Our Final Fantasy XIV tank tier list is here to help you decide which of the vitally important Jobs is right for you! Tanking has been a challenging role since A Realm Reborn, after all. Players have often shied away from it for seeming too complex or like too much responsibility. Some of those folks are right. If you’re coming from our guide on how to play tank in FFXIV, then you’re probably aware. There isn’t a lot of margin for error when your teammates aren’t built for taking damage like you as a tank. You often need any little edge you can get. And part of that is knowing what you’re getting into when choosing a Job in the tank role — hence the need for a tank tier list.
The good news is that tanks continue to be in a pretty good place after Endwalker‘s release and subsequent patches. They were already in great shape at the end of Shadowbringers, and what changed with this expansion was mostly for the better. Despite choosing our favorites (we just had to), the margins between Dark Knight, Warrior, Paladin, and Gunbreaker continue to feel fairly slim. This is why we’ve elected to use “+” signs on the letter rankings — to show that the distinction between them is very granular. While we generally try to keep our tier lists concise, this is to reflect that all of the tanks are currently very viable in all forms of content.
You can’t go wrong with any particular choice, across all content, but each has ways in which they shine brightest. Some of these ways are more broadly applicable than others. Whether you’re a new tank player or just looking for what’s working with Patch 6.0 and beyond, this tier list hopefully explains what those factors mean and gives you a sense of what should work best for you. Let’s get to it!
Update for Patch 6.1: The latest Final Fantasy XIV patch includes a hefty number of tank Job changes. These mostly target longtime issues fans have had with particular skills (e.g. Stalwart Soul and Overpower). We’ll alter the text to reflect this but will leave the rankings unchanged for the time being. We want more time with the updated Jobs before shaking up the actual tiers. As mentioned above, though, don’t expect any one class to be straight-up terrible compared to the rest. You can also read the full list of Patch 6.1 Job changes right here!
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S Tier: Gunbreaker – FFXIV Tank Tier List
Gunbreaker is the newest and remains arguably the best tank in FFXIV right now. This was the case in Shadowbringers and it still holds true in Endwalker. Even after Patch 6.1. This is the only tank out of the whole group that saw zero changes besides the same across-the-board cooldown reduction to its tank stance. The job is a painfully effective all-rounder, dishing great damage alongside solid defensive abilities and some healing and barriers. It basically borrows a little bit from every role (and every other tank) in FFXIV. You always have something to do, keeping the job active and fun. It’s not even a jack of all trades so much as a… duke? It’s basically good at everything, which makes Gunbreaker equally effective in solo play.
If there was ever a primary downside to playing Gunbreaker, it’s that it 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 of everything. Thankfully, most of these skills flow pretty naturally. You perform your basic attack combos to charge up more powerful ones. Then, you weave between those stronger attacks while making sure to keep your cooldowns (particularly those that do damage over time) in effect. In practice, this makes the tank play almost more like a melee DPS class than anything else.
Fluid or not, there are a lot of cooldowns to keep an eye on while you fight. Tank 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. Except instead of positionals, they’re trying to keep the party from getting killed by AoEs and cleaves (or show the boss’s butt to your allies so they can do positional attacks). If you can’t do that and watch all your cooldowns, your overall damage and/or survivability will suffer, dampening a great advantage of this job.
Thankfully, Endwalker has only made Gunbreaker even stronger with its Patch 6.0 Job changes without really introducing any new weaknesses. The skill Continuation is a single ability now, which heavily reduces the “complexity” factor by turning the Job’s special (and especially potent) melee combo into just two alternating button presses. This is one reason you see Gunbreaker hovering around the top of tank damage charts, but it’s not the only one. Remember how the Job borrows skills and ideas from other tanks? That includes the damage-over-time aspect from Paladin. Gunbreaker has both an AoE and a single-target DoT skill (just like Paladin). It adds up quickly against both dungeon mobs and raid bosses.
The only other limiting factor for Gunbreaker is Cartridges. This is the Job’s one and only resource to manage (no Gunbreaker action uses MP). In Shadowbringers, the maximum number of Cartridges would cap at two (2) counts — these are expended for certain powerful skills. Now you get a maximum of three (3) starting at Level 88. This theoretically gives you more wiggle room when expending ammo, and you’re less likely to accidentally overcap on cartridges now. This mostly evens out with Double Down: Gunbreaker’s level 90 skill. It costs two Cartridges to use, meaning the gauge is harder to overcap, yet easier to empty. However, messing up a single combo still feels as unforgiving as it did in Shadowbringers.
The sheer volume of options available to Gunbreaker is too difficult to ignore, though. Barriers, healing, and great damage all make Gunbreaker the best tank to play right now, even if it’s by a somewhat slim margin. Tanks didn’t change very much with Endwalker, partly because they’ve all been in a good place for a while now.
If you need help being the best version of Squall you can be, be sure to use our Gunbreaker Job guide before you start leading the charge.
