The Beginner's Guide to Tanking In ESO

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Tanking in The Elder Scrolls Online can be a weird surprise particularly to those who come from other MMOs, so let's go over it!

Introduction

Greetings, if you’re interested in learning how to tank or seeing how PvE tanking is in ESO or what endgame tanking is like, you’ve come to the right place.

In this written guide, we will be going over how tanking works in The Elder Scrolls Online, how various groups of people define tanking, the races/classes for tanking, the skills (both class and universal) and other important information on tanking successfully in ESO.

Should you have any further questions about tanking you can join the ESOU Discord or the Tank Club Discord.

Definition Of Tanking

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At the base of the pyramid, most people have this idea of simply holding aggro and not dying. This is simply the fundamentals of tanking but not the entire definition of what a tank can be in its potential.

Most people naturally move up the pyramid trying out tanking sets or rather support sets while holding aggro and not dying. Many tanks bring selfish sets but some do try out group sets inadvertently such as the Armory of Ebon which grants an additional 1000 Max Health to everyone in group.

The next level of tanking after is to do everything below in the pyramid while intentionally bringing group support sets - in ESO’s case, buffing the DPS of the group - while starting to look at what buffs and debuffs you can offer outside of item sets.

The next level of tanking is to start maximizing your buff and debuff uptimes in coordination with your group whether it’s for 4 man or 12 man content.

The final level of tanking is to do everything prior but to be able to not only offer the ability to tank but the ability to also do damage when possible while offering buffs and debuffs and on any class.

These levels of tanking are permeable meaning depending on the situations you can naturally shift from a high level to a lower level (such as going for no death you may temporarily resort to playing very safe - going down the pyramid - which often leads to sacrificing uptimes on buffs and debuffs).

How Does Tanking Work In ESO?

A lot of you reading this may have come from older or other MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV and so forth. The traditional trinity of healer, DPS and tank can often blurry in its typical boundaries (tanks can often replace healers for example in 4 man content by providing the buffs a healer can and run with 3 damage dealers instead of the traditional group composition of 1 tank, 1 healer, 2 DPS).

Depending on content and group skill, you can stack even more DPS or do 4 DPS as well.

In ESO, the aggro system is quite unique in that there is no buildup of threat and can be perceived to be "less active" than other MMOs.

Aggro & "Hard Taunts"

Skills, damage or healing can draw the aggro of monsters/bosses however in ESO there are four "hard" taunts that guarantee aggro'ing a boss or a monster to you for an extended amount of time that can be refreshed however many times.

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Puncture is the Sword and Board skill tanks can use to expend Stamina to taunt a hostile target while offering debuffs. Both morphs are Stamina based.

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The Undaunted skill Inner Fire is a ranged hard taunt with one morph being Magicka based and the other being Stamina based.

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Tri-Focus is a passive in the Destruction Staff skill-line that allows you to taunt hostile targets simply by heavy attacking with a Frost staff although this is probably the least recommended taunt as you drop block or it takes too long to aggro things away from others to do so.

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Post-Greymoor, the Tormentor set was updated to taunt on quite a few more skills including while in Werewolf form making Werewolf tanks finally viable. However the most notable thing about this set is that it allows for AOE hard taunts with certain skills such as the Templar's Toppling Charge though it will not be used at higher levels of tanking as discussed above.

If you've noticed by now you will have realized three things up until this point:

  • Tanks are absolutely responsible for the aggro of mobs and bosses, which can place considerable pressure on newer tanks but the varying degrees of how groups will aggro large amounts of mobs will certainly have an impact.
  • These taunts can only taunt ONE THING at a time. This means you must prioritize taunting the most dangerous adds or mobs first or forsake the notion of trying to taunt every single thing. Many new tanks make the mistake of often running out of resources to taunt things and not be able to survive or block after grabbing aggro. Recognizing content or trash is often vital and will require you to actually do them firsthand.
  • We've been calling these taunts "hard" taunts, but then what are soft taunts?

"Soft Taunts"

A skill that is not Inner Fire, Puncture, etc but something that can initiate or maintain the aggro of a boss or mob.

A state of constant aggro on the tank despite the trash or bosses not being hard taunted long after the durations run out.

