This is a compilation of tests and information from the earth tanking community, special thanks to all of you. I have added as well some personal recommendations. This is still a work in progress, there still much to be added and some corrections will be made along the way. Suggestions, additions, comments and critics are welcomed.
Why Earth Tanking?
First of all because is a lot of fun. This power set gives a good mix of everything. Introduces new forms of tanking via pets and aftershocks, has good mitigation on par with other tank powers. Has some nice pulls, crowd control and utility powers.
How do Earth Tanking work?
Every time you use a power in Tank role, you get a 25% damage absorption buff and your Dominance is added as a Defense bonus. There are two ways to increase this Damage Absorption up for a total of 50% absorption:
Summon Golem/Damage Shift: gives you +25% absorption as long as the Golem is up (and in line of sight). This works on both Golems but Brick works best for this because of his increased health.
Aftershocks: Jackhammer, Upheaval and Gemstone Shield give you the option to aftershock. Every aftershock(up to 3) adds up to you damage absorption by 8.33%
Using a power: 25% damage absorption
1x Aftershock: 33.3 % damage absorption
2x Aftershock: 41.6 % damage absorption
3x Aftershock: 50.0 % damage absorption
Damage Absorption (DmgA):
Earth tanks via Damage Absorption. This means that your powers absorb damage after the Defense damage reduction. For example, let’s say you have 3550 defense (50% base damage reduction) and you get hit for 1000 damage, you will receive 500 damage. But if you have the 25%DmgA buff up your received damage will be reduced by 125 damage, for a total of 375 damage received.
How to Earth Tank
One of the coolest things about Earth is the flexibility you get to choose powers depending on your play style. Also this powerset has a lot of Crowd Control abilities to choose from. I’ll describe the two basic tanking set ups.
Golem Tanking (Crystal Golem, Damage Shift, Brick Golem):
This tanking style is low on power consumption while Golem is up. After you summon Golem, you use Damage Shift once to get the damage transfer running, you will see a gray aura emanating from you and the Golem when this is up. From this point on Damage Shift becomes optional in your power rotation. Every time you cast a power, you will be updating your innate 25%dmgA buff + Golem DmgA = 50%DmgA.
Notes: Damage shift works on both Golems, but Brick Golem last a lot longer. You only want one Golem in your loadout.
Note on Damage Shift (04/17/12): Sometimes the buff stops transfering damage. Watch the damage transfer aura, if it’s missing recast Damage Shift. This can be prevented by using it on the power rotation every once in a while.
Aftershock Tanking (Upheaval, Gemstone Shield, Jackhammer):
This tanking style is heavier on energy consumption and requires more attention, as you have to keep up the 50% via aftershocks. You can use the 3 aftershock powers on rotation to keep the +25% up all the time, as sometimes you can get interrupted when aftershocking.
You can also keep it up with just two aftershock powers, if something goes wrong just block until the powers cooldown and you can get your rotation up.
I find Jackhammer incredible fun and very useful if you know how to manage power with it. A good way to stop the aftershocking is by blocking or holding melee when desired.
Notes: You don’t need to take Jackhammer, but you want at least two aftershock powers on your loadout. Gemstone is highly recommended.
Balanced (Aftershocks + Brick Golem/Damage Shift):
This tanking style gives up a little on the utility aspect but balances your power consumption. It’s also the most reliable way to always keep that 50% DmgA up.
I keep always Epicenter in my loadout. Earth Grip I usually change it for something else, but for some battles as Prime Battleground I use both. Low pressure can be a nice asset for flyers.
Earth Grip: Single Target pull, also stuns the target. Sometimes you can use it just to instantly stun a target that it’s hitting your healer or any teammate.
Epicenter: Middle range melee AoE pull. Your DPSers will love this, it will round up all nearby enemies around you, while keeping aggro.
I’ll start with the most useful earth powers for tanking, followed by other secondary tanking powers that you might choose according to your style.
