ESO Dragonknight Tank Guide for PvE
Elder Scrolls Online Dragonknight Tank Guide
Everyone with some MMORPG experience knows how important it is to have a skilled and well-equipped tank for any group content. Currently, Dragonknights have the possibility to be one of the best, or possibly even the most efficient tanks in the whole game (some Warden builds can maybe challenge that). This build is designed entirely for tanking in PvE content. It will be extremely useful in dungeon runs and even trials.
You can hold the aggro, provide some useful buffs to your group, and sustain pretty well without the need to capture all of your healer’s attention. However, most importantly, this build is just a vast bulk of defensive stats, with absurd amounts of Health and resistances. Let's dive into this ESO tank build!
Dragonknight Tank Build
The general idea is pretty simple. You want to be as tanky as possible, while also not running out of resources (most importantly Stamina). In at least one of your skill bars, you’re going to use a one-handed weapon and shield, since it’s the most efficient setup in terms of defensive stats. For the most difficult content, this is going to be the setup for both of your skill bars.
The Stamina sustain is essential since as the main tank you’re going to have to block a lot of attacks. Blocking costs Stamina and running out of this resource in a tough fight can actually spell your doom. Attribute-wise, you can go fully into Health, or spare a few (let’s say 10) points for Stamina and put all the rest into Health. Overall, it's one of the best tank builds for PvE in Elder Scrolls Online.
First One-Handed and Shield Skill Bar
As the main tank, you’re always going to have a one-handed weapon and shield in the first bar. This is an exemplary list of skills to slot here.
Igneous Shield – it’s a morph of Obsidian Shield in the Earthen Heart skill line. First of all, it provides you with a massive shield that scales off of your max HP (with right build and consumables its value may exceed 10 000). This ability also shields up to five nearby allies for a lower amount. Finally, it buffs you with Major Mending, increasing the healing you do by 25% for a short time. Igneous Shield has a high Magicka cost, but with enough sustain, you can use it quite frequently. Our buils is also predominantly Stamina-based.
Green Dragon Blood – morphed from a Draconic Power skill – Dragon Blood. It’s another high Magicka cost defensive skill. Instead of shielding, it provides self-healing that also scales with your max Health. It instantly recovers 33% of your missing HP. It can restore over 15k HP if you use it when you’re low.
Moreover, it can be affected by the Major Mending to heal you for even more. Finally, it provides some buffs. You get extra Health and Stamina regeneration, and +8% received healing. You should keep it up 100% of the time, for higher efficiency of your own self heals and the party members that heal you.
Pierce Armor – it’s a damage ability that’s also a single target taunt. You’re going to want to use it on the main target at all times. It has 15 seconds duration, but don’t be afraid to overlap it. It has a low Stamina cost and mismanaging this resource is less of a problem than losing the boss’s aggro and getting your group killed. It also reduces the target’s physical and magic resistances with Major Breach and Major Fracture. Pierce Armor is a morph of Puncture in One Hand and Shield tree.
Absorb Missile – its base skill is Defensive Posture, another One Hand and Shield ability. It provides you with a shield that only works against ranged attacks (physical and magic). It also scales off of maximum Health, which means that you’ll be able to get really high values from it. The first hit that it blocks will also heal you. Absorb Missile lasts 6 seconds and it costs Stamina. Just don’t use against melee opponents.
Bone Surge – this morph of Bone Shield from Undaunted skill line is another powerful damage shield. Once again, it gets more powerful, the more maximum Health you have. Similarly to Igneous Shield, it can also protect your allies (as long as they’re able to activate the synergy). It also provides them with Major Vitality that increases the amount of received healing by 30%. You can shield your group, protecting them from death and your healers will get increased efficiency as they try to get everyone topped up.
Shield Discipline – the ultimate ability on this bar comes from One Hand and Shield skill line. It’s a morph of Shield Wall. It makes you automatically block all the incoming attacks for 8 seconds, without any Stamina cost. Moreover, your other One Hand and Shield skills cost nothing when this is active. It makes it so not only you’re temporarily unkillable, but you can also spam Pierce Armor as much as you want, to keep the aggro on yourself. You can also repetitively cast Absorb Missile for healing.
