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Guild Wars 2: Best Tank Classes and Builds (2024)

In most MMOs tanks are absolutely required for any group content. Their whole role is dedicated to maintaining threat and boasting high health and armor to stay alive. In Guild Wars 2, tank classes, especially their builds, play a bit of a different role than your average tank. That is to say tanks aren’t exactly needed in GW2 – instead, you’re encouraged to go for the tankiest build your class can do when necessary.

With the exception of a few Raids, most content in Guild Wars 2 isn’t designed around requiring a tank. Dodging is usually enough for any class to avoid damage and most classes have plenty of survivability.

However, that isn’t to say you can’t play your character like a tank. There are a few classes and builds that have more traditional tanking abilities. Additionally, with enough Toughness gear, anyone can become a tank in GW2.

What Does a Tank Look Like in GW2?

In Guild Wars 2, tank classes don’t follow the heavy armor sword and shield tank stereotype. Here tanks can be medium armor classes, heavy armor, even light armor classes. They usually act like supports providing defensive boons like Protection, Aegis, and Stability while keeping the boss busy and pointed away from allies.

In most content, your role as a tank is to manage boss positioning so their AOE attacks don’t hit allies or clutter the boss arena. Unfortunately, maintaining boss threat relies on multiple factors and might be a bit frustrating. The best way to make sure you keep aggro is having the highest Toughness in your party.

Maybe someday ArenaNet will put more emphasis on the tank role. Until then we have a few classes that fill the role nicely. Let’s start with the Firebrand – Guardian.

Firebrand – Guardian

Firebrand - one of the best tank classes in Guild Wars 2
Image: ArenaNet via HGG/Tyler Locke

As one of the first classes on this list, Guardian is the closest you can get to your typical tank class in GW2. Guardians are the most durable class in the game, equipped with plenty of utilities like buffs, crowd control, and condition cleanses. They are often considered the best tanking class for being able to reliably apply Aegis to their team.

If that wasn’t enough, Guardian also have the elite specialization, Firebrand. With this spec, Guardians can heal, provide essential boons like Quickness, and even be decent DPS. Combine the Firebrand with the Guardians already stacked deck of Aegis and utility and you got yourself the perfect tank. Firebrand even has one of the few taunts in the game.

If you’ve been reading our other build guides like our Best Supports guide, then this build might seem familiar. However, this time we need to switch things up to properly be the best tank we can be. Check out this build editor to view this build more in depth and follow along.

Stats

As a Firebrand, there a few stats we mainly need: Concentration, Toughness, and Vitality. So, we will have to mix and match.

  • Harrier’s – Power, Healing, Concentration
  • Minstrel’s – Toughness, Vitality, Healing, Concentration

Our strongest abilities as a Firebrand tank will be our Healing and Boons so we need to have Harrier gear to make sure our heals are strong and our boons last long. I recommend starting with Harrier gear then filling gear slots with Minstrel’s until you hit a Toughness level that feels right for you.

Specializations

Image: ArenaNet via HGG/Tyler Locke

For our specializations we need Virtues, Honor, and Firebrand.

In Virtues, we gain some much-needed damage reduction and our F2 skill, Tome of Resolve, gets an upgrade. With Absolute Resolve and Battle Presence, Tome of Resolve cleanses allies and passively heals them every 3 seconds. We also have Power of the Virtuous converting 13% of Vitality into extra damage.

Likewise, the Honor spec upgrades our healing skill with Protector’s Restoration giving Protection to allies every time we use it. The Honor spec also contains Honorable Staff which gives bonus Concentration and reduces the cooldowns of Staff skills.

Finally, Firebrand contains our Quickness and makes our job as tank a bit easier. With Liberator’s Vow every time we use our heal skill we also grant Quickness to our allies. Since our heal skill has multiple charges and Weighty Terms reduces the cooldown, we will have 100% uptime of Quickness.

Weapons and Skills

Image: ArenaNet via HGG/Tyler Locke

We will be primarily using the Axe/Shield combo with a Staff secondary. While the Staff is mainly for extra healing, the Axe and Shield will be for damage and defense.

