City of Heroes Shield/ Warmace Tank Guide
What is a Shield Defense/War Mace Tank?
The Shield Defense/ primary is (not surprisingly) mostly a Defense based set. Out of the current options for Tank primaries, there is a good variety of sets that range from pure resistance (Fire/) to mixed Resistance/Defense (Invulnerability/, Stone/, Willpower/, Dark Armor/) to nearly pure Defense (Ice/, Shield/). Resistance sets tend to be more predictable, since a percentage of the incoming damage is reduced. If things are going badly, you can generally see it coming a ways off and take action. Defense based sets can be a lot more fickle, as you can be a untouchable god for some missions and then get absolutely hammered out of the blue when the Random Number Generator suddenly seems to hate you..
Note that I don’t claim to be an authority on the nuances of the Defense system as implemented in City of Heroes. For some truly in-depth information, I advise giving Arcanaville’s post here a good read. It’s one of the most definitive guides available on the subject. Put simply, an even level minion has a 50% base chance to hit you. Say you have 20% Defense vs. the damage type he is using, that chance for him to hit drops to 50% – 20% = 30%. Keep boosting your Defense and the chance for the enemy to hit you continues to drop until you hit the “soft cap” of 45% Defense. At this point, you have reduced the enemy’s chance to hit you to 50% – 45% = 5% chance to hit. The 5% chance to hit is the minimum allowed by the game mechanics. Boosting defense past the soft cap does no good in this case. In other words, if you had your Defense buffed further by a Defender and had 68% Defense, the same enemy would still have a 5% chance to hit you. This simplistic example gets more complicated in practice, since enemies at higher levels than you have an easier time hitting you, Lieutenants and Bosses get a better chance to hit you, AVs and EBs can hit you more easily, certain opponents have bonuses to hit you, etc. In general, shooting for a Defense at or over the “soft cap” means you almost never get hit. The fly in the ointment is the so called “streak breaker” that is reported in the coding of CoH. If you go a long time without getting hit, the game code will manually overrule the attack role(s) and dictate one or two hits in a row. This means no matter how good your Defense, you’re still going to get tagged once and a while. The goal is to minimize how often that happens. (My apologies to Arcana if I butchered that explanation too badly.)
It is important to note that Shield Defense/ is a Positional Defense set. That means the Defense value is determined by the way the attacks on you are delivered (Ranged, AoE, or Melee) and not the type of damage (smashing, lethal, fire, ice, energy, negative energy, psionic, and toxic). The Shield Defense/ Primary is very strong against attacks that fall into one of the three positional categories, but it’s wide open to certain attacks that do not have a positional categorization attached to them. In PvE play, this is most frequently Psionic attacks from some opponents. The good news is that these non-positional attacks are generally uncommon and are manageable with inspirations and/or team buffs. For those of you that have played a /Super Reflexes Scrapper, the Shield Defense/ Primary will be very familiar.
Other than that, Shield Defense/ has a few elements going for it that make it an attractive Tank Primary. Firstly, it has a self +Damage boost that’s on all the time and scales with the number of opponents in range. Being a Tank, you are frequently in the middle of a dogpile of opponents. Lots of opponents = more damage. Secondly, it has a great offensive attack in Shield Charge. It’s a solid AoE attack and can offers great mobility in fights where you want to immediately change location (for example, to grab the attention of a nearby spawn aggro’d by a careless teammate) and also offers a hefty dose of knockdown.
That segues into the /War Mace Secondary. War Mace used to be probably one of the biggest underdog Secondaries for Tanks. Since recent buffs to the set (particularly to Clobber), it definitely holds its own. The up side of the set is an innate accuracy bonus, a nice range of single-target and AoE attacks, and a LOT of mitigation in the form of knockback, knockdown, and stuns. Those can be a big plus, particularly at lower levels while your Defense powers are developing. The down side is that the set deals mostly Smashing damage, which is heavily resisted in the middle to late game. Overall, it’s a very nice set. The benefit of all the AoE attacks in the set is that you can tag a lot of opponents at once with Gauntlet, the inherent Tank ability that acts as a Taunt effect when you hit a target with an attack. Coupled with your Taunt Aura, those AoEs and Gauntlet in big fights make gaining and keeping “aggro” or, in other words, making sure your opponents are focused on attacking you and ignoring the team behind you.
What is an “Alpha Tank” and what role does it play on a team?
It is for the reasons outlined above that I consider the Shield/War Mace Tank a great choice for what I call the “Alpha Tank” role on a team. That is, a Tank who is designed to be the sole Tank for an 8-man team running missions against foes up to +5 levels above the team. An “Alpha Tank” needs to be mobile to respond to the flow of combat and new threats (ambushes, team splits, a second spawn aggro, etc.), needs to be able to gain and hold aggro like an overtightened set of Vise Grips ™, and needs to be durable enough to hold up under the intense furnace of having one or more spawns trying their best to take you out all at once. The powerset combination has all the right tools and a wide variety of them that make it a versatile set. On top of all that, the Shield/War Mace set is no slouch in dealing damage, having a strong single-target attack chain available early and some serious AoE capability as well (albeit one that matures late) packing heavy AoE Damage potential.