If a tank doesn't "hard taunt" things first or during the fight, the mobs/bosses can soft aggro or get soft taunted by the source of damage, healing, etc.

Perhaps the most well known example of a soft taunt is the Dragonknight's Unrelenting Grip (chains) which areare unique in that they actually apply a taunt effect--it's not just a matter of getting aggro because you damaged them, but there is an actual special taunt effect that gets applied. It lasts for only 2s and does not override any of the 15s taunts. But it is a taunt and can produce strange effects as a result (e.g., the bug where chaining Z'Maja's dead body during execute could cause the kite tank to be briefly considered as the MT and cause them to get baneful instead of the actual MT).

Otherwise, you can soft taunt with AOEs such as Wall of Elements, Spear Shard, Caltrops, etc.

For the state of constant aggro without hard taunting, every boss and every mob has their own quirks with soft taunts or soft aggro. For example, Axes on the Mage fight in Aetherian Archive will stick on you like white on rice after being initially hard taunted. Ice Atronachs during the Lokkestiiz fight in Sunspire will immediately lose aggro the moment your hard taunt durations run out.

There's one thing above all that can immediately eliminate any soft aggro or soft taunt: getting stunned.

You can use getting stunned to your benefit as a player in certain situations such as losing the aggro of the Shalks during the Hunter-Killers fight in Halls of Fabrication as either a kiting DPS or a kiting off tank.

Overtaunting?

"Overtaunting" refers to when two tanks are coordinating on a boss fight in a Trial and sometimes one tank can accidentally take something another tank is holding such as the boss and that ends up being "immune" to any taunt thereafter.

But how does this overtaunting exactly work?

When you taunt something, that target gets a 12s debuff called Taunt Counter, and that debuff gains a stack each time a taunt is applied, and if someone else taunts a target with 2 or more stacks of Taunt Counter, the taunt will work, and the target will get Taunt Immunity the thing that's counter-intuitive about Taunt Counter is that it's a static 12s duration.

Taunting when Taunt Counter is active does not refresh its duration so the following scenario is pretty straightforward:

0s: Tank 1 taunts

6s: Tank 1 retaunts

10s: Tank 2 taunts -> Taunt Immunity

But look at what happens here:

0s: Tank 1 taunts

6s: Tank 1 retaunts

7s: Tank 1 retaunts

8s: Tank 1 retaunts

10s: Tank 1 retaunts

11s: Tank 1 retaunts

13s: Tank 2 taunts -> NO Taunt Immunity

in the second scenario, Tank 2 taunts the boss after Tank 1 just spammed 5 taunts on GCD, and there's no taunt immunity so the correct definition for overtaunt is that [it happens when someone else taunts a target that has been retaunted during the 12s Taunt Counter duration].

The thing that makes taunt immunity counter-intuitive is that it doesn't refresh its duration so you need to count back to the last taunt that applied Counter, and unless you're tracking it with an addon or manually keeping track in your head which taunt should've applied Counter, you don't know which taunt is the taunt that starts the timer for immunity.

Main Tank and Off Tank

What do Trial groups mean when they refer to one tank as the "main tank" and their 2nd tank as an "off tank"? In the simplest form, a main tank takes the boss and the 2nd tank takes everything else during a boss fight. The addition of a 2nd tank to a 12 man group whether they go more DPS or more of a tank spec adds the benefit of having another person with a taunt who can help you stack enemy mobs together. We will touch on how to stack as tanking towards the end of this guide.

Best Races

You will most likely have heard that you can often tank on any race with any class. This has been proven many times over most notably by former content creator Woeler who was well known for tanking on a Khajiit in endgame groups even when racial passives became more impactful.

While race doesn't matter as much for tank compared to DPS or even Healing, there are some races that make tanking easier especially for beginners such as Nords, Imperials, and Argonians.Taking into account optimization, stats and comfort level, here is how we would rank the races from best to worst:

  • Nord - Ultimate gain, free resistances, Stamina, Health.
  • Imperial - More stam/health than Nord, cost reduction.
  • Dark Elf - Spell/Weapon Damage.
  • Orsimer - Sprint, Weapon Damage, Health.
  • Argonian - Potion Boost, stat-wise not comparable to Nord or Imperial.
  • Breton - Cost Reduction, spell mitigation, Max Magicka.
  • Redguard - Max Stamina, Weapon cost reduction, Sustain.
  • Altmer - Spell Damage, Max Magicka, some sustain.
  • Khajiit - Max stats are nowhere as comparable to other races.
  • Bosmer - Only benefit is poison resistance, Poison status effect, Stamina Recovery is useless.

