Which tanker should I bring to the task force?
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Being, a guide to matching the correct defensive set with the hero side task forces
I play many tankers, and have a level 50 tanker of every primary except Electric and run many task forces. This guide attempts to match defensive sets with the team required task forces, and suggest which kind of tanker you should bring to each.
Note at the outset that any tanker can tank any game content, and the task force you need or want to run, or the one you just enjoy running, is the one you should play. Rather, this guide is intended for players who have multiple tankers to choose from, like I do. Some tankers will have an easier time with some content than others will. The purpose of this guide is to enable the tanker fan who has several available tankers to select the one that will perform best on the task force.
I find that generally speaking, resistance sets fare best in the lower level capped content, while defensive sets come into their own in the later game. I have also assumed that:
- the tanker participating in the task force is not running it to level, but can use the powers up to five levels above the stated maximum combat level of the task force, as allowed by the exemplaring rules; and
- that the task force leader is also high enough that it is being run at the maximum combat level.
Stone Armor is the outlier, the tanker set that preserves i5 levels of defense and resistance at a substantial damage and recharge penalty. It tends to excel at everything once it gets to Granite, but is rather reliant on specific buffs to avoid its penalties. Because Stone tends to be able to survive most content in Granite, I've really only made a special note of the situations where it has other advantages or its disadvantages become seriously annoying.
- 1 TASK FORCES
- 1.1 Level 10-15: Positron I, Positron II
- 1.2 Level 15-20: Synapse
- 1.3 Level 20-25: Sister Psyche
- 1.4 Level 23-28: Moonfire
- 1.5 Level 25-30: Citadel, Ernesto Hess
- 1.6 Level 30-34: Katie Hannon
- 1.7 Level 30-35: Manticore
- 1.8 Level 35-40: Numina
- 1.9 Level 35-50: Imperious
- 1.10 Level 40-50: Shadow Shard Task Forces (Dr. Quaterfield (40-44); Sara Moore (40-50), Justin Augustine, Faathim (44-50)
- 1.11 Level 45-50: Lady Grey
- 1.12 Level 45-50: Dr. Kahn
- 1.13 Level 45-50: Statesman
- 2 TRIALS
- 3 Respec Trials: Sky Raiders (24-33); Freakshow (34-43); Rikti (44-50)
Level 10-15: Positron I, Positron II
For Positron I: Dark Armor For Positron II: Fiery Aura
Fire comes into its own in the Positron Task Force II. It relies on its self heal, which recharges fast. Everything that Fiery Aura has that directly helps keep your character alive is available by level 12.
One difficult mob group faced on the Positron TF is Vahzilok. Each application of Healing Flames gives you a minute of 20% base toxic resistance. Since its base recharge is 40 seconds, and successive applications stack, you can get up to 60% toxic resistance for some time. This helps with the dangerous vomit attacks. Set your self heal to cycle while facing Vahzilok.
Dark Armor fares well versus the other difficult mobs on the task force, the Circle of Thorns ghosts. Their negative energy resistance excels here.
Both these armors have a weakness against knockback and immobilize, and Ruin Mages can be a pain unless you are specifically defended against knockback by set IOs, bonuses, or team buffs. Since Acrobatics is a top tier power in the Jumping pool, only available at level 20, and you probably took that other top tier power from the Fitness pool at 20 instead, it's probably not going to be there to help you if your build relies on it for knockback protection.
Immobilization protection is also a large issue when facing the Circle of Thorns. Both Fire and Dark armors can be weak to this as well, and Burn may not be available to you here. If you have taken Combat Jumping before level 20 you will be fine.
Sets that have endurance-costly damage auras like Fire, Stone, Electric, or Dark Armor for aggro control probably ought to approach this with a build that took Taunt before level 20 if you postponed the aura until after Stamina. Primaries with non-damaging auras such as Willpower, Shields, and Invulnerability probably took them shortly after they became available. Invulnerability players running this to level should note that their aura, Invincibility, is only available at level 18. If you run this exemped below 13, you will not have that power.
