you want to use one-handed and shield in dungeons to utilize the Void Bash item set, and in trials, you want to use an ice staff so you can use Pulsar on your front bar. Against bosses, let's compare the differences between one-handed and shield and frost staff. One-handed and shield gets:
- 5% weapon and spell damage
- Increased block mitigation against projectiles by 14%
- Increased movement speed while blocking
- You can regenerate both stamina and magicka with heavy attacks because you have one-handed and shield on the front bar and an ice staff on the back bar
- You gain access to Defensive Stance, which is a decent damage shield that costs stamina, so it can be used in tandem with Impervious Runeward, allowing you to spend both types of resources to gain damage shields
- A shield will grant you 1720 armor, a body enchant, and an armor trait
A frost staff gets:
- 100% increased chance to apply status effects
- You gain double the value of weapon trait and weapon enchant compared to one-handed and shield
The chance to apply status effects isn't as important for an Arcanist because in most cases, you'll be able to apply Minor Vulnerability and Minor Brittle with your Rune of the Colorless Pool. That's why I think one-handed and shield is vastly better in most cases.
Now let's move onto traits. Out of 8 traits, we're only gonna look at 3 of them:
- Charged, which increases the chance to proc status effects by 182.5% and 365% if it's a 2-handed weapon.
- Decisive, which gives you a 27.5% chance to gain 1 additional Ultimate whenever you gain Ultimate, and the chance is 55% if it's a 2-handed weapon.
- Infused, which increases the effect of weapon enchantments by 30% and decreases their cooldown by 50%.
So let's go over all content types and what kind of traits you should use there.
In trash packs in dungeons, you'll absolutely want your backbar ice staff to be Charged so that your Pulsar almost always applies the Chilled status effect. As for your front bar, it doesn't really make much difference, both Charged and Decisive will work.
In trash packs in trials, you'll want your backbar ice staff to be Infused to boost your Crusher enchant, and your front bar ice staff to be Charged so that your Pulsar always applies the Chilled status effect.
Against bosses, both in dungeons and in trials, you'll absolutely want your backbar ice staff to be Infused to boost your Crusher enchant. Your front bar weapon should be Infused with a Weakening enchant if you're playing without a healer, and Decisive otherwise. You could also utilize Charged with a Shock enchant to provide Minor Vulnerability if you're not using Rune of the Colorless Pool in your skill setup and nobody else is providing Minor Vulnerability.
Now, moving onto enchants, there are a lot of them, but I'll only talk about a few of the most useful ones. Keep in mind that these values will be halved when put on a one-handed weapon.
- Crusher: Reduces the enemy's armor by 1622 for 5 seconds, with a 10-second cooldown. With the Infused trait and Elemental Blockade, you can keep it up indefinitely.
- Shock: Deals 2534 shock damage with a 4-second cooldown. The reason you'll want to use it is that damage from enchants has a very high base chance to proc status effects - 20%. With all other modifiers, such as the Charged trait on your weapon, you'll be able to reach a chance close to 100%. Shock damage procs the Concussed status effect, which applies Minor Vulnerability for 4 seconds.
- Frost: Deals 2534 frost damage with a 4-second cooldown. Same reasoning as with Shock, except here we're talking about the Chilled status effect, which applies Minor Maim and, if you're wielding an ice staff, Minor Brittle.
- Weakening: Reduces the enemy's weapon and spell damage by 348 for 5 seconds, with a 10-second cooldown. With the Infused trait, you'll be able to keep up decent uptime on it.
- Hardening: Grants a 3784 damage shield for 5 seconds, with a cooldown of 10 seconds.
- Absorb Stamina, Absorb Magicka, and Prismatic Onslaught: Deals 1900 physical or magic damage and restores 354 stamina, 354 magicka, or 177 magicka and stamina, respectively.
So, let's go over all content types and what kind of enchants you should use there. Basically, you'll want to always use Crusher on your backbar weapon.
In trash packs in dungeons, on your front bar, you'll want to use a Shock enchant.
In trash packs in trials, on your front bar, you'll want to use Shock or Frost enchants.
Against bosses in both dungeons and trials, you'll want to use Weakening if you don't have a healer with you, or Shock if you couldn't fit in Rune of the Colorless Pool and nobody else is providing Minor Vulnerability. If you have a healer and have Minor Vulnerability covered, you can use some selfish enchant of your choice: Hardening for damage shields, or Absorb Stamina, Absorb Magicka, or Prismatic Onslaught for additional sustain.
One more situational thing I want to mention is that sometimes, in very organized groups against very difficult bosses, you can use a Hardening enchant on your backbar, and it will increase your survivability by a decent amount. I used it when off-tanking Flame-Herald Bahsei, but you have to make sure other supports will cover Crusher instead.
Now let's talk about jewelry and start with listing all the useful traits:
- Infused: Increases the effectiveness of jewelry enchantments by 60%.
- Harmony: Restores 880 Health, Stamina, and Magicka whenever you activate a synergy.
- Swift: Increases movement speed by 7%.
In trash fights, the best trait is Swift. The movement speed is really useful there, and trash is usually easy to deal with, so you don't need the additional sustain from Harmony or Infused.
