Welcome to The Tank Club Ultimate ESO Beginner Tank Guide! 

This ESO Beginner Tank Guide has been created for PvE Tanks, to help coach you on your way to becoming a successful Tank in The Elder Scrolls Online. 

Before you get started with Tanking, please take a little time to have a read through this guide to hopefully give you an idea about what Tanking is all about in The Elder Scrolls Online.

This guide is basically a summary of everything you need to know, whether you are new to ESO or just new to Tanking, you should find all the basic information you need to start Tanking.

For a good starting build for a Tank, make sure you also check out our Beginner Tank Build.

Updated: September 2022 (Lost Depths)

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The ULTIMATE ESO Tank Guide 2021 | Elder Scrolls Online

ESO Beginner Tank Guide Table of Contents

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What is a Tank?

In the Elder Scrolls Online – A Tank is someone who is the heavily armoured shell of a group, the first one into battle and the front-line of combat to protect and defend everyone else against any threat.

A Tanks main job is to aggro and control enemy targets forcing them to attack you and ensure as little damage as possible is passed onto Damage Dealers and Healers. Once aggro is achieved the next task of the Tank is to position enemies safely where allies are as protected as possible to perform their respective roles. As a Tank it is vital to learn fights quickly and efficiently, know mechanics and tactics for each fight as you are the frontline and you will deal with mechanics more than most other roles in a group. Tanks in ESO, similar to the military vehicle, need a very strong defence and good battlefield manoeuvrability: You take a lot of damage as a Tank so the priority is to boost your Max Health and Resistances so you are able to deal with all incoming damage.

The biggest obstacles for a Tank are self-sustaining and survivability. Tanks usually aim for a high Magicka Recovery stat to help with in combat abilities. Stamina sustain can be difficult, when you block – you lose Stamina and Stamina cannot be regained through regeneration while holding Block. With good sustain, you’ll be able to heal yourself if needed and surviving becomes a lot easier, but experience is key to surviving and learning all areas of your class, race, role and each particular fight is a must.

Once you have mastered the basics of Tanking, you will be expected to support your group by setting up in a particular way. This is where you begin to help your group with certain buffs and gear sets, which increase the group damage output (or survivability and sustain) and also begin using further debuff skills and sets which increase the damage your enemy targets take. The reason why buffing and debuffing is important for the Tank is because you are always on the front-line and close to the enemy so it is far easier for a Tank to maintain certain buffs and debuff. Also, the more damage your group can do, the quicker fights will end which benefits everyone in a group especially a Tank who is having to balance sustain, fight management and more.

Choosing a Tank Class

You can Tank using any class in The Elder Scrolls Online. Each class has its own skills and passives that will benefit you as a Tank.

Dragonknights are the best performing Tanks for beginners but every class is able to Tank. Each class has a certain set of group buffs and utilities, and generally you would use these other classes as and when they are needed because you are missing these particular unique buffs and debuffs in your group.

This tier list has the beginner perspective in mind. This is not a tier list based on what is the most optimal class for group content.

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The Dragonknight is the absolute best class for beginner tanks.

DK’s as they are also known are typically the easiest Tank class to play due to the self-sustain available to them via their class passives.

Sustain on a DK is great as you can get all resources back when using an Ultimate and you can get Stamina while blocking thanks to the passives Battle Roar and Helping Hands. Early on in the levelling process they have access to Magicka based crowd control with Choking Talons and Unrelenting Grip, both which are superior to every other Tank classes crowd control abilities.

They have two excellent healing skills; one burst heal that scales with Max Health called Coagulating Blood and one heal over time called Cinder Storm. They also have a group spam-able shield called Igneous Shield which scales with Max Health.

The DK has access to a unique group damage buff called Stagger which places a debuff on enemies via the Stone Giant skill which causes the target to take increased damage. Stagger is more common in the later stages of the end game due to its difficulty to maintain and sustain but is a requirement by most groups in harder content and trials.

DK’s also have a group buff called Minor Brutality which is often applied from the Mountain’s Blessing passive by casting a Earthen Heart skill.  Other groups buffs provided by a Dragonknight include Engulfing Flames and Igneous Weapons.

