Aine’s reckless tank
This build is made for tanking 70 level content as well as LOMM. In mod 17 content stat caps will go up and as it is to my understanding new trial will require a lot more defensive stats and HP as it will have several “tank checks”. However, critters ratings for earlier content will remain the same and you can keep rocking this build and gear.
I will not be explaining basics such as positioning and mechanics of a fighter but I recommend builds by rjc9000. Also, you can learn a lot from Janne’s site about damage, aggro and game in general. For mod 16 help (stats, counterstats, companions) see Rainer’s pocket wiki.
BTW, I apologize for any grammar mistakes, English is not my native language.
Race choice and ability score
Pick whichever race gives you CON or/and STR. Any other race bonus is not gonna be important in long run, but if you have extra money you can buy Dragonborn for more damage. For ability score you also want to choose STR and CON for obvious reasons. Most of your attacks deal physical damage, more HP = better, and stamina generation is very important now. I’ll be testing Gith race soon because it gives nice stamina regeneration boost.
Stat distribution and priorities
The key is to balance your offensive and defensive stats. If you go full defensive, it’s going to be difficult to cap offensives and hold aggro. If you go full offensive, you’re gonna die a lot and be useless as tank.
Your offensive priorities are armor penetration, accuracy and crit. Armor penetration is definitely your first priority then the rest. Defensive priorities are similar: defense to counteract enemies arm pen, deflect and crit avoidance. I would cap defense first, then deflect and get as much of crit avoidance as you can get through gear. Crit avoidance has pretty high cap so just get it as much as you can without sacrificing other stats.
The easiest way to cap those stats is to put it on your companion. New companion gear has a lot of numbers so you can mix and match until you get what you need, and don’t be afraid to even use lesser IL or green equipment for that, stats are what’s important, not IL. After you cap on those, you want to aim for more power and HP. CA is also good if you can get it, but it’s damned hard to cap if you want to cap all the above stats. Awareness does not seem useful to me if you’re doing your job right. Enemies shouldn’t have CA over you. However, it can be useful, but don’t choose it until you’ve have maxed your priorities.
Only two utility stats are important: stamina regeneration and movement speed. While recharge time is nice to have, it is not something to invest in, and this build is based on other ways to reduce your cooldowns. As for AP gain, we really don’t have good dailies, but by dealing damage and using your encounters you generate AP fast enough so we’re gonna focus more on that.
Pick whatever stat you’re lacking and if you’re not lacking any choose power, HP, damage and damage reduction on demons, cultist and undead (not on dinos). Speed boon, stamina regen and companion influence boons are a must have.
I really don’t like that healing boons proc when you have 25% or less HP, I rather avoid getting myself in that kind of situations.
First two boons are good for mobs so you can run them on AOE loadout.
But I would like to take a minute to tell you about the real killer – Focused retaliation. First of all, it procs on encounter use, and fairly often. I find that is much better chance for tanks to take boon that procs on encounter use rather than on kill, especially on bosses. And second of all, did you notice that you get hit a lot? Have you ever reflected 100k hit back? Feels great. I run this boon on both loadouts and it makes a big chunk of my damage.
% damage buff pieces are always better than raw power. It is much easier and better to have flat damage buff than compensate for that with power. Keep in my that only two of same equip bonuses stack so use only two of % melee damage. Ideally, you would have Heels with Kiuno (it has CA), grips and Shadowstalker +5 and +4. But if you’re having difficulty capping arm pen or accuracy, you can wear new rings and opt out for another armor and feet.
Terrored Grips > 3% on encounter powers
Heels of Fury > 3% on melee
Fured Kiuno of the Bear > 3% on melee
New rings from ME’s that give 3% on melee
Shadowstalker rings (+5 ih you’re lucky and +4) > 2.5 % + 2%
Choosing other gear because of higher IL or little bit better stats will result in loosing damage and problems in holding aggro over high DPS players. You don’t want new successor gear. You want your defense to be constantly capped since there is no evidence that % of defense goes over the 50% cap. Bonus that reduces % of damage is different, it works, but there are better ways to mitigate damage. Also remember, 3k power doesn’t mean 3% more damage, there is relative increase when it comes to power, so it is always better to have flat damage bonus.
