FFXIV Tank Tier List – Best Tank Classes for March 2021

Charge into battle with the best tank in Final Fantasy XIV.

Our FFXIV tank tier list is here to help you decide which of the vitally important jobs is right for you! Tanking has been a complex role since A Realm Reborn, after all. Players have often shied away from it as too complex or too much responsibility. Some of those folks are right! There isn’t a lot of margin for error when your teammates take more damage than you by default. You often need any little edge you can get — hence the need for a tank tier list.

The good news is that, at least up to FFXIV Patch 5.4, this role is in great shape. Despite choosing our favorites (we just had to), the margins between Dark Knight, Warrior, Paladin, and Gunbreaker are all fairly slim. You straight-up cannot go wrong with any of them! But hopefully this tier list will help give you a sense of what works best for you. Whether you’re a first-time tank, or looking to change up a familiar role, it’s time to give these beefy buds a look.

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Gunbreaker FF14 Shadowbringers Guide

S Tier: Gunbreaker – FFXIV Tank Tier List

The Gunbreaker is the newest and arguably best tank in FFXIV right now. The job is an effective all-rounder — dishing great damage alongside super solid defensive abilities and even some healing and barriers. It basically borrows a little bit from every role in the game. As such you always have something to do, keeping the job active and fun. Meanwhile, the jack of all trades element makes Gunbreaker equally effective in solo play.

If there’s a downside to playing Gunbreaker at the moment, it’s only that the job gets a little complicated around Level 70. It has so many offensive options, in addition to the usual bevy of tank abilities, that it can be hard to keep track. Most of these flow pretty naturally. You perform your basic attack combos to charge up more powerful ones. Then you weave between the stronger attacks while making sure to keep your cooldowns (particularly those that do damage over time) in effect.

Fluid or not, that’s a lot of buttons for tanks to press. This is a high responsibility role where positioning, gauging enmity, and recognizing enemy attack names are key. Tanks often need to move around as much as a melee DPS — usually with the added pressure of getting the party killed if they don’t. If you can’t do that and watch all your cooldowns, your overall damage will go down, nullifying one of the great advantages of this job.

The low cartridge limit really hurts the Gunbreaker here. In Shadowbringers, the job can only charge two of the special resource at a time. You always have an easy option to expend it (in the form of Burst Strike). But if you forget that, or lose your tempo while managing mechanics, you have no overhead to accumulate resources. Forgetting to burn a cartridge after just two combos is the same as missing a cooldown: lower overall damage.

But the sheer number of options is too difficult to ignore. Barriers, healing, great damage, satisfying effects, and the ever-present cool factor all make Gunbreaker the best tank to play right now. Though it’s a somewhat slim margin that could easily change in a single patch. Every tank is in a good place circa Patch 5.4! We’ll just have to see how Endwalker treats them.

Paladin Guide FF14 Shadowbringers

A Tier: Paladin – FFXIV Tank Tier List

The Paladin, in particular, saw a wonderful reconstruction with Shadowbringers. This is a tank player’s tank — focused almost exclusively on defensive abilities and group play. That isn’t to say it can’t do damage. Under ideal circumstances, the tanks are mostly pretty similar in this regard. But your active, moment-to-moment gameplay is more concerned with defensive skills. Whereas most Paladin DPS comes from damage over time effects and a passive buff.

Its “burst damage” mostly comes from casting Requiescat: an offensive and healing buff that allows you to spam juicy spells if cast when your mana points are high enough. The numbers are good! The satisfaction is not. Spamming Holy Spirit and Holy Circle just “feels” weak somehow. Though this is something Square Enix hopes to address in Endwalker by granting flashier spell effects to a lot of classes.

The long and short of it is that Paladin feels genuinely unique, but slightly dull in solo play. In group content, it has absolutely game-changing abilities. There’s Cover as an example. This allows you to tank all damage meant for an ally for 12 seconds. There’s also Passage of Arms. This creates a cone of damage reduction for friends behind the Paladin. Meanwhile, the Paladin itself takes less damage thanks to a 100 percent block rate, playing into the flavor of their mighty shields.

