ESO Nightblade Tank Build

Welcome to the Catalyst Nightblade Tanking guide page.  This build focused on a defensive minded tank centered around group play and an ultimate generating juggernaut.  Below is the full ESO Nightblade Tank Build.

Table of Content


[Last Updated October 20th, 2016 for Update 12 One Tamriel]

Full Build Video

Dungeon Diving Video

This build takes inspiration from Gilliam the Rogue’s offensive minded “Bloodletter” along with my own T3 Dragonknight tank.  I feel that a lot of people think that the only viable tank is a Dragonknight and I’m here to show you, in the current meta, Nightblades do most things equal if not better.  Additionally, Swarm Mothers now pull mobs to you and your group making NB an equally as powerful tank.


The philosophy of this build is to make things happen for PvE tanking.  You’re going to be the fastest possible ultimate generating machine, and in group play, you can cast an Aggressive War Horn (the best ultimate for group tanking) in 30 seconds.  For small group, you can heal, self sustain and provide a Guard to targets with limited healing or to increase their DPS.  You are the fire starter for your group, with a very active approach to tanking.  Put down the old lazy Blocknight, the tired traditional one buff tank, this is the Catalyst.

+ The best sustain on a tank (even without battle roar)

+ The fast ultimate regeneration possible

+ Group and self healing

– Much harder to play than traditional tanking

– Not easy to level or solo


The Catalyst Skills

Passives and Bar Setup

So I’ve setup certain skills on each bar for maximum benefit.

  • Assassination skill line on both for Pressure Points (more critical strike damage) and Hemorrhage (more critical).  This can add value to the build considering how hard you hit, determines how much you healer for.
  • Siphoning skill line for Magicka Flood (8% max magicka for slotting at least one Siphon ability and Soul Siphoner increase healing done by 3% per Siphoning ability).
  • Alliance War Support Magicka Aid (increase magicka regeneration for 10% for each support ability slotted) so double barring Stalwart Guard has a resource benefit though you need Alliance Rank skill line 10 for this to apply.
  • Vampire note that you now get the resource regeneration from Supernatural Recovery regardless if there’s a vampire skill on your bar so this setup is still optimal for Vamp tanks.

Sword and Shield – Primary bar used for self healing and stamina based abilities.

  1. Swallow Soul (morph of Strike | Siphoning skill line) – I like this morph of Funnel Health after it’s seen a nerf to both effectiveness and amount of targets healed.  The purpose of this build is one, a HoT and two a spammable ability that can proc our resource return from Siphoning Strikes.  Having it slotted on our main bar gives us more healing and 8% healing received.
  2. Ransack (morph of Puncture | One-hand and Shield skill line) – Our stamina based taunted that I use sparingly due to our magicka nature.  I also switched morphs due to a bug with Elemental Drain, basically when you taunt it drops of the effect of giving magicka back since the new buff is applied without the same effect.  No ETA when it’s fixed, but Pierced Armor would be the better morph of the two.  Basically use this when you have excessive stamina, you don’t need to dodge, CC break or anything like that.  If you feel more comfortable swapping Inner Rage to the front, go ahead.
  3. Sap Essence (morph of Drain Power | Siphoning skill line) – Our AoE healing, dps ability and mega proc of Siphoning Attacks (gives resources based on attacks).  When multiple mobs, this becomes our spammable ability over Swallow Soul.  Remember that you’re not a DPS, your #1 priority is to taunt and control NPCs, not spam Sap.  Why do I say this? I’ve learned this the hard way losing aggro mindlessly sapping.  Don’t be me, be better.
  4. Stalwart Guard (morph of Guard | Alliance War Support skill line) – Love this ability and it’s great utility on a Sap Nightblade.  Don’t just guard someone and leave it there, swap based on the situation.  Usually a melee DPS or a magicka build that is not running Trap Beast for the minor force buff.  However, when your party is going to wipe due to the healer getting pressure, SWAP.  It gets tricky because of the effect cooldown meaning it’s not instance like other games but still effective to swap.  You can also consider this your flex spot if you need to swap in Absorb Magic (Sword and Shield) or anything else you find useful.  Most of the time I don’t need the block reduction and I find it more effective to help out a teammates survivability and DPS.
  5. Heroic Slash (morph of Low Slash | One-hand and Shield skill line) – A great source of minor main though our Shade does this as well, but mainly for ultimate generation.  This is where you’ll spend the majority of your excessive stamina on because we are magicka based.  You’re not to spam this ability, but maintain the extra ultimate generation and debuff it provides on a specific target.
  • [Ultimate] Soul Harvest (morph of Death Stroke | Assassination skill line) – We use this for the passives giving us more crit along with more critical damage.  Additionally it can proc 10 ultimate per kill even though we’re not a DPS.
    • FLEX Bolstering Darkness (morph of Consuming Darkness | Shadow skill line) – This ability is like the Dragonknights Magma Armor, 30% damage reduction for ANYONE who stands in the circle and 60% for you.  If you’re in trouble and want to be ultra tanky, take this ultimate.

Sword and Shield – Secondary bar with most of our buffs.