Note that Granite Armor Tanks get a lot of play because they are the most durable of all the Tank Varieties. However, that durability comes at a price, specifically limited mobility that almost necessitates the Teleportation Pool or dropping out of Granite periodically to overcome vertical obstacles. Run speed is also greatly slowed, particularly when running Rooted as well. Kineticists are highly desirable to overcome the –Recharge and movement slow effect from the set. No doubt they are durable, but the mobility, -Recharge, and –Damage penalties are substantial.
Shield/ Tanks are less durable than Stone/, but still downright TOUGH when built properly, and have equal if not better Defense with great mobility and no movement penalties. Also, Granite introduces a –Dmg effect whereas Against All Odds offers a damage [u]boost[u] for the Shield Tanker. In essence, the mobility, broad resistances, and max HP boost that the powerset brings to the table, at least for me, offsets the small differences in survivability between Shield/ and Stone/. Correctly built, Shield Defense/ has fantastic survivability in PvE play, so it’s a very acceptable trade, particularly if it suits your playstyle.
My preferred Tanking approach for team-centric Tanks like a Shield/War Mace Alpha Tank build generally focuses on some key elements (listed in order of priority):
1.) Ability to hold, keep, and control aggro
This priority list may help to explain some of the choices I make for the build later on.
A few words about Invention Origin Enhancements:
With the introduction of Issue 9 came invention origin enhancements. For me, personally, they changed the game. IOs offer a fantastic vehicle for maximizing performance of the character you are playing. They represent a path for huge increases in effectiveness in terms of enhancement values alone. Add in set bonuses, and you get substantial gains to damage output, survivability, and endurance management.
Can’t Touch This: The Shield Defense Primary
A quick note here, with the advent of “real numbers” information in the game and the various other guides that break down the details of each power, I’ll focus on my personal impressions and some data to support them. Most of the offline data I use to back up these observations comes from the exceptionally good Red Tomax’s City of Data.
In essence, the Shield Defense/ mantra is simple. Don’t. Get. Hit.
Tanks that avoid attacks entirely don’t take damage. This is the primary focus of the set, but it also offers additional mitigation (max HP, resistance, knockdown attack, etc.) to help out and supplement the main Defense component of the set. Let’s look at the powers in detail:
Tier 1: Deflection (+Def to Melee, +Res Smashing/Lethal)
The first Defense power (toggle) you have access to and the one you’ll use your entire career. It provides a base +15% Defense to melee attacks and a base +15% Smashing Lethal Resistance. Fully enhanced, the power gives about +23% Defense to Melee attacks. Slot for Defense and Endurance Reduction early on and add Resistance Enhancements later on. This toggle recharges decently fast if it drops, so enhancing for Recharge is not needed. Get this one and don’t look back. Also an excellent spot to slot the SteadFast Res/Def IO in your build.
Tier 2: Battle Agility (+Def to Ranged/AoE, +Res to Defense Debuffs)
Another staple of the set, this is a toggle similar to Deflection, only it applies to Ranged and AoE attacks. Where it differs is that it provides resistance to Defense Debuffs. The base Defense to Ranged/AoE attacks is 15% and the Def Debuff resistance is 17.3%. Early on, the debuff resistance doesn’t amount to much, but combined with other powers, it’s essential for the late game, especially fighting in Cimerora. Slot for Defense and Endurance Reduction. This is another power you’ll use all the way through your career.
Tier 3: True Grit (+Res Fire/Cold/Energy/Negative/Toxic, +Max HP)
This is a fantastic power and really complements the Defense-based Shield toggles. It bears a striking similarity to the power High Pain Tolerance from the Willpower set. It provides a +10% boost to your base Hit Points (fully enhanceable up to about 20%) and offers a +15% resistance for the exotic damage types (other than Psi). Since it’s an auto-power, it costs no endurance to run and cannot be de-toggled. It’s also an ideal spot to slot the SteadFast Res/Def IO to give that very valuable +3% Defense to all. Slot for Healing and Resistance.
Tier 4: Active Defense (+Res Disorient/Hold/Immob/Sleep/Fear/Confuse/Repel/Knockback/Def Debuff)
This one is definitely one of the powers in the set that I feel you [u]need[u] to Tank reliably for teams and it’s available at level 6. It’s essentially your status protection and will keep you from being immobilized, knocked down, held, slept, etc. It also offers offers Resistance to Defense Debuffs, which is of critical concern vs. certain villain groups such as Cimerorans. This resistance to Defense Debuffs stacks with Battle Agility and Grant Cover (the two other Defense Debuff resistance powers in the Primary). For reference, odds are any opponents with a sword or edged weapon will have some sort of attack in their catalog that will apply a –Def Debuff effect if it hits. This tends to be bad for a Defense based primary, since it can whittle away (if you pardon the pun) your primary mitigation from your Primary. Now, note that this power is a [u]click[u] power for your status protection, similar to Practiced Brawler from the Super Reflexes set. As such, you want to put it on Auto (CTRL+Click on the power in your tray) so it always fires as soon as it recharges. Many advocate that this power only needs two slots since with Level 50 IOs, it overlaps to be perma. I actually advocate three slots with Recharge enhancements immediately after picking this power, since when you get hit with slows or your mashing your attack chain in a big fight, having the extra margin can be a lifesaver for you and your team. Also, while leveling the build up, three slots with Recharge SOs or lower level IO enhancements will make the power overlap and be essentially permanent a LOT sooner. That means happier Tanking through your career.