High-level players can exploit all of this to the fullest. Whereas newbies get a very reliably, easy to pick up and play tank to cut their teeth on instead. You just need to know where and when to deploy both playstyles.

FFXIV dark knight

B+ Tier: Dark Knight – FFXIV Tank Tier List

The Dark Knight is the true “pick up and play” tank in FFXIV. The flashy, edgy warrior of darkness only has one damage combo for single—  targets (plus a two-hit combo for groups, like everybody else). Most of the rest of their damage comes passively. A couple of high mana cost nukes provide 30 seconds of bonus damage per cast. Whereas two, similar high-damage attacks can be woven into your attacks whenever you reach 50 “Blackblood.” This is the job resource accrued mostly through your damage combos.

The Level 80 Dark Knight skill is also damage oriented. Though it’s passive by its very nature. It summons a sort of shadow clone to fight by your side for several seconds. It’s a unique ability among the tanks, but doesn’t require much thought once it’s cast, and actually takes a while to “activate.” The summoning animation is just awfully long.

Together, though, these give Dark Knight a decent mix of burst and sustained damage. It’s the best of both worlds between Warrior and Paladin. Speaking of which: The Blackest Night is an incredible alternative to Cover. It has a shorter duration, and doesn’t offer the same 100 percent protection for friends, but is much more versatile. In many ways it’s the signature skill for Dark Knights.

The Blackest Night is a semi-spammable protective barrier that can be cast on any friendly player (including yourself). It grants a seven-second barrier for 25 percent of the target’s max health. If the barrier is destroyed during that time — say from a tankbuster ability — you get a “free” cast of your damage buffing nuke abilities. It’s defense and offense all in one. Assuming you time it right.

Timing is truly key on Dark Knight, in fact, because they hemorrhage mana and don’t self-sustain as well as the other tanks. The Blackest Night almost makes them feel like a “barrier tank,” in the way Scholars are barrier healers. You’ll need to rely on it and defensive cooldown abilities more aggressively than, say, Paladin, which can just heal itself with Clemency.

FF14 Warrior Guide Shadowbringers

B Tier: Warrior – FFXIV Tank Tier List

On the exact opposite side of the Paladin is Warrior. This FFXIV tank fills a role we see across various job types in the game: that of the greedy, damage obsessed berserker. This is expressed by big, big burst damage and self-healing causing by draining hit points out of enemies. Just like Machinist, Black Mage, and Samurai, however, a Warrior needs to polish their timing. Missing high-damage windows kinda makes their whole identity meaningless instead.

The sense of unstoppable greed further manifests in Holmgang. Every tank has such a skill (one that makes them immortal for several seconds on a long cooldown). It does nothing for a party besides keep you up and soaking hits. But at the end of the day that’s a tank’s whole job. And Warrior does it more often than anyone else.

Holmgang has the shortest cooldown of all the immortality skills and none of the drawbacks. Gunbreaker’s Superbolide effectively damages them (reducing them to one hit point before triggering invulnerability). Paladin’s Hallowed Ground halts damage altogether; it just has the longest cooldown of the bunch. Dark Knight’s Living Dead is… just strange. It requires the Dark Knight to effectively die before its duration ends. Then healers must restore the tank by the equivalent of their max HP. Otherwise they die anyway. It leans into the “barrier tank” thing, sure, but it’s got nothing on Holmgang.

If you just like to chop, chop, chop — and keep on chopping without fear of death — Warrior is a great tank. Especially since so many players value fast completion time in pickup groups. The big numbers lean into the job’s singular identity well, too. But this identity doesn’t provide the same “clutch” moments as Paladin. Nor the never-ending stream of activity as Gunbreaker (which also does big numbers, just more slowly over time).

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Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

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