A+ Tier: Warrior – FFXIV Tank Tier List
There is little to say about the Endwalker iteration of Warrior. It’s clear-cut. It’s good. It will make your healers thank you. Warrior has the best self-sustain out of any tank in the game — acting as a sort of vampire berserker with Bloodwhetting. But it’s no longer the greedy loner it once was. Warrior, like all the other tanks now, can apply a single-target buff to any ally with Nascent Flash (basically a support version of Bloodwhetting). Essentially, Warriors heal themselves and others by dealing damage.
Meanwhile, Holmgang is still as good as it ever was. Every tank has such a skill: one that makes them invulnerable for several seconds and runs on a long cooldown. It does nothing to help the rest of the party besides keeping you alive to soak hits, but that’s a tank’s entire job. And Warrior can do it more frequently than others thanks to a 240-second cooldown on Holmgang.
That’s the shortest cooldown of all the invulnerability skills with none of the drawbacks. Gunbreaker’s Superbolide effectively damages them, reducing them to one hit point before triggering the invulnerability. Paladin’s Hallowed Ground halts damage altogether; it just has the longest cooldown of the bunch by far. Dark Knight’s Living Dead is… strange (just like Dark Knight itself). It lets the player effectively “die” before its duration ends. Then healers and/or the Dark Knight itself must heal the tank back to their max HP. Otherwise, they die anyway.
Holmgang is more reliable and the closest thing to spammable that any skill with a four minute cooldown can be. Being able to use the ability more frequently increases the number of times you can save the whole party from a potential wipe. It’s the perfect raiding tool — simple, but effective.
Simple is, in fact, a great word for Warrior in general. It’s a great tank if you just want to chop your way through content (literally) with very little fear of death. Their damage output is not the best among tanks, but their reliability begets opportunity. Time not spent worrying about the tank dying (whether you’re the tank or not) is time spent focusing on damage and mechanics. Warrior is the polar opposite of Gunbreaker in this way. You have far less to lose from fumbling a combo and can allow your teammates to focus on damage while you soak up hits like a brick wall with Bloodwhetting.
Patch 6.1 only made the Job better, too, by finally changing Overpower into a circular AoE. In essence, this brings the Warrior’s combo for clearing out groups of enemies in line with the other tanks for the first time.
If swinging an axe and Fell-Cleaving your way through enemies is more your speed, be sure to use our Warrior Job guide so you can channel that rage as best as possible.
A Tier: Dark Knight – FFXIV Tank Tier List
Dark Knight is weird. That’s the tradeoff you see with both this Job and Paladin. The two essentially make up the “magic tanks” of FFXIV — with the ability to use their skills more frequently at the cost of extra upkeep (i.e. maintaining your mana). In this way, Dark Knight is essentially a melee spellcaster without the spellcasting times. A Black Mage that can take a punch. They spam damaging nukes as long as they have the MP to support that lifestyle.
This is why Dark Knight currently deals the most damage out of all tanks in Endwalker. Their MP-devouring skills Edge of Shadow and Flood of Shadow are the key. These don’t just deal respectable damage on their own; they also provide an effectively permanent 10 percent damage buff to the Dark Knight throughout any encounter. By “permanent,” I mean as long as you don’t run out of MP, which drains very quickly if you just spam Edge of Shadow over and over. This is iffy since the Dark Knight can eat up MP much faster than they restore it. As long as you have MP, though, Dark Knight can use these powerful attacks over and over again with practically no cooldown.
This comes at the cost of utility. The Job has only one unique damage mitigation skill to write home about: The Blackest Night. This used to be an absolute gamechanger. It still is, in a vacuum. But every tank now has its own single-target barrier ability. While “TBN” is faster than the other tanks’ comparable skills (especially Paladin’s Divine Veil, which has a whopping 90-second cooldown), it has greater competition from Gunbreaker and Warrior, in particular.
Heart of Corundum on Gunbreaker and Nascent Flash/Bloodwhetting on Warrior both mitigate damage and heal their target. That makes these particular barrier-like skills useful even when you’re not taking lots of damage. There’s no reason not to use them constantly in combat. You either block damage, heal yourself, or both. On the other hand, a poorly timed TBN can actually hinder Dark Knight damage since it has the same MP cost as Edge of Shadow and Flood of Shadow. If the barrier is broken by enemy attacks, it does provide one free use of either Shadow skill, essentially paying for itself in the process. But it’s often more efficient not to use it at all. Unless you’re about to be hit by a tankbuster, it’s better to spend the MP maintaining your buff and dealing extra damage instead.
Neither Gunbreaker nor Warrior need to worry about rationing MP like this. Instead, they get free shields and heals every time their skills come off cooldown, even if the boss isn’t directly attacking (such as during lengthy animations). TBN having a 10-second faster means far less when you actually wind up using it less often anyway.
Dark Knight previously suffered when dealing with groups. After years of suffering through mid-level dungeons Stalwart Soul now unlocks at Level 40 as of Patch 6.1. That’s way down from Level 72, which previously made the Dark Knight far weaker than the other tanks when dealing with groups in a lot of Duty Roulette content. Like the change to Overpower on Warrior, this brings Dark Knight more in line with the other tanks (which could perform their own AoE combos well before Level 50).