The rest of the gear you can choose based on your missing stats. Take any helmet that have 5% damage in Undermountain if you’re running ME’s and LOMM. For shirt you want either the one giving you 3% damage when you have full stamina (isn’t that rarely?), or the one reducing your encounter powers. I have opted out for latter. For pants choose between AP gain and % damage reduction.
BIS weapon set for tanks is Burnished set because it procs basically all the time. However, any other mod 16 set is good if you got it first.
Neck and belt are discussable. If you want to dish out more damage, go for demon lord set, or if you want more damage reduction go valhala. IMO Best would be any of new sets because you gain 50k-ish HP from them + AP gain. Constructed demise set is cheap, and +2 DEX and CHA are somewhat good. Reflective set is IMO BIS, it has damage debuff and STR and CON (all great). However, I also like Wyvern set for buff but dislike useless INT bonus. So, pick what you like.
Considering enchantments, it’s simple: radiants, radiants and more radiants. But if you’re poor like me, you want radiants in offense (if everything else is capped), and some dual or triple stat ench in defense that has HP. I found savages great for capping that crit avoidance. A lot of people have recommended having one high rank tenebrous enchantment, and it seems really good, after some testing I see it procs relatively often.
In utility slots you want either darks or tactical enchantments. Dark will give you extra stats from your companion and tactical will give you incoming healing so you get more heals. I’m running darks but will try tactical especially with new trial coming.
Armour: elven battle on rank that has stamina regen bonus.
Weapon: lightning is great for AOE aggro, bronzewood or holy avenger for the party, vorpal for more ST damage
Active: BIS is Wyvern-venom Coated Knives after Lantern and Heart of x dragons nerf. It is a must have for buff, debuff and encounter cooldown reduction.
Other: whatever completes your set, and new (better, more stats) or old (less stats) artifacts with power or stats you need
Augments are, and I can’t stressed this enough, absolutely a must for tanks. You have to cap a lot of offensive and defensive stats so every little bit will help. Also, that extra HP you will get means a lot. Choose Bulette pup for extra power if you can afford it, but any other augment will do. As for companion equipment, take whatever it suits you stats-wise. You want it to have stats that are a priority – arm pen, accuracy, crit, defense and deflection so they are easy to cap.
Offensive slot is occupied by Deepcrow hatchling for 8k of power. Since you already have Bulette pup on legendary take its healing power to one of defense slots. In other defense slots you can put incoming healing bonus, HP, or any stats you need. In utility I find Energon’s HP to be best.
Mount powers and insignia bonuses
I’ve wanted to buy Armored Griffon so I can abuse Wyverin for more damage, but after announcement of new trial I’ve changed my mind and am saving for War Triceratops for more HP. Epic version that gives 25k of HP is also good or you can put some of the missing stats here, however I would rather put here uncapped stats like HP or power.
Insignia bonuses have been severely nerfed in mod 16. I use same as most of folks healing bonuses in lack of better ones: Champion’s return and Barbarian revelry. Gladiator’s guile is probably the best bonus there is – it grants movement and stamina. Artificer’s persuasion is great in combo with Wyveryn artifact as you can shave of 2 seconds from your encounters every 15 seconds. In fact it so great that I have two of them. I know, I know, but it shaves off 2.8 seconds or something like that and every second counts in fast paced fights. You can use another healing bonus instead, there are plenty of options you can check here (credit to SkullElf).
ST powers, feats and rotation
I basically use this build for AOE as well, I just change one class feature and one encounter.
Shieldthrower over Staying power. It is excellent aggro tool with very short cooldown. 10\10
Second feat doesn’t matter, most of the time I don’t use Cleaving bull on bosses and never Tide of Iron.
Combat balance – simply, it goes over defense cap. With stamina regeneration boon and Elven you won’t have problem with stamina regeneration.
