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Elder Scrolls Online PVE Tank Dragonknight Build Guide

Credits: [PvE Build] Dragonknight Tank (2.1.4) by Anlaemar

Hello and welcome to my Dragonknight Tank guide!

~~09/03/15 - Updated the guide for 2.1.4. Further updates may need to be done for optimization, but there's not much changes.~~

I've played just about a thousand hours on my Dragonknight alone. Role? Tanking. Dragonknights have undoubtedly the best kit for straight up tanking. My build isn't designed for DPS, but to tank. To control the battlefield.

I want to take a moment to thank you for reading and I encourage everyone to try out this role. If you do read this guide, I warn you that it has gotten pretty lengthy since I started it. Now over 400 lines and over 3,000 words. Not that big compared to ZOS's patch notes, but it quite big compared to most people's guides. Some people like posting videos, I prefer text. Though I may eventually do a video guide.

The "Why" To My Build

With the drop of 2.1.4, the "meta" for Dragonknight tanks lean toward having a large stamina pool instead of regeneration in pre-2.1. We have a passive known as Battle Roar. When you activate an ultimate, it restores all stats based on their max value. Meaning the higher the pool, the higher the return. This is controversial, but may settle on preference as the dust settles in the coming weeks. My suggested setup gives the ability to add DPS to your tanking or switch over to a stamina DPS in general. My tanking style and setup is built around damage mitigation and crowd control with nothing towards DPS.

At A Glance

Race: Nord
Imperials and Orcs can also make great choices.

Boon: The Lord

Attributes: All Stamina

Armor: All heavy

Vampire, Werewolf, or none? None
Only one I think is remotely viable is Vampire. The idea of a "Mist Tank" sounds like more of a Magicka Nightblade thing, though.

Champion Points

The Champion system can be a bit touchy and there's always something different someone else can do depending on their race, gear, and style. Once you start investing more and more points you'll notice you start to get diminishing returns per point. Question you always need to ask is am I getting the most for my champion points?

Example Format: (with 10 points, 30 points, 75 points)

The Mage (blue)
Tanks don't benefit much from this, though small benefit is some benefit.

Blade Expert (0, 30, 30)

Blessed (10, 0, 15)
Elemental Expert (0, 0, 10)


Blessed (10, 30, 75)

Either would work great. The first option gives you some free DPS with the 30 point perk Riposte and some extra damage and self heals from Apprentice. Start by dumping points into Blessed, then at 30 respec and dump into the Blade Expert for the perk. Then go back and split between Blessed and Elemental Expert. This is what I did till recently. I now use the second option which gives higher heals for your Dragon's Blood (morphed).

The Thief (green)
Reductions and recovery.

Note: Adjust point distribution as needed per your race and/or play style.

Magician (5, 0, 35)
Bashing Focus (0, 0, 5)

Arcanist (5, 30, 35)

This is very subjective to what you're needing. This build focuses are a large stamina pool instead of stamina reduction/recovery. Instead, we want to focus on magicka reduction/recovery. Your priority is getting 30 points into The Lover for the Synergizer passive. Then back to The Tower and put points into the reduction that you're needing. Above I chose magicka. I've also put a couple points into Bashing Focus for nDSA and vDSA, though that's up to you.

The Warrior (red)
Here's the main tree for tanking, in my opinion. There's alot in here that can help tanks.

Block Expertise (10, 20, 75)

Heavy Armor Focus (0, 10, 0)

Your main prority will be Block Expertise. Once you get 75 in there you get Shield Expert: Increases your armor and spell resistance of shields by 75%. That's when I respec and dump them all there and then go back to Heavy Armor Focus and/or Spell Shield to reach the hard caps.

CP Theorycraft 2.1.4

Here's a theorycraft I've put together that I'll try out later. Spreads out chamption points around alittle more and throw in some points to add some DPS as physical damage (for our Puncture, Heoric Slash, Caltrops and for solo/pvp damage using a 2H). This uses up to 300 champion points, which is about where I'm at.


Thoughts On Gear in 2.1.4

Since you're probably not blocking a good portion of the time during most cases, Hisk Bark/Footman is obsolete and obviously Blood Spawn isn't useful now but for its ult regen. Don't get me wrong, if you have this, you can still do most if not all content (because I have). These sets (minus BS) will most likely be essential for the Axes in AA, but beyond that there's defiantly better sets, preferably sets that procs "on hit" since you'll definitely be getting hit a lot. Now to theory craft, sets that will be considered (http://esoacademy.com/imperial-city-item-sets/ for set bonuses):

Brands of Imperium: This will definitely be a top pick, though it comes from drops. Won't have access to this right away, though I'm liking the looks of it.
Leeching Plate: This set seems interesting. Would be a good pick if you're looking to add DPS to a build.
Set of the Armor Master: (Craftable) This will most likely replace Hist Bark in my setup for the time being. Gives a bit of everything that a tank needs.
Black Rose: This will be my go-to set for soloing.