The Warden is an easy to play Tank especially at lower CP due to their powerful Healing, Shields and Defensive Group Buffs.

The problem with Wardens is that you only need one Warden in a group and typically this would be a Healer. If you are in a group without a Warden, they are extremely useful as Tanks.

Group buffs from a Warden include Minor Toughness which increases everyone’s Health by 10% via the Maturation passive. They can provide Major Resolve to a whole group by using Expansive Frost Cloak. They can also provide Minor Vulnerability debuff on enemies with the Fetcher Infection ability. They also have easier access to the Chilled Effect which creates the Minor Brittle enemy debuff.

Wardens are generally good at generating Ultimate, have high Magicka Recovery, have a strong self-heal with Polar Wind which also heals 1 other ally and then you have Shimmering Shield which absorbs 50k+ damage from projectiles as well as giving Major Heroism.

In Light Armor group compositions with no other Sorcerer then a Sorc Tank is a great option.

If there is one other Sorcerer then using one as a Tank can be instantly pretty useless as they have very little to offer the group. A Sorc brings a group buff with Minor Prophecy from the Exploitation passive which can add around 1-2k DPS to each Damage Dealer, and they can also provide Minor Intellect by casting Empowered Ward. Sorcerer Tanks are sometimes expected to use Crystal Weapon to reduce the enemy resistances to increase group damage.

They have a very strong self heal with the Unstable Clannfear as this scales with Max Health. Sustain is quite easy by using Dark Deal which swaps Magicka for a burst of Health, Stamina and Stamina over time making sustain almost as easy as a DK although this skill does make you drop block for a second.

Bound Aegis can be used for huge damage mitigation as a panic button during heavy mechanics and makes surviving as a Sorcerer very easy.

Sorcs have a very easy way to achieve Major Vitality with Restraining Prison even on bosses and elite targets meaning they can both take a lot of damage and also be healed easier through big damage situations.

Templar Tanks are not very desirable in most groups but they are decent for 4-person content and not bad for beginners.

They bring the group buff of Minor Sorcery via the Illuminate passive which is pretty much the only useful group buff a Templar provides.

Templars do have other utilities like Extended Ritual, Power of the Light and both morphs of Restoring Aura

Templars don’t posses a good burst heal but they can stack a range of very strong healing over time with Living Dark, Extended Ritual and Restoring Focus which also gives them additional Stamina sustain and Major Resolve.

Sustain in 4-person content is extremely easy thanks to Repentance and there is additional survival thanks to Radiant Ward which is a Magicka costing, Health scaling damage shield that also provides Minor Protection.

The Necro is generally a situationally used Tank, they are very difficult to use as a beginner player because they are the worst class in the game for sustaining.

If you are in a group with no Necromancers or anyone using gear sets such as Turning Tide or Archdruid Devyric then using a Necro Tank is very useful to increase group damage thanks to the Major Vulnerability offered by using either morph of the Frozen Colossus skill.

One of the strongest points of a Necro Tank is their Ultimate regeneration, there is no competition when it comes to regenerating Ultimate as the Necro can regain theirs faster than any other class thanks to skills such as Necrotic Potency and combining that with their skills that generate corpses.

Necros can provide their group with other benefits such as Empower by using the Empowering Grasp, Off Balance via Ruinous Scythe, Minor Vulnerability via Agony Totem, AoE Major Breach with Unnerving Boneyard.

The downsides to a Necro Tank are the self healing is more difficult than other classes because you have to hit an enemy with a melee ability to heal yourself which in mobile fights makes you vulnerable. Many people have a hard time with Stamina sustain as there are very few resource gaining skills or passives.

Nightblade Tanks are simply the most useless and unwanted Class in the game from a Tank perspective. The only useful group buff is covered if you have one other Nightblade in a group.

Their group buff is Minor Savagery which comes from the Hemorrhage passive, Nightblades have other group benefits, but they can be obtained by other, sometimes easier methods. There is AoE Minor Vulnerability with Lotus Fan, Major ExpeditionMinor Endurance, and Minor Intellect from Refreshing Path, Minor Cowardice from Power Extraction and Major Cowardice from Mass Hysteria.