In the late game, it has been reported that slotting Active Defense with Membranes (Def/Rch Hami-O) enhances the [u]defense resistance[u] of the power. It also stacks with itself, which means it gives solid debuff resistance with three Membranes slotted. Note that I have not personally verified this, and Mids does not show that effect, but it bears consideration/additional research for those really looking to get the most out of their end-game build.
Tier 5: Against All Odds (Self +DMG, Foe –DMG, taunt aura)
OK, recently this power got a boost and is now a very solid taunt aura. Essentially identical to Invincibility in terms of Taunt duration and magnitude. What AAO offers as a nice side benefit is that it debuffs foe damage in its area of effect by 7%, and increases your own damage by 10% plus 5.5% for each foe in range. Saturated with 10 foes in range, that boosts your damage output by a whopping 65%. Note that you need to have at least one enemy in range to gain the damage bonus, but for most of your Tanking career, that should not be a problem. The nice thing about this power is that it doesn’t need any slots (unless you want to slot for additional taunt duration). Slap an Endurance Reduction enhancement in the base slot and you’re good to go. Since this is a key element in your Tank’s ability to hold aggro and control the fight, I recommend taking this power as soon as you can. Aggro control and extra damage, what’s not to love?
Tier 6: Phalanx Fighting (Auto: Self Special +DEF Melee/Ranged/AoE)
This power is probably the most misunderstood power in the Shield Defense primary. Many people (such as myself) read the text and the power description and say “Huh, only works when team-mates are in range? Situational, I’ll skip it”. Well, not really. You see, Phalanx Fighting offers a [u]base[u] 5% Defense to all positions and then there is an [u]additional[u] 3% boost for each team-mate in range (within 8’). That 5% defense also costs zero endurance to run since it is an auto power and on all the time, which makes it almost a no-brainer to grab this power.
The flip side to that 5% bonus is that it is [u]unenhanceable[u]. Any Defense enhancements slotted in the power only increase the +Def effect from nearby team-mates. Something else to consider is that at lower levels (before your Defense powers get close to the soft cap), the extra Defense boost from this and near-by team-mates will make you more survivable and a better Tank for the team. [u]Tip:[u] When building teams, look for Scrappers. Odds are, they will be next to you nearly all the time. You hold the aggro, they do damage, your Defense goes up. Win-Win for everyone. A team with a couple Scrappers in it will make your life easier as you level up. Slot for Defense.
Tier 7: Grant Cover (Team +DEF All but Psionic, Team +RES Def/Rech Debuffs)
Subject to some debate, this is either a great power to grab early, or one to hold off on. The reason is that other than the added resistance to Defense and Recharge Debuffs, the power does absolutely nothing for you. What it does is help your team. Specifically, it gives an 11.25% positional Defense boost to all team-mates within 15 feet. They also benefit from the resistance to Defense and Recharge Debuffs. So, the two schools of thought are this:
First: Pick this up ASAP and slot it for Defense and Endurance reduction. This and Phalanx Fighting will be like peanut butter and jelly. Scrappers/Blappers will flock to you, adding to their survivability and maximizing yours with additional Defense from PF.
Second: Pick this up later in your build for the Defense Debuff resistance that the power brings. The boost to the team is secondary.
Out of the two approaches, I actually favor the latter (seems odd for an “Alpha Tank” build, right?) My experience with Pick up Groups has shown me that most will not recognize the Defense boost they are getting and/or will just not be coordinated enough to have it be a reliable benefit for your Tank. If you routinely play with people that can make this work, have at it. I personally recommend you hold off on the power and grab something else like Weave first that enhances your personal survivability directly. Slot for Endurance Reduction (and Defense if you like).
Tier 8: Shield Charge (Teleport, High Smashing DMG, Taunt, Knockback)
So here it is, the power many have been slavering for since they started their Tank. Great animation, useful tool, and a solid AoE with mitigation on top of it. Overall, there is a lot to love. You basically teleport to a location, bash everything nearby, which will knock most foes down (mag 0.64 knockback) and taunt them all at the same time. Pretty sweet. There are a couple ways to use this power, one of which being to initiate the fight and break up the alpha strike from the spawn you are attacking. That works, however, you’re missing a great opportunity. I prefer to leap into the spawn, fire off another attack to start the fight, THEN use Shield Charge. Why? If you leap in first and use another attack, you give Against All Odds time to saturate, effectively boosting the damage from Shield Charge by 50-65% or so. That’s essentially [u]free damage[u] you are passing up.
See, AAO is not working for you if you teleport in and attack from outside the spawn. Doing it from the inside maximizes the damage from the power and I think is a better way to go. Some people tend to grab this as soon as it’s available, and that works fine. Personally, I advocate fleshing out your Defense as much as possible (i.e. Combat Jumping, Weave, IOs, etc.) before grabbing this power. While nice and a boatload of fun, the lengthy recharge on it means you’ll only be able to use it once every other fight or so until you can get it slotted up. What’s better, improved survivability all the time or a nifty attack once every other fight? For me, survivability takes precedence and I push this power to the 30’s. Slot this like any other attack, with some emphasis on Recharge enhancements.
