Dragon Age Wiki
Dragon Age Wiki

A tank is a party member whose role in combat is to attract enemy attention, away from other more vulnerable party members. An effective tank must therefore:

  • Draw and manage threat
  • Minimize the amount of damage taken
  • Absorb large amounts of damage before falling

Warrior and Tank[]


Warrior tanks have a pronounced advantage from other classes because of the talents Threaten and Taunt, which make the tank's job much easier in maintaining aggro. Weapon and Shield talents are a natural progression, since these talents were designed with the mindset of preventing as much damage as possible. In addition to gaining the defense benefits of a shield, a weapon and shield tank also has immunity to knockdown effects and limited crowd control abilities. While other tank builds are certainly viable, the weapon and shield tank is probably the most well-rounded to handle any situation.


Wearing Massive Armor is appealing, for two reasons. One, it provides the largest amount of armor, allowing your tank to mitigate the most amount of damage. Two, heavier armor attracts more threat from enemies (Though keep in mind this is not true on Nightmare difficulty). In addition, heavier armor has the added bonus of having helpful stat bonuses specifically for tanks, such as bonuses to health, stamina, defense, armor, and +X% healing received.

In the endgame, among the best armor for a tank include:

Juggernaut armor set Juggernaut armor set
Wade's Superior Dragonbone Plate armor set Wade's Superior Dragonbone Plate armor set

Or with the DLCs:

Cailan's armor set Cailan's armor set
Warden Commander armor set Warden Commander armor set

For accessories these two are among the strongest, although they can be extremely expensive to pick up:

Lifegiver Lifegiver
The Spellward The Spellward

Among the best weapons are:

Topsider's Honor Topsider's Honor
Maric's Blade Maric's Blade
Dar'Misaan Dar'Misaan (Tier 7 for 3 rune slots) might work if you enchant it with Spell resist (Dweomer) or/and Physical resistance (Hale).

There are many viable shields, including:

Fade Wall Fade Wall
Cailan's Shield Cailan's Shield
Howe's Shield Howe's Shield
Duncan's Shield Duncan's Shield
Eamon's Shield Eamon's Shield can also be attained early as part of the Redcliffe chain of quests and maintains its usefulness into the endgame.
Note: pcpc Due to a bug any +X% to healing effects received attribute does not work.


Try to get Shield Wall as soon as possible, since this mode does the best all-round job of mitigating damage. Although this mode is supposed to decrease your damage output, it was never actually implemented in the game so it actually has no penalty. Once Shield Expertise and Shield Mastery are reached, there is almost no reason to use any other mode. When possible, pick up Shield Bash and Shield Pummel, which helps with crowd control either on your tank or on the rest of your party. Sometimes, Threaten and Taunt aren't enough to hold aggro, where the stun and knockdown effects can really come in handy. Overpower provides a similar role, but it's not necessary.

Threat Management[]

The key Talent for drawing Threat is Taunt. The amount of Threat drawn is usually sufficient that the tank will have a higher Threat value than all other party members. While Frightening Appearance provides a boost to Taunt, it rarely makes a practical difference.

AOE talents can be useful to draw Threat, however the amount is quite small compared to Taunt. This can still be sufficient to keep the attention of enemies that are not actively attacked by other party members. Scattershot can be useful to draw the attention of distant enemies.

Threaten boosts the amount of Threat drawn due to damage, but is only very rarely useful. Taunt is almost always far superior.


Strength is important to boost early on, since this gives you access to the best armor in the game. The next key stat is Dexterity, since every point here increases your tank's chance to dodge. While boosting Constitution looks appealing, the fact that it doesn't actually provide any damage mitigation makes its value debatable. With a high dexterity attribute for your tank, s/he will rarely get hit making the healer's job much easier. You may want to add a few points into Willpower mid-late game if your stamina is too low, though this isn't really necessary. Magic and Cunning are relatively useless for a tank.


The strongest specializations for a weapon and shield tank are Templar and Champion. Templar gives a useful bevy of anti-Mage abilities and a fantastic AoE attack. Because of the power of mages in DA:O, the Templar specialization does a fantastic job of limiting the damage mages can do. Champion provides two very useful abilities for a tank by providing an AoE debuff/knockdown and a full party buff. While the Reaver specialization looks appealing due to the health regen ability and Frightening Appearance, its actual usefulness is limited. Only its first two abilities are of any use to a tank, since Aura of Pain and Blood Frenzy both provide a health regeneration penalty. While Frightening Appearance does help with maintaining aggro, you can do much better through the AoE abilities Holy Smite and War Cry, provided by the Templar and Champion specializations. Devour, while also somewhat useful, isn't really necessary with a dedicated healer and healing poultices at your disposal.