This doesn’t mean you have to race change your current races to any of those above, it’s simply a matter of the stats these races often give which can beat out other race stats such as comparing the Nord’s mitigation to the Bosmer’s lack of health and often useless stamina recovery stat.

This can also play a factor in what class you can combine with your choice of race. Regardless it’s always about the stats you need then you want particularly when we start discussing other things such as Attribute Points.

Classes

In terms of comfort level for most players, it goes something like the following (from top to bottom):

Dragonknight

For both 4 man and 12 man content, in terms of handling for all levels of players, nothing still comes close to the Dragonknight due to its class toolkit. It's brought to raids however not because of its easy resource management but due to the unique Stagger debuff through the usage of Stone Giant and also Engulfing Flames which provides a unique boost to all sources of fire damage to the rest of the raid team.

Warden

For both 4 man and 12 man content, Warden comes close to Dragonknight in terms of comfort. Warden tanks are generally brought to raids to provide Minor Toughness which gives 10% additional max health to people in group and to provide Minor Vulnerability through Fetcher Swarm.

Nightblade

Despite what some players may say, Nightblade as a tanking class has remained in flux not because of whether they gained or lost tanking aspects to their skills such as the post-Stonethorn patch removal of damage mitigation stacks from Grim Resolve but because of the competition between magicka and stamina DPS compositions. Nightblade tanks became popular in endgame due to stamina DPS compositions being more popular than magicka DPS compositions as Stamina Necromancers would be the norm while Stamina Nightblades didn't DPS as high as Stamina Necromancers.

Which meant that the Minor passive of Minor Savagery which is needed to optimize stamina DPS in groups was often delegated to a Nightblade tank. In terms of handling for all levels of players, it's not too bad and you still get a significant damage mitigation buff through the class skill Mirage which mitigates 25% of any AOE damage.

Sorcerer

Sorcerer tanks have the highest block mitigation due to their Bound Aegis but this again, like the Dragonknight, Warden or Nightblade is not the only reason why it's brought into raid compositions. Again,it's about the Minor Prophecy passive the Sorcerer class offers.

For magicka DPS compositions pre-Stonethorn, Magicka Sorcerers didn't pull as high as the other classes so endgame groups again delegated this class to a support role either a Sorcerer tank or a Sorcerer healer. We would say a Sorcerer offtank and a Sorcerer main tank shines most in Veteran Asylum Sanctorium Hard Mode and veteran Cloudrest Hard Mode respectively with all groups.

Necromancer

Necromancer tanking remains elusive to many players particularly in Trials due to its rather off the tempo playstyle compared to Dragonknights or Sorcerers but this doesn't mean it's a bad tank class at all in fact it's actually one of many people's favorites.

Necromancer tanks are brought to the frontlines by raid teams due to three things: their ability to self-synergize a skill which helps Alkosh uptimes when it's not always possible for healers or DPS to get a synergy to the tank and of course their Colossus ultimate which can be used on either trash fights or boss fights.

The last is of course Empowering Grasp which can give a group an incredibly high uptime on Empower.

Templar

Now let's talk about Templar, many of you who probably tried out Templar tanking and struggled with it initially were often told omegalul, just delete it or don't play it. These responses are of course extremely unhelpful and misleading.

Obviously just like every other class, Templar tanking can be done and as proven by endgame players, it has its uses in groups which require it for Minor Sorcery and the skill Power of the Light which provides additional penetration such as Minor Breach and Minor Fracture for both stamina and magicka DPS compositions. In terms of handling or playstyle it can be bland or uncomfortable for many due to its lack of a reliable class heal as a tank.

Every other class has a reliable self heal that often scales off of max health or are just so good such as Cloak, Scythe, Dragonblood, Polar Wind, Clannfear, etc but Templar tanks just don't which is a major factor into why a lot of people fail at it.

