The Secret World Tanking General Guide

The Secret World Tanking General Guide by Yokai

We’ve had lots of different threads on tanking so far, some of which have stayed on target for a while and eventually devolved into side discussions. Some really good threads have greatly divered in results, test observations, and theory-crafting from the OP in each thread, and as we know many people will read only the OP and a few responses and then reply with their own response, missing all the juicy stuff in the middle. So what I’m attempting to do here is to summarize what seems to be the broad concensus so far.

Note that I have a dog in this race because my primary role within my cabal is main tank. But also note that I don’t have firsthand experience with NM tanking yet, so bear in mind that what I’m about to summarize is a collation of _other_ NM tank’s general concensus (as I’ve seen it represented here on these forums).

Weapon Choice:

The clear winner at present for most tanking encounters is Chaos/Blade, for a variety of reasons:

1. The Exposed debuff is critically important to passing the “DPS Checks” on many bosses. (A DPS Check means your team must be able to put out a certain minimal amount of damage within a specific time frame or things get much tougher or go pear-shaped in a variety of ways.) And since Escalation is currently the only ability in the entire tree that can reliably apply and maintain 10x Exposed as quickly as possible, that alone makes Chaos a _mandatory_ for min-max tanks.

2. Blade was the clear choice for your secondary tanking weapon in large part due to the unrivaled pure hate generation (and DPS) of Crimson Theatre. As we all know, however, CT is about to be nerfed hard, and will soon put out only 20-33% of its current DPS. It’s unknown whether Funcom will make CT a “high amount of hate” type of ability to compensate for the damage nerf.

After the Crimson Theatre nerf hits, it _might_ be a more even tossup between Blade or Hammer as your secondary tanking weapon depending on two factors: the specific damage specialty of the boss you’re fighting (more crit or more pen?), and how much raw +Block stats you’re carrying on your gear glyphs. (The reason Block controls this decision for secondary weapon choice will become clear in a moment, when I switch to a discussion of mitigation stats.) However, assuming you are wearing enough +Block Rating on your glyphs, Blade still seems the stronger overall choice for two reasons:

1. The Art of War is probably the most versatile defensive cooldown in the game. It simultaneously: provides an AOE taunt for when hate tables have been reset, guarantees 2 glances from each mob it hits immediately following its use, and it interrupts the targets that it hits. That’s a lot of power packed into a 30-second defensive CD.

2. Blades specializes in +Defense Rating or +Glance Chance cooldowns and passives, and having a higher chance of being glanced is always 100% useful and constant mitigation against all boss types, whereas higher Block chance (Hammer) or higher Evade chance (Chaos) is more situational and not universally useful.

Hammer wins out over Blade as your secondary weapon choice only for Bosses that have a very high +Penetration rating, _and_ when you don’t normally run with a lot of +Block Rating on your gear glyphs.

Best mitigation/avoidance stats to prioritize

Some of what I’m about to say disagrees with my current FAQ and Build Mechanics guide. That’s okay; they’re evergreen and some new data has come to light since closed beta. I’ll be updating them soon, after the discussion/debate on this thread cools down.

Formerly, many of us thought that +Defense Rating and +Evade Rating were clearly the strongest tanking stats to prioritize, with +Block Rating and the two Protection types (Magical/Physical) being too weak to prioritize. This has changed. I still have plenty of personal empirical testing that (to me) proves that Protection is the least useful of the bunch, but now that we’re getting lots of testing data from Nightmare runs, it seems that Block is now suddenly a very desirable stat, and Evade actually doesn’t perform as well as expected.

So right now, it’s clearly +Defense and +Block in the lead, overall, for the defensive stats that every tank should prioritize. (However, there will be a proviso in a moment.) Players like Krytical have been reporting for a while now that in NM runs, they experience much less “spiky” ups and downs in their health when they prioritize Block over Evade, and this more recent quote by Escalith tells the story quite well:

Originally Posted by Escalith

Just something to keep in mind here.

Using ACT and checking my damage taken on the last boss in Polaris;

Using Blade/Chaos I was being spiked over and over, the penetration rate was differing between 25 and 47%. It was fairly random and fairly painful.

Using Hammer/Chaos with only 215 Block Rating and 2 ways to apply Major Block Chance on cooldown, the amount of penetrating hits received dropped to 8-18%.

So while a Blocked hit will mitigate less than a glancing hit; overall due to not being penetrated as often you mitigate ALOT more damage than glancing could ever do.

So to recap:

1. Glances against the tank are clearly 100% universally useful, so +Defense Rating is always a strong glyph stat to prioritize, and this is why Blade wins out over Hammer for your secondary tanking weapon overall (because of all its actives and passives that are Defense/Glance-oriented).

2. Block is extremely useful in NM dungeons overall for a variety of reasons. A) Many NM bosses have a fairly high +Penetration Rating, and fewer NM bosses have a high +Crit Rating. B) Even for those bosses that do have a higher +Crit Rating, a crit can be blocked, greatly reducing its damage. And finally, C) A high +Block Rating effectively reduces the number of Penetrating hits you’ll receive.

3. Evade results in more “spiky” damage to yourself. It is of course great when it happens, but if you miss two Evades in a row against big-hitting boss attacks, you might get more spike damage than your healer can recover, since there isn’t much burst healing in this game. Therefore, the players running higher Block and lower Evade are reporting much smoother, more predictable healing and less overall danger of getting too close to the floor.