Tier 9: One With The Shield (Self +Res Disorient/Sleep/Hold/Immob/Repel/Knockback/All DMG but Psi, +Recovery, +Max HP)
Similar to the Willpower primary tier 9, One With the Shield provides a decent boost on an unenhanceable timer (i.e. recharge enhancement does nothing). It adds a base +30% Smashing/Lethal Damage Resistance, base 15% Resistance to all other types but Psi damage, adds +30% recovery, and boosts max HP by 20%. Not a “god mode” power for sure, but the extra Resistance really helps in situations where foes have a big +To-Hit buff that is allowing them to punch through your Defense powers. Nemesis are notorious for this. Like the Willpower primary’s Strength of Will, this power works best when used pre-emptively (i.e. before your health drops below half and you’re getting hammered). Pop it when you need it, and just beware of the mild “crash” at the end that sucks up 60% of your endurance.
For me, this was a nice “Meh, I may need it sometime…” power to grab at the very end of my Tank’s career. With soft-capped Defense, Tank hit points, and good regeneration, this power is situational at best… For those that don’t dabble with IOs or IO sets to get to the soft cap for Positional Defense, this power may have more usefulness.
Tier 1: Bash (Melee, Moderate Smashing DMG, Minor Disorient)
Pretty standard for a tier 1 Tank secondary attack. Moderate damage, decently fast recharge, and a very small (10%) chance for a low-magnitude (mag 2) stun. Nothing to get too excited about. It does make for a decent filler attack and will be a staple in your single target attack chain for quite a while. Eventually you’ll want to six-slot this, as if your using it, you might as well maximize it’s damage.
Tier 2: Pulverize (High Smashing DMG, Minor Disorient)
A little less than twice the damage that Bash pushes out with 20% chance of the same Mag 2 stun. Very skippable overall, but if you want an extra attack at lower levels, it’s viable. If you go this route, you definitely want to respec out of it later on. Your single target attack chain is tight enough without it. Overall, though, I recommend passing on this power. Focus on your Defense and survivability early on. If you take it and stick with it, slot it up like any other attack.
Tier 3: Jawbreaker (Superior Smashing DMG, Knockup)
This power is where the War Mace secondary starts to get interesting. The power is about twice as powerful as Bash and has a 75% chance of knockup, which is [u]great[u] mitigation. The time it takes for your foe to sail up in the air, land back on the ground, and then struggle back to their feet will buy you some good breathing room early on. Great for bosses and other high-threat enemies. Later on, you can use this, Shatter, and Crowd Control to bounce spawns around to your heart’s content. Nice attack and one to use frequently. Six-slot it when you get the chance.
Tier 4: Taunt (Ranged AoE, Foe Taunt)
A hotly debated topic on the forums, I’ll just present my perspective here. Taunt is not required, but it’s a nice tool to have in your toolbox as a Tank. I use it frequently even in a build that offers a lot of AoE potential like Shield/War Mace. First, it’s auto-hit aggro control. Facing enemies with extremely high Defense (Demons, Paragon City Protectors who hit Elude, etc.) this power becomes extremely useful. Second, it offers ranged aggro management. You’ll frequently be surrounded by a horde of enemies and spot a stray runner heading for a Defender in the back row. Taunt allows you to protect your teammates without dragging the entire spawn with you to save your teammate (tends to be counterproductive). It also is handy for ensuring aggro with AVs to protect your team. Overall, every Tank I make gets Taunt. It helps you do your job under challenging circumstances, and that’s good in my book. That said, pick this up in your 20s when power selections open up a bit. Before that, Gauntlet and Against All Odds will do the job just fine.
Tier 5: Build Up (+Dmg, +To-Hit)
Pretty standard power common to many CoH characters. +80% Damage and +20% To-Hit for 10 seconds. The to-hit is a nice boost, but since an Alpha Tank role is more about Aggro management and survivability and less about damage, this power gets a “skip” from me. Damage for the build is still very good and this power just doesn’t support the conceptual design for the build as well as other power selections. Heresy to some, this is the approach I advocate here.
Tier 6: Clobber (Extreme Smashing DMG, Disorient)
OK, this is the “Mac Daddy” of your single target attacks. It used to be a much maligned power that only stunned an opponent, but recent changes added a significant damage to the attack. Currently, it does over three times as much as Bash and has a 100% chance of Mag 3 stun. That will daze Minons and Lieutenants with one hit, and bosses if it stacks with other stun powers. This is incredibly useful for irritating opponents such as Tsoo Sorcerers. I advocate six-slotting as soon as you can and build in some Recharge Reduction into the power, as it offers great damage and great mitigation. Use it as much as you can.
Tier 7: Whirling Mace (PBAoE, Moderate Smashing DMG, Minor Disorient)
Here’s your first large-area AoE power. It deals damage in an 8’ radius that is a bit higher than Bash and offers a 30% chance of a mag 2 stun. Alone, that’s not super impressive, but it often stacks with other stuns in the set and also makes good use of gauntlet to acquire and hold aggro. Also, consider that if you hit several foes with the power, it’s aggregate damage output is higher than your best single-target attack. Six slot this one pronto, as you’ll find ample opportunities to use it when you are in the middle of an angry spawn.