On this screenshot I have chosen Determination because I was testing it in sticky situations. Anyways, I don’t find the effect very useful and I don’t know what does most attacks means according to Cryptic so I’m not using it. I will be switching to Bladed Rampart that I use more often but it doesn’t really matter.
Focused retaliation – you use Dig in on bosses when you know there are big hits coming in or when you know you need every bit of protection you have. It boosts your incoming healing which you will find very nice in this situations and also damage. 10\10
I only use cleave and threatening rush. I’ve tried Brazen slash and Tide of iron, but they just don’t feel right. Cleave is excellent for AOE, it’s fast and works in a big arc, think of it as pre-16 WMS. I sometimes even use it on bosses as well when I have no fear anyone will steal my aggro as I can dish out more damage with it considering how fast I can swing it.
Threatening rush is your main single target at will. I can’t explain how awesome this power is. It works as gap closer, it generates more aggro, has decent (well, better than tide of iron) casting time and magnitude.
Encounters and class features
There are two encounters that will never leave your slot, either on AOE or ST. Shield throw because it is hands down the best encounter we have and linerbreaker because it is the best AOE encounter we have. Why do I use AOE encounter on bosses? In most boss fights there are mobs, and in some there are pretty mean mobs so you want to have a power that can aggro them so rest of the party can do their own things. Also, it generates more threat. Enough said.
Shield throw combined with Shieldthrower feat is probably the coolest thing about vanguard fighter. You can spam it every 6 seconds or so, it is a great threat multiplier and has decent magnitude. Not to mention how cool you look while you throw your shield. Also it is ranged, so really great for aggroing a group of mobs from a far and breaking those rocks on Boreworm.
Third power I use on most bosses is Anvil of doom coupled with Anvil of challenge passive. It will put you on top of the threat list and because how much damage you will deal it will keep you there. Use it with Anvil of challenge if you know there is possibility that you will die so you can gain aggro instantly, or you think any dps might take it. If that’s not the case, take the Ferocious reaction class feature instead for a little bit of more dps.
So choose between Anvil of challenge and Ferocious reaction depending on the situation, however in any given situation you want to have Combat superiority. What you get is practically non-stop 10% increase in at-will damage thanks to shieldthrower feat. It may not sound a lot, but you don’t really have a better choice. You may be tempted to use Shield talent for stamina regeneration, but it only works when you are not using you shield and there are better ways to manage your stamina.
Nr. 1 daily that I use is Earthsaker. Being only vanguard’s damaging daily it isn’t great, but I use it because we lack better ones. This is actually for AOE as it is great for aggroing large crowd when you are caught off guard, but it is decent for bosses when you want to do extra damage.
Determination is also decent as it gives you 10% more damage but if you use it never take Perfect block feat because it will put 3 min ban on its use.
Second daily slot I like to call “Oh shit, I’m gonna die button”. Second wind isn’t what it used to be. Since you have to attack to gain HP I don’t slot it in new mod. Attacking means letting you shield down and probably insta death if you have 20% of health and you healer is out of divinity or sparks. Once I’ve gotten used to tanking without life steal I’ve learned to withdraw strategically (that’s a fancy name for running away). I raise my shield and backpedal in circle so I’m not always in range of an attack. That’s way I use Bladed rampart as it passively reduces incoming damage.
Smash buttons and spam Threatening rush. If you know there will be mobs spawning, save Linebreaker for them. If you think you are going to die, save Anvil for instant aggro. Don’t forget to dig in for big hits and use Wyverin if you can turn around real quick. Try to use Wyverin on beginning or right before fight because most Dps’s are using alabaster bonus.
As I’ve said, feats are the same because I’m lazy and only change one power and class feature so read ST page first. There is a second version to this build that is based on using Enforced threat with Staying power feat and Tide of Iron with Rising Tide but I honestly don’t see much difference regarding aggro. Whenever I use ET it puts me on top of threat list but I end up in orange in one sec. So, it does what it says but it’s not great. And I really dislike using power that feels empty, when I press button I want to see some damage numbers.
