Sep 052013

Mawry with a -GASP- shield
That strange wooden thing you see there hanging on Mawry? Big, wooden, never-before-seen on any geoffhanna melee character? That thing? It turns out that is called a shield.

I have never attempted to build a “tank”. In this case I am using “tank” as a noun, meaning a character that is designed to attract and withstand all of the monster attention while taking little or no damage, in order to allow her companions to slay the monsters leisurely and safely.

I have “tanked” as a verb, many times, as “tanking” certain bosses has long been a favorite raid tactic. But I “tank” with melee characters that have enough hit points to withstand the boss, not by shedding damage through armor or defenses, just hit points.

Hit point tanking is effective against bosses, but it requires a dedicated healer, and is not effective against swarms of high-DPS opponents: the damage comes in too quickly.

But now I am leveling my Completionist-to-be Mawry and am in her Paladin life. Although I am cheating, I am going to level her to 8 as a Fighter, then use an Ottos Box to level her as high as possible, taking Paladin for all levels. I’ve been told that when using an XP potion, one gets so many XP from the Ottos Box that I may never actually have to play Mawry as a Paladin.

So I am crossing my fingers. But in the meantime, I have three more levels to go right now, with the potential of needing more XP at high levels, and have to play her as something while earning those levels and XP. I already have a Tactics Fighter and wanted to try something different. Thus the tank idea.

As a side benefit, I can stash any gear I acquire for Mawry’s Fighter life which is still somewhere in the future. I can figure out how to tank now, skate by on the Ottos, and then tank for real in her later life.

But I digress; enough back story.

How do I tank? So far I’ve layered on a bunch of AC, some PRR, and for the first time ever on any melee character, added a shield. But it isn’t enough. Running Tangleroot last night, in the latter quests I was unable to regularly Intimidate everything, and when I did, too many Hobgoblin Slayers at the same time would just pop me like a bad zit. Death. No dead player is tanking effectively.

At 5th level she has 32 AC, 12 PRR, 0 Dodge, 0 fortification, and shield blocks for DR 8.

I seem to have a timing issue where I start an Intimidate and then accidentally cancel it by shield-blocking too soon. Is this possible? Is there a technique I need to master here?

How much AC/PRR should I really need at level 5?

Is Fortification already a requirement? I assumed at this level it was not. But that was before the hobgoblins had their hobgobliny way with me last night.

On the other hand, we were running level 8 content on level 5 characters. Maybe I am over-reacting? Maybe we should get spanked running under level like that?

Her DPS is surprisingly good even though she is swinging one-handed and her best twink weapons all have new minimum levels so high that she can’t use any of them. The DPS is not the problem. It’s either her defenses, or the way I am playing her, or some combination of the two.

Any Tanking ideas? Tips? Must-haves? Combos? Fantasies? Recipes? Coupons? Other tanking-related esoterica?



πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

  39 Responses to “Teach Me, Oh Tankly Ones”

Comments (39)
  1. I would say it’s due to being 3 levels under the quest is where you are mostly having issues, also try and use Tower Shields since they offer the most protection of all the shield types.

  2. heaviest armor you can find, biggest shield you can get, as much fort as possible, Combat Expertise (+10%),

    • Combat expertise. Check.