Tier 8: Shatter (PBAoE cone, Extreme Smashing DMG, High Knockback)
Here is a versatile AoE attack that is very similar to the Scrapper powers Golden Dragonfly and Headsplitter. It’s essentially a long, narrow (45°) cone attack. It can be used as a single-target attack easily, dealing about 2.5 times the damage of Bash. Once you use it for a while, though, it gets easier to line up attacks to hit several foes at the same time. That is great, since the power also deals moderate knockback (knockdown for most foes), which is great mitigation. Be careful slotting the power though, since it is an AoE and not a single-target attack. I have seen lots of people spend money for melee IO sets only to find they cannot slot them into the attack… Something to be mindful of. In any event, six slot this pronto since it can be used interchangeably in either your single target or AoE attack chains.
Tier 9: Crowd Control (PBAoE cone, Moderate Smashing DMG, Knockback)
For this one, the term “Wow” springs to mind. After trying all the attacks in the War Mace set up until this point, you will be very happy with this power. Firstly, it deals solid damage, roughly equal to Pulverize. The beauty of it is that the power deals it in a cone about as wide as a city bus in front of you. Since the recent range boost to melee powers, this already wide (180°) cone is now DEEP as well. With the right positioning, you can catch an [u]entire spawn[u] in the area of effect. That’s also great since it has a 100% chance of low-mag knockback (knockdown to most foes). Yep, with this you can bounce a whole group of foes right on their evil butts in one shot. Recharge time and animation times are also very reasonable, so you’ll find yourself using this one a LOT in fights. Definitely my favorite attack in the secondary and really a worthy Tier 9 power for the set. Six slot this one to the exclusion of all else as soon as you get it. It’s that good.
Tying it all together: Pool Powers
The Alpha Tank concept is designed to be as survivable as possible while maintaining aggro with excellent mobility. To support those goals, Pool powers are added to the build selectively. The Epic Pools are not touched on this build, since Pool power selections support the build concept better. Specifically, driving to hit and exceed the 45% “soft cap” for positional Defense. Using pool powers to help achieve this goal is easier and requires less sacrifices than using IOs alone, and there are some nice side benefits to survivability as well..
[u]Leaping Pool: [u]
Combat Jumping (+Jump, + Def to All, +Res Immobilize)
A solid power choice early on, Combat Jumping is dirt cheap toggle to run, offers a decent base +2.5% Defense to all positions, and gives great air control. Taking this power is key to building on the +Defense from the Primary, so this is a solid choice. Also, coupled with Hurdle from the Fitness pool, you get a mini SuperJump that is insuppressible and provides superior combat mobility. It’s also FAST and comes in extremely handy when herding/gathering. +Def and providing great mobility make this power a great pick.
SuperJump (+Long Jump)
SuperJump is an ideal and efficient power pick for an Shield/War Mace Tank. It has Combat Jumping as a prerequisite and doesn’t need any slots to be a great travel power. You get excellent vertical movement from this toggle, it’s not hard on your blue bar, and you travel very fast from point to point. About the only place I ever long for a different travel power is the Shadow Shard. Overall, it does the job and lets you put slots other places where they are needed. As a build concept, I pushed this out until the last power selection, and truthfully, with temp travel powers and Hurdle + CJ, I never suffered. Something to consider now with travel aids such as temp travel powers, mission teleporter, the Good Vs. Evil jump pack, and team-mates with teleport to help get from point A to point B.
[u]Fitness Pool: [u]
Hurdle (+Jump, +Jump Speed)
Pretty straightforward, this power boosts your jump height and speed. Gives better ground speed than Swift and synergizes extremely well with Combat Jumping (previously discussed). This is a pre-requisite for the other powers in the Fitness Pool, and it’s an auto power, so it takes no endurance to run and cannot be detoggled.
Health (+Regen, +Res Sleep)
A key power for Tanks. The Tank archetype has the most hit points out of all the available Hero and Villain archetypes. As a result, the % regen is much more substantial (the same % of a higher value = more hit points being regenerated per second). Unslotted, the power gives +40% Regen. Slotted up at the ED cap, it gives about 80% regeneration. Take it and slot it up pronto. It helps your survivability a lot. Later, “overslotting” this power can give you a nice spot to slot some ot the more sought-after uniques to boost your Regen, Max Hit Points, and Recovery.
Yep, this power is pretty much taken by every character in the game. It provides +25% recovery base and about +50% Recovery when slotted up at the ED cap. Take it at 20 and three slot it at 21. Once you pick this up, life gets a lot easier. Take it and love it, but consider adding a fourth slot later for the Performance Shifter: Chance for Endurance proc later on.
Boxing (Moderate Smashing Damage, Foe Disorient)
An OK attack and one you may want to use as a filler in your single-target attack chain until later on. I recommend slotting an Accuracy enhancement in this power and not doing anything else. Smashing damage is highly resisted and you have better places to put slots in the build. This is a prerequisite for the rest of the picks in the pool, so you need to grab it.
Tough (+Res Smashing/Lethal)
A solid power choice (toggle) for all Tanks. In particular, for Shield Tanks it gives an additional measure of Smashing/Lethal Resistance in a primarily Defense based set. Base values are +15% Resistance to Smashing/Lethal, and about 23% when fully slotted at the ED cap. Adding this power takes the edge of hits that manage to land and increases your survivability early on when your Defense is not up to its final potential. A great power to have to maximize the survivability for your Tank, especially in late game settings like Cimerora where S/L damage is very prevalent and Defense Debuffs are common.
