Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ask Fatal - Dragon's Tomb Edition (Sub-Tanking/DD Fighter)

Now to be honest, this isn't really a facet of gameplay that I have a whole lot of experience with.  If I play as a Fighter in Dragon's Tomb, I'm typically the Tank.  While I have a DEX heavy Damage Dealing build (40 DEX, 65 STR), I always carry a Tank-like mindset.  So let's see where this goes....

Q: Fatal, what are your thoughts about Sub-Tanking?
A: As prefaced above, I really don't have much experience with it, but this is how I see it.  To me, the "Sub-Tank" should be another Damage Dealing Fighter capable of taking hits from Cornelius as well as other mobs should the main Tank go down or lose aggro to Fear or Stun.

Q: So you would only want a Fighter to Sub-Tank?  Why?  Other classes can take hits too.
A: For me, ideally a Sub-Tank should have aggro generating skills that can be quickly cast to generate aggro as I stated.  I do see a lot of players, like Archers for example, claiming they can Sub-Tank.  While it's true that they can probably take hits from Cornelius, the problem with them, and any other non-Fighter Sub-Tank, is that they have difficulty generating aggro on non-targeted mobs because they don't have specific skills made to do just that.

By the time a Fighter reaches Dragon's Tomb, he has four really good aggro grabbing skills:  Sneering Kick, Mock, Demoralizing Hit, and Slice and Dice.  As a DD Fighter, you still maintain three of those four, unless you're extremely quick to weapon swap from an Axe/2h to 1h.

While I'm not saying that other classes aren't capable of Sub-Tanking, they're just not set up, skill-wise to be as effective as another Fighter would be.  In other words, it's not an ideal situation to have a non-Fighter Sub-Tank, but if you're put into it, you adapt.

Q: So is a true "Sub-Tank" really necessary?
A: Some people seem to think so, I'm not one of them.  Again, for me, the pillars of the DT party will always be Tank, Damage Dealer, Healer.  The other two spots can be filled with whatever.  However those other two slots can be filled to make up for some weaknesses in the party.  This is where players need to come to grips with their own skill level in game.  If the three pillars are highly skilled players with good enough gear to survive a few hits from Cornelius, then the last two positions can be considered luxuries.

As a party leader, if I'm confident in the pillars, I'd look to add an Archer, I wouldn't say out of pity, but let's face it Archers, you're typically the last class parties look for.  If my party is already solid, then by all means, join up and bring a friend!

If the Fighter and DD-Mage are exceptional players, an additional Cleric isn't necessary under most circumstances, just one is sufficient.

Adding an additional Mage, or two(!), is always a nice luxury, DT runs can be remarkably fast with three Mages.

Q: So what are some reasons why Fighters Sub-Tank?
A: Typically it's because of their build, gear, and playstyle.  As a Fighter, I cannot resist doing aggro grabs, no matter the situation.  It's just in my nature to always want to pull aggro and defend my party, that's why I have a difficult time, and don't really have much experience Sub-Tanking.  If a Fighter lacks the defense to step up as the main Tank, then life as a Sub-Tank is their next best bet, but to accomplish that, it's best to fulfill that role as best you can.

Q: So in your opinion, what are the essentials for a Sub-Tank?
A: As a Sub-Tank you do need decent enough gear to withstand taking aggro should the need arise.  If you can't take the hits with just armor alone and Axe in hand, be extremely quick about switching to 1h/Shield to make up for your lack of DEF.  The Sub-Tank/DD should have a +9/+10 two-handed weapon, either 2H or an Axe.

As the Sub-Tank, you need to be cognizant of your Tank's playstyle.  Take some time early on to observe how she pulls and how well she maintains aggro on ranged mobs in particular.  You also should stagger your Devastate so not to overlap each other.  I would allow the Tank to cast that first Devastate and then time yours afterwards.  There's more on the plate for the Tank, so your role as support becomes a bit easier.  Let her cast first, then you follow when the Stun has worn off.

The Sub-Tank/DD should also immediately target mobs with the highest threat level to the backline players (Clerics, Mages, Archers), those being in order:  Nerpas, Krugers, Caravans, Flame Spirits, Fire Shellas, and Gargoyles.  Read the Tankers guide if you're unfamiliar with the status effects the mobs can inflict on you and your party.

Q: What are some options for the Sub-Tank/DD?
A: If I were put into this role, I would pretty much handle the job as a straight line DD, while keeping a watchful eye on the others.  Meaning I would Might VIT, and run a Gabriel Set at all times.  Just be careful as always when to equip your Mighty Set.  If the Tank is exceptional, it won't matter and you can equip/un-equip at any time, but just be aware your defense drops tremendously.  As far as the Gabriel Set (55 Jewelry) what it essentially does is it allows you to have an "endless" Vitality.  The cool down and duration with the Gabriel Set, so long as you have 5 points empowered in Vitality's CD and 5 points in its' Duration, will overlap each other meaning you can recast.  I think there's a slight window without the Gabriel Set, I'd have to double check to be 100% sure.

Q: So how do I handle the final fight with Cornelius?
A: As far as positioning goes, I would try to position myself on the sides of Cornelius, opposite the Cleric.  What you don't to happen is for you to get aggro when the Tank is feared and then having Cornelius immediately launch into an AOE killing you and possibly the Cleric.  So stand off to the side if possible.

Now this part, I'm also unsure of, but what I would do is I would cast Kick and Demoralizing Hit every-so-often.  I wouldn't spam it as I don't want to pull aggro from the Tank, but I want to ensure my aggro level remains higher than that of the Cleric and any of the DDs.  I'll have to field test this later with a decent Tank.

Again, if anyone else has some thoughts on this, by all means leave me a comment!


  1. HI this is a random here, I'm not sure what catagory I would fit into with this sub tank / main tank thing. My build is 50 Dext rest Str and I love my 1h and Shield. I only carry around that axe to do questing with while im soloing, grinding alone or maybe a with party ( depending on the situation ofc). I mean is the only thing keeping me from being considered a "Main Tank" is The End in build? The Def I probably can get in gears so the only thing I can see is the HP difference... Oh and also the block rate.

    Any thoughts on this...?

  2. Hi Anon-poster... having END in build isn't necessary to be a "Tank", Tanking in itself is more a playstyle/choice than simply a distribution of stat points. I've seen pure STR Fighters Tank just as well as pure END ones, again, it's just a state of mind and awareness.

    Like I mentioned, my 9x Fighter has a similar build to yours, 40dex 65str, and I consider her more of a Tank since I'm more comfortable in that role. However, if I moved from DT into Leviathan's Nest, I don't have anywhere near enough DEF to be considered the Tank there, I would have to switch roles and go DD as much as possible.

    My apologies for taking so long to respond to your open-ended comment!

  3. Any chances of adding the Trickster dynamic to the post? Nowadays it seems that Tricksters have been the sub-tanks and even mostly the main tanks just due to the insane priority their attacks get for aggro. Is there something different we should remember as tricksters?


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