As a tank, in general your setup will be situational. It will depend on what you are trying to do, situational depending on the dungeon/trial. Sometimes, you will even need a separate setup for different bosses within the same trial! So it is good to have a large inventory so you can carry all the gear you need on you. Another useful thing to have as a tank - is Alpha Gear Addon. This will let you swap gear within a second. Sometimes all the time you have is a couple seconds, and Alpha Gear will help you accomplish this goal.
Thank you my friend @Nicodiangelato and other smart tanks that have contributed this knowledge.
Sets you need to have in your inventory and be able to wear in any combination: Note* Basically everything in this game can be tanked in Ebon, Torugs and Alkosh. The remainder of the sets are optional and very situational. You will not use them often. I would suggest investing in the 3 main sets, and then passively collecting the rest over time.
Torugs Pact (mainly worn by main tank with infused 1h)
Roar of Alkosh (has a target cap of 6, ideally worn by both tanks)
Ebon Armory (could be worn by both or either)
Monster Helms you should have in your inventory:
Lord Warden (General utility good set)
Earthgore (Great for trials where you need to do a lot of purging)
Bloodspawn (not as useful as it used to be. There are better choices than this but can still be used.)
It is useful to have a few helms in your inventory with useful first buff. Such as Domihaus or Chudan. You wouldn’t use them for their 2pc buffs, but sometimes you might want them for their single piece buff.
Sets that are optional but not necessary:
Akaviri Dragonguard (can be worn by the offtank for more ult. Useful when you need to self sustain without a healer)
Plague Doctor (useful in situations where you need a lot of health such as vAS or vHoF)
Footman (can be useful in fights such as vAS+2 where there is a LOT of damage)
Resilient Yokeda (marginally useful set for very select situations. Such as gargoyle soft taunt in vHRC HM)
Green Pact (not widely used anymore) *(Note: Green Pact is not really in favor anymore since health tanking isn't as meta as it was back at the start of Morrowind & people started doing vHoF progression. As far as health sets go - Plague Doctor gives more health.)
Sets that got nerfed and are no longer used (keep them in case they come back):
Powerful Assault (nerfed)
Hist Bark (could be useful if you have nothing else to use yet)
Weapon Traits, Enchants & How to use them
Your traits on your 1h should always be Infused. Trait on the shield is personal choice.
Enchants on your weapons should be “Crushing” on one of the swords and “Weakening” on the other. Main tank usually has crushing as front bar while an offtank might want to have “weakening” front bar to prevent from reapplying crushing over main tanks Infused Torug’s Crusher.
Enchants on your armor - for large pieces have prismatic enchant (with hakeijo glyph), and for small pieces a max health enchant. As far as traits go for your armor, as a tank they are not super important, but the widely accepted best in slot are reinforced on your large pieces (or infused) and sturdy on small pieces. Infused shields with prismatic defense enchant. NOTE: Adjust the traits and have more sturdy armor pieces if you feel your resources are lacking.
Enchants on your jewelry - find your perfect balance between shieldplay and magicka regen. I have multiple versions of each ring/amulet with either enchant so i can combine them in a way that feels good or adjust it if i seem to be lacking resources,etc. NOTE: As of Dragon Bones patch and with sustain changes, depending on the situation you might want to have a potion cooldown reduction enchant on one or more of your jewelry.
IMPORTANT:Crushing & Weakening both share an enchant cooldown since they are both in “Status effects” enchant category. If the main tank has infused torug’s - make sure to not hit the boss with your crusher as an off tank. Instead use the weakening bar to build your ulti.
Skills you should level and have available
Since there will be so many different variations on your bar setups, here is a list of skills you should work on leveling as a tank, in an order of importance (somewhat). Try to level the essential skills first, then move on to more optimal skills as you gain more skill points, invest in your character, and so on.
Essentials (level these ASAP!):
Pierce Armor (1h and shield, 1st skill) - without this you are not a tank. #1 priority.
Inner Rage (undaunted - #3) - 2nd taunt - your range taunt. Very important to have.
Hardened Armor (draconic power #1) or Balance (mages guild #4) - Your major resistances buff skills. Start out with hardened armor, and once you have collected all them lorebooks, switch over to Balance.
Green Dragon Blood (draconic power #3) and Vigor (alliance war - assault #2) - the two self heal skills you will be using all the time.