The game lists a Tank role as "Defender" and assumes you are using a Weapon and Shield setup. Choosing this from the Tactics screen will automatically apply the following Tactics once all Weapon and Shield and Warrior talents have been unlocked:

  • Self:Any -> Activate: Threaten
  • Self:Any -> Activate: Shield Wall
  • Self:Surrounded by at least two enemies -> Taunt
  • Self:Being attacked by a ranged attack -> Activate: Shield Cover
  • Enemy:Health >=75% -> Overpower
  • Enemy:Health >=75% -> Shield Bash
  • Enemy:Nearest Visible -> Assault
  • Enemy:Nearest Visible -> Shield Pummel

The computer will add additional tactics (available slots provided) for current specializations where appropriate. Some fine tuning will be necessary as you go along, as the game seems to favor Shield Cover. You may also consider adding Health Poultice tactic, especially in tougher fights:

  • Self:Health <25% -> Use health poultice: Most powerful

Evasion Tank[]


This Tank is fairly self-explanatory: it tanks by not getting hit. Rogues with the Evasion talent and high Dexterity and a Duelist specialization are able to evade a significant amount of attacks from enemies. Similarly, a Mage with Arcane Warrior specialization and applicable Spells can also dodge the majority of enemy attacks. However, both classes will find it difficult to maintain the control of the battlefield without Taunt and Threaten and as a result must compensate with damage and crowd control. Evasion tanks are not able to be used to full effectiveness towards the beginning of the game as the role requires a fair amount of talents deep into several branches and specializations. Furthermore, Evasion tanks have very limited utility against spellcaster enemies and are much better suited for one-on-one battles such as bosses or Elite targets. Evasion tanks make excellent "off-tanks" or "backup tanks" in the event of several difficult enemies at once or if your main tank falls in battle.

Rogue - Equipment[]

A Rogue will be focusing mostly on Dexterity and Cunning and as a result will not have a high enough Strength attribute to wear Heavy and Massive armor. Instead, the Rogue should focus on gear that boosts Dexterity and Evasion (look for +Defense) where possible, and when this is not possible, equip a set that reduces stamina costs.

It's generally a good idea to wield two daggers so that they can benefit from the damage bonuses. Most daggers have critical/backstab bonuses, but since the evasion tank is not likely to be able to Backstab (without Coup de Grace), Daggers with Attack/Damage or Armor Penetration may be better choices. Spending points in Branch One of Dual Weapon talents will further improve damage and defense, though the fourth talent is not integral.

Rogue - Talents[]

The Evasion talent is the most important talent for the evasion Rogue, so obtain this as soon as possible. A Rogue must prioritize high damage through melee talents and/or poison bombs and a fair amount of crowd control with traps is recommended. Branch Three of Dual Weapon Talents can do a fair amount of area of effect damage, otherwise Momentum can provide a steady stream of damage. The easiest way to play a Rogue evasion tank is to let the Rogue charge headstrong into a throng of enemies so that he or she is the first target seen and then use Dual Weapon Sweep and Whirlwind to get a large amount of hostility as soon as the battle starts. Easiest does not necessarily mean best, however, see Tactics for more information.

Rogue - Attributes[]

A Rogue tank's primary attribute is first and foremost Dexterity. The whole point of this tank is to dodge and dodge frequently. Constitution can be important; a Rogue won't be wearing Heavy and Massive armor lest they quickly run out of Stamina thanks to fatigue, so if they get hit, they get hit hard. Obtain enough Strength to wear the best Rogue gear available (preferably a piece with Dexterity and/or evasion...consider The Felon's Coat). Willpower is important in this role if not using poison bombs as the Rogue will go through stamina like nothing in order to maintain the attention. Cunning is fairly important since you'll have the Lethality talent as a result of choosing Evasion, but boost Strength high enough first before putting points here. Magic is as useful to a Rogue as a Warrior: only as an emergency. The points you receive from the Circle Tower quest will likely be more than enough.

Rogue - Specializations[]

Duelist offers several useful defense bonuses and Pinpoint Strike can make the Rogue fairly lethal. Bard can boost attack, damage, and critical chance or stamina/mana regeneration. Not terribly integral to the tanking aspect, but Bard is a far better choice than Ranger or Assassin.

Rogue - Tactics[]

Do not trust the AI to evade tank. The AI is not designed to think ahead and as a result cannot be relied upon. A Rogue tank will be using a large amount of crowd control. Gaining the attention of an entire hall of enemies is generally ill-advised. If you become surrounded, Rogues do not have the ability to prevent flanking damage like a Shield Warrior. Use choke points such as a door or narrow path to draw them into so that only a few enemies can attack at once and let your Evasion talents work their charms.