Second One-Handed and Shield Skill Bar
Elusive Mist – its base ability is Mist Form in the Vampire skill tree. It is a 4 seconds 75% damage reduction that also cleanses crowd control and provides a burst of movement speed. However, you can’t be healed, and you don’t regenerate Magicka while you have this ability active. It can be used to mitigate powerful bursts of damage from bosses and mechanics. In different situations, it’s mostly a panic button that helps you get away when something is not going the way it should.
Unstoppable Brute/Immovable – both of these abilities are morphs of Unstoppable in the Heavy Armor tree. Each of them provides a significant buff to physical and spell resistances, while also granting a short CC immunity and a slow. Unstoppable Brute decreases cost of Break Free and Immovable provides more block value but makes you unable to move for 6 seconds.
Inner Rage – it’s a morph of Inner Fire in the Undaunted skill line. It’s a second single target taunt in our build. Just like Pierce Armor, it lasts 15 seconds. However, Inner Rage costs Magicka and is slightly more expensive to use. That being said, it provides a synergy that your ranged allies can use in order to deal more damage to the target and surrounding enemies. It's also the only ranged taunt in the game.
Unrelenting Grip – its base skill is Fire Grip in the Ardent Flame tree. It is a ranged ability that allows you to pull the target to you. It also deals a bit of damage and temporarily increases your movement speed. If the target can’t be pulled, you get a refund of the Magicka cost. In very specific situations, you can use this interaction to get spammable free movement speed buffs.
Choking Talons – this morph of Dark Talons from the Draconic Power skill line is a handy CC ability. You can use it as a follow up to Unrelenting Grip – first pulling an enemy and then immobilizing them. It’s an AoE snare that also applies Minor Maim (15% reduction of the damage done). The root is limited to 6 targets, but the small damage and the debuff will apply to every enemy in the 6-meter radius. Pay attention to positioning when using Choking Talons. Furthermore, nearby allies can activate a synergy that deals additional damage to enemies affected by this skill.
Aggressive Horn – our primary ultimate ability in this build is a morph of War Horn that belongs to Assault skill line. It increases yours and your allies’ max Stamina and Magicka pool by 10% for 30 seconds. It also provides 15% extra critical damage for 10 seconds. The other ultimate is for tough situations when you’re struggling to stay alive. Meanwhile, this one should be used when everything is going fine, and you want to provide extra damage to your group. This one is also significantly more expensive.
Invigorating Drain – its base ability is Drain Essence in the Vampire skill line. It’s a 3 seconds channel that deals damage, stuns the target, restores your Health and provides 5 ultimate for every second it’s active. It is a lot of useful things at the same time, definitely considerable. You should pick it especially for easier content.
Magma Shell – it’s a morph of the Earthen Heart ultimate ability – Magma Armor. It provides some damage reduction (making sure that you’re not getting hit for more than 3% of your max Health) and deals some AoE fire damage. Most importantly, it provides your nearby allies with a shield equal to 100% of their maximum HP. You can put it in instead of Aggressive Horn for the most difficult content when your team needs more survivability. This build provides a lot of AoE shielding already, but if you need more, you can always take Magma Shell.
Heroic Slash - you can definitely take it, if you need a reliable source of Minor Maim (damage reduction) to inflict to your targets. It also provides some additional ultimate generation thanks to the Minor Heroism buff. This ability is morphed from Low Slash in One Hand and Shield skill line.
Hardened Armor/Volatile Armor - the two morphs of Spiked Armor in the Draconic Power skill line provide extra resistances as well as some shielding or damage. Go for it if you feel like you could use the extra defensive buffs.
Ardent Flame: Combustion increases the damage you deal with poison and burning as well as provides some Stamina and Magicka recovery – the second part makes it useful. You can slow your enemies with Ardent Flame skills thanks to Warmth (not necessary, but helpful).
Draconic Power: Additional block value from Iron Skin is suitable for this build. Burning Heart provides additional healing received that stacks with Green Dragon Blood. They’re both going to be active at the same time. You can get an extra 5% Health recovery from Elder Dragon. It also extends the range of Pierce Armor by an additional two meters. Scaled Armor is just extra spell resistance – of course, you want that.
Earthen Heart: Eternal Mountain extends the duration of Igneous Shield and Magma Shell. Battle Roar provides great Stamina, Magicka, and Health sustain when you’re using ultimates. It’s extra important for a build like this since we spend a lot of both Magicka and Stamina. You can get some ultimate resource as well as buff yours and your team’s weapon damage with Mountain’s Blessing. Finally, Helping Hands restore 900 Stamina every time you use an Earthen Heart ability.