To sustain and heal well on a NB you need to be able to light and heavy attack often to make use of Leeching Strikes which is more common with experienced Tanks who know fights well, as a beginner this would be much more difficult. The main self-healing from a Nightblade is a good heal over time Dark Cloak which you can keep active for the majority of combat situations, and you’ll constantly be getting healed but it’s not quite as powerful as burst heal sometimes when you take a big damage hit. 

It’s basically not worth using a NB at all in the current time as they offer basically no useful group buffs, are more difficult to play compared to other classes and you would have a bigger benefit and easier time using a different class.

Choosing a Tank Race

The race of a Tank does not play a huge part in how well you can Tank later in the game.

Early on in the process, with very little Champion Points or correct gear it will be more important which race you play, and ideally you should choose a race that will help you in some way with Tanking.

The main thing new Tanks struggle with is sustain and there are a few options you can choose to improve your sustain. I would suggest for new Tanks to go with a sustain class as it will make your job considerably easier while you get used to Tanking.

The Tank Races here are listed with beginners in mind, but this list would be slightly different if we were looking at it from an endgame perspective.

For more information check out the Tank Race Page.

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1 Redguard

Redguard is a fantastic choice for beginner Tanks. Basically, as long as you cause damage to the enemy you will gain back Stamina which amounts to over 12k Stamina per minute. This makes Redguards the best race for Tanks who are blocking a lot and not great yet at managing Stamina resources.

  • Wayfarer – Increases your experience gain with the One Hand and Shield skill line by 15%. Increases the duration of any eaten food by 15 minutes.
  • Martial Training – Reduces the cost of your weapon abilities by 8%. Reduces the effectiveness of snares applied to you by 15%.
  • Conditioning – Increases your Max Stamina by 2000.
  • Adrenaline Rush – When you deal damage, you restore 1005 Stamina. This effect can occur once every 5 seconds.

2 Argonian

Argonians are a very strong option for beginner Tanking. The additional stats are very helpful but they have great sustain thanks to the potion passive which will give 3125 Health, Magicka and Stamina when you use any potion, this is in addition to the resources gained from the potion itself.

  • Amphibian – Increases your experience gain with the Restoration Staff skill line by 15%. Increases your swimming speed by 50%.
  • Life Mender – Increases your healing done by 6%.
  • Argonian Resistances – Increases your Max Health by 1000 and your Disease and Poison Resistance by 2310.
  • Resourceful – Increases your Max Magicka and Max Stamina by 1000. When you drink a potion, you restore 3125 Health, Magicka, and Stamina.

3 Nord

Nords are a solid choice for a Tank in the long term. You’ll benefit from the increased resistances and Ultimate gain in the end game and those Resistances will also be helpful when playing at low Champion Points since you’ll have much less mitigation. Most new Tanks struggle more from sustain issues so while this is a good choice it might be slightly more difficult early on in your progression.

  • Reveler – Increases your experience gain with the Two Handed skill line by 15%. Increases the duration of any consumed drink by 15 minutes.
  • Resist Frost – Increases your Max Health by 1000 and Frost Resistance by 4620.
  • Stalwart – Increases your Max Stamina by 1500. When you take damage, you gain 5 Ultimate. This effect can occur once every 10 seconds.
  • Rugged – Increases your Physical and Spell Resistance by 2600.

4 Imperial

The Imperial is a good Tank race because it reduces the cost of everything even your Ultimate and Block Cost. The biggest benefit from the Imperial comes from casting skills more often, the less you use skills, the less useful the racial passives are, and this race is also locked behind a pay window which is why it’s 4th choice for a beginner Tank.

  • Diplomat – Increases your experience gain with the One Hand and Shield skill line by 15%. Increases your gold gained by 1%.
  • Tough – Increases your Max Health by 2000.
  • Imperial Mettle – Increases your Max Stamina by 2000.
  • Red Diamond – Reduces the cost of all your abilities by 6%.

Attributes

From level 1 to 50, each time you level up you gain Attribute Points.

At level 50 you will have 64 Attributes.

