ESO Dragonknight Tank Build

Welcome to The Talons Tank [T3] a Dragonknight Tank Build for The Elder Scrolls Online [ESO].  In this guide we will cover everything you need to know about Dragonknight tanking.  This will be the permanent updated home for T3 so make sure to bookmark and check back for updates.

Table of Contents


[Updated for Clockwork City by Gilliamtherogue]

The T3 Dragonknight tank is designed for group PvE play, as well as some PvP options with a few change ups. We will not be discussing leveling here; if you’re looking for a stamina Dragonknight leveling build, click here.  We’ll have two sections here; one for PvE and the other for PvP.  Gilliamtherogue will handle PvE, while Deltia will take over for the PvP build.  Each of these sections will discuss a multitude of important concepts to the build, with a plethora of options to help you make the build into your own.  Here are some of the roles available with this build;

  • Main Tank – for Trials as the primary boss tank.
  • Off-Tank – Mainly buffs and secondary mobs
  • Four Mans AKA Dungeons – Doing dungeons and more damage/enabling focus

Here are the strengths and weaknesses this build has.

+ Ultimate generation like crazy

+ Group utility with buffs/debuffs

+ Massive resource pool and regeneration with Battle Roar

– Not your best solo build

– Steep learning curve if played at a higher level


(click the picture to see the abilities and relevant passives!)

Sword and Shield Bar One – Control and Healing

  1. Pierce Armor (morph of Puncture | One-Hand and Shield skill line) – This skill will be our main taunt, used to force an enemy to direct its attention on us for 15 seconds.  It also applies Major Fracture and Breach to the target, helping your allies deal more damage to them for 12 seconds.  Try and keep the debuff portion up 100% to help your group do extra damage.
  2. Igneous Shield (morph of Obsidian Shield | Earthen Heart skill line) – A small damage shield that goes to us and 5 nearby allies, and also grants ourselves Major Mending for 3 seconds.  Usually you’ll want to pair this with a Vigor or Green Dragon Blood for a big burst heal if needed.  It also is an Earthen Heart ability, meaning it’ll give us some Stamina and Ultimate to us when casted, and Minor Brutality to 24 nearby allies.  Try and use this when a boss is doing a lot of damage to your group!
  3. Either Vigor (morph of Vigor | Alliance War Assault skill line) – Even though we’re a tank, we still want to try and provide healing to ourselves and our group.  Every bit helps, and this skill allows us to offer an AoE heal to us and 5 nearby allies.  Resolving heals us more, while Echoing covers a larger area.
    1. Until you get this skill, treat it as a flex spot.  Deep Breath (morph of Inhale | Draconic Power skill line) fits this spot perfectly in the meantime, allowing us to have an initial heal when we hit enemies (scales based on targets hit, up to 6x the heal) as well as a delayed explosion.  This morph ALSO adds an interrupt, allowing us to prevent groups of enemies around us from casting.
  4. Choking Talons (morph of Dark Talons | Draconic Power skill line) – A phenomenal utility tool that immobilizes up to 6 targets around us, as well as applying Minor Maim to them to reduce their damage dealt by 15%.  This is wonderful for large groups of enemies once you have them in position for your DPS to drop ultimates and DoTs on.
    1. Since we have a single target form of Maim on our backbar, treat this as a flex spot on boss fights that don’t have adds.  Efficient Purge (morph of Purge | Alliance War Support skill line) – this ability will help remove negative effects from allies, which is INCREDIBLY important in trial and even some dungeon environments.
    2. Spell Symmetry (morph of Equilibrium | Mage’s Guild skill line) – A helpful resource management tool that restores Magicka back in exchange for some Health.  This can do a lot of damage to you, and also reduces your Healing AND Shields Done (not taken/received from allies) by 50% for 4 seconds so you don’t always want to be using it.  Ask your healers if you can run this so that they’re ready for some extra healing.
  5. Absorb Magic (morph of Defensive Posture | One Hand and Shield skill line) – A wonderful passive and active ability, granting us 8% Block Cost Reduction AND Block Mitigation for slotting.  You may also activate the ability to get a moderate damage shield that can only absorb Spell Projectiles.  Upon successful absorption it will also heal you for 15% of your Max Health.  Extremely helpful on fights with ranged magic attacks such as Rakkhat.
  • [Ultimate] Magma Shell (morph of Magma Armor | Earthen Heart skill line) – Upon activation you will cap most damage taken (some damage types like Oblivion damage or mechanics in dungeons/trials will ignore this) to 3% of your Health for 9 seconds.  You’ll also deal some moderate Flame damage to enemies around you each second.  The nice bonus of this morph is that you’ll give you and 5 nearby allies a damage shield for 100% of their Maximum Health, so you can shrug off even more damage for you and your group.