Shield tankers may have issues with mez protection when exemped to level 15. The issue is the amount of recharge available for Active Defense. Since Active Defense is a click power, its recharge must be less than the two minutes it lasts per click to be permanent. If you have not given this three SO level slots you may have issues, especially given the fact that Vahzilok Mortificators and Reapers have recharge slows.
Electric Armor is the best to take against the Clockwork, although they really come into their own in the next task force, Synapse. They also get knockback protection in Grounded.
Level 15-20: Synapse
Best choice: Electric Armor
All Clockwork, all the time. Electric Armor naturally goes to the top of the class in its resistance to the electrical attacks of the Clockwork, and Grounded provides protection against endurance drain as well. This is the clear winner here; all others are a second choice.
Level 20-25: Sister Psyche
Best choices: Invulnerability or Fiery Armor may be best, but all should be able to handle this.
Freakshow, with a side of Council. Any tanker that has difficulty with this is a poorly built tanker. The ability to bounce back from a difficult alpha with multiple bosses is the main consideration here. Fire excels at that. And Invulnerability is the premier smashing and lethal resistance set, with a self heal in case of surprise.
During these levels, resistance + heal sets often perform better than defense builds. Defense builds do not fare well when the effectiveness of enhancements is proportionally reduced, set bonuses are exemped away, and key powers may have been postponed. Speaking generally, defense sets will have large holes until all the pieces of the puzzle are in place.
Dependence on tier 9 powers to take alpha strikes is another disadvantage; you will not have level 32 powers on this task force. This puts Stone Armor at a disadvantage, and Willpower builds may not have Tough and Weave at these levels, and need to rely on Strength of Will to survive tough alphas.
Level 23-28: Moonfire
Best choices: Dark, Ice, Electric; but any tanker can handle this
All Council, all the time. Plenty of those annoying Galaxy Mexican-wrestler mimes, as well as the usual Council nuisances of Marksmen.
Sets that resist immobilization and recharge slow will do well here. Ice, Electric, and Fire have some resistance to slows, but Fire's is in Temperature Protection, omitted by many builds and postponed in most. Invulnerability also gets some slow protection in Resist Energies, but that is skipped by many and postponed by most.
Ice and Stone have a minor disadvantage in one mission. Slow auras have a minimal effect on the War Wolves. Dark similarly has an advantage on the vampyre mission.
This is the first task force for which Granite is available. But the mobility penalties of Stone are especially annoying on Council catwalk maps.
Level 25-30: Citadel, Ernesto Hess
Best choices: Invulnerability, but any will do.
These two task forces are very similar in their requirements, featuring all Council, with energy wielding archvillains. Unlike Moonfire, the spawns are not reweighted to favor certain Council spawn types. By this point, if you've run all of the preceding task forces, even Fire and Dark Armor tankers are going to have adequate knockback protection. The robots will not faze you. Slow resistance is good here because of the annoying plinking Marksmen. But any tanker that struggles with these task forces probably needs a respec. Since almost all incoming damage is lethal or smashing, Invulnerability has some advantage. But like Sister Psyche, if you're having serious difficulty here something is wrong.
Granite is available on these, but the inability to jump is going to be seriously annoying on those Council maps.
Level 30-34: Katie Hannon
Best choice: Stone
Getting past the ten respawns of Mary Macomber is the only real issue here. If your server's tradition is like mine, she is fought at the same location each time. Stone's mobility penalty does not come into play here. Its exceptional resistance and defense, resistance to endurance drain, and practical immunity to knockback are all advantages on a task force that is rather unkind to melee sets generally. And of course Granite is available here.
This is the first task force that will give you access to the tier 9 power of your secondary.
