In this Elder Scrolls Online Build Guide I am going to cover a Necromancer Tank Build that focuses on a high health pool, and its own abilities to survive every scenario in addition to helping teammates. The role of the Tank in PvE is to taunt enemies, buff allies and debuff enemies, and this build does all of it. There are lots of ways to build Tanks in ESO, but it is somewhat dependent on Sets and other factors. This build is meant for PvE but it can be also used in PvP due to the extreme power of the Necromancer Class.
Necromancer Tank Build Concept
The concept of this Necromancer Tank Build revolves around a high health pool and the benefits you get from it. Some Necro Skills and Sets work better with higher health pool numbers so we are going to combine all of these into a potent mix. On top of that we will debuff enemies with Maim, Breach, Fracture and Vulnerability. And lastly, we heal allies a bit, grant them Minor Protection at times and boost their Max Health. So, we cover all Tank bases with this Build. Note that the Necromancer tanking Ultimate is a huge part as well because it makes you invincible for 20 secs.
Necromancer Tank Attributes and Skills
Attribute spread should focus on Health, so 30 points or more would be recommended. 14-20 points into Stamina is necessary due to Block costs, even with all the reductions from Glyphs and Skills. Without Blocking even the healthiest of Tanks will go down easily. Around 10 points into Magicka is enough to satisfy all our needs because Magicka abilities for this build last a long time meaning we don’t have to spam them. With this setup there is plenty of everything with Health being the primary attribute, and we will use food and Sets to boost Max Health to about 42-45k.
There are many Skills that can be used for Necromancer tanks, but some will have to be left out because there isn’t enough slots, and here is where you can play with different skill setups to see what works best for you. However, the Necromancer ultimate: Bone Goliath Transformation is fantastic and that is primary focus of this build. It is essentially invulnerability mode that heals you for 30k Health and increases Max Health by 30k. It has 20s duration which is quite long and when it is active it is nearly impossible to die.
While in Bone Goliath form Heavy and Light Attacks also heal you for a modest amount. The upgrade I went with is Ravenous Goliath because it deals AoE damage per second that scales with Max Health and also heals for the same amount. The rest of the Skills I used are mostly Necromancer ones because they are really awesome tanking abilities, with a few added skills from different trees that you would usually find in Tank Builds like: Pierce Armor, Absorb Magic and Inner Rage.
Pierce Armor – The most important Skill for any Tank. It taunts an enemy for 15 secs and applies Major Fracture and Major Breach, reducing the target’s Physical and Spell Resistance. Morphed from Puncture.
Bitter Harvest – A fantastic ability that needs corpses to be viable. Upon consuming a corpse it grants 2 Ultimate and heals the caster. It also scales off of Max Health and while slotted reduces damage taken by 3%. The Deaden Pain morph grants Major Protection for 2 secs per corpse consumed and the Necrotic Potency morph grants more Ultimate per corpse consumed, either of these are great.
Agony Totem – This skill summons a totem that grants Minor Protection for 8 secs to you and your allies and activates a Fear after 2 secs that keeps enemies in place for 4 secs. Allies can activate a synergy with this upgrade that does Magic Damage, but more importantly, puts Minor Vulnerability on an enemy that increases the damage they take by 8%. This ability is morphed from Bone Totem.
Spirit Guardian – This skill summons a Spirit that restores Health to the party member with the lowest Health at that moment every 2 secs. This upgrade transfers 10% of damage you take to the Spirit, making it ideal for Tanks. Upon death, the Spirit leaves a corpse on the ground that can be consumed with Bitter Harvest, so those two skills work very well together. Morphed from Spirit Mender.
Absorb Magic – Absorbs Spell Projectiles while healing for 12% of your Max Health. The most important thing about this skill for Tanks is that while slotted it increases the amount of damage you can block by 8% and reduces your blocking cost by 8%. Morphed from Defensive Posture.
Beckoning Armor – Grants Major Ward and Major Resolve, increasing your Physical and Spell Resistance by 5280 for 17 seconds, making it a must have for any Necromancer Tank. This upgrade pulls ranged enemies while this skill is active, making it very useful against large groups of enemies to gather everyone near you so that allies can nuke them with AoE skills. Morphed from Bone Armor.
