This is a simple guide to some of the basics of tanking. If you understand these, as most tanks do, you're ready to tank!
- Pull as much as you and the healer can handle in dungeons. The more you pull, the more damage your party does, because AOE attacks deal their potency to every enemy affected.
- Spamming AOE attacks is almost always better with 3 or more enemies. At lower levels this might mean hitting the same button over and over again, which sounds simple, but it is optimal.
- Do not move unnecessarily while tanking a boss. Position the boss so that its rear and flank are both available.
- While tank DPS rotations are simple, make sure you grasp the basics. Generally this means:
- "Always Be Casting (ABC)": Constantly triggering your GCD abilities, minimizing downtime. Sprint and gap-closers can help.
- Using oGCD abilities the moment they become available ("on cooldown"), without delaying your GCD cycles due to animations ("clipping").
- Fitting your damaging abilities as much as possible into your high-damage window; sometimes delaying oGCD abilities slightly to do so.
- Keep your gear up to date. This is very important for tanks because gear affects your damage, HP and defense (how much damage you take):
- Before level 45, buy gear at the main markets of the three big cities to keep your gear updated. You can buy from NPCS or the market board.
- For level 45, do your job quest for gear.
- At level 50, visit Mor Dhona for Ironworks Armor, which can be augmented to 130 at North Shroud. You can similarly obtain a weapon in Mor Dhona by trading poetics for the right tokens and items first.
- At level 60, visit Idyllshire for Shire Armor and the weapon, which can both be augmented to 270 there.
- At level 70, visit Rhalgr's Reach for Scaevan Armor and the weapon, which can both be augmented to 400 there.
- Rampart and Reprisal are good cooldowns for both boss fights and large mob pulls.
- Arm's Length is an excellent cooldown for large mob pulls because it applies Slow to targets that auto-attack you. Very few bosses can be Slowed.
- Every tank has a powerful defensive cooldown (WAR: Vengeance, PLD: Sentinel, DRK: Shadow Wall, GNB: Nebula) that reduces damage by 30% and lasts for 15 seconds. It is best used when you anticipate taking a great amount of damage (such as a large pull, or boss tankbuster followed by raidwide).
- Space out your defensive cooldowns, do not blow all of them together.
- Every tank has a unique death-defying cooldown (WAR: Holmgang, PLD: Hallowed Ground, DRK: Living Dead, GNB: Superbolide). PLD and GNB should also use their cooldown during mob pulls to reduce damage (after informing the healer).
- Every tank also has abilities, sometimes multiple, to help their party reduce damage taken. Saving the party from wiping by protecting the healer/rez-mage is a great move.
- Your Limit Break does no damage. It reduces party damage taken for a short amount of time. With the exception of high-end content, it should only be used in the final Alexander fight.
Enmity (aggro) is a mob's internal counter to determine which party member to attack, based on how much damage/healing each party member has done.
- There is always one main tank and the main tank should always have their tank stance on to vastly increase enmity generated. Other tanks in the party (if any) are known as off-tanks, and they should not have their tank stance on until the main tank has accrued a sizeable enmity lead, and they should avoid stealing aggro from the main tank unnecessarily.
- In the enemy list, a symbol next to the enemy's name indicates whether or not you are their top enmity target ("grabbed aggro"). As the main tank you should grab aggro on enemies, as indicated by a red square. Note that enemies you have never generated aggro on would not appear on the enemy list.
- In the party list, a bar indicates how much aggro each party members has relatively generated against your current target. As of Shadowbringers the main tank should always generate vastly more enmity.
- In some fights all tanks must keep tank stance on to grab different enemies. This occurs in several 24-man raids.
- In some fights it is necessary to change the main tank during a mechanic ("tank swap"). To perform a tank swap, the off-tank needs to Provoke, setting their aggro level to a number slightly higher than the main tank's, and then the main tank should Shirk the off tank to guarantee the aggro won't return. Almost always, this should be done during the cast bar of a mechanic that forces tank swapping.
Comprehensive job-specific guides are provided by The Balance.