Jackhammer (aftershock): Casts a large melee AoE, unlimited aftershocks that may knock down dazed targets. When used right, this power can contribute with damage without demanding any extra energy from your trollers. Don’t spam this if not necessary.
In any setup, this power is good for many reasons. It’s the fastest way to aftershock, will be your bread and butter for keeping your DmgA at 50% and it’s a great AoE taunt. If you use this power, keep it in your rotation always, cast do 3 aftershocks and you are golden.
For Brick loadouts, this power eliminates the DmgA downtime when the pet goes down. On some situations Brick can die instantly after summoned and damage shifted, leaving you with just 25% DmgA from your casted powers, just aftershock in the meantime.
Gemstone Shield (aftershock): Creates a shield of rocks around that makes you invulnerable to damage until it gets destroyed. Although interruptible, it can be used to revive people or activate stuff in a similar way to reflect in certain situations when you are just taking normal damage.
This power is important for a couple of reasons. It acts as a shield, absorbing a good amount of damage, it’s a good way to start a fight and also a good power to cast when getting unavoidable heavy damage, it can be the difference when your health gets low and you are just holding for that incoming heal. Casting it’s 3 aftershocks might take a while, but having it just casted with less aftershocks acts as good (unless you need the DmgA buff)
Same as Jackhammer, for Brick loadouts, this power eliminates the DmgA downtime when the pet goes down. On some situations Brick can die instantly after summoned and damage shifted, leaving you with just 25% DmgA from your casted powers, just aftershock in the meantime.
Brick / Damage Shift: Transfers 25% of incoming damage to Brick, effectively increasing your DmgA by 25% for as long as Brick and the buff are up. This powers have a up and a downside, it’s the safest way to tank, since you will have the full 50% DmgA buff up all the time (is casting powers) but it takes 2 slots of your loadout that do nothing but keep that 25% DmgA up.
When casting this powers, always clip it. Cast Brick and inmediatly Damage Shift, clipping this will make the difference when reviving the pet in mid fight. Also be aware that if by any reason your power bar changes (Ex: lifting the big balls on Smallville or the boxes on T3 alert)
Brick is supposed to die, so don’t count on him being 100% up all the time, that’s why you have both powers on your loadout. Some healer loadouts will not effectively heal Brick, so he will die from time to time. When that happens resummon by clipping it with damage shift, it they are on cooldown aftershock up if available, avoid damage by CC or just block.
Shards: Mid Range Frontal Cone Knockdown, spammable. This power is simply amazing, cheap on power and targets never get the inmune status. This have proved to be a huge asset in places like FoS2′s Assasin thrash pulls, the tunnel’s on Gates or untankable enemies like Avatar of Magic’s pets.
When taking heavy damage, use this to give healers a break or just use it to keep distance on heavy damaging enemies like assasins, using it will help you keep aggro too. If you line up your enemies, you can knock them all down with a single cast, then regroup them with epicenter, rinse and repeat.
It has some downsides, if always spammed it’s animation can be annoying to DPS’ers. It can also separate your enemies, making it difficult for your DPS to effectively use their AoE damage spells, try to alternate with epicenter to avoid this.
Other useful tanking powers:
Unstoppable (usable while controlled): Knocks down targets on a melee AoE range. Dazes targets. Provides immunity to Crowd Control effects to you and up to 3 teammates. The fact that this is usable while controlled makes it a wonderful power. Power Interaction with Jackhammer, Pebble Blast and Localized Tremor but it’s long cooldown makes it hard to have it on a rotation. Use it as a emergency button.
Reinforce: Absorbs 30% of incoming damage from the party member with the lowest health. This buff lasts 3/4 of it’s cooldown. You will see a gray aura emanating from you, the buffed party member will receive the same aura, plus a stone armor. This is a great power for alerts, some raid situations or PvP, it’s very cheap on power and the buff lasts a lot.