We would highly recommend getting Vigor, typically Resolving Vigor, as your self heal for Templar tanking and it gets a hundred times easier. Sustain and survivability wise the Templar tank is not bad at all with its Rune Focus and Sun Shield.

Universal Skills & Skill Lines For Tanking

In addition to Puncture and Inner Fire, below are some of the universal skills and Skill Lines one will need to consider for every tank regardless of class and depending on situations:

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Blood Altar - Provides a synergy and Minor Lifesteal to the group.

Orb - Provides a guaranteed synergy to everyone in group.

Trapping Webs - Provides a damage synergy. Situational.

Bone Shield - Provides a shield synergy to the group. Situational, particularly for vCR Hard Mode.

Note that you want the Undaunted Command and Mettle passives for additional max resources (depends on how many types of Armor you're wearing; medium, light, heavy and also for additional resources granted after synergizing a skill).

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Destruction Staff skill line includes Crushing Shock (situational), Elemental Blockade (most of the time to keep up an enchantment such as Crusher to provide more armor penetration to the group) and Elemental Drain (situational, for providing sustain to the group with Minor Magickasteal while providing Major Breach).

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Intimidating Presence (Fighter's Guild passive) is needed especially if you're going to run the Fighter's Guild skill Circle of Protection (situational).

The Banish the Wicked passive can be nice for Daedric/undead themed dungeons and Trials.

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From the Mages Guild skill line, typically Balance or Spell Symmetry are often used by a lot of tanks in groups with both healers and no healers. Usage of it can take some time getting used to depending on the player.

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Aggressive Horn (almost always) gives a significant damage boost along with an additional boost to Max Stamina and Magicka for both yourself and the group.

Vigor (situational) is a great self or group heal depending on the morph you take.

Rapid Maneuver (typically the Charging morph) is a great skill to move things along particularly if you're going for a faster run or higher score.

Caltrops and Magicka Detonation will depend but can also be of use to proc the Powerful Assault set.

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From the Support Skill Line, Barrier (situational) can be used by tanks for either 4 or 12 man groups. It has a cap of 12. Efficient Purge (morph of Purge) and Guard (either morph depending on the situation) can also be used. Siege Shield was only historically used a long time ago when the Foundation Stone Atronach's rocks could be mitigated by it and also the Propelling morph was sometimes used by off tanks on the Assembly General fight in Halls of Fabrication.

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Light Armor, Medium Armor and definitely Heavy Armor passives will need to be invested into. If you're going to go with 5 pieces of Heavy Armor, 1 piece of Medium Armor and 1 piece of Light Armor (for the Undaunted Mettle passive to gain an additional 6% max resources), you can take advantage of this "5-1-1" setup by putting points into the passives Grace, Evocation, Spell Warding, Wind Walker and Athletics and of course every Heavy Armor passive, vice versa.

Attribute Points

"How many points should I put into Health, Stamina or Magicka as a tank?"

This is probably one of the most common questions and the answer is: "What you need first then what you want later" meaning if you need a certain amount of Health or Magicka or Stamina, get to that amount with Attribute Points or with a combination of Attribute Points, Health enchantments, food, etc and then invest the points into other places.

In general, most tanks will want their Stamina pool to be higher than their Magicka pool even if it's by the value of "1" as you will get primarily Stamina back upon using a Synergy such as Blessed Shard or Combustion. If you have a higher Magicka pool than Stamina, you will get primarily Magicka back upon the use of a Synergy.

Mundus Stones

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4 Primary Mundus Stones most tanks use nowadays are:

Lord - Max Health

Atronach - Magicka Recovery (remember, you still get Magicka recovery while blocking but no Stamina recovery!)

Shadow/DPS Mundus - Damage Spec

Steed - Sprint Speed

The Lady Mundus Stone can certainly be used for additional resistances should you need it but the Serpent Stone ranks the lowest as you don't recover Stamina while blocking.

Sustaining As A Tank

By this point if you're trying to tank you will notice that perhaps you struggle with maintaining your Magicka or Stamina which can result in you struggling with your Health or it can even be the other way around; perhaps you're not getting appropriately healed at the right times which can end up in you expending more Magicka and Stamina.

Either way you're having a trouble with sustaining, feel free to check out the video by TC_Lee above where he goes over sustaining as a tank.

