GWF Iron Vanguard Sentinel ZerkTank [Mod 11]

by John Urthadar on June 4, 2017
Item Reviewed

GWF Iron Vanguard Sentinel ZerkTank [Mod 11]

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Before we begin I would just like to say that the only barrier between a GWF Tank and playing Neverwinter is the queue system, but that is obsolete anyway with guilds, alliances, and lfg channels. Also, I wanted to say that people who say that even if you could viably play a GWF Tank they bring nothing new to the table are wrong. A GWF Tank is a totally different experience to both the GWF and Tanks of Neverwinter. If you’re looking for a different GWF or Tank build than this is the build for you. It is 100% PvE viable as of Mod 11.

Race and Stat Rolls

The best choices for race here are Human, Dwarf, Halfling, and Dragonborn. Human is probably the best option for the +3 Heroic Feat points and extra defense. Dwarf and halfling give attribute bonuses useful to this class and both feature defensive perks. Dragonborn makes a decent choice for any class or build. Other acceptable choices include Half-Elf and Half-Orc, but you will do better with one of the recommended races.

For your initial stat rolls you will want 18 CON and 12-14 DEX depending on which race you chose. Strength doesn’t matter (that much). Every 10 levels put 1 into CON and 1 into DEX. CON and DEX will give you high HP and Deflect Chance among other useful benefits.



Unstoppable Action 5/5 – Unstoppable and Dailies will both raise your defensive capabilities by a significant amount. This feat will allow you to pull one after the other, useful for boss fights and clutch moments.

Toughness 5/5 – 9% More HP is a no brainer.

Armor Specialization 3/3 – If our Defense stat is more effective than we need less of it. Therefore, we can focus on stacking our other stats.

Constitution Focus 3/3 – More effective Constitution means more HP and more Resistance Ignored.

Steely Defense 1/5 (4/5 if Human) – We had an extra feat point-four extra if you went Human-and this was the best option. It will help boost your damage a bit without you having to go out of your way to do it. The main reason this is helpful is to generate more threat.

Ubiquitous Shield 5/5 – Seeing how we don’t have a shield and our defenses can be a bit weaker than some tanks, you will be glad for this.


Great Weapon Focus 5/5 – Mostly just needed to get to Improved Reaction, but the extra damage helps generate more threat.

Improved Reaction 5/5 – Boosts the effectiveness of Ferocious Reaction. This is a must for our build.


Scale Agility 5/5 – 5% more deflect is a solid choice.

Powerful Challenge 5/5 – More damage to marked targets helps us build threat and contribute to DPS.

Living Wall 5/5 – Allies take 5% less damage. 10% if they stand directly behind you. A very good choice since we don’t have ways of forcing targets to attack us like GF or OP. (That doesn’t mean we generate less threat it just means we can’t force agro onto ourselves.)

Countless Scars 5/5 – Up to 15% more Damage Resistance is very good. The more you are hit the stronger you become.

Intimidation 5/5 – More threat! We use Daring Shout and in some situations Come and Get It so this will improve what we were already going to be using anyway.

Defiance 5/5 -More threat and more defense. Also, it just so happens that both of those dailies are ones that we use.

Sentinel’s Aegis 1/1 – Increases the effectiveness of our defense stat by 20% for a combined total of 35% with Armor Specialization. Restoring Strike-one of our encounters-heals for more, very useful. Unstoppable grants 40-80% more Damage Resistance while active, this can push us over the Damage Resistance cap and with Daring Shout building us large amounts of Determination, this will have high uptime. Furthermore, threat generation is passively increased by 250%.



Wicked Strike – Spreads damage debuff in a large area that stacks up to 3 times. This will be our primary At-Will.

Threatening Rush – Our opener. Use this when entering a new room so that you can mark targets and build some initial aggro. The charge is nice because it lets you get in there before impatient DPS players (you know who you are).