Against bosses, you'll want to use Infused or Harmony. If I were to dumb down the relation between them, it would be that Harmony is stronger whenever you have at least 2 different synergies available to you. This means that Harmony will be better in the vast majority of situations, but Infused can be better when playing with randoms. But that's dumbed down, and if you want to learn more, I made a separate video about it.
Let's move onto jewelry enchants, and I'll once again list all the useful ones:
- Reduce Spell Cost: Reduces the Magicka cost of all abilities by 203.
- Reduce Skill Cost: Reduces the health, stamina, and Magicka cost of all abilities by 133.
- Bracing: Reduces the cost of Block by 203.
It's very simple to determine which one you'll want to use. Reduce Spell Cost is the best one overall for your sustain. Reduce Skill Cost is the one you'll want to use in trash packs because there you'll have to use Silver Leash quite a lot. You could also use Reduce Skill Cost against bosses when you're using a decent amount of stamina abilities. Bracing enchant is something you can use for a bit while you're learning the game and you're panicking and holding block a lot more than you really have to.
Now, let's talk about item sets. You're able to equip two 5-piece item sets and a single 2-piece monster set. There are tons of them, but fortunately, I already made separate articles for those. Here's the video for for 5-piece sets
and here's a video for monster sets.
Some of the 5-piece item sets can be one-barred, which means that you can wear 3 of its pieces on the body or jewelry, and the last 2 pieces on your weapon slots. Doing so with a single 5-piece item will allow you to fit in a 2-piece weapon set on one of your bars. Here are the sets you could use in that case:
- Puncturing Remedy, if you're using Pierce Armor.
- Defensive Position, if you're using Defensive Stance.
- Void Bash, absolutely great for trash packs in dungeons. You'll need Power Bash to proc it, which I already put in the dungeon skill setup specifically for this set.
- One piece Trainee with one piece Druid's Braid. One piece of the Trainee set grants you 1454 max health, and one piece of the Druid's Braid set grants you 1206 max health. If you're not using Pierce Armor nor Defensive Stance in a boss fight, which is actually very likely, using a Trainee one-handed weapon and a Druid's Braid shield, or the other way around, will greatly increase your max health on your front bar.
Here's an example of such a setup:
If you were to one-bar both of your 5-piece sets and have one of them work only on your front bar and the other one only on your back bar, you can't fit in weapon sets anymore, but you'd be able to fit in 2 more items on your body or jewelry. In this situation, it's best to use a mythic and 1 piece of the Trainee set. It's also worth noting that Trainee comes in any weight, which gives you some flexibility. Unfortunately, there aren't many useful Mythics for tanking. The two I can recommend are Death Dealer's Fete, but it'll be a detriment if a fight has damage that scales with max HP, and Markyn Ring of Majesty. Arcanist already has tons of armor, but it might come in useful on a non-Nord character.
Here's an example of such a setup:
Now let's talk about the gear you should start with.
This is the crafted setup you could start with. I'm saying you could because you don't have to start with crafted gear. Turning Tide and Crimson Oath are 2 very good sets that come from dungeons, and normal difficulty dungeons are relatively easy. If you want, you can skip the crafted set phase and go farm these dungeons while wearing some random gear you've got from questing.
To make everything a bit clearer, now I want to show a few examples of full gear sets I'd use for some encounters.
For dungeons without a healer, this is what I'd use in trash,
and this is what I'd use against bosses.
For dungeons with a healer, this is what I'd use in trash,
and this is what I'd use against bosses.
For pug trails, this is what I'd use as a main tank,
and this is what I'd use as an off-tank.
Keep in mind that these are just base examples. In dungeons, you'd have to bring some penetration sets if your damage dealers were to wear medium armor, and in non-pug trials, you'd simply wear whatever your raid lead tells you to.
Now moving onto Champion Points. Just like with every other aspect of this game, a lot of the stuff here will be situational, and you'll be able to gain small bits of advantage here and there by reconfiguring and preparing for each fight on its own.
The green tree doesn't impact combat, but I just want to mention that the Steed's Blessing slottable, which increases your out-of-combat movement speed by 20%, is a very good one to have for moving between trash packs.
This is the order in which you should progress your blue tree.
The useful blue slottables are:
- Ironclad, which reduces damage taken from direct damage attacks by 6%
- Unassailable, which reduces damage taken from damage over time attacks by 6%
- Duelist's Rebuff, which reduces damage taken from single-target attacks by 6%
- Enduring Resolve, which reduces damage taken from area-of-effect attacks by 6%
- Bulwark, which increases your armor by 1900 while you have a shield or frost staff equipped, which should be at all times anyway
- Endless Endurance and Arcane Supremacy, which grant 1300 max stamina or magicka respectively
I think the logic behind blue slottables is pretty self-explanatory, but it'll require some knowledge about what type of damage a certain boss deals. You'll want to use all slottables that correspond with the type of damage you'll take in a specific encounter. For some, you'll have to use all 4 of them, but for most of them, 3 will be enough, which enables you to use Bulwark and increase your armor by a fair bit. This enables you to shift armor somewhere, for example, you could use different armor traits. That's where Endless Endurance or Arcane Supremacy could come in handy. While they're never the ideal slottables, armor traits aren't easy to change, so if the only set of armor you own has Reinforced and Nirnhoned pieces, Bulwark won't be that useful, and then you can utilize the slottables that increase max stamina and max magicka.