Magma Shell (earthen heart ultimate) - your o-shit button and emergency heal
Aggressive Warhorn (alliance war assault ulti) - group dps increase, resource return, love. What more can i say. #required.
Choking Talons (draconic power #2) - Crowd Control (CC) and source of minor maim.
Unrelenting Grip (ardent flame #4) - crowd control add stacking, enemy management, also soft taunt and source of major expedition. Skill is free if you taunt an enemy that is immune.
Important to have:
Deep Breath (draconic power #2) - supplemental heal and most importantly, AOE interrupt. Don’t need to bash all those adds. Deep breath instead.
Efficient Purge (alliance war - support #2) - There are many instances especially with newer content where there are a lot of purgeable damage over time (DOT) going out to your group. Sometimes a healer can’t purge it all and tanks need to help. Make sure to get this skill.
Absorb Magic (S&B #3) - Usually you won’t be using this skill, but it is important to have it at your disposal. In a situation where a lot of damage is going out, this skill will be helpful for mitigation and allow you to block more.
Skills with situational uses but nice to have:
Invigorating Drain (vampire #1) - additional ulti gen skill. Use this when you have a downtime, but be careful if you are a beginner tank and don’t miss a mechanic and die while using this. I would leave this for later when you are very familiar with the mechanics of whatever you are running.
Shield Charge (S&B #4, the unmorphed version) - This skill has uses in certain situations, such as boss #4 in vHoF where you have to do the “swap”. Normally a tank doesn’t need this skill. But i like to level every marginal skill i might ever use so here it is.
Igneous Weapons (earthen heart #2) - normally not used, but it could be nice in a veteran dungeon, to help out the group.
Reflective Scale (aka flappy wings - either morph) - occasionally it is nice to be able to reflect projectiles instead of blocking them.
Ring of Preservation (fighters guild #2) - can be used in high damage scenarios to help the group. Tank will rarely if ever be running this, however, nice to have.
Mystic Orbs or Energy Orbs (undaunted) - not so widely used by tanks anymore because of the resource nerf, however they can still occasionally be useful. Nice to have them available.
Stalwart Guard (alliance war support #2) - nice to have on some bosses to either give a dps buddy a boost or to guard a main tank (vHRC HM, vMoL… etc). Occasional use.
Propelling Shield (alliance war support #1) - very situational use. For example can be used on “Twins” in vMoL to allow for larger range for ranged abilities while swapping and chaining.
Rapid Maneuver & any morph (alliance war assault #1) - occasionally used when traveling. Such as vHRC beginning ride.
Not enough skills? You can level these too…
Some more optional skills you can level are some bow skills, like endless hail, or venom injection. More AW skills like caltrops. These can occasionally be used if you are off-tanking and have nothing to do, so you are doing dps (ex. vAA valariel, vHoF 3rd boss, etc)
Of course you should get all your class passives, all the S&B passives, medicinal use (alchemy), and most of the mages guild passives if you are going to be using Balance. Work on getting your undaunted passives ASAP as well.
You can level your DW tree, for times when you are soloing and questing instead of tanking. It will help you kill things. Actually kill things.
Rotation as a tank basically means, you keep up your buffs, debuffs and make sure the boss doesn’t move. Or if your job is to move the boss somewhere, you move the boss quickly and efficiently.
Skills, Buffs, Debuffs (things to keep up at all times):
Crusher Debuff - Every 500 resistance can be as much as 1% more group dps. Which matters more as your group gets better and progresses. Make sure crusher uptime is 100% or as close as you can get it to that. Note that crusher uptime is shorter than the time an enemy stays taunted.
Taunt: Pierce Armor or Inner Rage - Your main job as a tank is to hold aggro and to debuff the enemies. Always make sure to pick out the enemy(ies) that pose the greatest risk to your party and aggro those first. Also make sure to range taunt melee and chain in ranged adds, if you are not otherwise preoccupied with holding the big bad boss or a stronger enemy.
Balance - This gives you Major Resolve and Major Ward for 27.6 seconds, which is almost 50% longer than Hardened Armor. It also returns magicka. So this skill is dual purpose and twice as useful than hardened armor, which is why I would use it over that skill. You can time this for moments when you know there will be a lot of incoming damage. However as a beginner, it might be safer to use hardened, until you learn the mechanics of a fight and can time this skill at a non-critical moment.