Axe skills are great for dealing damage, mainly Burn and Bleed. Symbol of Vengeance (2) is great for quick Bleed stacks and giving Fury to allies. On the other hand, Shield has Shield of Judgment (4) which gives Protection and Aegis to allies. It also has Shield of Absorption (5) which absorbs projectiles then heals allies.

As for utility skills, Manta of Solace (6) will be the main way we give allies Quickness. We also want Mantra of Potence (7) to give plenty of Might to allies. Everything else is up to you though I recommend Advance (9) for more Aegis stacks.

Tomes

Your F-Key skills are your Tomes. You have three and each do something different. Justice for damage, Resolve for healing, and Courage for defensive. The main one you’ll use is Courage.

Courage contains multiple defense skills like projectile reflection, Protection boons, and even a 1 second taunt. The main skill you need to worry about is the fifth skill Unbroken Lines. This skill gives Aegis, Protection, Toughness, and Stability to allies.

How to Play

As Tank Firebrand, your job is to keep the boss busy while also buffing and healing your team. Luckily this is pretty easy due to most of these abilities being AOE. This build doesn’t exactly have a rotation so here are the most important abilities to be using:

Healing

Quickness/Might

Aegis

  • Empower (Staff 4)
  • Symbol of Vengeance (Axe 2)
  • Shield of Absorption (Shield 5)
  • Holy Strike (Staff 2)
  • Desert Bloom (Tome of Resolve 1)
  • Mantra of Solace (6)
  • Mantra of Potence (7)
  • Feel My Wrath (0)
  • Empower (Staff 4)
  • Shield of Judgement (Shield 4)
  • Advance (9)
  • Unbroken Lines (Tome of Courage 5)

As long as you give out Quickness and Might, you’ll be doing 90% of your job. Don’t worry too much about healing teammates unless its an emergency you’ll be passively healing them anyway. Lastly, you could use Aegis skills whenever but try to use them for big incoming damage.

Master the Firebrand and your raid team will love having you. If Firebrand wasn’t the tank you were looking for, lets check out the Scrapper.

Scrapper – Engineer

Scrapper - one of the easiest tank classes in Guild Wars 2
Image: ArenaNet via HGG/Tyler Locke

The next tank on this list is the Scrapper. Typically, you wouldn’t think of the Engineer as someone who could tank. However, with the Scrapper elite specialization, the Engineer gains tons of defensive tools and great team support all the while being able to build full offensive gear.

As a Scrapper, you can easily provide 100% Quickness and Superspeed uptime for your team with only a few pieces of Concentration gear. Additionally, you can summon drones to revive allies with just a push of a button. Now you don’t have to stop DPSing to revive teammates.

However, what separates the Scrapper from other tanks is its trait, Impact Savant. With this trait a percentage of all the damage you deal is converted to Barrier or temporary health. The more damage you deal, the more tanky you become.

With Quickness support and innate tankiness, the Scrapper can effortlessly be taken anywhere with just one build. To follow along with the guide, click here for the build editor.

Stats

For our stats we are going to need damage and a little bit of Concentration so our Quickness lasts longer. So, we need the following gear:

  • Berserker’s – Power, Precision, Ferocity
  • Diviner’s – Power, Precision, Ferocity, Concentration (Just 2 pieces)
  • Knight’s – Toughness, Power, Precision (Optional)

We mainly want to fill our gear slots with Berserker’s gear. It’s very simple to get and only cost less than 5 gold on the market for a full set. Then we need at least 2 pieces of Diviner’s for extra Concentration. Lastly, slot some Knight’s gear if you need extra Toughness for Boss threat management.

Specializations

Image: ArenaNet via HGG/Tyler Locke

For this build, we will choose the Explosives, Firearms and Scrapper specializations.

With the Explosives tree, we have multiple damage increases like Glass Cannon and Big Boomer. These two traits will increase our damage by 25% giving more Barrier on hit. We also have Steel-Packed Powder, Explosive Temper, and Shaped Charge making Grenade Kit worthwhile.