We will be tying all of this together with Food, Enchantments, Gear, Traits, Champion Points, Potions and Block Cost.

Food

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Food is a weapon as well! You will notice that a lot of the recommended foods across various websites and content creators’ videos consist of all three stats for tanking builds (food that offers Health, Magicka,  Stamina). You need Stamina and Magicka to taunt, Stamina to roll dodge/block/break free, you need health (if you look at ESOLogs to see who takes the most damage taken - it’s often the tanks!), so the Health offered is going to be significant as well in conjunction with the max Stamina and Magicka you get.

Bewitched Sugar Skulls - Better version with slightly more max stats and free health recovery compared to regular purple tri-stat.

Purple Tri-stat Food - If you can’t afford Sugar Skulls.

Witchmother’s Potent Brew/Red Frothgar/Other - Situational, niche.

Remember that you can also use foods DURING a fight, some tanks have swapped to green non-Health food for example during a fight in Veteran Cloudrest Hard Mode when Z’Maja’s Shade is in her execute phase due to the healing debuff making it tougher for higher health pools to be topped off.

Potions

The most common Potions to be used are the "tri-pots" or Potions that grant Health, Magicka and Stamina that most tanks used. Potion type can vary depending on what you're trying to accomplish as a tank or as a group such as Heroism Potions.

Regardless make sure to have the Medicinal Use passive fully unlocked and invested into as it will help your sustain quite a bit.

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Traits (Body/Weapons/Jewelry)

Below is a list of Traits we recommend for your body pieces, jewelry traits and weapons.

  • Sturdy (Armor Trait) - Reduces block cost.
  • Well Fitted (Armor Trait) - Reduces both Sprint and Roll Dodge cost.
  • Infused (Armor Trait) - Amplifies the effect of your enchantments, most noticeable on your large body pieces (Head, Chest, Legs, Shield).
  • Divines (Armor Trait) - Amplifies the effect of your Mundus Stone, this is situational/niche.
  • Decisive (Weapon Trait) - Adds more chance of gaining Ultimate every time you gain Ultimate. Typically on a one hander weapon.
  • Charged (Weapon Trait) - Adds more chance for a Status Effect to occur. Most often combined with a Shock Glyph on a one hander to increase the chances of Concussion and thus proc Off Balance for your group's DPS.
  • Infused (Weapon Trait) - Situational, depends on glyph.
  • Sharpened (Weapon Trait) - Very situational, particularly for things like Alkosh.
  • Infused (Jewelry Trait) - Can be used for a lot of fights and can be combined with certain enchantments for a boost such as Magicka Recovery or Block Cost reduction or tri-stat reduction.
  • Healthy (Jewelry Trait)
  • Arcane (Jewelry Trait)
  • Robust (Jewelry Trait)
  • Harmony (Jewelry Trait) - For additional resources granted by synergies, situational.
  • Swift (Jewelry Trait) - Vroom vroom. Go fast, stack mobs faster, become speed.
  • Triune (Jewelry Trait) - Can be nice for when you have absolutely no other traits to run.

Enchantments

Below is a list of Glyphs/Enchantments you can slap onto your weapons, armor and jewelry to make tanking easier for all manners of content. Note that enchantments on one handers are only half the value of enchantments on two handers.