Finally, you get Salted Earth at Level 52. This is a fixed AoE circle of damage that appears on the ground. However, Paladin and Gunbreaker have effectively the same thing via Circle of Scorn and Bow Shock. Except these AoE skills have notably shorter cooldowns and follow the enemy as damage-over-time debuffs. In contrast, if targets leave the Salted Earth area at any time, they stop taking damage, leading to some embarrassing puddles of red goop on the ground as bosses and mobs change position.
These weaknesses, too, become strengths under the right circumstances. Dark Knight gets a significant leg up in any context where large groups of enemies can die and respawn very quickly. Think Treasure Maps and FATEs. These historically aren’t as flashy as Savage Raids and the like (where Dark Knight is often accused of being “janky”). Yet maps and FATEs are extremely efficient moneymakers — particularly after changes made via Endwalker. Salted Earth and the next-to-zero cooldown time on Dark Knight’s mana-draining skills make them much more flexible for these types of content.
This is still a tank tier list, though. Meaning it prioritizes survivability and utility over damage. Damage is a utility of sorts, especially if it helps you skip mechanics, beat enrage timers, kill adds quicker, and chew through that last little bit of boss health when the rest of the party wipes. It’s just not as reliable as preventative measures. The other problem is that Gunbreaker isn’t very far behind on those same damage charts as Dark Knight.
Yet Living Dead, another longtime problem with Dark Knight survivability, also got a rework with Patch 6.1. This now grants Dark Knight a 1,500 potency heal on attacks when the Job uses its invulnerability skill. If the player would otherwise die during the skill’s 10-second duration, they still need to be healed back to maximum HP or else die at the end, but now they heal themselves in the process. By quite a lot, to boot. The other big change is that Dark Knight now enjoys the full duration of this immortality thanks to the new “Undead Rebirth” buff. TL;DR the flavor of Dark Knight’s Living Dead is unchanged, but it’s much more reliable.
If darkness and damage dealing are your friend, check out our Dark Knight Job guide to make sure you’re at the top of your tank game.
B+ Tier: Paladin – FFXIV Tank Tier List
Paladin received a great rework in Shadowbringers, turning it into a tank player’s tank. It focuses largely on defensive abilities and group play (far more so than the other tanks). That doesn’t mean it can’t deal damage, but it’s often outclassed by the other Jobs in this regard (especially Dark Knight). Your moment-to-moment gameplay is still more concerned with defensive skills. Some of these skills literally don’t function without some kind of partner — be it a human player or even just your Chocobo. Keep this in mind when deciding on which tank Job to pursue. The Endwalker iteration of Paladin is not known for its high damage, either.
What damage the job does deal mostly comes from casting Requiescat: an attack spell that lets you spam five more juicy healing and/or damage spells. That’s if you have the stamina, of course, because Paladin joins the Dark Knight as one of the two tanks with actions that cost MP. In fact, Paladin is the only tank that casts proper “spells” at all. Holy Circle, Holy Spirit, Clemency, and Confiteor all require between 1,000 to 2,000 MP per use. They also have cast times, the same as casts by Black Mage, Red Mage, etc. Requiescat waives cast timers while also boosting the damage on Holy Circle and Holy Spirit.
This is pretty effective! If the Dark Knight is a pseudo–Black Mage then Paladin is the pseudo-White Mage. The two Holy spells, as well as the Job’s ultimate attack abilities, deal damage while also healing the Paladin. This is great for passively sustaining the tank throughout long fights. Though it doesn’t feel very satisfying. Holy Spirit and Holy Circle just don’t have much impact, even after Endwalker improved some ability animations.
However, Requiescat also allows you to cast Confiteor and a sequence of hard-hitting “Blade” abilities (Blade of Faith, Blade of Truth, and Blade of Valor). Patch 6.1 improves these skills by also making them heal the Paladin. It’s also harder to accidentally cancel the skills than it was during the early Endwalker era. The skills now only trigger after you finish using up Requiescat — trading in flexibility for reliability. In short, it’s now much harder to accidentally skip your main damage window as a Paladin, and said window heals you even further. This helps close the self-sustainability gap between Paladin and, for example, Warrior with its be-all, end-all Bloodwhetting skill.
Paladin no longer often has the same all-or-nothing resource commitment as Gunbreaker. That’s great news! In theory, you still need to worry about MP management, but it’s rarely a problem for Paladin since they don’t burn through mana as fast as Dark Knight. Instead, the remaining downside is that certain skills are most useful for off-tanking. Intervention and Cover, while fantastic, both only work on allies. Even Clemency, the Job’s direct heal, is better suited to supporting friends than yourself; it restores more health to other players than to you.
All of this makes Paladin genuinely unique. And like many unique things, it’s somewhat niche — at least when you have other options available. The Job passively sustains itself well and acts as an almost pseudo-healer, though it doesn’t need to.
If this seems like an attractive way to play, however, make sure you use our Paladin Job guide to make sure you’re using its unique skillset in the best way.