Secret Monday: Tanks! You’re Welcome!

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This Secret Monday saw my first official stint as a Tank, and boy are my arms tired; set up and punch line all in one breath. Oh, I’ve tanked in other games, and I even tanked a few of the Guardians of Gaia during the Anniversary Event, but tanking an honest to goodness Elite Dungeon is a whole other ball of very hot, very bloody wax.

The Knights of Mercy have been steadily working their way towards running Nightmare mode Dungeons. In order to do this, in The Secret World, all potential participants must first complete all of the Elite mode Dungeons, and then defeat the Gatekeeper in single combat. A couple of folks still needed one last Dungeon, Hell Eternal, so we decided to try to knock it out quick. Our usual tank and healer weren’t yet on (Mogsy and Mr. Mogsy, let me say … respect), so Pid decided to throw on his healing deck, and I my tanking deck, and away we went.


The Archaean Seismocratist was no sweat; I was even all good tank and led the way to him without having to fight any trash. Then we faced the Lustrehunter. I kept losing aggro and he would immediately turn to the healer and one-shot him. See, this is how The Secret World works; it lulls you into a false sense of security. Still, after a bit of gear rearranging, and a couple more tries, we downed him and moved on to the Prime Maker. He too gave us quite a bit of trouble, more so than the previous boss. The mechanics weren’t the difficulty, we just seemed to keep losing too much DPS along the way to be able to kill him in time. Again, I’m pretty sure this was due to something I was or was not doing. This only became more evident, to me at least, as we slogged our way past the Prime Maker and on to the others.

There isn’t much in the way of utility in my tanking deck; I have only one real interrupt, on a very long cool down, and no purges. This is something I’m going to have to look at more closely. I have the whole skill wheel unlocked, so there has to be something I can add. In any event, despite my shortcomings, we downed Flagellatrix Superior on our first attempt, though we subsequently wiped to the Piston Predators because I moved us too slow through the maze and they caught up to us. Thank god the folks in KoM are patient; I’d hate to think of the noise I would have heard had this been a pug.

The next trio of bosses, Iscariot, Cassius, and Brutus, gave us trouble as well. In this case it was both a mix of mechanics (I hadn’t run this dungeon in quite some time so my explanations of the fights were sorely lacking), and shortcomings in utility actives on my part. We first tried killing Iscariot, then Brutus, then Cassius, but my inability to purge Cassius‘ shield proved a huge hinderance. The several tries it took us to learn that, though, also got us all familiar with the mechanics, so when we next tried a different kill order, Iscariot, then Cassius, then Brutus, they went down in short order.

Finally, we reached the top of the tower where Eblis was waiting for us. This fight, more than any others in this dungeon, is about positioning. I’m sad to say it took me longer than it should have to learn where best to drag that bastard of an angel so that his fire wouldn’t overwhelm us all.  We actually had him close to dead several times, but then we would all die, instantly, due to some invisible insta-kill ability that wasn’t even showing up in the combat logs. Once I learned where best to move him and that I could interrupt his knock-back AoE, though, things got real. I started saving my one cool down for that, and he fell in the next couple of tries. Also, Pid put his Speedo on, and we’re all pretty sure that was the deciding factor.


Trust the Speedo

Despite all the difficulties, I had a really awesome time. It was really cool to be able to face all these learning experiences with a group of great folks. I’m fairly certain now that, at least gear wise, I’m good to tank. Going forward, if I ever have to do this again, I’ll definitely try to study up on the coming fights; knowing where to move a boss and what might need to be purged or interrupted seemed to be the bread and butter of the whole thing (I know, DUH, right).


This week in What Chucho Wore, I went with my gold top hat, headphones, and bow tie, from the Gilded Rage Event, my templar jacket, fancy black badass jeans, and heavy black boots. It seemed a fitting outfit for tanking, plus the gold hat made me easy to spot.


  1. rowan September 17, 2013 11:29 am  Reply

    My! you’re so thorough! And you did just fine tanking. The folks you were with, though, they were completely incompetent, especially that Lumie tag-along. 😛

    • Tenten September 18, 2013 10:09 am  Reply

      ROFL! Bah. Thanks, though! And you guys always rock. 😀 I’ve made some adjustments today to my tanking deck. Mogsy seems intent on making me tank for a second group if we ever get enough folks for one.

  2. pkudude99 September 17, 2013 12:08 pm  Reply

    Come nightmares, having 2 impairs is kind of a minimum. This makes the Whip well loved, since Whippersnapper + the 50% CD reduction passive gives you an impair on a 22.5s cooldown (which is insanely fast). Some argue with that short of a CD that you can actually get away with only the 1, but I’d always take a 2nd impair, just in case. Seems like any boss you need to impair you need to do it about every 20 seconds or so, which is why 2-3 impairs is considered more or less required.

    Out of curiosity, what is your build for tanking?