  • Prismatic Glyph (Armor) - Offers Max Magicka, Health & Stamina all in one as opposed to the regular Health, Stamina and Magicka Glyphs. You ideally want to either put these on the Head, Chest, Legs or Shield armor should you want to use these as the largest body pieces offer more bang for your buck for enchantment stats (particularly if those large pieces are of the Infused trait).
  • Health Glyph (Armor)
  • Stamina Glyph (Armor)
  • Magicka Glyph (Armor)
  • Crusher Glyph (Weapon) - Standard Armor penetration enchantment that helps your group DPS. Highly recommend to put this on an Infused two handed weapon such as a Destruction Staff or Bow to get the most penetration out of it.
  • Weakening Glyph (Weapon) - Reduces the target's Weapon/Spell Damage, also affect bosses' attacks that come directly from them (does not affect environmental damage, certain mechanics).
  • Shock Glyph (Weapon) - Typically on a Decisive, Infused or Charged One Hander Weapon to increase the chances of Concussion which in turn can increase your Off Balance uptime for the group's DPS.
  • Absorb Magicka Glyph (Weapon) - Situational, if you really need it.
  • Absorb Stamina Glyph (Weapon) - Situational, if you really need it.
  • Hardening Glyph (Weapon) - Situational, particularly for classes without innate shield abilities such as Igneous Shield.
  • Stamina Recovery (Jewelry) - Highly situational, could be a consideration for outranging Lokkestiiz.
  • Magicka Recovery (Jewelry) - Used quite a lot, as you gain Magicka Recovery all the time even if you block (unless you're blocking on a Frost Staff with the Tri-Focus passive active which can prove detrimental).
  • Reduce Spell Cost (Jewelry) - Situational.
  • Reduce Physical Cost (Jewelry) - Roll Dodge cost is affected and can be very good for non-Dragonknight classes that use Silver Leash, better than Stam Recovery most of the time.
  • Reduce Block Cost (Jewelry) - Situational or fight dependent.
  • Alchemical Acceleration Glyph (Jewelry) - You're able to use potions at a faster rate as you decrase the time of your potion cooldown. Highly recommended for Nightblade tanking as their class toolkit synergizes well with their consumption of potions granting them additional Ultimate.
  • Prismatic Cost Reduction (Jewelry) - Post-Greymoor Health, Magicka and Stamina cost reduction all in one glyph. Recommended for an Infused jewelry piece if need be.

Poisons

Alchemical poisons were introduced post-Dark Brotherhood and certainly you can combine poisons with your tank as there can be very useful poisons either for yourself (such as sustain poisons) or for the group (such as Minor Breach/Minor Fracture poisons).

Typically most tanks combine Poisons with a Decisive one hander or a one hander weapon in general as slotting a Poison on whatever weapon bar negates that weapon's enchantment.

Block Cost Formula

(1730 - Glyphs) x (1 - Shadow Ward) x (1 - Sturdy) x (1- S/B Passives) x (1 - Abilities) = Block Cost

1 Gold Sturdy = 4% Block Cost Reduction

You will note that with the above formula, the placement of the jewelry block cost reductions went from the end of the formula to the beginning of the formula making stacking jewelry block cost reductions not as effective as in the past. It’s not advised you put more than 1 or 2 block cost enchantments and opt for other enchantments instead such as Magicka Recovery unless you’re sacrificing Sturdy or points into Shadow Ward.

In terms of block cost reduction, Shadow Ward is going to give a bit more than Sturdy, for most tanks four sturdy pieces (each Sturdy piece giving 4% block cost reduction) are often enough otherwise it will depend on the builds/stats.

Champion Points

Most important Champion Points to look at when you’re tanking is going to usually be the ones from the "green" or "red" Champion Points, always check our Champion Points allocations for specific content!

Ironclad - Most of the damage that often afflicts tanks from the bosses or adds they hold are Direct Damage which is why this Champion Point is incredibly important and noticeable.

Thick Skinned - This Champion Point affects the Damage Over Time effects that are inflicted upon you whether it’s spell-based or physical-based.

Hardy - This Champion Point affects the damage mitigation against Physical, Poison and Disease damage, Hardy can mitigate Damage Over Time effects and Direct Damage that are of the previously stated nature.

Elemental Defender - This Champion Point affects the damage mitigation against Flame, Frost, Shock and Magic Damage, Elemental Defender can mitigate Damage Over Time effects and Direct Damage that are of the previously stated nature.

Quick Recovery - Usually the last Champion Point to look at next to Bastion. Depends on the fight/class.

Bastion - Situational, can be good depending on a couple of fights such as Lord Falgravn Hard Mode as a Dragonknight tank.

Spell Shield - Depending on the type of damage you're taking.

Heavy Armor/Medium Armor/Light Armor Focus - Depending on the type of damage you're taking, your resistances and what type of Armor you're wearing 5x.

Warlord - Until you get used to the timing of it all, you may need to invest some into Warlord to make sure you have enough Stamina to break free of any CC or stun.

Sprinter - For extended periods or distances of running through dungeons or Trials so you're not out of Stamina by the time your group reaches the next mob or boss fight!

Bashing Focus - Situational.