For an undaunted set, some would say Engine Guardian. Good set, used it till 1.6 and switched to BS. Though I think Scourge Harvester is where it'll be at for tanks, for me at least. Again, an "on hit" proc which heals.

As for jewelry, swords, and shields... Footman jewelry can still give decent stats for a straight up tank style to keep for awhile. S/B though... If you have a Master's Sword, stick with it. Shield it doesn't really matter (if you have Footmans). Or you can use a couple of the new Agility/Endurance sets. The three piece sets are useless IMO unless you're going for a more hybrid setup. You could always do a two piece sets. (Both rings one set, neck and shield another). Just thoughts, don't know if it would be optimal.

In any case, my aim is the same with regards to magicka/stamina, which is to use both pretty equally. I mean our best heal and CHAINS! use magicka, amiright? And I use CHAINS! a LOT. It's at the point were if something is not in arms length, I chain it in without thinking. If all of your focus is on stamina, you can only pull off so many chains in a pull, and I can't bring myself to limit myself of chains, lol.

Current Gear

Hist Bark or Seducers [5] - Hist Bark gives dodge chance while blocking, saving you stamina. I use this for Trials and other harder content. For Pledges, I use seducer. (note that both weapon swaps are sword and shield)
- Chest (heavy, reinforced, health)
- Legs (heavy, reinforced, health)
- Belt (heavy, divines, health)
- Weapon Slot 1 (sword, defending, absorb stamina)
- Weapon Slot 2 (shield, reinforced, stamina)
Footmans [5] - You're not a tank without this. Block mitigation. Enough said.
- Hands (heavy, divines, health)
- Feet (heavy, exploration, health)
- Memento x2 (reduce bash, stamina)
- Locket (flame resist, stamina)
Head and Paudron Set - I use Blood Spawn, at the moment. Head heavy, paudron medium. You can flip flop on these, it really just depends on if you have one (or both) which traits you'll benefit from. Previously I was using Engine Guardian which is fantastic. I use Blood Spawn now for the extra stamina regeneration and the 2 set bonus, extra armor and ultimate.

Bar Setups

Before I go to what I use for what, here's some pointers for those wanting to experiment on your bars. What is ABSOLUTELY NEEDED you may or may not ask.
For starters, tanks need their taunts. Both of them. Drop one and you'll be sorry later on. Sometimes I have them both on one bar, other times on separate bars.
ANY skill from the Earthen Heart skill line. Doesn't matter which. You want at least one of those because of the skill line's passives. Read up on Mountain's Blessings and Helping Hands (last two) if you aren't following that one. Fact, if you don't know them, read them all. Those passives are beast.
Your self heal. Dragon's Blood (any morph) is crucial.
Defensive Posture (morphs) gives great damage mitigation and is pretty much required to be on the bar you'll be taking the most beating on.

Basic Tank Setup

This was (and still is) my "Cookie Cutter". This is for straight up tanking. Damage mitigation, crowd control, debuffs, everything a tank needs.

Bar 1: Lock n' Block

Pierce Armor - Your main taunt. Taunts and debuffs the target. This is a must for a tank.
Choking Talons - Hard CC and damage debuff.
Green Dragon's Blood - Your self heal. Also increases stamina regeneration. Note that this heal increases more the less health you have.
Extended Chains - Chains... this is the best utility. Use this for grouping or event to pull yourself back to the boss.
Defensive Stance/Absorb Magic - Damage mitigation. I changed to Defensive Stance for PvP, but Absorb Magic is great as well. I've been able to solo vet dungeon bosses as well as DSA waves because of it.
[ULT] Magma Shell - Your "Oh ***" button, essentially. Could also be used to give back some resources.

Bar 2: Multiple Targets and Utility

Inner Fire - Your ranged taunt, magicka based. For when you can't reach what you need to taunt or in those rare situations, you don't have stamina.
Cinder Storm or Caltrops- I've come to love this. Great CC, party damage buff, and restores some stamina due to passives. Replace with Caltrops if you have it.
Hardened Armor - Self armor and spell resistance buff with a little damage shield on activation.
Heroic Slash - Single target damage debuff as well as ultimate generation.
Igneous Shield - I use this as a magicka dump when I need stamina.
[ULT] Standard of Might or Aggressive Warhorn - For the most part you could use SoM. I slot it when my PUG's DPS isn't the best or I'm running with lower leveled guys. With a good group, I like Aggressive Warhorn because it makes good DPS great DPS.