Totem: Upon cast: knocks down nearby enemies, works great with Epicenter as you can use it to attract enemies for additional knock down. The healing properties for golems are hardly noticeable and the casting animation is long. Use it to CC enemies around you when you want to give healers a break or taking heaving damage, beware when casted on bosses though, it’s long animation can leave you vulnerable, clip it with Reinforce, Unstopabble or your trinket in case that happens.
Upheaval (aftershock): Ranged. Throws a small tornado to the target that hits multiple targets in its way. Knocks back targets. This is a good spell if you don’t have anything else for aftershocking or when using a aftershock loadout. It’s aftershocks are kind of expensive, but they are a good way to avoid damage by CCing.
Tectonic Break (instant): Casts a melee AoE around you that dazes targets. It’s expensive on power, but the dazed debuff makes this a good opener for other Seismic powers that use this Power Interaction(PI) as Jackhammer, Pebble Blast and Localized Tremor. There’s a drawback, when paired with jackhammer, enemies will get the inmune buff very soon.
Striking Stones: Quick Frontal Cone Knockdown. Cheap on energy. This is a good Crowd Control power, knocking down targets equals less damage taken.
Pebble Blast / Localized Tremor: Cheap on energy. Situational: Good for Crowd Control on Dazed enemies, may knock down targets.
Debris Field: Stationary AoE, helps with keeping/grabbing aggro. Situational: This is a nice power but very expensive on energy.
Note on Supercharges(SC): Earth upercharges(SC) are not really useful for anything tanking related. Earthquake doesn’t works as a pull and Envelop might be useful if you don’t have a healer, the others are DPS related. Some useful supercharges would be the breakout SC from the movement trees: Dustoff(Flight), Perfect Poise(Acrobatics) or the good all around Speed Drain (Super Speed) for situations where more power is needed.
Most of the time you won’t have enough space on your loadout for a SC which are very situational and not that useful as they can be easily replaced by a more casting friendly power. There’s also some weapon combos that will give you nice CCing abilities by having the SC bar at maximum, like the Two Hander spinning attack.
Health: directly increases your green bar.
Defense: Give you 1% damage mitigation every 71 defense at level 30.
Dominance: Every time you cast a power, you convert your dominance to defense. Since dominance adds 1/1 to your defense, defense stacks better for mitigation purposes.
Blue slot: Health/Dom, Health or pure Dom Mods.
Red slot: Health/Prec, Health/Might or Dom/Prec, Dom/Might.
Yellow slot: Health/Power, Dom/Power
Stacking health helps you taking more burst damage, Dominance for increased damage reduction. Health/Dom blue mods for balancing stats.
Recommended Guides & Useful Resources:
First of all, I recommend any new tanks to read Part 1(Actual HP, Effective HP, Armor Piercing, and the Defense Cap and Part 5(Crafting) from Kristyana’s Incredibly Detailed Fire Tank Guide which holds very useful information regarding tanking in general.
Earth Tanking Videos:
Tractor shows us that earth is just as good as any other power set for day to day basis, by going on a random pick up group on Gates of Tartarus with just Tier 3 and Tier 3.5 gear, while also showing how good Low Pressure (flight) can be on specs with no epicenter: Tractor – Earth Tank Gates Pug
Sometimes we want to solo, duo or are just want/required to run as dps role for whatever reason. It comes very handy to know how your earth powers interact for maximum damage. I leave you these useful guides:
- Load the Toph: A seismic Earth DPS Guide (Dazed loadout)
- CRUSHING your Enemies! A detailed Earth DPS guide (Crushed loadout)
Testing loadouts and specs:
Since Earth has so many powers and specs to choose from, I find it easier to test my loadouts or respecs using this Ultimate DCUO Character Planner
We would like to say a big THANK YOU to dennots for making this guide. We think this will be extremely helpful for all of the DCUO community members and we hope you will enjoy it.