There are a myriad of load-out combinations that you can choose while tanking trials. Often, you will choose different skills based on your circumstances and/or the requirements of the current boss fight. I highly recommend you start with the base load-out and then experiment once you’re comfortable with the basics. We will cover alternate skills and filling flex spots in another section…but for now lets get to it!
Front Bar – One Handed and Shield
You will be spending most of your time on your front bar…only swapping to your back-bar to apply Elemental Blockade/Crusher and use the various utility skills there. Slots 1, 2, 3 and 4 are permanent, whilst slots 5 and 6 are flexible. Lets have a look at the goodies…
In the first slot, from the One Hand and Shield line, is Pierce Armor (morph of Puncture). This is your bread and butter taunt and should have 100% up-time on your target(s). The application of Major Fracture and Breach allows your team to do more damage, which means a quicker, easier fight!
In the second slot, from the One Hand and Shield line, is Heroic Slash (morph of Low Slash). Not only does this apply a 60% Movement Speed reduction on your target, it also afflicts them with Minor Maim, reducing their damage output on you (and therefore less healing required) by 15%. Finally, this generates 6 ultimate each application via Minor Heroism. You should try to re-apply this every 9 seconds to keep the ultimate ticking over.
In the third slot, from the Earthen Heart skill line, is Igneous Shield (morph of Obsidian Shield). You will use this very often. The increased damage shield will help you soak up that damage, and you gain Major Mending for increased healing done by 25%. Hit this, then swap bars and hit Green Dragon Blood for maximum synergy. Some people like Fragmented Shield for the increased duration on Major Mending but you lose the extra shield strength…the choice is yours.
In the fourth slot, from the Draconic Power skill line, is Volatile Armor (morph of Spike Armor). The first thing you cast before you wade into battle; you will keep this active at all times. The Major Resolve and Ward should get to you the 32.5k resistance cap or thereabouts. The initial spray and damage return to attackers helps you keep aggro on mobs even if you do not have taunt applied. Some people like Hardened Armor for the initial damage shield…however given you are only casting this every 20 seconds I find it marginal. Many also use Spell Symmetry (morph of Balance) from the Mages Guild skill line. Whilst the Magicka return is great, I just don’t like the 6000 health loss (if you’re dead so is your group) or the 50% heal debuff for 4 seconds.
In the fifth slot, from the Psijic Order skill line, is Deep Thoughts (morph of Meditate). I think you’ll agree that the tool-tip is amazing. When you are comfortable with the mechanics of a fight you will find that you often have time to pop this. Even just using it for a second is a huge boon to your resource pool. However, there is plenty more to this ability thanks to the Psijic Order skill line. The Deliberation passive grants you Major Protection (30% damage reduction) while you are channeling this ability. This often means you can use it in combat while monsters are hitting you (barring heavy and 1-shot mechanics). A minor benefit is also derived via Concentrated Barrier. This grants you a 5k damage shield…which is a benefit at the start of a fight but less so during, as you’ll be blocking a lot and it will not regenerate. You also get a nice glowy effect which it wroth it all on it’s own!
In the sixth slot (Ultimate), from the One Hand and Shield line, is Shield Discipline (morph of Shield Wall). First off, this is a cheap ultimate to take advantage of Battle Roar for resource return in a pinch. Second, whilst active you have 7 seconds to drop block and throw a few heavy attacks for even more resource return. The negation of cost for Pierce Armor and Heroic Slash is a nice little bonus too. This ability is so good it can single-handedly reset your resources toward full when you are in deep trouble.
Back Bar – Destruction Staff
Since Wrathstone’s halving of one-hand and shield enchant effectiveness, Destruction Staff is the default back-bar option. We’ll cover enchants in another post but for now get comfortable with your length of wood. Slots 2, 4, 5 and 6 are permanent, whilst slots 1 and 3 are flex spots. Let’s dive in…
In the first slot, from the Ardent Flame skill line, is Unrelenting Grip (morph of Fiery Grip). The obvious purpose of this ability is to pull monsters toward you to aid in stacking them for your dps to burn down. The second, less obvious, purpose is to grant you Major Expedition, increasing your Movement Speed by 30% for 4 seconds. In fights where you need to move quickly, I will pop this on virtually any mob near me and speed around to wherever I need to be next. Don’t just think of it as a chain, think of it as a speed buff on demand. Use it on a monster that cannot be chained in and your speed buff is free!
In the second slot, from the Undaunted skill line, is Inner Rage (morph from Inner Fire). You have a choice between this (Magicka cost) or Inner Beast (Stamina cost). I take Inner Rage primarily so I have a taunt available if my Stamina is depleted. The increased chance to grant a synergy is an added bonus. This should not be used as your primary taunt (that should be Pierce Armor for Major Fracture and Breach) but used when you cannot reach your intended target easily (or bring melee monsters into range).
In the 3rd slot, from the Ardent Flame skill line, is Engulfing Flames (morph of Fiery Breath). This is a unique skill to Dragonknights that applies 10% more Fire Damage to your enemies. Your trial mates will appreciate the damage boost.
In the fourth slot, from the Draconic Power skill line, is Green Dragon Blood (morph of Dragon Blood). This is a great “oh crap” button to top up your health. The Stamina Recovery is negligible, and the Health Recovery is of a little value. Where this ability really shines is in applying Minor Vitality for 23 seconds, applying 8% increased healing received. If you have Magicka to spare you should use this proactively to help your healers out.
In the fifth slot, from the Destruction Staff skill line, is Elemental Blockade (morph of Wall of Elements). This is why you wield a Destruction Staff on your back bar. You use it, not for the damage, but because it will continue to apply your weapon enchantment, Crusher, over the duration. This is one of your priority roles as a tank, to provide the armor debuff to increase the damage of the entire group. You should do your best to keep this up 100% of the time. When there are multiple enemies in front of you, it will apply to the closest enemy…so make sure you position yourself correctly. Whilst using an Ice Staff can make you more tanky via the Ancient Knowledge passive, most end-game trial tanks use a Lightning Staff to apply off-balance for even more group damage. Learn to love it!
In the sixth slot (Ultimate), from the Assault skill line, is Aggressive Horn (morph of War Horn). The tanks and the healers will be rotating Horn for the group for the amazing buffs that it provides. Major Force provides 15% critical damage for 9 seconds, whilst every trial member’s Max Magicka and Stamina will be increased by 10% for ~30 seconds. Wherever possible you should save your ultimate for this ability and only use your front bar Ultimate in a pinch. In score pushing trial groups you will be rotating this on a timer for maximum Horn up time.
This is my go to potion. Tanks need all resources, so an on-call boost in all departments is just what is needed. If you can’t afford these all the time then the Crown Tri-Restoration Potion is a decent backup. You should get plenty of these just by logging in with the daily rewards program. The extra recovery across the board for these is a nice little bonus so don’t be shy chugging these down.
Wrapping it up
I’ve found the above baseline to be a great starting point for any trial. You will be swapping other skills in and out depending on the fight but the above will support a competent tank through thick and thin. Let’s get tanking!