Weave (+Def to All, +Res Immobilize)
The end-goal for taking the Fighting pool. Weave is a toggle that adds a base +5% Defense to all, and about +7.8% when slotted to the ED cap for Defense. The combination of Weave and Combat Jumping add a total of +11.7% Defense to all. Add in the SteadFast Resistance/Defense IO from Deflection (covered earlier) and you get a total of +14.7% Defense layering on top of the Defense values from the primary. That means with you get a hair over 42% Defense to all positions (Melee, Ranged, AoE). Add in Defense bonuses from IO sets, and you’re easily over the 45% soft cap for defense. That’s a great place to be as a Tank in the crucible of combat.
The Secret Sauce: Invention Origin Enhancements
It has taken some time, but I now freely admit I am an avid proponent of IOs and IO sets for even lower level builds. They never go bad, offer better enhancement values than equivalent level TO/DO/SO enhancements, and offer set bonuses that can push the build from solid to “How the hell did he survive that?” It may be somewhat elitist of me to say, but if you’re not including IOs in your build at some point, you are really sub-optimizing your build’s performance. That’s not to say that sub-optimal is not fun, but when it hits the fan on a task force or mothership raid, it’s nice to have the extra margin that your team can depend on.
One of the key areas that Invention Origin Enhancements can [u]really[u] help your build is through set bonuses for positional Defense. There are a multitude of sets out there that offer attractive Melee/AoE/Ranged Defense bonuses and a few (such as the SteadFast Res/Def unique) that give +Defense to all. Using these sets intelligently in your build will allow you to hit and exceed the soft-cap of 45% for your positional Defense values. Since your total Defense Debuff resistance is lower than say Super Reflexes, exceeding the soft-cap by 5% or so will yield benefits fighting foes that debuff Defense (Cimerora anyone?)
I will be touching on some sample builds later in the guide, but I wanted to mention one key IO set that will greatly contribute to your build… Specifically, [u]Multistrike[u] This humble set is a fantastic choice for the Shield/War Mace Tank. It’s very cheap, is easy to find, does not require rare salvage to craft, offers great enhancement values, and boosts both Melee and AoE Defense when six-slotted (1.88% each). You’ll have four powers that will accept this set in the build (Whirling Mace, Shatter, Crowd Control, and Shield Charge) and I recommend slotting them in all four. Sure there are more expensive sets out there with slightly better bonuses, but this is a “best value” choice and offers a lot for very little. Think hard about getting this set early.
Aside from the positional Defense set bonuses, some good ones to consider/select are:
2.) Max Hit Points
5.) Max Endurance
With Tank hit points being the largest out of all the archetypes, maximizing both Regeneration and Max Hit Points will add significantly to your survivability. Recovery is desirable, but SD/WM when built with IO sets is not that endurance hungry. Accuracy, on the other hand, is very useful since it maximizes the effect from gauntlet and allows for more consistent mitigation with your attacks.
Shield Defense/War Mace – SO version at Level 50
Here is a simple version of a durable SD/WM Tank build based on SO enhancements with appropriate slotting for those enhancement values.
Hero Plan by Mids’ Hero Designer 1.401
SD_WM w SOs: Level 50 Natural Tanker
Primary Power Set: Shield Defense
Secondary Power Set: War Mace
Power Pool: Leaping
Power Pool: Fitness
Power Pool: Fighting
Ancillary Pool: Energy Mastery
Level 1: Deflection — EndRdx(A), DefBuff(3), DefBuff(11), DefBuff(13), ResDam(40), ResDam(40)
Level 1: Bash — Acc(A), Dmg(7), Dmg(15), Dmg(45), RechRdx(45), EndRdx(46)
Level 2: Battle Agility — EndRdx(A), DefBuff(3), DefBuff(11), DefBuff(13)
Level 4: True Grit — Heal(A), Heal(5), Heal(5), ResDam(17), ResDam(17), ResDam(50)
Level 6: Jawbreaker — Acc(A), Dmg(7), Dmg(15), Dmg(43), RechRdx(45), EndRdx(46)
Level 8: Active Defense — RechRdx(A), RechRdx(9), RechRdx(9)
Level 10: Against All Odds — EndRdx(A)
Level 12: Phalanx Fighting — DefBuff(A), DefBuff(50), DefBuff(50)
Level 14: Combat Jumping — DefBuff(A), DefBuff(46), DefBuff(48)
Level 16: Hurdle — Jump(A)
Level 18: Health — Heal(A), Heal(19), Heal(19)
Level 20: Stamina — EndMod(A), EndMod(21), EndMod(21)
Level 22: Clobber — Acc(A), Dmg(23), Dmg(23), Dmg(25), RechRdx(31), EndRdx(34)
Level 24: Taunt — RechRdx(A), Taunt(25)
Level 26: Shield Charge — Acc(A), Dmg(27), Dmg(27), Dmg(31), RechRdx(33), EndRdx(37)
Level 28: Whirling Mace — Acc(A), Dmg(29), Dmg(29), Dmg(31), RechRdx(34), EndRdx(34)
Level 30: Boxing — Acc(A)
Level 32: Tough — EndRdx(A), ResDam(33), ResDam(33), ResDam(40)
Level 35: Shatter — Acc(A), Dmg(36), Dmg(36), Dmg(36), RechRdx(37), EndRdx(37)
Level 38: Weave — EndRdx(A), DefBuff(39), DefBuff(39), DefBuff(39)
Level 41: Crowd Control — Acc(A), Dmg(42), Dmg(42), Dmg(42), RechRdx(43), EndRdx(43)
Level 44: One with the Shield — Heal(A)
Level 47: Conserve Power — RechRdx(A), RechRdx(48), RechRdx(48)
Level 49: Grant Cover — EndRdx(A)
Level 1: Brawl — Empty(A)
Level 1: Sprint — Empty(A)
Level 2: Rest — Empty(A)
Level 1: Gauntlet
[u]Set Bonus Totals:[u]
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Traditional slotting for attacks, Fighting Pool to access Tough/Weave, Conserve Power to address potential endurance shortfalls for long fights.