Grave Grasp – Snares enemies by 50% for 5 secs, and what is more important, puts Minor Maim for 5 secs on everything that it touches. You’ll be using this ability often to put Minor Maim as frequently as possible. Any upgrade is fine.
Inner Rage – This is a ranged Taunting ability that also grants a Synergy which does AoE Damage. A very useful Skill for taunting enemies far away that would otherwise require you running around trying to Taunt them with Pierce Armor. With this upgrade there is a 35% chance to grant a synergy that deals additional damage upon activation and it also costs Stamina instead and that is better for this build due to our low Magicka pool. Morphed from Inner Fire.
Expunge and Modify – Removes up to 2 negative effects and restores 500 Magicka and Stamina per each effect removed, which is a very useful resource management skill. However, be careful because this skill costs Health to use so don’t go overboard with it. While slotted it reduces the cost of Skills by 3%, making it especially useful on the backbar with Grave Grasp and Beckoning Armor because those 2 combined cost around 6500 Magicka. Morphed from Expunge.
Absorb Magic – Backbar is used a lot so it is justified having Absorb Magic on it as well because reduction to block cost and increase in amount of damage blocked is useful always.
Ravenous Goliath – As mentioned at the start of this section, this skill is fantastic in every possible way. 30k Heal, 30k Max Health increase, Light and Heavy attacks heal, AoE that hurts enemies and heals you… And it scales with Max Health. Invulnerability mode activated. Morphed from Bone Goliath Transformation.
Aggressive Horn – Increases Max Stamina and Max Magicka for you and your allies. It also grants Major Force that increases Critical Damage by 15% for 8 secs. Just a fantastic group ultimate but should be used only if you feel like Ravenous Goliath won’t be needed that much. Morphed from War Horn.
These are my choices but there are other good skills that can be used instead. Heroic Slash puts Minor Maim on enemies, slows them down and grants Minor Heroism that generates more Ultimate. Unnerving Boneyard deals a small amount of damage over 10 secs and applies Major Breach and Major Fracture on enemies affected. It also grants a synergy when activated by allies that deals damage and heals you. The only reason why I didn’t slot this skill is because we already apply Major Breach and Fracture by using Pierce Armor that taunts enemies which is a must have skill. Hungry Scythe also isn’t bad skill at all. It heals for a significant amount with this build (around 5000-6000 with the initial hit and up to 1500-2000 for each additional enemy hit) because it scales with Max Health.
Necromancer Tank Rotation
With Necromancers in general it is important to pay attention to corpses. Spirit Guardian and enemies leave corpses that can be used with Bitter Harvest in our case while the Corpse Consumption passive grants 10 Ultimate per corpse consumed every 16 secs. Other then that keeping up Spirit Guardian and Beckoning Armor is what you will be doing for the most part. Your rotation should look something like this:
- Beckoning Armor
- Spirit Guardian
- Agony Totem and Grave Grasp
- Exponge and Modify if affected by Negative effects and Bitter Harvest when corpse is present
- Refresh Beckoning Armor and Spirit Guardian when needed
- Ravenous Goliath Ultimate when in trouble
Necromancer Tank Race
The best races for a Necromancer Tank are Nord and Argonian. Nord gains 5 Ultimate when taking damage every 10 secs and that is quite significant when it adds to all other sources that give Ultimate in this build. In addition, Nord has increased Physical, Spell and Cold Resistance, +1000 Max Health and +1500 Max Stamina and those are all great boosts for any Tank. Argonian adds: +1000 to Max Magicka and Health, increases Healing Done by 6% and restores 4000 Health, Magicka and Stamina when drinking any Potion.
Other possible choices that fit well would be Orc and Imperial. Orc offers healing when dealing damage with any Weapon skill (Pierce Armor for example) every 4 secs and grants +1000 Max Health and +2000 Max Stamina. Imperial increases Max Health and Stamina by 2000, reduces the cost of all abilities by 3% and dealing direct damage restores 333 Magicka, Stamina and Health every 5 secs.