Sword and Shield Bar Two – Buffs and Debuffs

  1. Hardened Armor (morph of Spiked Armor | Draconic Power skill line) – The Dragonknight’s source of Major Resolve and Ward, granting us 8% damage mitigation across the board for 20 seconds.  It also deals Magic damage to melee attackers, and grants us a damage shield upon cast for 15% of our Max Health for ~3 seconds.  Try to keep this up 100% to help lower damage you take.
  2. Heroic Slash (morph of Low Slash | One-Hand and Shield skill line) – Our other source of Minor Maim, applying to target we cast it on for 12 seconds.  It also snares them for a huge amount, preventing them from covering a large amount of distance too quickly.  On top of this it will also grant us Minor Heroism for 9 seconds, granting us 1 Ultimate every 1.5s, so try to cast this every 9 seconds.  In AoE fights you should be casting Choking Talons over this!
  3. Unrelenting Grip (morph of Fiery Grip | Ardent Flame skill line) – The class defining “chains” that helps the Dragonknight remain a tried and true tank.  Pull any non CC immune enemy to your position from up to 22 meters, and will refund the cost if the target was not pulled.  This also grants Major Expedition for 3 seconds, helping give us a minor speed boost (30%) to move around and yank enemies into position sooner.
  4. Inner Rage (morph of Inner Fire | Guild Undaunted skill line) – An extremely useful ranged taunt that let’s us force enemy attention to us from a distance.  It also has a moderate chance to grant your allies the Radiate synergy, which can do devastating damage to targets in an area.
  5. Green Dragons Blood (morph of Dragon Blood | Draconic Power skill line) – Activating this skill will heal us for 33% of our Missing Health and also granting us Major Endurance and Fortitude and Minor Vitality; granting us 20% Health and Stamina Recovery, and 8% Healing taken for 20 seconds.  The other morph will have a slightly larger burst heal, but it will not grant the Healing Taken or Stamina Recovery bonus.
  • [Ultimate] Aggressive War Horn (morph of War Horn | Alliance War Assault skill line) – One of the best group ultimates in the game, granting us and our allies 10% more Health, Magicka, and Stamina for 30 seconds.  This means tons of resources AND health for your group, allowing more damage and healing to be done.  Furthermore, it also grants Major Force for 9.5s at rank IV, increasing your allies Critical Hit Modifier by 15% (additive).  Try to keep this up as much as you can for your group, so they can do tremendous damage!


(Check the Consumables/Misc section for more discussion on traits and enchants)

Beginner/BoE Tank

  • Plague Doctor (obtainable from Deshaan overland events) – A pretty standard tank set these days, offering us a HUGE amount of effective Health, making our abilities like Igneous Shields, Hardened Armor, and Magma Shell have larger shields.  You can’t go wrong with this set, and it’s BoE so you can farm it or buy it!
  • Shacklebreaker (6 trait crafted set, Morrowind) – This set was a game changer for flat stats, as it brings a massive boost to Stamina AND Magicka, as well as some nice Regeneration bonuses to both.  This will help you block and cast more skills, so it works really well.  If you don’t have Morrowind or crafting available, you can get a friend or guild mate to make it for you!
  • Endurance/Agility (Imperial City Chests/Daily LFG rewards) – Both of these sets have a 50% bonus efficiency to their set bonuses, so they’re quite efficient.  Endurance offers Max Health, while Agility offers Max Stamina.  Both solid choices!