    • Since it won’t let me edit my prior comment, lets start over.
      First and foremost you want plenty of Strength, Constitution, and Charisma. If you have left over ability points, toss them towards Intelligence (No more than 14, you only need 13 for Combat Expertise. I get 12 myself, and add at tome at level 7 so I get the feat and the extra skill point.) and then Dexterity. Wisdom can be obtained by using items, and you aren’t a primary spell caster, so that isn’t all important.
      When it comes to feats, I start with what keeps me alive. Toughness, Shield Mastery, Tower Shield Proficiency, and Combat Expertise to name the first few.
      When it comes to skills, Intimidate is your best friend, and timing those short bursts of aggro can mean the difference between party wipe and success. Also, it’s always satisfying to see a monster 3 or 4 times as big as you are turn from the DPS caster and swing at you. Also important are UMD for obvious reasons, Balance, because the more time you spend on your back, the more time you are unable to intimidate, and Jump, though that is a personal taste thing. Any leftover points should be tossed towards either Heal (not sure if that affects Lay on Hands or not) or Concentration.
      As for enhancements, it’s mostly personal taste, but must haves are pretty much anything that boosts AC. I personally don’t like moving with the speed of a narcoleptic turtle and rather like the idea of being a demon hunting tank, so I chose to maximize the Knight of the Chalice line. Some of the attacks on that end are beautiful, even into the epic levels. Still, since much of your DPS comes from smites, get all relevant enhancements, and since most self healing comes from your lay on hands, give it the same treatment on the opposite side.
      For the gritty numbers, you want to maintain as close to at least 5 times your level in AC as you can manage once you get past level 8. I don’t have any hard numbers on the other stats, but under 500 to 600 HP at endgame will see you severely weak, and you should be able to obtain at least 30 on each of your saves with ease. You likely won’t experience anything that can reduce your fortification too much, so 135% is fairly sufficient though more isn’t bad, per se, and yes, you do want to get that up to at least 100% asap, as in before level 10. Maximize PRR where you can, but mostly that will be handled by the various feats and armor.
      As far as equipment goes, you can’t do too much better than Dragoncraft plate, and then White Dragonplate armor, as while the shield bonus is largely wasted, not having to maintain a protection or toughness item is very nice. All of the ability scores, aside from Intelligence, are important enough to have items. Strength and Constitution are both obvious, the Dexterity bonus to armor is small but nice. Since I skip Wisdom in character creation, I need something to fuel my spell casting, as some of those buffs are VERY nice. Charisma fuels several of your most important abilities, namely Smite Evil, Lay on Hands and Holy Retribution (through Turn Undead). Yes, this makes the Sora Kell set and later the items from the Clerics of Ammanatur and the Purple Dragon Knights rather useful, if annoying in that they all lack Augment Slots.
      If you have any questions, feel free to send me a FB message or talk on twitter @rocketsp13.

  3. Yes and yes to both of the above comments. A true tank can never have too much AC, PRR or fort – nor too many hit points.

    Can’t remember what the biggest skill item you can get at lvl 5 is, but intim and/or incite items help when it comes to getting and keeping aggro. And a Cha item, since your intim skill is based on your charisma.

    I know a lot of people don’t like paladins, but I love playing mine. She does NOT have great DPS (sometimes I wonder if she has ANY DPS), but if you’re doing anything that involves tankable mobs, being able to grab the aggro, keep the aggro, take little or no damage, and heal yourself if necessary – seriously, what’s not to like? No drain on the healers, no damage to the rest of the party, and sneak attack bonuses for everyone who isn’t you.

  4. I had pretty good results at low levels with my bard by using armor with the Invulnerability suffix on it, and as soon as I could get the blur spell I was using it. I know what you mean though. I’ve been trying to solo Devil Assault on elite (that makes it an 8th level quest) with my 10th level spellsinger and have been having a terrible time!

  5. Think some people have started you down the right path but might not have gone deeply enough. Great tanks today have layered defenses, Ac is good but less important then before (because everything will hit you some) PRR is king, then DR (dig out your old stalwart trinket because you are getting hit.), fort is imporant because you want to smooth out damage spikes and normalize your hits as much as possible. Then you need to look at dodge channels. By lvl 4 you should have blur bracers as an option. And with heavy armor you should be able to max your dodge fairly quickly with a few items and the dodge/mobility feats.

    But i lost my excitement with “tanking” back with the AC changes.

    • Blur bracers? Fort. Dodge. Check.

      • I guess he is referring to the ML:4 Bracers of wind from the Cannith Challenges. They are real easy to get, and my lvl 18 Barb is still wearing his. They go with everything :).

        You can craft invulnerable unto an armor with a blue slot for fort. With masterful craftsmanship that becomes ML: 3, for DR 5 and 75% fort. Pretty much all my characters wear this from lvl 4 to 11. Together with resists from ship-buffs it is essentially IDDQD for the low levels.

  6. Sadly, I know nothing of “tank” tanking.

    My experience with tanking has been “I do more DPS than anyone else here, so I’ll hold the mobs agro.” Lol

    I can say for sure in lower levels maxing your AC, and Dodge do a lot. Some form of blur is also extremely effective at lower levels. I’v been using lootgen Dode items on my current TR. I found a ML:5 FF Cursed ring of Dodge 3% with Masterful Craftsmenship. Found a number of pretty similar items on the AH for really cheap as well. Seems people haven’t found out what these items are actually worth yet, so you could potentially find some really good deals.