Daring Shout – Powerful buff/debuff. Applies Mark to targets and builds determination for every target hit. Also, it increases your damage resistance based on how powerful the enemies are (meaning this will be strong on bosses). Marked foes have reduced damage resistance until they attack you, which isn’t too useful because they will probably attack you immediately afterwards, but if you time it right on slow hitters like Orcus your DPS can do a bit more damage. (Our version of the GF’s Enforced Threat)

Battle Fury – Another powerful buff. Increases your At-Will and Encounter damage as well as Action Point gain for a few moments, when first activated refills our stamina. Allies receive the same buffs, but at 25% effectiveness. (Our version of the GF’s Into the Fray)

Restoring Strike – A self-heal that can be potent if you deal enough damage with it. Sentinel’s Aegis makes it significantly more powerful. Good to use during Ferocious Reaction’s downtime. (Stronger than the GF’s Crushing Surge, but not quite as powerful as the GF’s Fighter’s Recovery)

Come and Get It – There are situations where this can come in handy. Allows you to pull targets to you so you can get them off your allies if they happen to run ahead as they so often do. Also, because of Intimidation it will allow us to build more threat so it should pull them and then aggro them against you so they don’t run right back after your ally.


Ferocious Reaction – When you drop below a set amount of HP you regain 35% of them back and gain a Damage Resistance buff. A staple for any Zerker.

Warrior’s Courage – If you fall below half HP you gain a Damage Resistance buff. If you fall below a quarter of your HP you gain a Damage Resistance and Deflect buff. Great when combined with Ferocious Reaction and during Ferocious Reaction’s downtime. Another Zerker ability.

Bravery – Really only useful until you get Warrior’s Courage. The Deflect and Run Speed are solid bonuses to have, but you should only use this until you get to the boss(es).


Slam – Powerful buff/debuff. Applies a damage and movement speed debuff to mobs and a damage resistance buff to you. Also, builds a good amount of threat.

Spinning Strike – As an Iron Vanguard we don’t get Steel Defense. Spinning Strike is where we make up for that. Control Immunity, guranteed Deflection, and increased Damage Resistance. This is pretty much the GWFs version of the GFs Villain’s Menace. Good for clutch moments and tanking bosses. Builds a good amount of threat as well.



Power Boon

Defense Boon

Revive Sickness or Healing Potion Bonus (not Group Heal) Boon


Top, Top, Top, Top, Fey Thistle

Dread Ring

Top, Top, Top, Top, Endless Consumption

Icewind Dale

Top, Top, Top, Top, Avalanche


Top, Top, Bottom, Top, Abyssal Tenacity

Tyranny of Dragons

Top, Top, Top, Top, 3 into Thirst the rest into Revival

Maze Engine

Top, Bottom, Bottom, Displace Fate

Elemental Evil

Bottom, Top, Bottom, Wall of Wind

Storm King’s Thunder

Top, Bottom, Top, Bottom, Frozen Reflection

Cloaked Ascendancy

Aura of Hope, Healing Heat, Fey Briars, Planar Vitality


Artifact Weapons

Drowned is an excellent set until you can get Headsman’s Relic or Lifeforged set. Headsman’s is BiS for a GWF Tank. For the Artifact Class Feature boost I suggest boosting Ferocious Reaction.

Artifact Cloak and Belt

While I don’t agree with the ideology that Valhalla is the only set for tanks, it is definitely the best set for a tank. It will apply a strong damage debuff to enemies that strike you. Lathander’s, Seldarine, and Great Protector are all good sets until you can get Valhalla.