Dungeons Tank

  • Bloodspawn (Obtainable from Spindle Clutch II) – A great 2 piece set that offers us a huge jump in Resistances and Ultimate upon activation, with a low cooldown.  This helps us become tanky AND offer group utility with more ultimates.
    • You can opt to use tons of Monster Helm sets like Lord Warden (Imperial City Prison, group resistances), Chokethorn + Shadow Rend (Elden Hollow I & Banished Cells I, Magicka Recovery), etc.  Experiment and find what you like!
  • Ebon (Obtainable from Crypt of Hearts I&II) – A solid 5 piece that offers you and 11 group mates some extra Health, which will scale with % amplifications.  We run this on our armor so that it can all be gold for maximum group efficiency.  Can’t go wrong with this set in trials or dungeons (just make sure only 1 person wears it!).
  • Akaviri Dragonguard (Obtainable from Eastmarch overland events) – A nice set that grants us 15% Ultimate Cost Reduction, helping us throw out more War Horns or Magma Shells, which means more group utility as well as resource management from Battle Roar for ourselves.
    • If you struggle with resource management, but still want some group utility; try out Alteration Mastery (Obtainable from Cropsford, Cyrodiil vendor) – Offering us 6% cost reduction to ALL things (Block, bash, sprint, dodge, magicka + stamina + health abilities, and ultimates!), this will help resource management tremendously.



  • Same as before, you can use any Monster set you like in your Helm + Shoulder slot.  There are many great options mentioned in the previous section.
  • Torug’s Pact (3 trait craftable) – An extremely potent debuff set that operates by making granting us 30% potency and cooldown reduction to our weapon enchants.  When paired with an Infused Crusher enchant, you’ll be able to shred 2740 Spell AND Physical Resistance from your target, helping your group do almost 6% more damage to the target it applied to!  It also helps make your Weakening glyph reduce the damage of targets it hits even more, making your team take less damage.
  • Alkosh (Maw of Lorkhaj) – An insanely potent set when you’re able to tap into its power.  Activating a synergy shoots out a conal debuff that deals moderate damage over time to enemies in front of you, as well as reducing their Physical and Spell Resistance by 3010 (all 5 legendary quality), helping allies do over 6% additional damage to the target.  However, synergies are extremely difficult to hit so you might want to replace this with a different set until they’re fixed!

Consumables, Race, and Mundus

Food: Tri Stat Food offers us a hearty Health, Stamina, and Magicka pool so that we can take more damage and cast more abilities.  You can try other foods that offer regeneration if you prefer as well, just make sure you check the section below before you decide.

Stat Pool Benchmarks: As a tank you want to try and hit a minimum of stats.  I highly suggest enchanting your gear first, then spending Attribute points, and finally checking with food to see if you hit these values; ~900+ Magicka Recovery, 30k+ Health (35k+ if doing Trials), 18k+ Stamina, 15k+ Magicka.  Find what works for you, but these are the bare minimum of stats I’d suggest if you’re looking to be a decent tank.

Potions:  Tri Potions (Columbine + Bugloss + Mountain Flower) will help your Magicka, Health, and Stamina sustain skyrocket.  They’ll grant a flood of resources as well as the Major Recovery buffs for each of these stat pools, meaning you get a ton of efficiency.  If that gets too expensive, use any potion that restores Stamina.

Race: Arognians remain the dominant tank race in the game.  Offering a nice boost to our Health and Magicka, extra Healing Done & Received, as well as a huge resource management boost when drinking a potion; this race brings everything we could ask for as a tank.  Nords are truly a hearty race; offering some nice boosts to Health & Stamina, Health Recovery, and flat damage mitigation.  Orcs and Imperials are also great options with their extra Health and Stamina bonuses.  Imperials have the highest stat pools, while Orcs have more dynamic utility.  However, Any Race works as a tank.  Don’t feel like you NEED to pick one of these races to be competitive.  Tanking isn’t about min/maxing the same way DPS is, so play what you like!

Mundus: Most tanks will find themselves preferring the Atronach stone, for added Magicka Recovery.  The Steed also offers a decent boon to Health Recovery and Max Movement Speed.  Any Mundus stone can work with this build however, so play around with them!

Traits on your Weapons: Luckily for Tanks, traits on our weapons are pretty straight forward!  Below explains what traits we use, and why.