Mage - Overview[]

Unlike Rogue, an Arcane Warrior specialized Mage can use their Magic attribute as Strength and wear Heavy and Massive armor to help with the hostility management (and some pieces can give very useful bonuses). With Fade Shroud and a useful selection of spells, the Arcane Warrior is an extremely powerful force to be reckoned with. More information on Arcane Warrior can be found on its respective page.

Two-Handed Tank[]


While most tank builds in DA:O focus on parameters such as constitution, armor, defense, physical, mental and elemental resistances, flanking immunity or missile deflection, they are not all necessary for a successful tank and some of their usefulness is questionable. The Two-Handed Tank approach focuses on three very important areas, while foregoing the rest: (a) Threat Management; (b) stun/knockdown immunity; (c) spell immunity. Each criterion is covered in more detail in its own separate sub-section below.

Stun/Knockdown Immunity[]

One of the worst things that can happen to your tank on Nightmare is knockdown or getting locked in stuns. Incapacitation of any kind (first and foremost, stun), won't make the AI target other party members, but it will render your threat management talents unusable, and thus, it becomes more difficult to hold aggro. The most intuitively appealing solution is to stack +X physical resistance gear/runes on your Weapon and Shield Talents-oriented warrior having his Shield Wall mode on. Unfortunately, doing this makes you sacrifice a significant part of your tank's spell resistance gear. Another alternative is using Two-Handed Talents, and relying entirely on the warrior sustainable Indomitable. This second tier talent makes you immune to any sort of knockdown or stun, except Overwhelm (monster) and Grab. Investing in Two-Handed Talents has several benefits, apart from Indomitable. It's the most early game-friendly tree to go with: the best talents are, in fact, first and second tier. Sunder Arms, Pommel Strike and Indomitable is all you need until late mid-game (throw in Shattering Blows in case you prefer to finish A Paragon of Her Kind prior to other quest lines), so you can devote yourself fully to warrior/archery threat management talents. While a weapon and shield tank does eventually gain knockdown immunity, this is not until much later after picking up Shield Expertise, a tier four talent. The downside of going this route is you won't have the defense benefits of a shield, and you lack the defense bonuses against ranged and flanking attacks.

The question of two-handed weapon choice naturally arises. Your ultimate tanking weapon should be:

Starfang (greatsword) Starfang (greatsword)

It is extremely easy to get very early in the game for such a powerful weapon, assuming you have the Warden's Keep DLC installed. Just travel religiously between Honnleath and Flemeth's Hut, and The Crater event will trigger. Complete the Warden's Keep main quest, then bring the Meteor Metal Ore to Mikhael Dryden, and you are set for the rest of the game (Chasind Great Maul is theoretically a better choice, but it is available only after two treaties have been fulfilled.)

Spell Immunity[]

Stacking spell resistance gear gives your tank the benefit of being immune to hostile magic, though, admittedly, that will start to be a somewhat theoretical scenario when your party mage gains Mana Clash spell: still, it will be a huge convenience throughout the game. It goes without saying you should aim for 100% spell resistance (no one can guarantee the very first Glyph of Paralysis that is going to be cast on your 96% spell resistant tank will not fall into those remaining 4%). It is attainable for any warrior companion in the game, and even more so, for a PC warrior.

If you plan to achieve spell immunity, two key gear pieces are mandatory:

Knight Commander's Plate Knight Commander's Plate
The Spellward The Spellward

The good news is these items are available from the very start from Faryn in Frostback Mountain Pass and from Bodahn at the party camp, respectively. The bad news is you will have to pay a total of 114 Gold for them.

Note: There are four times in the game in which fire resistance is really needed: Two Dragons: one at Brecilian Ruins, one at Orzammar Royal Palace; two High Dragons: Flemeth and atop the mountain. There are no other combat instances where fire resistance is a must. Therefore, a logical choice would be crafting a Greater Warmth Balm or two before attempting any dragon-slaying, instead of having a whole set of alternate tanking gear specifically designated for dragon encounters. The Balm gives +60% fire resistance for 3 minutes. Your tank can compensate for the missing 15% resistance by using the two-handed sword, Yusaris.