4. Protection is still the weakest of the bunch in terms of overall mitigation ROI per glyph point spent. I won’t rehash the full details here, but you can look in my FAQ for details. It’s in the section on Stats, under the question How does Defense Rating differ from Protection?. Bottom line is that investment in Protection just doesn’t scale well at all, and you’re taking away points that could otherwise be invested in Defense or Block that will do far more to even out your damage rate and do more overall mitigation against a tough NM boss.

How much to invest in any one stat? Where are the diminishing returns?

Short answer: nobody really knows yet. There is Just not enough raw data and analysis.

It’s useful to throw out benchmark numbers as “the point of diminishing returns” just to help people ballpark their stat investment, but the real story is that none of these stats really have two different slopes with a “knee” at the slope change (which is what a single “point of diminishing returns” number would actually indicate.

In reality, it seems like the slope for every stat is constantly curving flatter, in a more-or-less logarithmic fashion. So there isn’t really any one specific “knee”. From the few stats that I’ve been able to test somewhat comprehensively, literally every 100 additional points you invest yields you less return than the previous 100 points.

So is the “point of diminishing returns” really 450, as was the general theorycrafting concensus from closed beta? Yes and no.

What’s more useful and accurate to look at now is the sum total of stat points you can get out of the best purple gear and work backwards from there while also considering (and testing) what investment in any one stat will yield some result that cannot be significantly improved upon.

So: 1900 is the magic stat number. With the gear we have right now, this is the most total stat points you can accrue from your gear. So you have to divvy that 1900 up into the “best” amounts of +Hit, +Defense, and +Block. What’s left over can be rolled into whatever stats you like. And you should probably prioritize Defense and Block over Hit, although you cannot neglect Hit entirely because you can’t afford to glance too much yourself or else you’ll: A) not generate as much hate as you need to keep aggro off of your squishies, and B) many on-hit passives will not trigger if you glance.

So how much of that 1900 should go to +Defense and +Block? Nobody knows for certain yet, although I’ll point out that KodiakX over on the TestLive forums has been doing a lot of testing of Hit versus Glance and Pen versus Block from a DPS angle and has some interesting test results. From a DPS angle, he feels his testing shows that against NM dungeon bosses, 600 is the magic number. At 600 Hit you’ll hardly ever glance the boss, and at 600 Pen you’ll hardly ever be blocked by the boss.

So we can flip that Pen stat around to look at a reflexive value for Block that might be useful for Tanking. Will 600 Block effectively make NM bosses hardly ever able to tag you with a Penetrating hit? Only testing will tell for sure, because we don’t know how much +Pen Rating those bosses are actually packing. We can apply similar thinking to flipping that Hit stat around to Defense for ourselves.

What I do think KodiakX’s testing shows us, however, is that you should be budgeting _roughly_ 1200 of your 1900 total stat points to Defense and Block. That leaves you 700 left over, of which up to 600 might be spent on +Hit Rating to ensure that you hardly ever glance againsts an NM boss. Gee, that leaves only 100 for all those other stats like Crit Rating, Crit Power, Pen, and the two Protections. Hmm. Choices, Choices…

…And of course the dungeon designers can screw with us at any time by changing a few numeric values in just a handful of tables, lol. So remember, this is all information that applies only to _right now_.

What is the best Chaos/Blade build?

Not sure I want to step in this one, actually. Speaking for myself, I like Krytical’s general approach to this one, which is to name only 6 actives and 1 passive that are clearly the “must haves” for NM tanking, leaving it up to you to decide what to do with the 7th “utility” active and how to support those actives with the best passives of your remaining 6 slots. Maybe Krytical will reply here with more elaboration?

Krytical’s way of putting it:

Actives: Escalation, Crimson Theatre, 2-4 Defensive Cooldowns (strongly recommending Art of War as one of them, and strongly recommending at least 3 CDs), one ranged taunt (from the green “Turbulence” tree), and one optional slot left for your choice.

Passives: Agitator (best, most compact hate multipler in the entire ability wheel)

So, FOR EXAMPLE, one way this could play out:

1. Escalation for your builder
2. Crimson Theatre for your Blade consumer (yes, even after the upcoming nerf, for the +10% Glance chance if nothing else)
3. Art of War (Defensive Cooldown A)
4. Martial Discipline OR Illusion (Defensive Cooldown B)
5. Provoke (ranged taunt)
6. Karma for your Chaos consumer (OR a 3rd Defensive Cooldown OR something like Reality Fracture for more even more hate generation)
7. Your choice (I really like Surging Blades here for easier boss positioning)

Closing thoughts

Have I missed something essential? Have I misinterpreted the overall tone and content of contributions by the active tanks for NM dungeons? Have I misrepresented something _you_ have said (looks at Krytical, Ryhal, whoever the hell KodiakX posts as over here, or any of a dozen other helpful tanks that have participated in these boards)?

Finally, if you’re a tank who is not yet running NM dungeons, please be aware that NM dungeons reputedly require much more min-maxing by the entire team, and if you’re still tanking only normal or elite dungeons your “I beg to differ” reactions might not be accurate… I don’t want to come across as preemptive or presumptive when I say that, but please consider it before potentially cluttering up the thread with disagreement that isn’t based on NM dungeon conditions. It’s well known that there is a LOT more latitude for alternative tanking setups in Elite and Normal dungeons that can be perfectly successful. But unfortunately, the reports from NM tanks all indicate that it’s a very narrow band of min-maxing that actually works in NM as it stands right now.

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