    If you can find a nice lootgen dodge ring with a green/blue slot you can decon it and make a really nice crafted ring later on. I like going GFL or FF with Heavy Fort slotted.

  7. Charisma is good, adds to intim and saves

    Lots been said already but blurry atlv4 is awesome, lots of random dodge items now think 6% is mid levels

    I think wall of wood is best for 15+, heal amp, DR and devotion πŸ™‚

  8. Ok, I’d be pretty much tilling the same ground with most of my thoughts, but whatever you do, don’t forget the importance of having the appropriate energy resists and protections active. They’ll murder you with no regards to you AC, DR, PRR, dodge chance, etc.

    Also, make sure you’re upgrading to the new armor tier as soon as possible (i.e. batlle X at level 4, magecraft X at level 10, etc.)

  9. Lots of good advice provided here.

    Samius is absolutely right. Layered defense is a must, as best as you can manage.

    I’m personally thinking of TRing into a Dwarven Paladin, with maybe some fighter levels or maybe some monk.

    Dwarf for the HPs and con, Paladin, because I think with the Sacred Defender PrE lines, are the most defense and tank oriented characters.

    Lets break it down.
    Paladin offers, great saves, CHA for intim, tons of self healing (and maybe someday they will let Paladin lay on hands regen during heroic levels, like other classes’ abilities), spell healing, energy resist, Angel Skin, Zeal, and Divine Favor.

    Sacred defender offers increased threat gen, bonuses to strength, con and HP (in addition to the extra HP from the con bonus), bonuses to AC and PRR.

    A Paladin with the acred Defender line covers everthing that a true tank Needs tp survive and is totally self-sufficient.

  10. I am planning on a discussion about how to build a tank in the near-ish future of DDOCast but heres some quick thoughts when making a tank:

    layered defense is a must, but also consider the following: increases to AC and PRR do not yield a linear benefit. The more you already have the less benefit you will gain from increasing them more. At best, +1 PRR yields a 0.65% reduction in damage – and thats when you increase it from 0 to 1. Dodge on the other hand is. Every point of dodge you add provides the same benefit as the previous. You may not think you can get a very high dodge with a heavily armored tank, but with a little bit of effort and some creative enhancement usage you can get up to 10% without too much trouble. Also, when we are talking defenses we can’t forget to think about saves, many monsters use spells that require saves. Spell and energy absorption items can also round out the defensive side.

    Next, healing amp. This is also a linear benefit and becomes increasingly more important at higher levels. In raid situations, especially as a tank, healing amp is critical. Healers will often use heal scrolls to stretch their spell points AND for another heal spell timer. There are also several abilities that heal a small about but at an incredibly cheap cost (radiant aura, cocoon, and renewal for example). Your own heal amp will greatly increase the effectiveness of your healer.

    finally: threat. this is what most people ignore. intimidate is great, but it has a cooldown. in todays DDO environment players can seriously ramp up and spike the damage (especially with epic moments). an intimidate is likely to only get you aggro for about 5 seconds if its your only source of attention. The cooldown is around 15s if memory serves. There are many abilities and items that can increase your threat generation to more easily maintain your aggo and you should not discount a little offense into your build. If you are a raid tank, i dont care how survivable you are, if you cant hold aggro consistently you are a lousy tank – and worse, because you are so defensively minded your DPS is probably terrible making you a poor contribution to the party.

    • Dodge, healing amp, threat. Check.

    • Another interesting thing with dodge, is there are certain destiny abilities which increase it beyond the normal cap temporarily – as well as masters blitz from dreadnaught, Primal Travel (an innate from the primal avatar tree) can be used every 60secs to provide 12secs of +50% dodge (currently bugged to give +100%) & meld into darkness (shadowdancer tree) can be a useful potential twist for 15secs of +100% dodge once per 2mins – one of my own characters used both of those plus displacement & shadow fade (combined with over 20% of “standard” dodge bonus to be virtually untouchable for short periods.
      Just remember they make you jump backwards to engage them & PT is actually a triple-jump, you you’ll need to backflip in a circle πŸ™‚

      • Wait, +100% Dodge? Doesn’t that mean you dodge every attack?