General stats to aim for as a beginner:

  • Max Health: 38k+
  • Max Stamina: 23k+
  • Max Magicka: 20-22k

There is no right or wrong way to set your attributes but as a beginner, you’ll want to try and achieve some base level stats to start off with.

Tank Basics 6 - Attributes | Elder Scrolls Online
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To reach these stats you should make sure you have your gear on and enchanted and your skills and passives input. Next you should distribute any Champion Points you might have and then finally you top everything off by inputting your Attributes.

Typically, it can be a good idea to use 64 points into Health and then utilise Stamina and Magicka glyphs on your gear to begin with. Once you have obtained a must have tank set you would invest in some Prismatic Defense (Tri-Stat) glyphs for your gear but to begin with this isn’t advised as they are expensive, but they are far superior for a Tank compared to using single stat Glyphs.

High Max Health is important because Tank based healing skills scale with Max Health meaning you’ll heal for more the more Max Health you have and also any damage shields you use will also be larger. As a beginner Tank you also have more room for error the higher your health so consider this when applying your attributes.

You need to be careful not to put all your eggs into one basket, however. Even if you have 60k Health, if you don’t have enough Magicka you won’t be able to heal and if you don’t have enough Stamina, you won’t be able to block, and you’ll still get 1-shot by bosses.

Max Stamina is also very important because you need Stamina to be able to block, so having more of it means you’ll be able to block and sustain for longer. You don’t regain Stamina back from Stamina regen while blocking. Rather than making your Max Stamina extremely high, you need to figure out how to sustain your Stamina, as sustaining is far more important that having a huge Stamina pool because it won’t matter how much Stamina you have if you can’t sustain it, you’ll always run out.

You also want your Stamina to be higher than your Magicka normally, because when you use a synergy such as an Orb or a Shard that gives you back resources, it will always give you the resource of whichever one has the highest max value.

Max Magicka holds some importance because the majority of your skills cost Magicka, your healing costs Magicka and so you need to be able to maintain your skills and healing if needed and not run out after 2-3 casts. You still gain Magicka while blocking, even with a back bar staff so long as you don’t use the Tri-Focus passives, so Magicka sustain is typically a bit easier than Stamina. You don’t need super high Max Magicka but somewhere around 20k means you should be able to sustain for a decent amount of time especially with your Magicka regen ticking every 2 seconds.

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Mundus Stones

Mundus Stones are located all over the world of The Elder Scrolls Online and you can use one to give yourself some additional benefits. You may also find Mundus Stones at other players houses sometimes. It’s important that you collect a Mundus Stone as soon as you can because they are free benefits that will help your character.

For Tanking there is only one main option for Mundus Stone and a few secondary situational options.

The Atronach

Increased Magicka Recovery by 310

This is the most common Tank Mundus Stone. Tanks use a lot of Magicka for pretty much everything, mainly self-healing and crowd control skills. Having high Magicka Recovery is one of the most important things for a Tank since you can still gain Magicka while blocking.

Tank Basics 9 - Mundus Stones | Elder Scrolls Online

The Steed

Increased Health Recovery by 238 & Movement Speed by 10%

This is more of a situational Mundus. The speed buff is helpful for certain fights that require a lot of movement. You also get Health Regen which can be stacked with other sources to give you automatic self-healing every 2 second. In some Trial situations this can be helpful in the right circumstances where The Atronach is not needed.

The Lady

Increased Resistances by 2744

This can be a decent Mundus Stone if you are in an incredibly high damage situation, and you are under the 33k resistance cap. This isn’t something that is often necessary and the additional sustain from The Atronach surpasses the usefulness of these extra resistances especially since you can stack many other sources of mitigation making resistances less impactful.

Food

For tanking, you will pretty much always be using Tri-Stat food; food that increases your Max Health, Magicka and Stamina. From your levelling and daily login rewards you will get Crown Fortifying Meal which is usable from level 1 and is pretty useful while levelling and is generally always useful if you can’t afford other food.

The best Tank food is the crafted food Bewitched Sugar Skulls as it gives Tri-Stats but also Health Recovery, plus it will scale at lower levels. The recipe is pretty expensive and can only be obtained during the Halloween Event – the Witches Festival. The food is relatively cheap to buy and is the better option until you can obtain the recipe yourself.

