The "Best" Tanking Races and Classes
As a foreword I need to emphasize that there is a difference between viability and optimization.
When people ask us, is Class or Race or Build A, B, C, D etc viable, the answer is always yes.When people ask us is Class or Race or Build A, B, C, D optimal, the answer will always be "it depends".
Race Choice for Tanking
To be clear, you can absolutely tank all PvE group content on any race. This goes for hard mode vet Trials, normal dungeons, whatever. For the race passives, check our guide on races.
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 I 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.
Class Choice for Tanking
In terms of comfort level for most people, it goes from top to bottom in the following (realize that the tank's class will always depend on the group composition particularly for 12 man Trials):
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 becauseof 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.
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 topeople in group and to provide Minor Vulnerability through Fetcher Swarm.
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 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. I 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 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 my 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.
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.
I 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.