Next, the Firearms tree increases our crit chance by 40% and our Ferocity by 150 with High Caliber and No Scope. We also have Modified Ammunition which increases our damage by 2% per condition on the target. So, we gain a free damage increase for having a Condi DPS on our team.

Lastly we will take Scrapper. With Gyroscopic Acceleration our Gyro utility skills will give teammates Superspeed. Combined with Kinetic Accelerators, Gyros will also grant Quickness and increase our Concentration by 10%. Scrapper also has Impact Savant turning 5% of damage we deal into Barrier.

Weapons and Skills

Image: ArenaNet via HGG/Tyler Locke

Our weapon of choice will be the Hammer. As a tank, Electro Whirl and Thunderclap will be your best friends. Electro Whirl (2) deals quite a bit of damage, reflects projectiles and is a good way to generate Barrier outside of Grenade Kit. Thunderclap (5), on the other hand, is a great AOE stun.

You also have Shock Shield (4) for tough moments. This skill is a two second block that hits enemies and grants Barrier for each enemy hit.

As for utility skills, Medic Gyro (6), Shredder Gyro (8), and Blast Gyro (9) are required to provide Quickness to your allies. Grenade Kit (7) is also required as most of our damage will come from that skill. Your elite skill is up to you just don’t use Sneak Gyro or you’ll mess up other classes rotations such as Deadeye.

Speaking of rotations…

Rotation

Unlike Firebrand, Scrapper needs some sort of rotation to keep our damage high and ourselves alive. It should look something like this:

Opener

Basic Loop

  1. Blast Gyro (9)
  2. Shredder Gyro (8)
  3. Medic Gyro (6)
  4. Thunderclap (5)
  5. Bypass Coating (F4)
  6. Electro-Whirl (2)
  7. Grenade Kit (7)
  8. Shrapnel Grenade (2)
  9. Freeze Grenade (4)
  10. Poison Grenade (5)
  11. Tool Belt Skills (F2, F3, F5)
  12. Hammer Auto-attack Chain
  1. Electro-whirl (2)
  2. Grenade Kit (7)
  3. Shrapnel Grenade (2)
  4. Other Grenades
    • If off Cooldown
  5. Tool Belt skills
    • If off Cooldown
  6. Gyro Skills (6, 8, 9)
  7. Thunderclap (5)
  8. Auto-attack Chain
  9. Repeat

Always remember to use your Gyros off cooldown to keep 100% uptime of Quickness on allies. Additionally, you can use Reconstruction Field (F1) to give allies Protection if they need it.

Scrapper is probably the simplest tank class in GW2. Even if you aren’t sure of yourself, Scrapper has got your back. Now on to the last tank class and build, Chronomancer.

Chronomancer – Mesmer

Chronomancer - one of the more niche tank classes in Guild Wars 2
Image: ArenaNet via HGG/Tyler Locke

The last tank on this list is the Chronomancer. With loads of utility and self-healing, the Mesmer is one of the best solo classes in Guild Wars 2, perfect for a tank build. With the Chronomancer elite specialization, the Mesmer gains tons of support for their team.

Like a combination of the Scrapper and Firebrand, the Chronomancer can provide some Aegis, 100% uptime of Quickness or Alacrity while being able to use almost full damage gear. Additionally, they have the ability to grant themselves Distortion effectively making themselves immune to damage for a couple of seconds.

Chronomancer may be a bit niche nowadays but you’ll still be able to tank your way through any content solo or in a group. Check out this build editor to follow along with the guide.

Stats

Normally, you’d run full Berserker’s with 1 or 2 pieces of Diviner’s when you’re solo or don’t need to tank. Since we are tanking we need a few pieces of:

  • Commander’s – Power, Precision, Toughness, Concentration
  • Minstrel’s – Toughness, Vitality, Healing, Concentration

We only need a few pieces of Toughness gear to keep bosses busy. I like the Commander’s prefix since it will keep our damage high with the added bonus of Toughness and Concentration. Minstrel’s is a good option as well but be sure to take the Alls Well that Ends Well trait instead of Delayed Reactions.