        • Well spells can still get you, and potentially if enemies have abilities that negate a portion of dodge (eg. shiradi has one i think) they can lower it for themselves still have a chance but yeah, basically you simply avoid all incoming melee damage for X seconds, its fun πŸ™‚ Just don’t use near the edge in, say, CITW πŸ˜€

  11. Remember that you need to be proficient with the weapon or armour to get the PRR benefit from it – not unusual to see a caster with items they’re not proficient with just because it has nice effects on it, but on a tank you want to make sure you’re proficient if you whip out a tower shield.

    Dwarven pure pally was a definite contender for my final life on Quijonn

    Static 1606 HP without temporary hit points
    154 AC gives 78% miss chance
    Dwarven Armour Master and a crafted Feat:Mobility item allows 7% Dodge
    Bracers of the Wind gives permanent 20% Blur and 4% of your Dodge – greensteel displacement clickie would have been nice but didn’t have one.
    Cloak of Invisibility gives 10% incorporeal and a much valued green augment slot where you can stick in a blue augment for even more PRR
    Unyielding Sovereignty, amped up Cure Serious Wounds and up to 7 Lay on Hands for your self-healnig
    149 PRR gives 50.46% damage reduction.

    Most of this was with crafted gear and pre-enhancement pass so would be even better now.

    • Haven’t checked exact build details, but in theory old 7% dodge is now new 14% dodge if they’ve scaled the feats and enhancement properly.
      Oh yeah, and 155% fort to give you a fort buffer against rogue types deforting you. Is that even a word? Deforting? It should be.

    • Proficiency. Check.

      Dwarf? Ummm no πŸ™‚

      • Don’t let the smell put you off. They’re just like fat, hairy, heavy drinking, swearing, shouting halfling blessed with the accent of the chosen.

  12. My “tank” is a dwarf 12fvs/6fighter/2monk (monk levels purely to squeeze feats)
    Great Cleave
    Shield mastery
    Improved shield mastery
    Empower healing
    Improved shield bash
    2 handed fighting
    improved 2 handed fighting
    greater 2handed fighting
    Overwhelming criticals
    -perfect 2handed fighting (planned for level 26)
    -blinding speed (planned for 27)
    -….something (planned for 28). probably forced escape for a handy sonic damage AoE.

    He uses heavy plate, tower shield & dwarven axes, getting glancing blows plus shield bashes & a pretty decent doublestrike so his dps is a fair bit higher than you might expect. His saves & HP aren’t as good as a paladin, but he gets a wider selection of spells that can be useful including Heal.

    Enhancements-wise, primarily stalwart defender, with a load of racial stuff for the dragonmarks (dwarf marks are now least = neutralise poison, lesser = spell resistance, greater = radiant shield) plus extra toughness & PRR & some points in the defender tree with just 1 point in shintao because +10 healing spellpower & 5% healing amp is worth it.

    Destiny-wise, dreadnaught is the primary one, though sentinel is very nice too & i’m levelling the others to be able to twist sense weakness. My current twists though are legendary shield mastery (yay doublestrike plus more PRR), shield expertise (more AC is handy, though also keep this slot for situational stuff like energy sheath) & (non-negotiable on most of my characters) rejuvenation cocoon.

    A similar version as an alternative race using bastard sword instead could be interesting too, maybe a dragonmarked elf for some displacements, or dragonmarked halfling for some healy abilities, or human for a standard boring approach πŸ™‚

  13. Geoff, one point I’d like to make. It’s never cheating to use something (in this case, Otto Box XP stones) that the designers themselves put into the game on purpose.

  14. Well i would say ppl do not always consider all the aspects of tanking before building…it is important to takeas little as possible damage from all trash types not only the rednames, which means u would need the following: ac, fortification, will, fort and reflex saves, it does not help mch taking no mellee dmg and casters can one shot u. Now relex is important for evasion and mellee dmg, but alota spells use will and fort saves, so well worth investing in, also use feats like resilience which gives u a +4 to all saves etc. One fact about tanks is tho…no possoble way to build a super dps tank…it’s one or the other’ if you do go for high dps u will def. not be able to avoid all dmg types, if u look into super saver builds u’ll get an idea of what i’m mumbling about…i use heroic lvls to stack saves, ac, etc. and use epic lvls to add dps…i’ve found a moderate balance in this type of building. That is if ur goin for end game builds.