  3. Sylow September 18, 2013 7:09 am  Reply

    Whip for interrupts? it is one way to go, but i found the whip interrupt not to be the best coice and thus would rather stick to other interrupts. Every tankish tree has one elite and one non-elite interrupt, so you can have a maximum of 3 interrupts on your regular hotbar. And, what else do you need?

    One builder, two consumers. If you use blade, you might to use two consumers, one being crimson theatre (plus the passive shadow play), the other one most likely being steel palace. When fighting bosses which don’t need that many interrupts, you first of all include stoicism and if two interrupts are still plenty, might add in more of your weapon specific defenses.

    As you never need more than 3 interrupts (you’d keep the boss in immunity and would achieve nothig by having more interrupts), you’re free to pick a more useful aux weapon. Many people, tanks included, like the rocket launcher a lot as they gain mobility with death from above plus rocket scients. I personally prefer the chainsaw for its reflect shield and the passive for additional agro.

  4. Tenten September 18, 2013 9:30 am  Reply

    Honestly, my tanking deck is just something I pulled off the internet so that I’d have something in case I ever needed it. It’s not something I put any thought into, really:


    Crimson Theater
    Reality Fracture
    Martial Discipline
    The Art of War
    Diamond Grit (Chainsaw)

    Fuel to the Fire
    Flight of Daggers
    No Love Lost (Chainsaw)

    I’m rDPS 99.9% of the time. The whole tanking thing was mostly a fluke, but now I may be doing it more. Thanks for the tips, guys. I’ll definitely be giving a closer look to things (especially Impairs).

  5. Sylow September 18, 2013 1:39 pm  Reply

    This looks like an old-school elite tanking setup. Some choices are a bit dubious for me but most are quite sound.

    So let’s see. Escalation and Crimson Theatre are essential, i wouldn’t surrender those. The same is true for The Art of War, which
    is Blades classical interrupt, with a lot of nice side-effects. In any fight where you need to interrupt, keep this one.
    Only for some fights, where interrupting is absolutely not necessary, like the 6th boss in Polaris, Stoicism is the better idea.

    Reality fracture i find a bit unyieldy, also this setup now has two consumers with 10 seconds cooldown and no consumer for in between. That’s inconvenient and weakens you noticeably. You might want to look at Consequence or Karma instead. (Consequence has the longer list of bonuses but most Chaos tanks i know prefer Karma. I can’t speak of experience here, as i usually tank Hammer/Blade, which indeed means i have not yet tanked Ankh NM, as i wouldn’t know of a way to do that without Chaotic Pull. )

    Provoke is what many new tanks take along and fail with, while experienced tanks go without. Thus i would suggest to dispose of it. Illusion and Martial Discipline are situational, if you fight against a boss which does plenty of damage but doesn’t need many interrupts (read: 6th boss in Polaris, also Machine Tyrant in HR, some more but i won’t list them all), they are actually a very good idea, but if you need interrupts then these defensive abilities have to make way.

    Thus on the actives i would suggest something like this:
    Escalation, Crimson Theatre (use whenever out of cooldown), Steel Palace (use as consumer when Crimson Theatre is in cooldown) and Karma are always on the toolbar. The remaining 3 slots are filled according to the fight at hand, for interrupting The Art of War, Trial by Swords and Chaotic Pull can take the slots, for defense it would be Stoicism, Martial Discipline and Illusion. As many bosses can easily be done with only one or two interrupts, slot interrupts accordingly and fill up with defensive abilities.

    The listed passives don’t convince me, i have to admit. I mean, indeed, Inevitability is a must in this setup, as is Intensity. For tanking, Agitator also is a necessity, but Fuel to the Fire sounds like more than it actually does. It might be helpful at low level tanking, if you loose agro a lot, but when damage numbers go up, it doesn’t cut it any more. Better have some more hitrating and attack rating (all good tanks use a mix of health and AR talismans) and you’re good.

    On the rest, some tanks like hardcase, but i personally am not convinced. Flight of Daggers is damage without anything else, which is great for a solo melee DPS, but of no interest to a tank. And Bloodsport i would completely disregard. Indeed, the composition of actives i suggest work best on the target being afflicted, but hey, you are in a group, right? Affliction is something which almost every DD does. In case of doubt, ask your group and you’ll see that somebody else already delivers affliction, so you don’t need to add this reliable but weaksauce affliction to your setup.
    Also, if you absolutely need to afflict yourself, take a look at Shoot ‘Em Up. While it seems more conditional (only triggers when you hit with a frenzy attack), your only builder is a frenzy attack. And it delivers noticeably more damage.