One Hand and Shield: Fortress lowers the Stamina cost of your abilities in this skill line, it's also a block cost reduction. You can get extra weapon damage and block value with Sword and Board. Deadly Bash reduces the cost and increases the damage of your bash attack – it’s a useful but not that high priority. Deflect Bolts can increase the block value against ranged attacks. Finally, you can move quicker while blocking thanks to Battlefield Mobility.
Heavy Armor: depending on your gear choices, you can wear all seven pieces of heavy armor. It is what makes these passives really important. Resolve, Constitution, and Juggernaut all scale off of the number of heavy armor pieces that you’re wearing. They can provide a significant boost of resistances, resource sustain, and an additional 14% maximum HP. Revitalize improves the amount of Stamina and Magicka that you get when you heavy attack. There’s also another bonus to healing received called Rapid Mending. You definitely want them all.
Medium Armor (optional): if you happen to wear a single piece of medium armor, you can go for a few passives. The most important one is Wind Walker since it provides extra Stamina regeneration and reduces ability costs of that resource. Athletics and Dexterity bring some mobility and weapon crit chance, but they’re not as high priority.
Vampire: becoming a Vampire is pretty much necessary for this build. We used some active abilities from this tree; we’re also utilizing some passives. Supernatural Recovery increases Magicka and Stamina regen by 10%. Undeath reduces the amount of damage you take, the lower Health percentage you have. Optionally, you can also take Dark Stalker for faster movement in a crouch, but it’s not necessary. Some players prefer becoming a Werewolf, but we believe that Vampire is better for this build.
Fighters Guild: Banish the Wicked restores ultimate when you kill Undead, Daedra or Werewolves. While this build doesn’t land too many killing blows, it can happen sometimes, and getting free ultimate is always good.
Undaunted: you can restore Magicka and Stamina while activating synergies, thanks to Undaunted Command. At the same time, Undaunted Mettle will provide an additional 2% maximum Health, Stamina and Magicka for each weight of armor that you’re wearing. In general, it’s not worth to get medium and light armor pieces in this build, so it’s likely going to stay at 2%.
Alchemy: just like basically any other ESO build, we’re going to utilize the extra 30% potion duration from Medicinal Use.
Besides, you’re obviously going to want to level all your racial passives, no matter which race you end up playing.
Best race for Dragonknight tank
Dragonknight tank build is mighty even without taking any racial passives into account so that you can be a great frontline playing any race. However, some races have access to passives that provide more defensive stats and resource generation, empowering this build even further, what can prove to be really useful in some more challenging scenarios - like dungeons and trials.
The two choices that we recommend the most are Nord and Imperial. The first one provides the most resistances and some additional ultimate generation. The second brings extra maximum Health and Stamina as well as resource generation. Other decent choices are Argonian, Orc, and Redguard.
Dragonknight tank gear
In general, you want to get as much Health and resistances as possible. It means prioritizing Health or Tri-Stat Enchantment and traits like Sturdy and Reinforced as the armor item traits. On weapons, you’ll optimally want Defending on your main hand and Nirnhoned on your shield. We’re also using Drain Stamina Poison IX on both of our weapons, so Glyph choice is not that important. For jewelry, we’re going with Healthy or Infused trait and an enchant that can provide either resource recovery or reduced block cost.
Chest, belt, shoes, pants, and gloves – Perfected Claw of Yolnahkriin provides some max HP, Stamina, and buffs for your group when you use taunts. It provides Minor Courage than can’t be accessed in any other way. You can also consider Akaviri Dragonguard, Immortal Warrior or Roar of Alkosh (dropped in Maw of Lorkhaj) as your main armor set, but we recommend Yolnahkriin.
If you can’t get trial gear yet, or you want to try something else, you can also replace it with the Plague Doctor set for the most maximum Health and a bit of extra healing taken. Ebon Armory (found in Crypt of Hearts) works similarly but sacrifices a bit of your tankiness in favor of protecting your team. Another strong trial set is called Perfect Aegis of Galenwe. It empowers light attacks of your allies when you block. You can also consider Torug's Pact as an early set, since it's easy to get through crafting.
Head and shoulders – Stonekeepers set is extremely helpful with resource management in situations where you block a lot. You can also go with Chokethorn set to get extra healing and some Magicka sustain. Lord Warden is another defensive option - you can loot it in the Imperial City Prison - a few standard or vet runs should do the job.