36.2% Defense to all positions, decent Recovery and Regeneration for using SOs. Some may advocate slotting more recharge in Shield Charge, but with the other attacks, it should be fine. Note: by default Mids has one team-mate in range for Phalanx Fighting. By some simple editing in the database, you can change the min number of foes in range for the power to zero. When you do that and adjust the slider for the power down, the positional Defense values change from 40.9% to 36.2%, which is the correct default Defense level.
The build also offers 44% smashing/lethal resistance and 23.4% resistance to all types but Psionic damage. Also note that common IOs could also be substituted into this build, although some may want to consider adjusting slotting slightly since higher level IOs have enhancement values superior to their SO equivalents. Still, this format would be a good framework for that.
Leaving behind SOs, I’ll start showing a leveling progression as an example for how a Shield Defense/War Mace Tank can develop. Note that my own build and experience was used as a template, and the previous guide discussion and my personal preferences are reflected in it.
Hero Plan by Mids’ Hero Designer 1.401
[u]Click this DataLink to open the build![u]
Cudgel – L17: Level 17 Natural Tanker
Primary Power Set: Shield Defense
Secondary Power Set: War Mace
Power Pool: Leaping
Power Pool: Fitness
Level 1: Deflection — GftotA-Def/EndRdx:20(A), GftotA-Def/EndRdx/Rchg:20(5), S’dpty-Def/EndRdx:20(9), S’dpty-Def:20(15)
Level 1: Bash — RzDz-Acc/EndRdx:20(A), RzDz-Acc/Stun/Rchg:20(9), Stgr-Acc/EndRdx:20(17)
Level 2: True Grit — Heal-I:20(A), Heal-I:20(3), Heal-I:20(3), ResDam-I:20(13), ResDam-I:20(13)
Level 4: Battle Agility — GftotA-Def/EndRdx:20(A), GftotA-Def/EndRdx/Rchg:20(5), S’dpty-Def/EndRdx:20(11), S’dpty-Def:20(15)
Level 6: Active Defense — RechRdx-I:20(A), RechRdx-I:20(7), RechRdx-I:20(7)
Level 8: Against All Odds — EndRdx-I:20(A)
Level 10: Jawbreaker — S’ngH’mkr-Acc/Dmg:20(A), S’ngH’mkr-Dmg/EndRdx/Rchg:20(11), B’ngBlow-Acc/Dmg:20(17)
Level 12: Phalanx Fighting — DefBuff-I:20(A)
Level 14: Combat Jumping — DefBuff-I:20(A)
Level 16: Hurdle — Jump-I:20(A)
Level 18: [Empty]
Level 20: [Empty]
Level 22: [Empty]
Level 24: [Empty]
Level 26: [Empty]
Level 28: [Empty]
Level 30: [Empty]
Level 32: [Empty]
Level 35: [Empty]
Level 38: [Empty]
Level 41: [Empty]
Level 44: [Empty]
Level 47: [Empty]
Level 49: [Empty]
Level 1: Brawl — Empty(A)
Level 1: Sprint — Empty(A)
Level 2: Rest — Empty(A)
Level 1: Gauntlet
[u]Set Bonus Totals:[u]
[*]MezResist(Immobilize) 2.2%[*]6% (0.1 End/sec) Recovery[*]8% (0.63 HP/sec) Regeneration[/list] Code:[/color]
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- So here is a good example of why IOs, even at lower levels, can be VERY effective. Take the power Deflection, for example. At Level 20, normally people would be using DO’s for their build. DO’s for Endurance Reduction are all Schedule A enhancements with a even-level value of 16.7%. A +3 Schedule A DO will have an enhancement value of 19.16%. Defense DO’s are Schedule B, which have slightly lower enhancement values. Specifically, a Schedule B even-level DO has a value of 10%. A +3 Schedule B DO will have an enhancement value of 11.5%. Got that? Ok, now look at the enhancement values for Deflection (four slotted): 42.12% Defense 44.8% Endurance Reduction 12.8% Recharge That’s the equivalent of just under four +3 DO’s worth of Defense, over two +3 DO’s worth of Endurance Reduction, and close to an even level DO’s worth of recharge. Essentially, you get the same benefits with four slots as you would if you [u]
- [u] slotted the power with normal DO enhancements. That’s like getting two extra slots worth of enhancement value! And the great thing is that IOs at this level are cheap. Salvage is affordable and crafting costs for these level IOs are cheap. Even the cost at the market for these are generally cheap, as you can mix and match to get the enhancement values you are looking for. It also allows for customization, too. Want more defense? Slot for it. Want Endurance Reduction? Slot for it. IO sets really allow customization of the enhancement values for your powers. Now, some may say “Hey! But those sets in there really don’t match.” That’s correct. The approach here is commonly referred to as “Frankenslotting”. This approach pretty much ignores set bonuses and focuses on the increased [u]enhancement values[u] that individual Set IOs provide.