  • Primary Bar; Infused offers us a tremendous amount of group utility when paired with a Crusher enchant, helping keep it up more frequently as well as shredding more resistances with it.
  • Back Bar; Decisive or Infused here is preferred.  Decisive helps improve our Ultimate generation while on this bar, while Infused will help make our Weakening glyph stronger and be able to proc more frequently.  You can also opt to use other traits like Powered to help improve Healing a tiny bit.

Enchants/Poisons on your Weapons: Again, enchants as a tank are pretty standard.  Below explains what and why;

  • Primary Bar; Crusher enchant is ideal to shred Physical and Spell Resistance of our target every 10 seconds (base, with Infused 5s, and with Infused + Torug’s 3.5s) to allow our allies to deal additional damage to our targets.
  • Back Bar; Weakening enchant helps lower the damage dealt by targets this is applied to, meaning our allies and ourselves will be less likely to die.  Even mechanics that a boss might not directly be casting can be reduced by this glyph, making it extremely helpful.

Traits on your Armor: All Sturdy on armor & shields helps lower our Block Cost reduction immensely, meaning we don’t need to worry about dropping block much.  If your Stamina sustain is fine though, you can opt to run Infused on large pieces (Shield, Helmet, Chest, Legs) for extra enchant potency.  Especially juicy if you’re using Prismatic/Tri Enchants!

Champion Points

This segment shows a standard setup for most encounters, just keep in mind that tanking isn’t as mathematical intensive as DPS; so you’re more than welcome to change the Blue and Green tree to preference.

The Mage (Blue)

  • Physical Weapon Expert – 2
  • Master-at-Arms – 28
  • Blessed – 43
  • Elfborn- 34
  • Precise Strikes – 100
  • Mighty – 23
    • Some of these might look strange.  100 into Precise Strikes is meant to buff our Vigor healing, and 23 into Mighty helps us unlock Last Stand for those scary moments to get extra Ultimate.  Master at Arms and Physical Weapon expert help us retaliate to opponents and deal some nice damage when we block attacks.  The rest go into the Apprentice to buff up healing done and unlock other passives like Foresight.

The Thief (Green)

  • Tenacity – 43
  • Healthy – 15
  • Warlord – 23
  • Sprinter – 35
  • Bashing Focus – 35
  • Shadow Ward – 56
  • Tumbling – 23
    • These all change based on what type of player you are.  Some tanks might never Dodge Roll, while other might never Heavy Attack.  Change up based on your play style.

The Warrior (Red)

  • Elemental Defender – 43
  • Hardy – 43
  • Ironclad -48
  • Thick Skinned –48
  • Quick Recovery – 37
  • Expert Defender – 11
    • Keep in mind that each encounter has its own different damage types.  Some dungeons, trials, or boss encounters don’t deal Physical damage; so Hardy may become useless.  If you’re trying to optimize your mitigation always learn what sort of damage bosses deal, and change your CP accordingly.


Tanking isn’t necessarily about following a rigid rotation, it’s more about reacting to your environment and meeting check marks.  Below will go through the thought process you should enforce in most encounters in the game.

Priority #1) Taunt the scary enemies.  Any enemy that has the potential to do a lot of damage in a short amount of time, is your main focus to taunt.  Usually Mages, Archers, and Two Handed users are the priority targets for taunting.  Elite mobs, and bosses also fall under this category.  Taunt those suckers with Inner Rage or Pierce Armor (15s duration).

Priority #2) Buff up!  You can even do this before you engage in combat.  Make sure things like Major Ward/Resolve are running for damage mitigation (Hardened Armor, 20s) as well as other amplifications like your Burning Heat passive (Dragon Blood, 20s).

Priority #3) Empower your allies, and enfeeble your enemies.  Now that enemies are taunted and you’re buffed, you should be looking to bring utility to your group.  Have a large group of enemies in place for your allies to drop Ultimates on?  Choking Talons them in place to prevent them from running and apply Minor Maim on them (4s).  Debuff a heavy hitting mob with Heroic Slash (12s) for Maim and ultimate generation for yourself (9s).  Cast Igneous Shields to protect your allies during periods of high damage (7s), or throw out some Healing with Vigor (5s).

Times to use your Ultimate) Any time you’re pulling a large group of enemies or a boss you should try and cast Warhorn (30s).  You can also opt to save it for moments when you need resources, or hold onto Magma Shell (9s) for moments where bosses might try to kill your allies.