Necklace and two rings – Leeching Plate
Weapon 1 - Leeching Plate one hand and shield. That gives us full five-piece Leeching Plate that provides more max HP, extra healing taken and grants you 20% chance to summon a cloud of leeching poison. You can get nearly 100% uptime of it and it will deal damage as well as heal you. It also procs the Combustion passive for extra resources.
Weapon 2 - another Leeching Plate one hand and shield. Preferably use a sword in one slot and ax in the other. Visually different weapon sets can help you with making fewer mistakes in terms of skill usage.
For the 810 points setup, you want to go with this setup:
The Mage (Blue)
The Ritual: Precise Strikes - 40, Piercing - 10
The Atronach: Physical Weapon Expert - 47, Master at Arms - 73
The Apprentice: Blessed - 100 (you can subsctract some points from this and put them in Quick Recovery instead)
The Thief (Green)
The Shadow: Shadow Ward - 81, Tumbling - 63
The Lover: Tenacity - 43
The Tower: Warlord - 83
The Warrior (Red)
The Lord: Bastion - 18, Heavy Armor Focus - 12
The Lady: Hardy - 56, Elemental Defender - 56, Thick Skinned - 56
The Steed: Ironclad - 72
In terms of food, we’re going to go with flat stats here, so either get Longfin Pasty with Melon Sauce (all three resources), Artheum Takeaway Broth for max Health, max Stamina and sustain or Dubious Camoran Throne for a cheaper substitute. You can also simply go with flat Health and Stamina food, but with version you will need to heavy attack more, or get some form of resource sustain from your teammates, it's necessary for longer fights.
In terms of Mundus Stone choice, you can decide between The Lord for max Health or The Atronach for Magicka restoration. Finally, we already touched on the Drain Stamina Poison IX for even more sustain of that resource. As we mentioned, Stamina recovery is really important in this build.
Summary and gameplay tips
Compared to other MMORPGs, keeping aggro in ESO is relatively straightforward. However, tank players have one other important thing to care about, and it is resource management. If you’re inexperienced with this role, or you don’t have a well-crafted build you may run out of Magicka and Stamina which results in your death or your team’s death. It is the most crucial aspect of tanking in Elder Scrolls Online. Being able to take a lot of hits and survive is important too, but your high amounts of Health and resistances will help you with that.
Depending on your exact race, gear, enchants and food choices, you might easily exceed 50 000 maximum HP. Prioritizing Health is a great idea, due to the high number of abilities that scale off of this resource. That being said, you also have to make sure that you’re able to use these abilities as much as you need. It is where Stamina and Magicka sustain comes into play. Leeching Plate will help a lot with that, but it might not be enough. Finding the right balance of flat Health and resource gain is the key to being a great tank. As we said, tanking in this Zenimax's game is relatively easy in terms of mechanics, so you should get a hang of it pretty quickly.
Of course, the build that we described is not set in stone. Feel free to make some adjustments. You may replace some skills or items to make the build fit your style of play more, or make temporary changes for specific content. That being said, this setup will help you learn to play the role efficiently and get some general ideas about tanking as the Dragonknight character class. You can choose any of multiple builds, Dragonknight will always be a really satisfying class to play.
You can also check out some of our other guides about ESO Dragonknight builds (you can also play him as Stamina DPS with dual wield and a bow or even Magicka DPS with a double destruction staff setup). If you're looking for some basic knowledge about developing a character, we recommend reading our ESO Leveling Guide. There's also plenty of content related to this, or many other popular online games!
You can also share this guide with your friends or leave an opinion in the comments!
Elder scrolls online
Elder Scrolls Online is a really successful MMORPG. The remaining playable classes in ESO are: Nightblade, Sorcerer, Templar, Warden and Necromancer. The game offers a plethora of PvE (dungeons, trials, Maelstrom Arena) and PvP (Battlegrounds and Alliance Wars in Cyrodiil) activities, while also being great for both a experienced MMO player and a casual beginner. ESO also features some classic MMORPG trademarks, like crafting and player-driven market.
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What are the eso classes?
The six playable classes in ESO are: Dragonknight, Nightblade, Sorcerer, Templar, Warden and Necromancer.
What is the best tank race in ESO
Best races for a tank in ESO are Nord and Imperial. Nord racial passives provide the most survivability, while Imperials have access to great resource sustain.