- goes into this approach in much greater detail. It’s worth a read if you are not familiar with the concept or application of it. [u]Overall, this Level 17 IO version of the build has:[u] 29.2% Positional (Melee/Ranged/AoE) Defense 15% Smashing/Lethal Resistance 19.6% Energy/Negative Energy/Fire/Cold Resistance 0% Psionic Resistance 106% Recovery 108% Regeneration +17.6% Max Hit Points Not overwhelming, but remember that the character is still in his teens. Defense sets generally start off somewhat weak and progressively mature into strong late-game performers. 29% Defense is enough to keep you out of trouble with a good team, and the knockup from Jawbreaker will help mitigate some incoming damage. Also note that with 2 team-members in range of Phalanx Fighting (remember my earlier comments about Scrappers), your Defense jumps to 36.1%. Add in a Defender or Controller hitting you with Fortitude, Bubbles, or Ice Shields… Bam, you are at or close to the soft cap for Defense at Level 17. Not too shabby.
- [*]3% Defense(Smashing)[*]3% Defense(Lethal)[*]3% Defense(Fire)[*]3% Defense(Cold)[*]3% Defense(Energy)[*]3% Defense(Negative)[*]3% Defense(Psionic)[*]3% Defense(Melee)[*]3% Defense(Ranged)[*]3% Defense(AoE)[*]1.8% Max End[*]42.2 HP (2.25%) HitPoints[*]MezResist(Confused) 3.3%[*]MezResist(Immobilize) 5.5%[*]5.5% (0.09 End/sec) Recovery[*]14% (1.1 HP/sec) Regeneration[/list]
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- Note that this build is not a respec, it just adds on to the same build we previously covered at Level 17. Attacks are “frankenslotted” with a mix of cheap IO sets and there are a few nice bonuses starting to turn up in the build. Enhancement values are also getting very good, with Defense powers close to the ED limit for Defense. [u]Overall, this Level 27 IO version of the build has:[u] 34.2% Positional (Melee/Ranged/AoE) Defense 15% Smashing/Lethal Resistance 19.6% Energy/Negative Energy/Fire/Cold Resistance 0% Psionic Resistance 153% Recovery 190% Regeneration +21.8% Max Hit Points As you can see, the build is maturing. Stamina is in place and gives the much needed endurance recovery to offset the added toggles and attacks. Also, you now have a decent single-target attack chain to throw down and Taunt to help control aggro. Your already tough build is getting tougher and more versatile.
- [*]3% DamageBuff(Smashing)[*]3% DamageBuff(Lethal)[*]3% DamageBuff(Fire)[*]3% DamageBuff(Cold)[*]3% DamageBuff(Energy)[*]3% DamageBuff(Negative)[*]3% DamageBuff(Toxic)[*]3% DamageBuff(Psionic)[*]4.88% Defense(Smashing)[*]4.88% Defense(Lethal)[*]4.88% Defense(Fire)[*]4.88% Defense(Cold)[*]4.88% Defense(Energy)[*]4.88% Defense(Negative)[*]3% Defense(Psionic)[*]6.75% Defense(Melee)[*]6.75% Defense(Ranged)[*]6.75% Defense(AoE)[*]1.8% Max End[*]34% Enhancement(Accuracy)[*]5% FlySpeed[*]168.7 HP (9%) HitPoints[*]5% JumpHeight[*]5% JumpSpeed[*]MezResist(Held) 3.3%[*]MezResist(Immobilize) 7.7%[*]MezResist(Sleep) 3.3%[*]MezResist(Stun) 3.3%[*]5% (0.08 End/sec) Recovery[*]54% (4.22 HP/sec) Regeneration[*]1.89% Resistance(Fire)[*]1.89% Resistance(Cold)[*]5% RunSpeed[/list]
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- [*]3% DamageBuff(Smashing)[*]3% DamageBuff(Lethal)[*]3% DamageBuff(Fire)[*]3% DamageBuff(Cold)[*]3% DamageBuff(Energy)[*]3% DamageBuff(Negative)[*]3% DamageBuff(Toxic)[*]3% DamageBuff(Psionic)[*]6.75% Defense(Smashing)[*]6.75% Defense(Lethal)[*]6.75% Defense(Fire)[*]6.75% Defense(Cold)[*]6.44% Defense(Energy)[*]6.44% Defense(Negative)[*]3% Defense(Psionic)[*]10.5% Defense(Melee)[*]9.88% Defense(Ranged)[*]10.5% Defense(AoE)[*]1.8% Max End[*]41% Enhancement(Accuracy)[*]10% Enhancement(RechargeTime)[*]5% FlySpeed[*]267.1 HP (14.3%) HitPoints[*]5% JumpHeight[*]5% JumpSpeed[*]MezResist(Held) 3.3%[*]MezResist(Immobilize) 7.7%[*]MezResist(Sleep) 8.8%[*]MezResist(Stun) 6.6%[*]7.5% (0.13 End/sec) Recovery[*]64% (5.01 HP/sec) Regeneration[*]3.78% Resistance(Fire)[*]3.78% Resistance(Cold)[*]5% RunSpeed[/list]
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- Best of luck and Happy Tanking.