At CP160 you can use crafted Tri-Stat food if you cannot afford the Sugar Skulls – look out for Capon Tomato-Beet Casserole, Jugged Rabbit in Preserves, Longfin Pasty with Melon Sauce or any other Tri-Stat food you can find. Those are very cheap purple foods which are close to the same stats as the Sugar Skulls minus the Health Recovery.

Another good option later in the game is Orzorga’s Smoked Bear Haunch but this food isn’t really advised for brand new Tanks.

Resistances

Tank Basics 5 - Resistances | Elder Scrolls Online

Resistances are an important part of being a Tank in The Elder Scrolls Online to help mitigate and reduce the incoming damage you will receive from enemies.

The Resistance Cap is 33,000 so you should never go above that number of resistances as they provide no additional benefit at that point. 33k Resistances is 50% mitigation so each 660 resistances are 1% damage mitigation.

Resistances are split into Spell Resistance which mitigates magic attacks including Flame, Shock, Ice and Magic damage and Physical Resistance which mitigates physical attacks including Disease, Poison and Bleed damage. Collectively these are also known simply as “Armor”.

There is a common misconception with Resistances – many players overvalue the usefulness of Resistances.

The situations where Resistances play a high level of importance include for new players with little or no champion points, anyone not using 5 Heavy Armor, situations where you are not blocking but still taking damage and during fights with high damage especially Bleeds and Damage over Time attacks.

Resistances play into a whole damage mitigation calculation where they essentially come out of the equation right at the end which means they are only marginally impactful when you have a range of buffs and damage reductions from blocking, Champion Points, gear, skills and passives.

As a general rule you should aim for 25k+ Resistances when buffed with Major Resolve.

If you take a 100,000-damage hit from a boss and you have 75% Block Mitigation – blocking this attack would reduce this damage to 25k with no buffs, resistances or anything else under consideration. If you had 33k resistances this hit would become 12500 damage (this is 50% of 25k) but at 25k resistances this hit is still only 15525 damage. If you add in Champion Points, skills, passives, buffs and enemy debuffs, this number would be far less.

Trying to stack resistances can mean you lose a lot of sustain benefits so while it’s useful to have some resistances, don’t make too much effort trying to reach the resistance cap because it’s typically not worth it as you’ll lose other more important aspects of your build trying to do it.

Champion Points

Tank Champion Points Guide | Elder Scrolls Online | Flames of Ambition

Simply refer to the Tank Champion Point page on the website – we have all the progressive CP you need from 160 to 2000+ to get you setup for Tanking.

You can also check out the Tank Champion Point Guide Video.

Gear, Traits and Enchants

Gear comes in 3 weights: Heavy, Medium and Light.

As a Tank you should use 5 Heavy as a minimum, so you benefit from the increased resistances, health and sustain from the Heavy Armor passives. You can use any other pieces you like generally, using a 5/1/1 setup with 5 Heavy, 1 Medium and 1 Light piece is the most common, but you can use 7 Heavy, use 2 Medium or 2 Light pieces, each offers a different set of additional Bonuses, Penalties and Passives.

Setting up a Tank as a Beginner, the most vital trait is going to be Sturdy. If you are levelling still, then you will need to use Training but if you are actively Tanking content then you will want more supportive traits on your gear.

These are classed as “Big” slots because when you put an enchant on them you will get the full value of an enchant/glyph.

Sturdy is by far the best trait to use especially as a beginner because you are likely to be blocking for extended periods during fights.

If you are low CP or taking a lot of damage then you can consider using a Reinforced Chest, this is the biggest armor slot out of all of your gear so switching to Reinforced gives you the highest value of resistances of all the gear slots. I would not recommend using a lot of Reinforced pieces because the benefit is extremely minimal, and it will harm your sustain as your block cost will drastically increase.

Later in the game when you are more experienced, the Divines trait can be a good substitute when you no longer block as much, and you have alternative ways to reduce Block Cost.

The best enchant to use is the Prismatic Defence/Tri-Stat however these are typically expensive so at Beginner Stage you should use whatever is needed to reach the Stats we mentioned in the Attributes section.