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'Tank' is a colloquial term for any job that is used for the specific purpose of drawing a monster's attention (see: hate, enmity) during the course of a fight so that other members of the party or alliance are free to deal damage or perform necessary support functions without the constant threat of the monster's attention turning on weaker participants.
While any job has the capacity to be the tank on some level, the most commonly used jobs are:
Paladins typically tank in two configurations:
- Paladin with Ninja sub job. Using Utsusemi to negate damage in conjunction with paladin's other native hate-generating abilities such as Flash, Cure spells, and their various Job Abilities has proven to be an extremely effective strategy for endgame activities. This configuration was not widely used before 2005, but it has picked up steam and is arguably the method most employed by HNM/endgame linkshells.
- Paladin with Warrior sub job. Currently, this is the accepted combination for Paladins leveling up and is still used to great effect, especially in conjunction with Aegis, as an endgame tanking strategy. The added hate generating ability from Provoke and Warcry as well as damage negation through Defender make this a very potent option.
Paladins also employ other sub jobs, such as Red Mage or White Mage depending on what the target monster is capable of doing.
Ninjas utilize their native Utsusemi spells and access to a wealth of Haste enhancing equipment with the specific goal to completely negate all physical damage. Since these tools are available to a ninja as part of his main job, many different Sub Job combinations can be employed to different effectiveness, allowing for extremely flexible tanking ability. The most common combinations are:
- Warrior subjob. Primarily chosen for Provoke/War Cry/Berserk job abilities, all potent hate-generating abilities.
- Dark Knight subjob. Chosen for the variety of hate generating spells available, especially Stun and Sleep.
- A recent trend for ninja tanks, especially on HNMs that use many elemental attacks based around the same element, is to stack equipment that enhances their resistance rate for the given element. With the proper support, a Ninja well geared for this purpose can drastically reduce the amount of damage they take from those elemental attacks, greatly lowering the amount of support necessary to keep them alive.
- Similar to the elemental resistance setup, Ninjas may also make use of a wealth of Physical Damage Taken -% gear available that other tank jobs do not have access to. While of limited use, in combination with the standard strengths of the NIN/WAR setup, a physical reduction setup can provide the necessary tanking ability on certain fast and hard-hitting Notorious Monsters.
Monk's validity as a tank is being more widely recognized in recent times, especially with the advent of Salvage. A monk's options are twofold, but both rely on using Ninja as a subjob.
- Like Ninja, monk's access to haste gear is extremely effortless, especially with items like Black Belt at their disposal. A monk can reach the haste cap for equipment (25%) extremely easily, making the most out of Utsusemi tanking. Most monks combine Utsusemi tanking with their Counterstance job ability, relying on counter-attacks to allow them to re-apply Utsusemi while the enemy is attacking them.
- Alternatively, a monk can forego utsusemi altogether, and through the use of equipment that enhances Counter, attempt to negate and return damage attempted against them by maintaining a high rate of counter-attacks. The success of this method varies greatly and depends entirely on equipment and the support of others rather than skill. However, when properly executed, this method produces a massive spike in overall damage dealt.
- Like monk, the effectiveness of Red Mage tanking is just recently being realized. Red Mage tanks depend entirely on their ability to continually cast spells both defensive and offensive in order to generate hate. This style of tanking is especially effective on monsters that use a great deal of magic-based and/or elemental attacks, such as Khimaira, Cerberus, and Jailer of Love. The Red Mage's magic defense bonus traits and defensive spells like Stoneskin and Phalanx greatly reduces the effectiveness of magical attacks aimed at them.