Attributes and Equipment[]

Templar/Reaver specializations grant you access to Knight Commander's Plate and Frightening Appearance, which are vital with this build. Put 35-40 points into strength, the rest into dexterity. The optimal gear for this build is:

Far Song Far Song or Falon'Din's Reach Falon'Din's Reach with an option of switching to Wolf-Killer Wolf-Killer in animal/demon-populated areas
Starfang (greatsword) Starfang (greatsword) or Chasind Great Maul Chasind Great Maul enchanted with one Grandmaster and two Master Dweomer runes
Helm of Honnleath Helm of Honnleath or Executioner's Helm Executioner's Helm
Knight Commander's Plate Knight Commander's Plate
Gloves of Diligence Gloves of Diligence
Warden Commander Boots Warden Commander Boots
The Spellward The Spellward
Andruil's Blessing Andruil's Blessing
Key to the City Key to the City
Lifegiver Lifegiver

That accounts for full spell immunity in two-handed mode and a significant stamina boost. A typical simplified combat flow chart for this tank will look like this: Scattershot -> switch to Starfang (greatsword) -> approach the enemies -> Two-Handed Sweep -> holding aggro -> ranged attackers draw too much threat -> Taunt.

The only warrior companion suitable for this build is Alistair. Since you get him so early in the game, his initial Weapon and Shield Talents orientation should not cause any problems. A PC Dwarf warrior would be an ideal candidate, though, because of 10% inherent spell resistance, which is very useful. There is an unofficial patch that exists that gives Sten a second specialization point, which would make him a suitable companion for this build, as you get him very early in the game and he starts out with two handed weapon talents.

Tanking in Awakening, the Willpower Approach[]


Tanking is an interesting concept in Awakening because of several items as well as talents that were added to the game. Namely, the Spirit Warrior specialization and the addition of armor runes. This approach focuses on relying on gear to get to an acceptable level of dodge/defense while stacking Willpower to power AoE talents (this is written having used a Sword/Shield tank, but it should work with a 2H weapon tank as well).


Vigilance (longsword) Vigilance (longsword) 1st choice: Spirit warriors bypass armor, so Flexible is the best option; 2nd choice: let Wade decide, but you can do whatever you want, really; 3 Menacing Runes
Partha Partha
Helm of the Sentinel Helm of the Sentinel
Stormchaser Gauntlets Stormchaser Gauntlets
Clamshell Plate Armor Clamshell Plate Armor or Golem Shell Armor; 3 masterpiece reservoir runes, you'll need a Diligence rune if using a 2H weapon
Fleet Feet Fleet Feet
The Spellward The Spellward
Cinch of Skillful Maneuvering Cinch of Skillful Maneuvering replace with whatever you want if you don't have this, but you might need to replace one of the Menacing Runes with an appropriately leveled Dweomer rune to achieve max spell resistance
Lifegiver Lifegiver
Key to the City Key to the City

This equipment and Beyond the Veil give you 90% dodge chance and 103% spell resistance, but remember that Blessing of the Fade isn't available until level 28. Until then, you can use Dweomer runes and Helm of Hirol's Defense. If you feel confident, swap out whatever gear you want with gear that adds Spirit Damage, like the Dreamsever.

Stat Distribution[]

  • Strength: at least 45, might need to pump up to 50 to be able to wear massive tier 9 chest plates (48 with Andruil's Blessing)
  • Dexterity: you need at least 26, but you can put as much as you're comfortable with, depending on how much dodge gear you have
  • Willpower: everything else

Specializations and Talents[]

For specializations, take Spirit Warrior, Templar, Reaver.

For talents, all you REALLY need are Taunt, Threaten, Air of Insolence (optional, only use it if you have trouble holding aggro), Grievous Insult, Frightening Appearance, everything in both Spirit Warrior and Templar, everything in Weapon and Shield (you may decide to skip the entire 4th tier if you don't need Carapace or Air of Insolence).


High physical and mental resistances without using runes, Beyond the Veil gives you an insane amount of spell resistance that lets you easily cap it without Dweomer runes, you get a very high amount of dodge from Beyond the Veil and whatever gear you decide to use (you might be able to get away with just the base 26.. the more Willpower, the better), and an absurdly high stamina pool, essentially allowing nigh infinite use of talents (especially combined with Death Blow).

Your warrior essentially becomes an AoE master of destruction because the high Willpower attribute powers Fade Burst and Holy Smite to very high amounts of damage, essentially instantly killing most non-elite mobs, while doing serious damage to everything else. Grievous Insult allows your warrior to pull most enemies to him to hit them with Fade Burst. This also has the added benefit of making sure that your warrior doesn't lose aggro, especially since Fade Burst only has a 10 second cooldown. Beyond the Veil turns his physical attack into spirit damage, so he'll do pretty strong damage against single enemies as well using talents like Assault. If your warrior is the Warden, and you're using a Manual of Focus, this build becomes much more devastating due to the extra 30 or 40 attribute points that the Warden has access to over everyone else (tomes and the essences). The only real downside is that you have to turn Beyond the Veil off to do damage to enemies that are immune to spirit damage, but those are rare. Only the ghost in the Avvar tomb and the disciples are noteworthy.