Arcanist - If your Magicka Recovery is already low, you can compensate with the Mages Guild skill Balance or other Class skills such as the Sorcerer's Dark Deal and invest points elsewhere.

Tenacity - Can help with your stamina sustain.

Tumbling - Used almost everywhere where roll dodging mechanics, heavy attacks and such can help.

Shadow Ward - Critically important to keep your block cost down.

Blessed - Boosts your healing done.

Elfborn - Boosts your critical healing done with Magicka based skills.

Precise Strikes - Boosts your critical healing done with Stamina based skills (primarily Vigor).

Mighty - Refer to Alkosh.

Piercing - Refer to Alkosh.

Prioritizing Taunts, Thinking Like A DPS, Playstyle

It is important to recognize that DPS is very central in The Elder Scrolls Online. The better your group's DPS is, the easier tanking will be. The shorter the fight, the less risky it is. The faster the burn, the less mechanics you may have to deal with as a tank.

You as a tank are critical in helping your DPS in achieving this level of DPS by making sure your buff and debuff uptimes are as high as possible, learning neat little tricks such as Line of Sighting adds to make them move a certain way or learning how to stack certain mobs/bosses.

Would you not want to see really tight stacks like below as either a tank or DPS?

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Just think to yourself, "if I were DPS'ing, how would I want these adds stacked? Where would I want this boss to be? Can the healer deal with it?".

This can go a long way in securing victory for your group in dungeons and Trials at a much faster pace. Perhaps one of the most common mistakes tanks do is pulling bosses or adds out of their groups' Damage over Time effects and lowering group DPS.

Suggested Item Sets

Setups can vary depending on group and content or strategy, highlighted are the most used sets:

Ebon, Hircine, Worm, Dragon's Defilement, Morag Tong, Perfected Yolnahkriin, Perfected Olorime, Livewire, Alkosh, Torug's Pact, Plague Doctor, Leeching Plate, Green Pact, Dragonguard, Livewire, Tormentor, Battalion Defender, Dragonguard, Powerful Assault, Sunderflame, Galenwe, Scavenging Demise, Martial Knowledge, Powerful Assault, Dead-Water's Guile and many more.

Monster sets can include: Lord Warden, Bloodspawn, Thurvokun, Earthgore, Engine Guardian, Vykosa, Stonekeeper, Symphony of Blades, Lady Thorn, Swarm Mother, Scourge Harvester or if you're pushing DPS, whatever happens to be the the best DPS monster set (Slimecraw, Maarselok, Maw of the Infernal, Velidreth, etc).

Why Group Support Sets, Why Not Selfish Sets?

Often times a lot of tanks will tout the effectiveness of Leeching Plate, Set A or B or whatever, however once you get into endgame content (in this case, Trials), you will quickly learn as a group that the faster bosses and mobs die, the easier it is. Furthermore, everything we've mentioned particularly learning how to sustain as a tank or even learning the content can effectively REPLACE selfish sets.

Note that you don’t have to reach world record-level DPS to go along with this idea, simply shaving off a minute or two can go a long way and group support sets go a very long way in providing the group free DPS increases.

On the other hand, the less group support sets there are to boost the group’s damage, the longer fights will take and the harder it will be on you as not just a tank but also on the rest of the group.

Unfortunately/fortunately, damage is king in all of PvE in ESO which is why so many players place an emphasis on damage or sets that boost damage.

One can also make the argument that if you wear selfish sets for a fight you're learning, it can create bad habits or delay you learning the fight but honestly this argument has valid points on both sides as different people can learn differently until they reach a proficient level.

How does Mitigation Work? How Important Is Resistance?

It’s a common misconception that you must hit the maximum resistances as a tank in The Elder Scrolls Online no matter what.

While it may make sense in the same sense as a DPS must reach certain DPS numbers or healers must reach certain healing numbers, tanks can often get away with a minimum of 24,000 physical and spell resistances, most tanks depending on races/classes/item sets can comfortably reach ~27,000 physical and spell resistances

Reaching 33,000 resistances can certainly help mitigate even more damage, however you shouldn’t sacrifice a group support set in order to reach the 33,000 Physical and Spell Resistances and the damage mitigation offered by cap isn’t going to make a huge difference particularly if you don’t understand what the fight entails in terms of mechanics.

