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A tank is a well-protected frontline party members whose role is to draw enemy fire and to distract and/or block foes from battling other party members. Typically, a tank uses melee and/or Point Blank Area of Effect skills. In Guild Wars, Warriors have an advantage in this role because they have the strongest armor against physical attacks.

The act of tanking typically involves standing still and taking a beating from enemies instead of running away or kiting. Tanking is often used in PvE to make the healer's life easier (only one person to concentrate on). Tanking is especially effective in combination with Protection spells and stances.

Tanking expectations[]

Veteran players expect certain basic behavior from their party's tanks. If you plan to serve in this role, make sure you know how to attract the appropriate foe, draw aggro effectively, when to go after a called-target and when to stay put, and how to stay alive. Here is a brief list of situations tanks are expected to handle with ease:

Situation Expectation Good tanking Bad tanking
Tank-on-Tank Tanks are expected to attract aggro from enemy melee foes and to keep it focused on themselves. Reach enemy tanks quickly; stay put. Rushing towards enemy spell casters, which allows enemy tanks to rush your allied casters.
Aggro vs Ranged Foes Ranged foes tend to focus on squishier targets, instead of attacking the tank. Sidestep or stutter step, causing some blocking, which will cause foes to come close enough for you to reach them easily. Targeting ranged foes too soon and/or rushing straight towards them.
Stay put When the going gets rough, the tank stays put. Trust allied healers to keep you alive. When short on health, run sideways and/or dodge. Running back towards the backline of the party (drawing enemy attention to your allied casters and making it harder for them to heal).
Stay alive A tank with high death penalty is of little use to the party (as they can no longer draw as much enemy fire). Bring some self-heals and/or defensive skills; know when to use them. Rushing towards a new mob before your casters regenerate their energy. Not protecting yourself.
An ounce of prevention A tank without additional protections is less valuable to the team. Ensure that the party is able to help support the tank, e.g. through Protection Prayers, relevant skills from other attributes, or from the tank's own skillbar. Rushing into battle without appropriate protections.

Tanking by profession[]

Warriors are the most common form of tank, having the strongest armor against physical attacks of any profession. Warriors have many skills (especially in the Tactics line) to help minimize damage and hold the enemies' attention. Other professions need to be more creative to mitigate damage and so are less common on the whole.

Any profession, given the right set of skills and proper preparation, can tank for their parties in certain areas. In particular, Rangers, Monks and Elementalists possess in their skill set a number of skills that can be used to make them very resilient to damage. These builds are usually attuned to the monsters in certain explorable areas that do not possess the means to overcome them. When the enemy is highly variable (as is the case in PvP), non-Warrior professions become susceptible to facing counters designed specifically for their means of damage reduction. For example, monks and elementalists relying on enchantments to resist attacks will have problems against skills that remove enchantments.

  • Warriors: A tanking warrior will come equipped with defensive tactics to mitigate as much damage as possible. Typically, the warrior will charge the enemy and will focus mostly on engaging the frontline, keeping mobs attention off other characters in the back row. Tanks use shields, stances and, sometimes, secondary profession skills such as Protection Prayers to minimize damage inflicted upon them. They can take quite a long while to kill. Tanks can be used as booby traps using AoE spells that are centered on the caster such as Inferno or Shield of Judgment, but should avoid skills that do damage over time as enemy mobs will run away.
  • Dervishes: Dervishes that are designed for tanking will most likely carry several Earth Prayers skills, possibly an Avatar, and possibly some self healing. Such a dervish would use their enchantments and stances before battle, and attempt to keep them active while the battle occurred. Particularly common dervish armor tanking skills are Avatar of Balthazar, an elite form with a 40 armor bonus, and Conviction, a stance that adds armor to the dervish,and an additional chance to block attacks when enchanted. Mystic Regeneration and Mystic Vigor are useful skills for recovering health.
  • Monks: The Invincible Monk (and its variations for other professions) is a very popular form of tanking that depends on a host of enchantments. The build fails horribly when the enemy can bring strong enchantment removal.

Other types of tanking[]

It is also possible for pets and minions to tank for a team. This feature is used to great effect in the once popular Barrage/Pet builds (most commonly found in the Tomb ruins) that lack any damage-absorbing player characters.


  • The opposite of a tank is a squishy.
  • Some players use tank as a synonym for warrior. Therefore, confusingly, a tank need not necessarily be tanking.
  • Tanking is less suitable in organized PvP. Human players will tend to snare tanks and focus on the squishier targets. Once the healers are gone, the tank is easy prey.
  • Tanking is not the only tactic for melee physicals in PvE, as they can also manipulate their builds to deal decent damage to their enemies.