    Alternative passives to consider:
    – Shadow Play. When using Crimson Theatre, that one is a must, the damage mitigation is quite useful and easy enough to keep up.
    – Fluid Defense. An elite of the inner wheel, which improves offense and defense. What’s not to like about that?
    (Except that in some NM dungeons, you’ll need Contortionist instead. But that’s something to worry about later. )
    – Turbulence. You stack up this evade rating in no time with your chose of attacks. But you have to keep in mind, this passive is best used when your gear is still not too great. When your gear gets better, this one hits the diminuishing returns wall. Badly.
    – Fever Pitch. Not a “tanky” passive per se, but if your hit rating is a bit lower, your essential interrupt can easily miss and thus get you killed. So if your gear still is a bit lower, this one might be a good pick.
    – Hardcase. There are some dungeons, e.g. Ankh NM, where this one actually is very helpful, but in most cases, i personally prefer other means of defense. Still, as there are places where it’s great, it should not be completely disregarded, some places and some gear setups profit well from it.
    – Master of Illusion. When using Illusion, including this one sometimes gives a small but nice advantage, although it’s not as useful as Stone Cold when using the hammers defense Stonewalled. Don’t even consider touching Regeneration, which supports Martial Discipline. This one is only when solo, for actual tankwork Regeneration is of no interest at all.

    If you ever want to go for a non-chaos tank setup, note the Chaos passive “Breakdown”, as it’s essential on any tank without Chaos in the setup.

    The resulting passives combination thus would be:
    Inevitability, Intensity, Agitator, Shadow Play, Fluid Defense, Turbulence, Hardcase and replace one of the last two with Fever Pitch if you find that you miss too often.

    • Tenten September 18, 2013 10:34 pm  Reply

      Wow, cool. Thanks. I’ll definitely take your notes into consideration when I sit down to fine tune. I went with Chaos/Blade because it feels very similar to the deck I use when solo questing, so it helps me feel comfortable. Thanks again!

  6. pkudude99 September 18, 2013 5:40 pm  Reply

    /applaud @ Sylow

  7. Daraxi September 20, 2013 4:18 am  Reply

    This is the build I use for tanking (most) of Hell Eternal on Nightmare mode:
    (The weird order corresponds to my keybindings.)

    I’m sorry I didn’t read your whole post, Sylow. In a slight rush! Sorry if my comments overlap.

    Contortionist won’t get used much elsewhere, but is super helpful in HE NM. I don’t often drop below three impairs (in any dungeon) but on HE5 I swap out Trial by Swords for Surging Blades as it’s super helpful for dodging Brutus’ Mephisto’s Reach. Rocket jump is very, very useful for HE5 and HE6 so I tend not to use a whip, plus I haven’t actually unlocked all the whip abilities yet. HE3 doesn’t need Contortionist or Sleight of Hand, so you can swap in other tanky stuff if you want to for that fight. Contortionist is ‘nice to have’ for HE6 but you won’t need Sleight of Hand if you take it.

    The thing with tanking in TSW (as with other roles) is that there’s no “one build for everything”, so you’ll change it up a lot.

    That said, Chaotic Pull is the bee’s knees.

  8. Sylow September 20, 2013 11:12 am  Reply


    Interesting setup. Very thin on the defense side, going over the top on weaken and stealing the DDs job of afflicting and debilitating at the same time. Agro should be no issue, your passives form a classical penetration setup, after all, so you should be comparatively high on the damage side. What i fail to find in there is a real set of damage reduction, as only the active ability Consequence gives you a little bit of mitigation. (12 gouge does not count here, that is not a tanks damage mitigation but usually something a damage dealer is supposed to bring. )

    As long as your tankish gear has proper glyphs and considering that a properly (not even exceedingly) geared fist healer has capacity spare in HE NM, i guess this choice can work quite well. Though, i would not advise it to somebody new to NM, with an undergeared healer on his back.

  9. Sylow September 20, 2013 11:18 am  Reply

    Addendum: also note that my advise above was more on he “genaral tanking” line. HE NM has its own rules. Ankh NM different again, due to block and evade not working against many enemies in there, and if we go to Facility healtanking, we’re on a completely different boat again. But i can’t provide advise on those, as i didn’t tank those yet and probably won’t any time soon.

    So, my advise above aims mostly at “can tank any elite, and the first NM dungeons”, after them plenty of specialisation becomes necessary.

  10. Daraxi September 22, 2013 4:11 am  Reply

    It is thin on defensive cooldowns but even as a pretty bare bones 10.0.0-geared tank I didn’t take too much damage. I used a pretty standard setup that focuses on block > hit cap > pen. We even used a leech healer for the whole thing despite the reflect shields. 🙂

    My understanding is that these days Exposed and Afflicted are absolutely the tank’s job and that it’s preferable for them to bring Debilitated too. Most of my info comes from here:

  11. Sylow September 24, 2013 10:28 am  Reply

    Hmm. In this case, i and the people i run with are rather old-school. Exposing is the tanks job, affliction and debilitation is done by DPS. And alas, this setup works quite well for us, so there’s absolutely no reason to change it. 🙂

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