As Wondernuts says:

There seems to be a lot negative sentiments towards building resists for PVE tanking and I just though I'd drop my two cents. Resists do not matter very much at all for Vet Crag trials and older DLC trials like vMOL since the incoming damage is fairly infrequent and insignificant. In vAA HM for example, I just MT as a stam DK with a taunt with alkosh bodied and yolna on jewels and weapons with 20k health, swapping to a tank build with yolna on body and alkosh on weapons/jewels to tank the boss and axes.

For more tanking-intensive content where there is sustained, significant incoming damage, the amount of damage that resistances mitigate start to outweigh the increased efficiency of your personal health-based heals/shields from pumping stats/health. Some example fights:

- vKA HM last boss MTing, vCR HM Solo MTing/Portal Tanking- Specific fights with specific strats on vSS HM, vHOF Speed Strats (raptors/triplets stack and burn)

In the end-game meta, it is generally unthinkable for a tank to give up a 5-piece support set for selfish set for any content. Jewels enchants/traits and your mundus also play a pivotal part in your sustain as a tank. Increasing your resists can therefore be achieved efficiently in the following ways:

  • Being a Nord (most efficient)
  • Using the Lady mundus (preferred if you're using a sustain-based class such as Argonian or Imperial)
  • Since CP has diminishing returns, some distribution of CP into spell shield/heavy armor focus may make sense
  • Golding all your gear
  • Reinforced chest piece
  • Lord Warden or 2 1-piece resistances
  • Defending 1H front bar (when your group has enough sources of concussion to not warrant a charged shock 1H)
  • 6/7 Heavy Armor pieces rather than just 5.

A lot of content creators make a lot of noise about how stacking mitigation is not effective, since they don't stack additively. For example, if you are a DK tank blocking with a SnB, you have a base 65% damage mitigation.
With Champion Points into Ironclad + Hardy/Ele Defender, you might have 75% mitigation. If you have max resists (50% mitigation), it applies to the remaining 25% damage to effectively give you 87.5% mitigation, or just 12.5% extra.

You might have also other mitigation sources such as Minor Protection, etc. So many just shrug and say the extra resists don't amount to much.
However, it's more valuable to think of incoming damage values in what we can refer to as shifting baselines. An example:

Let's say Z'Maja's Nocturnal Favor heavy attack does 200k damage unmitigated:

  • DK Tank Blocking with SnB (-65% damage): 200k * 0.35 = 70k damage
  • Ele Defender at 12% jump point: 70k * 0.88 = 61.6k damage
  • Ironclad at 18% jump point: 61.k * 0.82 = 50.5k damage
  • Maxed Spell Resists (-50% damage): 50.5k * 0.5 = 25k damage

In total, we've mitigated the damage by an impressive ~87.5%.

Now, if you consider adding Minor Protection (8% mitigation) in via Ransack, it would only be providing an effective 12.5 * 0.08 = 1% extra mitigation. However, that is 1% mitigation of 200k damage, or 2k damage. No typical tank would go up against Z'maja with zero mitigation. For a standard, fully-specced tank, the shifted baseline damage Nocturnal's favor does to you every time is 25k. And minor protection would mitigate 8% of this shifted baseline damage, or 2k. It's useful to think about the mitigation your resistances provide in the same way, and optimize accordingly.

The mitigation formula is as follows:

100-(100*(1-(Minor Maim)/100)*(1-(Major Maim)/100)*(1-(Mitigation #1)/100)*(1-(Mitigation #2)/100)*(1-(Resistance/660)/100))*(1-(Blocking)/100)*(1-(Extra blocking #1+Extra blocking #2)/100))

Recommended Addons for Tanking (PC)

Below is a list of addons we recommend that will go a long way in helping you make good decisions as a tank and also critique your own performance as you grow as both a tank and player:

Untaunted

AiM's Synergy Tracker

BugCatcher

Raid Buffs

Code’s Combat Alerts

Combat Metrics

Raid Notifier

Stagger Tracker

Samurai

Hodor Reflexes

Alpha Gear / Dressing Room

Action Duration Reminder / S'rendarr

LUI Extended / Bandits / Other UI Addons