Sigil of the Nine – Acceptable substitutes: Tome of Ascendance, Eye of Lathandar, Emblem of the Seldarine

Heart of the White Dragon – Sigil of the Guardian, Sigil of the Oathbound Paladin

Bruenor’s Helm – Eye of Lathandar, Emblem of the Seldarine, Waters of Elah’Zad

Horn of Valhalla – Acceptable substitutes: None


Dusk Raid Helmet

Dusk Raid Vambraces

Morlanth’s Shroud

Titansteel or Elemental Dragonflight Raid Greaves

Ring of Sudden Deflect +5 OR Ring of Sudden Defense +5 (Whichever is needed)

Ring of Sudden Lifesteal +5 OR Ring of Sudden Defense +5 (Whichever is needed)

Soldier’s Gemmed Elemental Exquisite Set


Defense: Primarily Radiants, with Silvery if more Deflection is needed and Dark or Azure as a luxury.

Offense: Cruel

Weapon: Plague Fire or Lifedrinker

Armor: Soulforged

Companions and Mounts


You can pick any that you think would be a good choice, but here is what I recommend.

Bear Cub

Angel of Protection

Battlefield Medic

Rust Monster



Any Mount that gives +2000 Defense, +2000 Deflect, or Maximum Hit Points

Stat Priority, Rotation, Class Synergy, and General Rundown

Stat Priority

Maximum Hit Points: This stat is probably the most important for our build. You will get more longevity out of this stat than deflect or defense.

Deflect: Your second most important stat. Having a high deflect will allow us to take just a portion of most attacks and some of our boons and feats will grant us bonuses when we deflect.

Defense: Obviously a good defensive stat. However, we will not be intentionally stacking Defense because a large portion of our Damage Resistance will come from our powers.

Life Steal: Third most important stat. Don’t sacrifice Hit Points or Deflect for Life Steal unless you can comfortably afford doing so. This stat will allow us to self-heal outside of Restoring Strike. Some of our boons will raise the effectiveness of Life Steal.

Power: We won’t focus on Power, but you will have decent power thanks to Cruel Enchantments and boons. In no situation should you sacrifice any of the previously mentioned stats for power because it will be high enough without it.

Recovery: Recovery is our most important offensive stat. It will allow us to gain Action Points faster and recharge our Encounters faster. More Dailies and more Encounters means more effective play. We will be getting a good portion of this from our boons and Cruel enchantments, but if you feel like it isn’t high enough you can sacrifice some Power, Defense, or Life Steal to get it higher.

Armor Penetration: We won’t focus on this at all, but it will come with the Raid pieces that we wear. Armor Penetration is great for building threat so it won’t be wasted either.

Rotation and Loadout

Our typical dungeon loadout looks like this:

Threatening Rush, Wicked Strike

Warrior’s Courage (Bravery in low-tier dungeons where Warrior’s will not get activated), Ferocious Reaction

Battle Fury, Daring Shout, Restoring Strike (If not needed can be swapped for Come and Get It if so desired)

Slam, Spinning Strike

When we enter a new room or group of mobs we will want to open with Battle Fury followed by Threatening Rush so we get their attention before anyone else does. This will also apply Mark and build AP for us. Then we will pop Daring Shout and if required Restoring Strike. Next, we will use Wicked Strike x3 to apply damage debuff. At this point, if the mobs are not dead, do Battle Fury > Daring Shout > Wicked Strike > Restoring Strike (If needed) > Appropriate Daily for the situation. (If needed) > Rinse and Repeat until they’re dead, activating Unstoppable when you reach full bar.

Our typical boss loadout looks like this:

Threatening Rush, Wicked Strike

Warrior’s Courage, Ferocious Reaction

Battle Fury, Daring Shout, Restoring Strike

Slam, Spinning Strike

Pretty much the same only without the optional powers. When we start the boss fight, obviously it varies by boss, but same as before; Battle Fury then Threatening Rush followed by Daring Shout and Restoring Strike. Keep Wicked Strike at 3 stacks at all times. Try to always use Battle Fury before Daring Shout and ideally before Restoring Strike. You will likely need your dailies in most boss fights so if the boss doesn’t have too many minions I recommend using Spinning Strike as your go-to because it will provide greater protection than Slam. If the boss has quite a few minions (ECC for example), use Slam as it will debuff them all and provide decent defense for you. Another good thing about Slam is you can still use all your other powers while it is active. Both are good and viable options that boost your defense and generate a lot of threat to keep the boss on you.