  1. Refreshing Path (morph of Path of Darkness | Shadow skill line) – This gives us our major resistance due to Shadow Barrier passive, major expedition and AoE healing for everyone.  The ability duration last 11.5, but maintaining it at 9 seconds makes sure you keep up 100% Major resistance giving you 27k for buff without Blood Spawn proc.
  2. Inner Rage (morph Inner Fire | Undaunted skill line) – Our primary taunt which has a range of 28 meteors.  The synergy adds a lot of DPS for group play, plus it doesn’t drain out stamina needed for blocking and active dodge rolling.
  3. Mirage (morph of Blur | Assassination skill line) – With Tava’s Blessing we need a source of dodge chance to proc ultimate generation constantly and this is our class specific buff.  I go with this morph because I already have Major Expedition which Double Take gives.  Plus getting both major and minor resistance up adds up to big time defensive.
  4. Stalwart Guard (morph of Guard | Alliance War Support skill line) – Same as above, consider this a flex spot on both bars.
  5. Siphoning Strikes (morph of Siphoning Strikes | Siphoning skill line) – The bread and butter for our resources and a Nightblade version of Battle Roar.  I go over how to use this properly in the video.  Just remember to maintain this as best you can, and light/heavy attack weave in between blocking and taunting for guaranteed resources.
  • [Ultimate] Aggressive War Horn (morph of War Horn | Alliance War Assault skill line) – The main go to ultimate for trials that most tanks/healers run in coordination.  Your goal is to get a War Horn every 30 seconds to provide amazing support for your group.  When not in Trials, I usually swap this out for Soul Tether (like in 4 player dungeons).  PvP I swap for Devouring Swarm.

Buffs and Debuffs

Buffs most to least important: 1) Mirage 2) Siphoning Attacks  3) Refreshing Path (for Shadow Barrier) 4) Swallow Soul 4) Sap for Major Sorcery

Debuffs most to least important: 1) Taunt (generally Inner Rage) 2) Heroic Slash 3) Ransack (major fracture)

Pre buff phase I do longest to shorts prior to each engagement, even if my buffs still have some time left.

Mirage 26 seconds, Siphoning Attacks 15 seconds, Refreshing Path for Shadow Barrier 9 seconds.  After this rotation I engage, typically range taunt the most dangerous boss, bar swap than pick up the melee.  Now I switch to debuff, Heroic Slashing for damage debuff and extra ultimate.



This gear setup is more offensive minded for four player dungeons.

Trials Setup

  • Monster Helm
    • Swarm Mothers – With Update 12 we can have a fake “chains” that do not require Dragonknight for every tanking role.  I love this set simply holding block and bringing them in for your group.  However, this is not an ideal set for hardcore Trials.
    • Blood Spawn – I bring this a long for trials because it’s a huge boon to our ultimate generation plus the armor buff stacks on Major Resolve and Major Ward.  I also like using Stalwart Guard to take extra damage thus more likely to proc Blood Spawn.
    • Lord Warden –  This can be a really good set for hardcore Trials like Vet Maw where everyone is clumped around the main boss.  Mitigation matters, and it’s nice to carry this along.
  • Main Body Sets
    • Tava’s Blessing – The bread and butter to generate tons of ultimate.  Remember this setup is for Trials specifically and isn’t that beneficial for other type of game play. A trick to generating ult is to practice manual dodging range or melee attacks.  Using they are telegraphed and you can just roll if you have extra stamina.
    • Leeching – A great set that comes from Imperial City Prsion that gives you massive healing and great AoE damage.  It’s a lot of fun for 4 player dungeons with aggressive team play.
    • Ebony – If trial play is your intention, this set provides health for everyone in a 12 player group and should be considered.
  • Jewelry
    • Spell Power Cure –  I love that this set comes in Sword and Shield.  Now we have some powerful offense for ourselfs and the others.  I can do enough healing over time to usually tank/heal dungeons.  Swap this out if you don’t want to play aggressive or your team has another SPC healer.
    • Bahraha’s Curse – A offensive minded set for dungeons if you have another SPC healer.
    • Ebony – This set also comes in Sword and Shield and can be useful to pair with Tava’s for serious trials.

Solo/Group Setup

Check out Gill’s Bloodletter build for a big time DPS tank.  Essentially you get Leeching Plate from Imperial City Prison and Bahrahas Curse from Thieves Guild quest.  You can solo most dungeons, even Vet ones.

Armor and Traits – You have large slots (head, chest, legs and shield) which get a bigger benefit for glyph pieces.  We take advantage of this with Prismatic glyph give us more stats than a traditional health, magicka or stamina glyph.  The rest of the slots (small) should be Sturdy reducing your block cost, saving you CP for the Thief tree.  I also suggest a 5 1/1 setup (5 heavy 1 medium 1 light).  This gives us a higher stat pool giving us more bang for our buck out of Argonian racial passive for 12% resources, health, magicka and stamina.  That adds up to a massive amount of regen.

Champion Points


*Check out video for CP explanation*

Race, Mundus and Other


  • 1) Argonian- It’s the best combination of racial benefits for this exact build. They’re flexible, got great all around recovery and improve stats in the next patch.  Plus they look cool, it’s my favorite for Nightblade Tank.
  • 2) Breton- Spell resistance is very important for tanking along with reduce cost can benefit it us more than recovery.  Max magicka pool is also good for offensive minded tanks.
  • 3) Nord – Damage reduction, max stats and that’s about it!  Not good for resource management, but very good for pure damage mitigating tanks.

Mundus – Atronach

I find it’s most advantageous to use Atronach for massive magicka regeneration.  However if you run Siphoning well and you can maintain resource, you could go with Ritual for better healing, more magicka, even the resistance mundus for hard capped armor.

Infection – Vampire

The thing about Vampire is now you can feed on an NPC and reduce your stages down to one and talk no fire damage.  Once you jump back into PvE and a non fire specific environment, spam Mist Form for a quick ascent to stage 4 for Super Natural recovery.

I’ve been working a long time on this build and enjoying it thoroughly.  Let me know if you like the detail or any other feedback you have on our newest ESO Magicka Nightblade Tank, The Catalyst.