Let me start with a confession: I’m not the biggest tank in Final Fantasy 14. In most games, including this one, I’m much more comfortable dishing out damage than I am soaking it up. If you play as a tank in FF14, all eyes are on you: Not only will enemies send all their aggression your way (if you do your job), but the rest of your party will look to you for leadership. At first, that thought terrified me more than the haunted halls of Haukke Manor or the deadly dragons of The Aery.
But I tried it anyway, and now that I’ve been through the main game and two expansions as a tank, I can safely say that my dreaded “tank anxiety” is gone. Once you get the hang of it, tanking isn’t really any harder than playing a damage-per-second (DPS) or healer class; it’s just different. Thanks to the (mostly) patient, easy-going FF14 community, you’ll find plenty of people willing to hold your hand while you master the basics. If you’re ready to take center stage, but still a little afraid to do so, here are 10 tips to help you deal with tank anxiety and become the heart of the party.
1. Run Halls of the Novice missions
If you started FF14 as a DPS or medic class, you may have forgotten all about the Halls of the Rookie. These single-player missions help you learn your role by giving you real-time instructions as you work together with a group of non-player characters (NPCs). The Halls of the Novice missions for a tank involve generating enmity, targeting enemies from a distance, keeping additional enemies (adds) away from party members, mitigating damage and more.
2. Practice with Duty Support or Squadrons
The best way to prepare yourself for multiplayer dungeons is to try them out in a pressure-free single player format. You can now run most dungeons from the base game, A Realm Reborn, as well as the first expansion, Heavensward, with a group of NPCs.
Duty Support is the easiest way to do this, as you can simply select it from the Duty menu and dive right in. However, it’s worth doing Squadrons instead if you can, as you can customize and upgrade your allies and earn special rewards for yours. Grand Company. Unlocking Squadrons is a bit complicated, so consult a guide if you haven’t done so yet.
3. Ask the News Network or friends for help
Newer players should have access to the Novice chat channel. Most NN chat rooms have a mix of curious newbies (or “shoots”) and helpful mentors. Generally, if you ask for help with a dungeon, you’ll get half a dozen eager volunteers ready to help you. If you mention that you are new to tanking, they can also give advice as you go. If you have friends who play FF14, you can ask them too, because it’s usually not that scary to make mistakes in front of people you know.
4. Communicate with your party
Repeat after me: “It’s my first time tanking this dungeon, if there’s anything I should know.”
Sometimes you’ll get a helpful answer, whether it’s the healer suggesting how many enemies you should engage, or a DPS explaining how a boss mechanic works.
Sometimes, you will get something blurry. (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard “Stick it with the pointy end!”)
Either way, the party knows how to extend some patience and grace. If you pretend to know exactly what you’re doing and then make a big mistake, then your peers may feel less magnanimous.
5. Watch dungeon specific tank guides
If you go on YouTube you can find a comprehensive tank guide to any dungeon, trial or raid in FF14. If you walk out of a dungeon thinking, “That didn’t go well,” a guide can tell you what you missed, and how to do better next time.
You can also watch general tank guides that won’t spoil the story or gameplay for you. These are a great resource for new tanks, as they tend to focus on basics rather than very specific, situational tips. I personally love “Crap Guide to Final Fantasy 14 – Tanks” by JoCat, but you may find yourself laughing too hard to internalize the lessons.
6. Consult your map
Half of your job as a tank is commanding the enemy’s attention; the other half leads your party. Tanks are almost always first in the marching order, setting the pace for the dungeon and keeping everyone on track. Some dungeons are basically just a straight line to the end, but most of them have branching paths, and you may need to explore side rooms for keys, levers, or treasure. You don’t want to lead your companions with a hero load to a dead end, so I recommend having the map open most of the time.
7. Pull what you’re comfortable with
When you first run a dungeon as a DPS or healer, you can marvel at the tank blazing forward, catching the attention of a dozen monsters at once. You don’t have to do this though. Veteran tanks don’t draw tons of enemies because there’s some special benefit to it; it just makes the dungeons go a little faster. But remember: FF14 is a game, and everyone plays because they have free time. I recommend starting with two groups of enemies per draw—or even one if the enemies look particularly strong. Your healer will let you know if you should go for more.
8. Remember your role
If you first played a DPS class, your main priority in a dungeon is to “kill enemies”. If you first played a healing class, your main priority in a dungeon is to “keep everyone alive”. As a tank, you will still do these things, but they are not your primary responsibilities. Your job is to make sure every enemy in the room attacks you—and that’s doubly true if you’re fighting a boss.
During boss fights, other players can generally handle smaller enemies or activate mechanics on their own. In fact, running across the arena to help them could do more harm than good if a boss decides to unleash a powerful area-of-effect (AoE) attack. Generally, if the enemies focus on you, you’re fine.
9. Do your Devon Roulettes
Tanking is a skill, and like any skill, the only way to get better at it is to practice. The easiest way to practice is to run through your Duty Roulette list every day. By the end of A Realm Reborn, you should have five different options: Level 50/60/70/80, Leveling, Trials, Main Scenario, and Guildhests. These will throw you into dungeons or other multiplayer content with select groups of other players, and you’ll receive generous experience and currency bonuses for completing them.
More importantly, you don’t know which dungeons or trials you’ll get, so you’ll have to think on your feet and learn the advantages of each. Over time, you’ll find that you can confidently lead a party through almost any dungeon, rather than just a few plot-specific ones.
10. Fish really bad
You can’t make this happen, but trust me: If you play long enough, it will.
Sooner or later, you will lead a disastrous dungeon run. You will encounter every deadly mechanic the boss has at his disposal. You’ll swing wildly around the arena as the enemies’ AoEs decimate your entire party. You will fall off the edge of a cliff, leaving your companions to fend for themselves. And all this will drag a 20-minute adventure into an hour-long odyssey. Your party will be disappointed, or excited, or maybe even angry with you.
But here’s the thing: It’s no big deal. A spectacular screw-up has almost no lasting consequences. You will still finish the dungeon. You will still get all the rewards. And if you’re lucky, you’ll learn from your mistakes. The scariest part of tanking is being afraid to fail, but failing just isn’t a huge problem in FF14. And when you learn that firsthand, there’s nothing to be afraid of.