Class Synergy

Guardian Fighter: This build almost doesn’t work if there is a GF present. This is because Guardian Fighters have Knight’s Valor and Enforced Threat so you will not be able to draw aggro and if you do Knight’s Valor will just tank it anyway so you might as well not. If you have a Guardian Fighter in your group, I recommend that you have a DPS loadout in another slot (doesn’t even have to be that strong, just enough to contribute and get you through the dungeon without headache).

Oathbound Paladin: Same with the Guardian Fighter, Oathbound Paladin’s have ways of redirecting damage to themselves and forcing targets to attack them. However, if it is a healer paladin (Healadin), than it actually works well (for obvious reasons).

Devoted Cleric: I suggest having a Devoted Cleric for your healer most of the time. They will do a good job and not draw too much attention to themselves in the process. Buffer Clerics also work nice with our build, but healer is preferable because of our somewhat on-and-off style defense.

Great Weapon Fighter: Usually works good, but if they’re using some of the same powers as you, your powers will be wasted (Wicked Strike and Battle Fury being the most notable). Overall, probably better if you have more Wizards, Warlocks, Rogues, and Rangers than Fighters. Looks like we just don’t play nice with any other Fighters.

Other Classes: Most other classes and builds work fine with our build. Healing Warlock is a notably good teammate for our build because it will boost our already high Life Steal and allow us to self-sustain further and they can do excellent DPS at the same time, only problem is they can generate a lot of threat, just be mindful.

General Rundown

This build relies on high hit points and deflect as well as potent self-heals to stay alive. When our hit points are low we are stronger and more protected. That is why we are a “ZerkTank”. Because of Unstoppable, Dailies, and Sudden rings, our defenses fluctuate and we have moments of weakness that we cover up with our self-healing. Thanks to us not having a shield or a dodge mechanic, we will need to Sprint out of the way of AoEs. However, Sprinting grants us increased defenses so it is as if we have a shield/dodge.

I have 3 tanks in Neverwinter counting this one, so I know that this build can tank with the rest and the best of them. We are not the “best” tank or the “ultimate” tank. However, we are the ONLY GWF tank build out there and we are by far the most interesting tank. This build is completely viable as of Module 11.

That’s all for now. I will continue to update this guide as I gain new knowledge and equipment. Hopefully I will have pictures up soon. I am open to suggestions and look forward to hearing your comments.

Leave a reply
  • Bjoernar
    June 7, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    Video plz ?

  • aiden
    July 9, 2017 at 2:13 am

    why use dusk helm over bloodlord’s visage

  • July 9, 2017 at 4:04 am

    What artifact should I be running as my main artifact?

  • July 9, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Thank u 4 this build it has helped me very much and if u plz will add more information and explain choices that would be great thx

    • John
      April 16, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      Hello everyone. It’s John. Unfortunately, I no longer support or maintain this build. Things were easier and simpler in Mod 11, but I doubt it’s even viable anymore in the end-game content. Anyone who is interested in trying to update or work off of the build is welcome to it. Hey, if GFs can be DPS and SWs and CWs can be buffers, a determined GWF could easily be a tank. So, if you’re interested in tanking as a GWF (don’t expect to be accepted by anyone but your guild) post a comment here and I’ll do my best to answer questions or make suggestions!

    August 14, 2017 at 3:40 am

    Man this is a hell of a build! My fresh lvl 70 was too squishy but this solved my problem. Thanks for the help.

  • Emiliano
    September 12, 2017 at 6:47 am

    hi, thnaks for the exellent guide, however, where can i find the Headsman’s Relic weapon (i can’t find out the rusted and the knob)…i searched in icewind area on the north but without success, thanks in advance!

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