Specializations

Image: ArenaNet via HGG/Tyler Locke

For our specializations we need: Domination, Dueling, and Chronomancer. Like the Scrapper we can take offensive specs and let the rest of our build do the heavy tanking.

In Domination, we will grab Bountiful Blades, Egotism, and Vicious Expression. These traits will upgrade our Greatsword skills and give a 25% damage increase. Vicious Expression also removes boons from enemies every time they are disabled.

Next with Dueling we will get bonus crit damage with traits like Fencer’s Finesse or Superiority Complex which raise that bonus by 10% on disabled foes. Additionally, with Master Fencer we can give allies Fury every time we crit an enemy.

Lastly, Chronomancer will give us our Quickness or our Alacrity boons. This build will focus on Quickness so we will take the last trait, Seize the Moment, to grant Quickness to allies every time we shatter clones.

Weapons and Skills

Image: ArenaNet via HGG/Tyler Locke

Our weapons of choice will be the Sword/Shield with a Greatsword secondary.

Sword/Shield have a lot of defensive options for tanking. Blurred Frenzy (2) evades all attacks for about 1 second. Great for safely dealing damage. Echo of Memory (4) blocks attacks for a second and can activate the skill again to block for another second. Lastly it has Tides of Time (5) which is a 1 second stun, blocks projectiles, and gives boons to allies.

Each of your F-Key skills will grant Quickness to allies when used. You should only be using them when you have three clones. Two of these skills to note are Distortion (F4) and Continuum Split (F5). Distortion will make you immune to damage while Continuum Split will refresh cooldowns and restore health.

As for utility skills, you should be using the ones you see as they are important to the rotation. Signet of the Ether (6) gives passive healing, reduces cooldowns on activation and is just good in general. Additionally, Well of Precognition (7) will be your only way to grant Aegis in order to save allies.

Rotation

Our rotation will revolve around summon clones to use shatter skills in order to give allies Quickness. During this we will do plenty of damage and stay alive due to our innate tankiness.

Sword/Shield Opener

Sword/Shield Rotation

  1. Echo of Memory (4)
  2. Tides of Time (5)
  3. Illusionary Leap (3)
  4. Weapon Swap
  5. Mirror Blade (2)
  6. Phantasmal Berserker (4)
    • Continuum Split (F5)
  7. Phantasmal Disenchanter (9)
  8. Signet of the Ether (6)
    • Time Sink (F3)
  9. Phantasmal Berserker (4)
  10. Phantasmal Disenchanter (9)
    • Split Second (F1)
  11. Mirror Blade (2)
  12. Phantasmal Berserker (4)
    • Mantra of Pain (8)
  13. Signet of the Ether (6)
  14. Phantasmal Berserker (4)
  15. Mind Stab (3)
    • Split Second (F1)
  16. Mirror Blade (2)
  17. Weapon Swap
  1. Blurred Frenzy (2)
  2. Auto-attack Chain
  3. Phantasmal Disenchanter (9)
  4. Tides of Time (5)
  5. Blurred Frenzy (2)
  6. Weapon Swap
  7. Phantasmal Berserker (4)
  8. Mirror Blade (2)
  9. Mind Stab (3)
  10. Auto-attack Chain
    • Mirror Blade off cooldown
  11. Mind Stab (3)
  12. Phantasmal Berserker (4)
  13. Mirror Blade (2)
  14. Signet of the Ether (6)
  15. Phantasmal Berserker (4)
  16. Split Second (F1)
    • Every time you have 3 clones

Well of Precognition wasn’t in the rotation but it will be up to you to know when to use it. Aegis is great for blocking big attacks from the boss and prevent wipes.

It might look like a tough class to play but master the Chronomancer and you’ll blow through any content solo or with a group.

Join the High Ground!

And that wraps up our guide to the best tank classes and builds in GW2. Thanks for reading! As we’ve said any class can be tank with some toughness so what are your favorite classes to tank with? Leave a comment down below and subscribe to our newsletter for more Guild Wars content.

And as always, take the High Ground!

 

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