Heroic Slash - This skill will aid you in your ulti generation quest. Make sure you keep this up as much as you can. Of course after taunt and balance.
Igneous Shield - Your shield, your stamina return skill. Spam this when you are out of stamina.
Alkosh - As mentioned earlier, every bit of debuffed resistance matters and will greatly improve your dps. Aim for around 100% uptime on the main boss, however the rng of the synergies and other factors will most likely prevent this from happening. 80% is a good benchmark to aim for.
Spammables & things to do while buffs are up:
Heavy Attack - to regain resources
If you have space on your bar and time to spare, use Invigorating Drain to gain even more ultimate.
You can use Vigor to heal your allies, however use it sparingly, since it costs a lot of stamina.
Chain and Talon more adds if you are on downtime. Stack enemies, so your DPS allies have an easier time killing them.
Make sure you are the only person applying taunt to a target. If 2 or more people apply taunt 3 times on a target within 10 seconds, the target will become untauntable (immune to taunts) for a time.
Q&A and notes and stuff
I am out of Magicka, HELP!
To regain magicka, use Balance. Only use it once, usually that is sufficient. If you must - use it twice, but be careful with this skill. Make sure you don’t do it while a boss is doing a heavy attack or a mechanic where you need to be paying attention.
I am out of Stamina, HELP!
Spam Igneous Shield! Do it 2-3x and you should recover enough stamina to hold you over until either - your potion is available, or you have ult. As a Dragon Knight, you get resources back by using an ultimate. At this point - pop that horn.
CP - This is open for discussion. Are you a tank that is more of a DPS tank? Or are you a tank that can heal and survive by yourself. Ideally a little bit of both. The key is to find that “Sweet spot” that works for you and your playstyle.
Thoughts on this will differ, but i prefer putting most of my attribute points into stamina. Then, i might put a couple into magicka and a couple into health. But basically with this build we are stacking into max stamina and magicka recovery. So your stamina pool will be large, but your magicka recovery will be high.
Atronach - for magicka regeneration. You will need it, believe me.
Your character’s race is kind of important in ESO. Even as a tank. At the moment the two most optimal races for tanking are Imperial and Argonian.
Tri-Food. It will give you all three stats, and as a tank, you want a healthy pool of all of them.
Witchmother’s or the new Clockwork Citrus Filet is another great option for tanking food.
Potions: Tri-Stat-Potions. It will give you all three stats, and as a tank, when your potion comes up - you want to be able to get all the resources. Use this as your emergency heal and resource return.
Being a Vampire is useful as a tank. The extra fire damage you get from that is negligible (as a tank) and you get more regen for both magicka and stamina. On top of that - Invigorating Drain is a great skill to use to make your ulti gen even faster.
Use potion as your emergency resources and heal. Food should be consumed on cooldown however.
Always make sure enemies are taunted. There is an addon called “Untaunted” which will tell you how long is left until the taunt expires on any enemy you have previously taunted.
Purge Tracker addon is useful to have in many of the trials.
Situational Bar Setups
Bar setups will vary depending on your group, situation, and what your job is as a tank. Here are some examples of what your bars could look like in different situations (use them as a starting point):
F-Bar: Heroic Slash, Pierce Armor, Igneous Shield, Green Dragon Blood, Balance or Invigorating Drain, Aggressive Warhorn (ult)
B-Bar: Unrelenting Grip, Inner Rage, Choking Talons, Echoing Vigor, Balance, Standard or Magma (ult)
vHalls of Fabrication (offtank)
(These are open to discussion and improvement. Just setups i used and found useful so far. Will update as i go on)
Trash pulls / Final Boss
F-Bar: Heroic Slash, Pierce Armor, Igneous Shield, Green Dragon Blood, Absorb Magic, Magma Shell (ult)
*Note - You can go with a dps setup here, since you will mostly be stacking steamers on top of the main boss and then kiting spinners. Make sure to have chains, your taunt(s) and shields. OFc also warhorn and magma, just in case.
Boss 3 - same as trash. See note.
*Note - you can also backbar a bow for this fight and use skills such as Endless Hail and/or Caltrops to do some dps while not kiting adds. Don’t do it if you are starting out tho.