Added DPS Setup (With Skoria's Set)

Dropping igneous shield, I put Caltrops on my bar. This is better than Cinder Storm in general as it covers a wider area. I also put Unstable Flame (another DOT) on my second bar. If you don't have Caltrops, you'll still want another DOT here, so I'd recommend Burning Breath. A general rotation for both trash and bosses:

Caltrops > Cinder Storm > Range Taunt (biggest enemy) > *This point you should be in the thick of it* > Piece Armor/Unstable Flame/Chains/Vigor

A in depth breakdown of how I approach pulls is at the end of the guide.

AA Axes

This bar is for the last boss, including the trash before. First bar for the lockin blockin axes, second is for the trash before boss as well as the burn phase. I keep chains on this bar for the trash before. I always like to have Ring of Preservation on my bar for the burn phase just to help the healers out. The 8% damage reduction is great to have.

Hel Ra Warrior

Here's what I use for the the Warrior in Hel Ra. Not too much difference. Having both taunts on one bar isn't important, so I go back with them on separate and toss in Heroic Slash on the first. We have RoP on here, as well, for the starfall phases. Chains and Unstable Flames are just filler skills. Not really needed. I throw up Unstable Flames here and there, but the focus is mainly on taunts/buffs/debuffs and making sure the boss is a decent distance away from the group and turned around.

Tanking Tips at a Glance

Gear and build to stay alive.
Taunt! Prioritize targets.
Hit those synergies!
Use CC and Chains to group adds.
Use addons like FTC to track taunts/buffs/debuffs.
Pay attention to the whole fight, not just a portion.

Tanking Strategy

For all trash pulls I tend to use the same rotations. Running into the adds, I pop Cinder Storm/Caltrops on the ground where it could hit the most mobs as possible to get aggro. Obviously, the mobs you hit will run at you instead of a random group member. This starts getting all into a nice little group. Still running into the mob, I range taunt one or two that didn't get aggroed and start pulling in others using chains. I use Choking Talons/Pierce Armor/Unstable Flames/Vigor throughout the pull. If DPS isn't the best or just slow, I try to use my ult every time I can.

Note on trash pulls:
Prioritize targets. There's usually one or two in a group that can do some serious damage to your party if left unchecked. They're also the ones that are last alive a good portion of the time.
Don't perma block. Unless you have 30k+ health and have 20-30k+ DPS in your group, this will eat your stamina regardless of gear/regen/stam pool. Only block if a) you're in trouble or b) for those heavy/special attacks. My setup has enough mitigation to keep you alive. Besides, your healer is already healing the group to keep DPS alive (or should be).

Boss fights are somewhat more involved depending on what you're doing. Start off with a taunt to grab the boss and keep that taunt up. I recommend using a buff tracker to watch when you need to retaunt (I use FTC, Strendarr is also good). With the release of 2.1.4, there overtaunting is no longer an issue unless another player uses a taunt. I tend to weave Pierce Armor AND heavy attacks (keeps my stamina up if I need it). This coupled great with a Master's Sword if you have one. Others skills I try to keep up or Heroic Slash for a debuff/ultimate regen and Vigor (self/group HOT). If I have the stamina for it, I might throw down Caltrops if no one else in the group is using it. It's all pretty straight forward. Keep the boss on you and not die.


Lets talk synergies. I felt this needed it's own section. Another thing to note while you're in any combat situation is to use the synergies! Just watch for it above your health bar, all you have to do is press X. If you have the undaunted passive Undaunted Command unlocked and invested in, using a synergy will give you back a percentage of health, stamina, magicka. That's just the start. Synergies in general are amazing to use. For example if you have a Templar healer in your group, they can use Luminous Shards (Spear Shards morph) right on top of you, the tank. It'll give the option of a synergy which restores around 25% stamina and more over a period of 10 seconds. Stack that with the Undaunted Command passive for more being restored, and if you have the Synergizer perk (Tower tree, mentioned above in champion points) you then get some ultimate out of it. See how using synergies can effect so much? Use them!


Simply put, I love what I do. I find it hard trying to do anything but tanking. I encourage everyone to try it out and don't let it deter you if you're not good right out of the gates. Sometimes it takes practice, while others are just good at it. And just because I do something one way doesn't mean it can't be done another. This game is about freedom (any hate?) and isn't about min/max. The other classes can make excellent tanks as well, but with their own, unique style. And also note, I don't think I'm the perfect tank or this is the go to build, but these are my thoughts about a role I've come to enjoy, within a game I love.

2.1 Tanking Videos

ESO - Normal Imperial Prison - Tank POV (Patch 2.1.5)

Veteran Banished Cells (different bar setups AND stage 4 vamp (pro that way))

Veteran Spindleclutch

Veteran Elden Hollow

Source: http://forums.elderscrollsonline.com/en/discussion/166731/pve-build-dragonknight-tank-2-1-4