Dragonknight Pure Tank Build aka Varokh's Vengeance™



I’m working on a build that I will be adopting for end-game VR10 PVE. I’ve played a tank in virtually every MMORPG that has been on the market (I’m old). Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play some Veteran Rank dungeons, I feel like I have a better handle on what is needed for tanking in ESO.

Here is the build: http://goo.gl/2lFAE1

Class & Race

First of all, you don’t need to be a DK to tank. It’s clear that any class can tank. However, before you decide you want to be a tank, remember that if you’re the main tank, people will likely hate you a lot of time. You’re going to get blamed for things going poorly and people are going to question your gear, your build, and your ability to understand direction for the fights. But I digress…

I chose Orc but Imperial is also great. While an Imperial has to hit the target to get the health regeneration, an Orc receives a constant boost of 15% while in combat. Considering you spend quite a lot of time just blocking damage rather than dealing it, this helps tremendously. The increased Stamina pool of Brawny is also great considering it’s your life pool for keeping you and your team alive with taunts.


Put every point in Health. You’ll get plenty of Magicka and Stamina elsewhere.


We’re using two bars focused on two different jobs: Trash and Boss. Our goal for the Trash bar is to have decent AoE in order to assist the DPS members in taking out large groups. It also doubles as having the ability to tank a reasonable amount of damage as the person who needs to charge in to a group first (someone has to so it should be the tank).

Since it’s impossible to hold aggro on an entire group in ESO, the tank’s focus should be on absorbing damage from the most lethal mob in the group, interrupting casters, and laying down AoE to assist.

Trash Bar

We’re talking about everything between Boss fights and occasionally adds that bosses spawn in situation where the Boss doesn’t need to continue being tanked e.g. when he/she despawns.


Deals 10 Physical Damage to all enemies in front of you and inflicts a bleed for 8 Physical Damage over 10 seconds. Player gains 3 Ultimate for each enemy hit.

Your go-to Stamina dump AoE. With the passives in play you are doing excellent splash and damage over time. I chose the Carve morph because trash pulls are an excellent way to build ultimate in preparation for a boss fight and should be used accordingly.


Player charges to target and attacks, dealing 10 Physical Damage and immobilizing enemy for 3.5 seconds. Always deals Critical Damage.

I debated quite a bit about whether or not to pick up a gap closer for a full PvE spec. Ultimately, I decided I just use it so much on trash pulls and other situations that it is worth having on your bar. I don’t, however, have one on my Boss bar because I just don’t feel that you need one on both. For Boss fights, if you really have to charge over to a mob, you can flip your bar. The other morph, Critical Rush, deals damage based on distance and is really only useful in PvP where you’re covering long distances and hitting it the second they are in range.

Burning Talons

Immobilizes nearby enemies for 4 seconds and deals 13 Physical Damage, then deals 20 Fire Damage over time. An ally can activate the Impale Synergy, damaging enemies held within the talons.

A huge part of being a DK is this skill. Bottom line. This is a monster and you must have it. You go with Burning over Choking because it builds Ultimate faster and as I said above that’s what trash pulls are for.

Green Dragon Blood

Heals for 33% of missing Health. Increases Health regeneration by 40% and Stamina regeneration by 30% for 20 seconds.

You may be wondering why, as a tank, you want Green Dragon Blood instead of Coagulating Blood which decreases damage intake. Your only taunt is a Stamina skill. Without it, you lose the ability to taunt. That’s your only concern here. You have to put a certain amount of trust in your healers to keep you alive sometimes and this is one of those situations. You’re not trying to be completely self-sufficient, you are trying to be part of a team. The only way to fulfill your role in the group is to have stamina in your pool, thus, Green Dragon Blood.

Standard of Might

Enemies take 7 Fire Damage every second and receive 50% less healing for 15 seconds, while on Standard of Might. Player deals 35% more damage and takes 35% less damage, while on Standard of Might. An ally may activate the Shackle synergy, damaging and immobilizing enemies in the area.

I’m using the DK Standard for my trash bar as it has excellent AoE as well as some healing. It even comes with a damage buff. There’s little debate that this skill is bad ass so I’ll just leave it at that. However, as stated above, trash pulls should generally be more about building ultimate than using it. This is a good save for those really tough pulls though.