Level 30-35: Manticore
Best choices: Ice, Dark, Electric, Fire (maybe)
There aren't really many tankers that make a big difference here. All tanker builds should be able to stand up to Hopkins fairly easily and tank the Creys. Control - and specifically the ability to prevent Paragon Protectors from using Moment of Glory or Elude - is what is going to make the run enjoyable rather than tedious, so having a secondary set that can shut that down is a larger concern here. Dark Melee, Ice, Super Strength, Mace, or Stone Melee work well. The fears of Dark Armor give that set an advantage. This is more likely going to be a teammate's responsibility, though, especially in a full team spawn featuring multiple Paragon Protector bosses.
The other concern is the slows from the various Crey cryo weapons. Sets with resistance to slows are valuable here, so Ice, Electric, and maybe Fire are also good to take.
Level 35-40: Numina
Best choices: Fire, Invulnerability, Dark, Electric
The Nemesis and Devouring Earth enemies you will be fighting here have abilities that can cut defense sets to ribbons. A Shield tanker, without a self-heal, can easily get in trouble here when the Quartz comes out. Ice fares slightly better because of the heal and Hibernate, but you still don't want to mostly sleep through the mission.
Vengeance and emanators create fewer problems for resist based sets. And Jurassik is just a matter of having the effective hit points.
Level 35-50: Imperious
Best choices: Invulnerability, Willpower (with Tough and Weave)
Again with the defense debuffs. The two generalist sets are IMO the best things to bring here: some defense, resistance, and regeneration is they way to go here. Invulnerability probably gets a slight edge over Willpower when tanking Nictus Romulus is at issue; but Willpower probably fares better against the cyst defending Nictus and Requiem. Willpower will not be able to take some of the Roman alphas before Tough and Weave are in place, but by these levels you probably should have them both.
Level 40-50: Shadow Shard Task Forces (Dr. Quaterfield (40-44); Sara Moore (40-50), Justin Augustine, Faathim (44-50)
Best choices: Willpower, Stone, Dark
All of these have one thing in common: facing Rularuu. Other foes include Circle of Thorns, Nemesis, Rikti, and Malta. Travel powers are almost as important for these as primary sets. Flight or Teleport are necessities unless you want to wait for teammates to teleport you to mission doors.
The other consideration is psionic resistance or defense. Stone, Willpower, and Dark excel in this department by virtue of the fact of having any; most other sets have none. Many Stone Tankers take Teleport as their travel power; this too will help. Having resistance and regeneration or self heals is also valuable given the amount of defense debuff you will face.
Level 45-50: Lady Grey
Best choices: Willpower, Electric
All Rikti. Two factors make Willpower a good choice here. The ability to tank the several archvillains is something that can be done by any of the well rounded sets that excel in the late game.
Willpower wins because of its psionic defense, helpful against Rikti bosses; and because of its recovery advantage. The Famine elite boss kills more tankers than the archvillains do in my experience, and having your blue bar full going in is going to help a whole lot.
Electric's strong resistance to endurance debuffs are also a strong point when facing the elite bosses in the Four Horsemen mission. Given the pacing of the mission, and the fact that your team is only facing elite bosses, Power Surge is unlikely to wear off at a critical moment. An Electric tanker fortified with Tough and Weave should be able to handle this easily.
Level 45-50: Dr. Kahn
Best choices: Shields; Ice
The Fifth Column are pretty much like the Council, and most tankers can handle most spawns.
The problem is Reichsman, and his Fist of Tyranny attack. If it hits you it will stun you. Being softcapped against smashing or AoE attacks is your best defense. Shields and Ice will get you there. And since he has more than ten times the hit points for a typical AV, having a damage buff doesn't hurt either. Defense based sets like Ice also come into their prime here.
More than any other Task Force, this one benefits from having two tankers. Dark Armor would be a good choice for an off tanker; the Dark Armor would be tougher than most against Schadenfreude, Countess Crey, and Vanessa DeVore.