  15. I am a relative newbie, playing only a few months. I’ve concentrated all my time on just one toon, just going into his third life now. My first life was a dual wielding dwarf with 6 levels of ranger and the rest in fighter. For a 28 point build, he certainly did decent damage in pugs. I was in a hurry to TR when I hit L20 because I wanted the extra build points, plus I felt a distinct lack in my fighter not being able to tank effectively. I resolved to change that with my second life.

    While it was perhaps not the ideal build choice, I went for pure L20 fighter so I could get the L20 capstone. The captsone was not in Stalwart Defender however, as both my experience and what others were telling me was that if I couldn’t do enough damage, I would be able to hold agro. Taking that to heart, I build the most survivable fighter I could while still putting out a serious amount of damage. My build pushed Kensei to the point of picking up Keen Edge and the capstone Alacrity, but almost as much into Stalwart Defender to boost defense and melee agro. This was a dwarf using a dwarven axe and shield. The huge number of feats were spread nicely between dishing out damage as well as shield feats.

    The common perception is that tanks cannot dish out damage. I can tell you from experience, that is simply not true. Yes, a two hand fighter or dual wielder can dish out a little bit more, but it is not ‘that’ much more than what I was doing. I know because my build was perfectly capable of switching to a two hander and had all the feats any two hander could dream of. My previous life had the experience of the damage of a completely focused two weapon wielding fighter. My shield user was dishing out extremely respectable DPS, frequently leading in kills and almost always leading amongst the melees. And with that damage output multiplied by my agro bonuses, I was able to keep the agg from bosses even while sorcerers were uncorking with everything and the kitchen sink. (Caveat, if the sorcerers fired ‘before’ I started swinging, it sometimes took time for me to gain agg if the intim didn’t work. If they did as I instructed and waited till I had the boss’s attention, I could hold it.)

    I had my heroic moment at level eight, when I went into “Thrall of the Necromancer” on elite when I was level 8. (I maintained an elite BB streak till level 20.) Everyone else died at the first door trap (it was a pug). Being a newbie with little memory of the quest, I recalled there was a rez shrine nearby and resolved to try to get everyone’s soul stones to that shrine. It turned out the the rez shrine was not at all near by and I basically had to solo the dungeon in order to reach it. Well I did. A single level 8 character in an elite dungeon pegged at 10, with full group scaling, and I could essentially tank the dungeon.

    I did not exactly have uber gear, I’ve not been playing long enough to collect it, let alone even know what it is. What I did have going for me is that I resolved early on that I was going to develop Cannith crafting. I had crafted gear appropriate to level 8 with masterful craftsmanship on everything. I had for instance a holy dwarven axe with lesser vampirism that while usable at level eight was already a paragon weapon. The lesser vampirism healed me sufficiently to make keeping me healthy a rather trivial task.

    I spent a bit of time in epic doing normal and hard mostly, only a bit of elite epic. While occasionally I would meet someone with an uber build with ultimate gear and 20 lives under their belt and in those situations, I basically just tried to keep up, but even in epic my tank was usually doing quite well.

    What I have learned from this is that a tank needs a balance of offense and defense. A pure defensive tank might well survive, but they will do so while the rest of the party dies due to their inability to hold agg, intimidation is not enough. A two hand or dual wield fighter that goes all in to doing damage while gaining agg will take so much damage while doing so that it might well overwhelm the healer’s ability to keep up, such that they are not in fact, a tank. The ideal tank would very likely have some paladin so as to push saves, but I doubt it would be a pure paladin. Contrary to conventional wisdom, in my opinion, good tank needs to focus on pushing melee damage as much as possible despite their shield, not sacrificing damage in favor of pushing intimidate. I would put six starting points into charisma assuming some paladin but level up points would go into strength, picking up overwhelming critical at level 21, etc..

  16. Don’t remember my PRR but my last tank build had ac61 at level 5

What do you think?

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