At wills are the same, but you will be using Cleave a lot. Fast Cleave in combination with Lightning is excellent for our lack of good AOE encounters.
Instead of Anvil, I use Bull charge. It is great for gap closing and getting ahead of Dps’s and you also get bonus damage when you hit multiple enemies. And instead of Anvil of challenge, I use Greater endurance.
Now, let’s face it, we lack really good AOE aggro grabbing encounter. That’s why getting to mobs first is the best thing we can do. You just have to be mobile. Take that movement boon, slot Greater endurance and drink Lightwine, it will boost you to be a little bit faster than most DPS classes. For that reason we use Threatening rush and Shieldthrow on mobs so we can quickly grab attention of a strayed mob.
What I mostly do is hit group of mobs with Shieldthrow from a far to aggro them, then use Bull charge to get there first. Next step depends on the damage of your party. If my party isn’t high on DPS I use Dig in real quick for Retaliate effect to deal more damage, then I circle around mobs for CA, use Linebreaker (because I can hit all of them), and then spam Cleave. If they are not dead, hit Shieldthrow again to biggest mob or the one that isn’t hitting you, use Bull, retaliate etc. until they are dead. If your group is HDPS, use Linebreaker instead of retaliate because while you kneel, DPS may take aggro from mobs and you are left waiting for a hit that isn’t coming. I generally refrain from using retaliate in this kind of parties because it is too slow, but it can come handy as 4th encounter.
Don’t forget to activate Wyverin in between fights to help your party and reduce your cooldowns because if you go in without Linebreaker or Bull charge you’re gonna have a hard time getting that aggro. I like to save Earthshaker for that kind of situations or when I know that we will merge two or more groups of mobs as it has decent radius.
Plus tip: Doohickey works on multiple targets.
Plus plus tip: you can leave while mobs have a little bit of health. Mobs don’t turn to Dps’s right away and as they will finish them in a 2 seconds, you have a head start to next group.
A lot of people asked for LOMM tanking tips and guide. On Arcturia I use Bull charge, Linebreaker and Anvil with Anvil of challenge passive. At the start of the combat I use all three encounters and then spam Threatening rush since I save encounters for mimics. You want to block that attack with black thing under you, it always comes 3 in a row so you have time put down your shield in between to regenerate stamina a little bit. Before hitting a mimic use Wyverin, Doohickey and then all three encounters, should be enough. Now, I don’t use Anvil and Bull charge on her except at beginning and the end of the fight since using Linebreaker and Threatening rush is enough to keep aggro during the fight. Remember that priority is to kill mimics, a lot of parties don’t even have tank for this fight. I ditch Shieldthrow for Bull for more damage. If there is a party member with red arrows above their heads run to them so you take part of theirs damage.
Boreworm is straightforward fight, except for the golem phase. I use standard encounter setup here. When fighting golems, after 2nd rock phase, try to be right next to wall because otherwise those bastards will push you away from party and you will die for sure. I save daily for them, which one – depends on the healer. After the phase ends, run to the boss so you pull golems to him; when he does his swing attack they will die.
Trobriand can be really messy fight if your party have to much of dps. Always wake up scaladars one by one with Trobriands red cone attack, so you don’t end up with 4 at the same time. His cone attack will stun you, so avoid it if you can, if you can’t use Dig in. If you end up with more scaladars than you can handle, cuss loudly at dps’s, aggro them all with Linebreaker, hit Bladed Rampart, and start backpedaling with your shield up. Scaladars are meanest up close, they only have one range attack you can see so it is easy to block. If your stamina falls under 25% use Dig in and pray. Save Anvil in case you die, no one wants Trobriand chasing him. After portal phase, use Phalanx daily if you don’t trust your healer or for extra protection. Use Dig in on his palm attack in last phase of the fight, it hits like a truck and completely drains my stamina.
Big thanks to my partner in life and game that hooked me to this game @pablos#6151
Thanks to all the good people that provided player base with all the information about the game.
And thanks to all my guildies who dragged me along in all the big dungeons while I was just a small tank, especially to @valmadoran84.