The red tree is the most complicated one. This is the order in which you should progress it.
The useful red slottables are:
- Boundless Vitality, which increases your max health by 1400.
- Fortified, which increases your armor by 1731.
- Rejuvenation, which increases your health, stamina, and magicka recovery by 90.
- Bastion, which increases the strength of your damage shields by 15%.
- Shield Master, which decreases the cost of your damage shields by 10%.
- Bracing Anchor, which increases your block mitigation by 20% and reduces your movement speed by 16%.
- Ward Master, which reduces your damage taken by 10% while blocking under the effect of a damage shield.
- Sustained by Suffering, which increases your health, stamina, and magicka recovery by 150 while you have a debuff on yourself.
- On Guard, which increases your block mitigation by 10% while under the effects of Crowd Control Immunity.
And some extremely niche ones, but ones I still want to mention are:
- Arcane Alacrity, which reduces the cost of your dodge roll by 800 while under the effect of a damage shield.
- Expert Evasion, which grants you a free dodge roll once every 30 seconds.
Here are a few tips on how to set up your red slottables:
- Bastion synergizes extremely well with Arcanist, and you'll want it for most fights.
- Shield Master will reduce the cost of your Impervious Runeward, saving you a decent amount of magicka. It will also reduce the ultimate cost of Barrier and Gibbering Shelter if you choose to use those.
- Ward Master will drain your stamina by forcing you to permablock, but it'll be worth it in fights with absurd incoming damage that normally isn't affected by block, such as Flame-Herald Bahsei, for example.
- Bracing Anchor is great for fights with constant direct blockable damage.
- On Guard will synergize with Immovable if you choose to use it, granting you even more block mitigation during that 6-second window.
- Boundless Vitality is great for your survivability if a fight does not have max HP-based damage.
- Fortified can be used to reach the armor cap if you're still missing some.
- Rejuvenation is a decent boost to sustain when you have some slots left.
- Sustained by Suffering is a straight-up stronger Rejuvenation that only works in some fights, but there's a decent amount of fights where you have a constant debuff on yourself.
Now let's talk about race. So, for all other classes, you'd be handicapping yourself by a decent amount by not choosing Nord for their bonus armor because armor is very hard to get from other sources. It is possible to get, but that forces you to sacrifice other good stuff such as the Atronach Mundus or Harmony jewelry traits. However, that's not the case for Arcanists because they get tons of armor from their passive and from Runic Sunder. On top of that, because of their access to Minor Brittle through Rune of the Colorless, they can use one-handed and shield without losing much, and a shield provides additional armor.
The two best races for Arcanist will be Nord and Imperial, both better in different scenarios. Nord's bonus armor gives us more flexibility with Champion Points. Not having to run Fortified allows us to slot other CPs, and Arcanist benefits from this a lot because of their synergy with Bastion, Shield Master, and Ward Master. However, you can also make up for this armor deficit by slotting Bulwark in the blue tree, which is why Imperial will be better in fights that don't have all four types of damage. In those cases, we'll be able to actually fit in Bulwark. Then there's the fact that Nord's ultimate generation will work better if you're wearing sets like Saxhleel or War Machine, so it's really hard to pick the definite better out of these two. But again, these are small differences, so on an Arcanist tank, you can just pick whichever race you want, which is a big difference compared to other classes where not picking Nord was troublesome.
Now moving onto munduses, this part is actually very straightforward because the best mundus stone by far is the Atronach, which grants 310 magicka recovery. You can find it in the places shown on the screen. It can also be placed in houses, so some guild halls might have it there.
Another mundus that might be worth considering situationally would be the Steed, which increases your movement speed and health recovery. It's something I've seen other people use, but personally, I just always stick to the Atronach.
Most of the time, it's best to put all your points into health. It'll increase your survivability and scale most of your abilities. Having a bigger resource capacity is useful but not at the cost of health. The only exception is when your max magicka would be higher than your max stamina due to, for example, racials or item set bonuses. In that case, you should put just enough points into stamina so that your max stamina is higher than your max magicka, so that it's considered your dominant resource for the sake of Combustion synergy.
The best food is Orzorga's Smoked Bear Haunch, which will increase your max health and all recoveries. There's also a cheaper alternative called Jewels of Misrule, which provides only slightly fewer stats. Sometimes it'll be beneficial to lower your max health, for example, during the execute phase in Cloudrest. Candied Jester's Coin is one example of a food that's good for that.
Most of the time, you'll want to use the tri-stat potions, which restore all of your resources and boost their recoveries by 30%. You can craft them by combining Columbine, Bugloss, and Mountain's Flower.
A better alternative, though much more expensive, are Heroism potions, which boost your ultimate generation instead of restoring health. You can craft them by combining Columbine, Dragon's Blood, and Dragon Rheum.
And that's it. If you want to find more tanking content check out my YouTube channel - Hyperioxes