Boss Bar

Here we are primarily focused on single target tanking. You’re going to be keeping aggro on the boss and keeping your shield up to take a little damage as possible. You’ll be building ultimate on any adds that get spawned. You want to micro-manage your stamina religiously as that is your taunt. Assess the situation and know the fights. Do you need to roll out of that AoE? Will you have enough stamina to grab aggro again?

Pierce Armor

Deals 11 Physical Damage, reduces target’s Armor and spell resist by 43% for 12 seconds, and taunts target for 15 seconds.

This is your taunt. It’s tempting to spam it but it’s a stamina drain. Save it for when you need to taunt. The reason you choose Pierce Armor over Ransack is you should already be overcharged on Armor and reducing the target’s Spell Resist helps everyone in your party, not just you. Much higher ROI.

Igneous Weapons

Increases weapon damage of nearby allies by 10 for 60 seconds. Bonus is increased by 100% on caster. Adds 2 Fire Damage to Light and Heavy Attacks.

This is your party buff. You’re only using a few skills when tanking a boss so it makes sense to throw this on your boss bar. Molten Arrangements (the other morph option) adds a +Crit chance to your party but it only lasts for 6 seconds. You’re not going to be casting this very often because you’ll be saving Magicka for self-healing and CC. If you decide to spam it during moments of low magicka need, it’s only to build Ultimate by using the Mountain’s Blessing passive.

Defensive Posture

Absorbs next spell projectile and grants Health gain equal to 115% of spell’s damage when activated. Increases block mitigation by 115 and reduces block cost by 8% when slotted.

If you’ve tanked veteran content before, you’ll know that blocking quickly depletes your stamina. reducing block cost by 8% is great to have event without the ability. I’ve died to the damage that is leaked through a block so adding 115 to my mitigation when blocking is amazing as well. These are active just by virtue of having the ability on your bar.

As for the ability itself, absorbing a next spell can be difficult to time correctly. Especially since a lot of times the boss charges up the skill while facing you and then at the last moment turns to throw it at a random member of the party. Even so, this is overall a must-have for high end tanks.

Burning Talons or Something Else

Talons don’t work on the vast majority of bosses. While they’re definitely helpful for adds in some fights, it makes more sense to equip something that will contribute to the boss directly since that’s your job. If you need Talons, you can always swap bars real quick (you should be doing this!). Instead, you might consider using Draw Essence which has some added utility. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out what is best for this slot.

I’m seriously considering the Inner Beast skill from the Undaunted tree to add a Magicka-based taunt.

Green Dragon Blood

Yes, it’s here too for the same reasons.

Corrosive Armor

Caps incoming damage at 3% Max Health for 12 seconds while nearby enemies take 2 Fire Damage every 1 second. Reduces weapon damage of nearby enemies 40%.

Better for being beat on by a boss than Standard of Might. You’re being capped on 3% of your max health rather than reducing the boss’s damage output by 35%, which could still be quite a lot during some crazy abilities they have. Add to that reducing damage further by 40% which is huge for a boss even if they are attacking someone else with some other ability. The AoE is just an added little bonus but not really something we care about too much. This should be used more like a shield than an AoE.


  • Get all the passives, obviously.
  • Remember that your Burning Heart passive increasing incoming healing when you Green Dragon Blood is ticking. Your healer should probably know this too.


Find and use the highest level and quality of The Warlock jewelry you can. You’re going to be wearing all heavy armor and as such, you will need every bit of magicka you can grab. This set is even better in tanking situations as our oh shit buttons are magicka dumps and this set will occasionally give you a jump back up in return.

You’ll want to the Infused trait on your Helmet, Chest, and Legs. Divine on the rest (see Boon below).


Your first inclination may be to go with The Lover which reduces damage taken from spells. I would advise against this.

Since you’ll be putting all 49 attribute points into Health, you’ll want magicka regeneration with The Atronach. Combing with the of The Warlock set and your Divine gear, you will have a very respectable magicka pool even with heavy armor.

Fangs & Claws

From what I can tell, it’s not currently worth it to be a Vampire or Werewolf as a main tank.


The most glaring weakness is you have no ranged abilities. This is a huge problem for boss fights where you just don’t have the ability to tank up close or when it’s simply not needed and you should be doing ranged DPS.

The only thing I can say for this is that there’s no reason you shouldn’t have some kind of ranged skill set that you can switch to for these fights. There are more than enough skill points. Do it.


Very professional i might have to redo my style sir!


The forum supports Markdown, FYI


My DK Tank Build

Alright fellas, here is my build and how it differs a little from Varokh’s. Disclaimer: I think both builds are great, I just like mine for a little more versatility and a few extra things that keep the focus on keeping me alive.


