The Tanker can take it and dish it out all at once. The Tanker primarily can absorb vast amounts of damage, and hold his own in a fist fight. But the Tanker lacks any long range punch. The Tanker would prefer just to charge straight ahead anyway.
The Tanker's power sets are:
The Tanker has high hit points and medium damage.
Primary Power Sets
A Tanker's primary power sets are designed specifically for defense. They are:
- Dark Armor (Issue 12)
- Electric Armor (Issue 16)
- Fiery Aura
- Ice Armor
- Stone Armor
- Willpower (Issue 11)
- Shield Defense
Secondary Power Sets
A Tanker's secondary power sets are designed for melee. They are:
- Battle Axe
- Dark Melee (Issue 12)
- Dual Blades (Issue 11)
- Electric Melee (Issue 16)
- Energy Melee
- Fiery Melee
- Ice Melee
- Stone Melee
- Super Strength
- War Mace
Ancillary Power Pools
The Tanker strategy is fairly linear; first and foremost, the Tanker has to focus on surviving, and then, on gathering attention away from allies. Fortunately, attacking people is a fine way to garner attention, and this means the Tanker's role is not one prone to non-obvious tactics. Advanced combat maneuvers are things the Tanker can experiment with easily, because the Tanker has a large margin of error. Unlike some other archetypes, the Tanker's raw stats allow the Tanker a degree of safety even in the worst of situations.
Herding is a form of Aggro management, corralling a group enemies into a smaller area. In principle, all archetypes can engage in herding to some extent, by understanding the way enemies react to player actions, but the Tanker excels in this role thanks to their high defensive ability and their inherent power, Gauntlet.
The most basic form of Herding available to a Tanker involves a damage aura (such as is available to the Fiery Aura set). The Tanker moves to engage the enemies, but rather than closing with the nearest enemy and attacking, the Tanker instead moves close enough to the available enemies to deal them some damage with his aura, then closes with their 'priority' enemy, and launch their attacks. Thanks to the damage dealt, and the Tanker's Gauntlet power, the enemy units (unless otherwise distracted) should close with the Tanker, thus keeping their attention focused on the hero best able to take it.
All Tanker primaries have auras that allow this, available at different levels. Invulnerability gets its latest, at level 18 (Invincibility). Also, enemies are less deadly at the lower levels, allowing Tanker players time to learn how much they can handle in this maneuver.
While herding may be broken by heavy area of effect damage, knockback, or other disruption, the effect of a herded group can allow supporter archetypes a focused point where they can orient their area effects (such as Tar Patch, or a large area debuff like Lingering Radiation), or allow a character to peel off small numbers of opponents that they can handle.
What Tankers Want Other Players to Know
A traditionally played tanker's primary concern is with aggro control. Tankers in this role want the mobs to concentrate their attacks on themselves.
Auras and positioning
Some tankers have defensive abilities such as Invincibility and Rise to the Challenge that require mobs to be in melee range of themselves. All tankers can acquire auras that taunt mobs within them, and some of these auras can do damage or debuff the mobs' speed or accuracy as well. Generally speaking, the tanker will seek to collect enemies in a tightly packed group in which the Tanker should be roughly in the middle.
This means that many tankers will prefer that they actually position the mobs this way before immobilizing effects can be applied. An enemy that is immobilized outside the tanker's aura can attack other players, and may not be subject to the tanker's taunt aura effect. If that enemy is simply immobilized, rather than held or otherwise incapacitated, the enemy is able to attack those whom the tanker seeks to defend. Attacks that only prevent enemies from moving should be applied after the tanker has collected them, not during the initial process of collecting them. And, preventing a ranged attacking mob from coming within the tanker's aura may actually weaken the tanker's defense or regeneration.
The tanker typically seeks to "take point". It helps the tanker to be the first player character any enemy sees. This is especially important when dealing with enemies that include enemies that preferentially used range attacks, and that may include snipers, such as Nemesis. A tanker may ask you to remain around a corner, breaking line of sight, while the tanker enters the room and thus makes certain that he is the character that the enemies see first. This way, the tanker attracts the opening fire from ranged and sniper attacks, rather than your character. And, by breaking line of sight himself, the tanker can compel the ranged attackers and snipers to move forward and come within melee range.
Buffs and heals
Tankers appreciate buffs. Generally speaking, any buff that increases the tanker's resistance, defense, regeneration, endurance recovery, accuracy, or damage will also help the tanker hold the attention of greater numbers of the enemy. Stone Armor tankers greatly benefit from Speed Boost and Accelerate Metabolism as the movement speed buffs help to offset the movement penalty of Granite Armor and Rooted. Other tankers may ask you not to include them in those buffs as the changes in movement speed may make it harder for them to take a position where they get as many enemies as possible within their taunting aura. If the tanker does not appear to be having endurance issues, these buffs may not be helpful, depending on the player's style.
Tankers only infrequently require Clear Mind because each primary power set contains an ability that gives the tanker resistance against mez effects. Generally, only in a situation where the enemies can stack mez effects is giving preventative clear mind to a tanker a priority.
Ideally, if a tanker is actually gaining and holding aggro, they also provide a focus for healing. Generally, if the tanker is succeeding here, he should be the chief character that needs heals, and the more confidence the tanker gains in healing support, the more mobs the tanker will be able to gain control over.
Many tanker sets are lacking for melee attacks early on, because of the slow progression through the offensive set available to the Tanker. This means that many Tankers are able to make a great deal of use of temporary combat powers (such as the Veteran Rewards powers), or of pool power attacks (such as Air Superiority). At least early on, filling out a decent number of attacks can allow a Tanker to reach the higher levels and therefore, the more powerful defensive abilities.