Level 45-50: Statesman
Best choices: Invulnerability, Stone
This is probably rightly considered the most difficult task force to tank. So difficult, in fact, that any tanker primary can tank it: it's more of a test of team buffs, heals, inspirations, and build than it is of the relative value of tanker primaries. Ability to survive large alpha strikes may put Willpower, Dark, Electric, and Fire at a disadvantage, especially during the Dr. Aeon fight and Recluse's summoning phase. But the fully tower buffed Lord Recluse can kill any tanker including a Granite tanker.
Stone is considered by many to be the premier tanker for this task force. There is much to be said for this conventional wisdom. They have strong resistance, adequate defense, a self heal, and can resist Recluse's endurance drain and -recovery power as long as they have Rooted on. They start closer to where they need to get, need relatively fewer team buffs, and don't require heavy investment in set IOs to get there.
But, all things considered, I'd rather be Invulnerability, at least if the Invulnerability tanker is well equipped with defense bonus IO sets. This isn't the place for a full discussion on how to softcap an Invulnerability tanker, and merely being soft capped is not enough for Recluse in any case; but an Invulnerability tanker so equipped is close to Stone in survivability, and superior in aggro control. This is a matter of personal taste. The patrons and Recluse himself can get squirrelly sometimes. Ability to react may be important, and unlike Stone, Invulnerability has no disadvantages here. Ghost Widow is more a challenge of team buffers than of tanker primaries.
Invulnerability tankers will remember, but Stone tankers may need to be reminded: you do need to watch out for Regent Korol's psionic nuke, though. This kills Granite tankers easily. Do not neglect your other armors.
From the foregoing, it should be fairly easy to deduce which tanker you want to bring to the several hero side trial missions.
Level 12-15: Cavern of Transcendence
Best choices: Dark, Fire
Dark will excel at fighting the Circle of Thorns, at least if you are doing the trial in a way that requires extensive fighting of the Circle of Thorns. Dark also has minor Stealth available in Cloak of Darkness, available at level 12, and can potentially parlay this into true Stealth via stealth travel IOs that are available at level 15, if you are doing this in a way that doesn't require fighting the Circle.
Fire will have strong resistance to fire damage even at these levels, and as such is the best tanker to take against the Minions of Igneous, which must in fact be fought in this Trial.
Level 38-40: Sewer Trial
Best choices: Willpower, Dark, Electric
More Rikti, and more hard hitting psi damage from the Hydra Head itself, with a good deal of toxic damage from the Hatched Kraken. The tanker you want here is one that is both tough on Psi, and able to stand up to the physical attacks of the many Rikti bosses. Willpower seems to be the clearest choice, although a well built Dark or Electric should be able to handle this as well.
A Stone tanker with Minerals is also a possibility. But the descent to the Hydra Head is an elaborate catwalk, and Stone tankers may be challenged by the trip down to collect the special weapons to use on the head.
Level 39-41: Eden Trial
Best choices: Fire, Dark, Electric
More Devouring Earth. The Crystal Titan ambushes are going to be absolutely murderous to defense based sets, since they can get quite crowded, and teams focused on defeating the Titan may not be focused on finding Quartz emanators. Resistance/heal sets are your best bet here.
Respec Trials: Sky Raiders (24-33); Freakshow (34-43); Rikti (44-50)
Best choices: Willpower, but any will do
The Respec Trials are generally not all that demanding any more. Fire tankers may have a slight advantage over others in the Sky Raider respec because of the fire damage bosses, and Willpower, Stone, Dark, and Electric tankers may have an advantage in the Rikti Respec because of the psi bosses.
Willpower tankers are going to bring another advantage to these that applies across the board. With both Fast Healing and Health, their native regeneration can outpace the reactor damage, and they need not be so nervous about re-bubbling. But really, this is more about aggro control; the reactor spawns are no longer extremely difficult. The hardest part is clearing for the reactor key.