  • Ransack
    I like to use Ransack over Pierce Armor because it does give you that extra boost to your armor, Pierce Armor is great as well because it allows your party members to put down a bit more dps, but my build is more focused on keeping me alive while tanking than increasing dps (also why I don’t spec molten weapons)

  • Unstoppable
    This heavy armor ability gives you a large amount of spell and armor resistance for a fairly long amount of time

  • Reflective Plate I find this ability absolutely imperative to any DK
    tank build, while defensive posture does the same thing if you are
    facing a single target casting a single spell, reflective plate will
    allow you to reflect a few spells and gain additional spell
    resistance for a longer amount of time.

  • Defensive Posture
    I didn’t specify the morph for this one because I think it depends on what you think you need with your armor and the other abilities you choose. The block mitigation and reduce in block cost make this an awesome ability to just have on your bar even if rarely used. Personally I like to use it after using reflective plate a few times, if I am still taking large amounts of damage.

  • Coagulating Blood
    I use coagulating blood over Green Dragon Blood just because I’ve found it safer to rely on yourself sometimes than on a healer who is responsible for 2 other party members as well, who might be focusing adds while you keep the boss occupied. The armor and spell resistance that you get, while short lasting, is huge.

  • Corrosive Armor
    This ability is just awesome. If you don’t use this or the standard of might when tanking DK you are doing something wrong.

My second bar is more focused on killing shit mobs and for being able to deal damage on those times that directly tanking a boss is impossible (happens decently often).

  • Silver Shards
    This is a really good ability to throw down some extra dps with a massively dominated magicka skill bar. Also if any of the mobs are daedra or undead you get that added bonus.

  • Burning Talons
    Nothing more to say about this ability than what Varohk already said.

  • Ring of Preservation
    This ability allows for a long lasting armor and spell resistance increase, as well as increased health regeneration. I mostly have it on this bar because it is so long lasting there is no need to constantly recast while using the 1st skill bar. With that said it can be good to use with the second bar because you will have much lower armor and spell resistance abilities without switching bars and this is a nice boost.

  • Pulsar
    This is used to help clear out groups. While the Tank normally doesn’t need AoE and the mage with you is probably carrying this ability himself, there are plenty of fights where the boss stops attacking for a second and just decides to throw mobs at you, which makes having this ability to help kill those mobs before the boss comes back huge. Remember, Talons do not work on flying enemies and you need something additional to use while enemies that can be taloned are taloned.

  • Efficient Purge
    Using a Purge is not something that needs to be done regularly, but I would always recommend having it on one of your bars. Many bosses apply high damage debuffs that can kill you if you don’t have a purge the second you get it applied. Some bosses introduce mechanics for you to get rid of this debuff without a purge, and your healer should carry one too, but as with coagulating blood, you need to be able to keep yourself up without the reliance on a healer or boss mechanics.

  • Standard of Might
    You should always have corrosive armor on one bar and standard of might on the other in my opinion.

Situational Abilities
These are abilities that I haven’t put on either bar for my base build but that I would highly recommend switching into your bar when needed.

  • Molten Weapons
    Sometimes your party does need the extra dps and it is a totally viable option to switch this into your bar right before the boss, apply it, then switch it back before running in to at least get a small damage bonus.
  • Petrify
    This a stun that lasts for 12 seconds, that gets broken after a certain amount of damage has been done to the mob. While this doesn’t work on bosses, this can help a lot when a boss spawns a few powerful mobs to help him out as it allows you to take one of them out of the fight until your party members have time to fight it.

For armor and mundus stone, I would follow what Varokh previously stated. Also if you are being a tank, it will be tempting to shield bash since it still counts as blocking while doing a decent amount of damage, but ti is better to just save your stamina. Since my build doesn’t include green dragon blood, stamina management is very important. Use your ransack every 15 seconds or so to keep the boss focused on you, use unstoppable every 8 seconds, and use ring of preservation every 20 seconds. Do just this while blocking and you shouldn’t have any stamina issues.
Another important note is when to use coagulating blood, while it is important to have your health near tippy top due to some bosses having huge bursts, you also have to remember that you will be getting the most bang for your buck, while still being safe, when your health is around 30%. Try to time how long you have between a boss’s bursts and just make sure you have high health for those bursts and that you get your health back up quickly after the burst.