Necromancer Tank Champion Skills
There are plenty useful Champion Skills you can have, but points are limited. Percentages behind the decimal point are not accounted for when adding points to Champion Skills. For example, Elemental Defender at Rank 60 reduces damage taken from elemental attacks by 12.57%, but your gain is actually 12%. Now that you know this you can save points and put them elsewhere where gains would be more beneficial. Try to round up numbers to get the most out of these Champion Skills.
Here is my recommended setup for the Necromancer Tank Build:
This is the basic Tanking setup. 120 points into The Ritual Skills are a must due to the Last Stand skill that grants Major Heroism (3 Ultimate Points every 1.5 sec for 8 secs) when you fall bellow 20% Health.
Necromancer Tank Gear (Weapons, Armor & Jewelry)
There are many tanking sets that can work for this build. I have opted for the Ebon Armory Set as my primary because it increases Max Health for you and allies. We are focusing on Max Health with this build and the tank should offer some buffs to allies and that is why Ebon Armory is a perfect choice. It also adds 4% to Healing Taken, which isn’t terrible.
The second set is completely up to the player. There are many great choices here but I will single out 3 sets that work particularly great with this setup. Leeching Plate is one of my favorite self sustaining sets in the game for Tanks. It adds 8% to Healing Taken, increases Health and there is a 20% chance to summon a poison cloud that deals mediocre AoE damage but it heals for massive amounts with this setup because the heal is affected by Healing Done, Healing Taken and Minor/Major Vitality and Mending buffs. Hatchling Shell is another great choice because in addition to Max Health, Physical and Spell Resistance it grants a Damage Shield equal to 20% of your Health. This damage shield is massive when in Goliath form and also good without the ultimate active because our Max Health is quite high anyway.
One great End Game Tanking set that has been added with the Elsweyr update is Claw of Yolnakhriin. It adds Max Health, Stamina, Grants Minor Aegis that reduces damage taken in Dungeons, Trials and Arenas by 5% and gives Minor Courage (increased weapon and spell damage by 129) for 15 seconds to you and allies with a cooldown of 8 secs, meaning it can be up all the time. So consider this one if you’d like to buff your team’s DPS a bit more, and you aren’t having issues staying alive.
The best Monster Set for this build is Blood Spawn. It adds 129 Stamina Recovery and has a 6% chance to generate 14 Ultimate and increase Physical and Spell Resistance by 6450 for 6 secs whenever you take damage. Generating Ultimate however we can is the way to go with a Necro Tank because it allows Bone Goliath more frequently, and that is why this set is best choice for it.
Traits and Enchantments
It does not matter what Weapon you have in your primary and secondary slot (as long as you have a Shield in the off-hand). One should have Glyph of Crushing and the other one Glyph of Weakening. Crushing reduces enemy Physical and Spell Resistance for 5 secs and has 10 sec cooldown, while Weakening reduces damage done by the enemy for 5 secs with 10 secs cooldown. Traits on Weapons should be either Infused to increase the effectiveness of Glyph of Crushing/Weakening, or Decisive to give yourself a 20% chance to get another Ultimate Point whenever you receive it from any source.
Heavy Armor Sets come with the Healthy Enchantment and it should stay that way because a high health pool is our goal. Divines Trait is the way to go to increase the benefits of your Mundus Stone, and the Stone that we want here is The Tower to get more Stamina. The Lord might seem like an obvious choice but we do not need more Health and without Stamina and blocking no amount of health will save you from some of the insane damage bosses can do. Your Shield should have the Sturdy Trait to reduce block cost and a Stamina or Health Enchantment.
On all Jewelry pieces you want Glyph of Shielding to reduce the cost of blocking even further. The more reduction, the longer you can Block and use abilities before running out of Stamina. If you can get Triune that would be ideal, but otherwise go for the Healthy Trait.
This Necromancer Tank is fantastic for any content that game throws at you. Necromancers are really powerful in any given role and as a Tank they can be invulnerable at times thanks to Goliath Ultimate. I tried to balance high Max Health, Stamina, Resistances and Ultimate generation as much as possible, and think I have reached sweet spot where you can block a lot, survive nasty attacks with a high health pool and mitigate enough damage while generating tons of Ultimate.
The role of Tanks is to help allies as well and this build provides a lot of support to your group. Agony Totem grants Minor Protection to allies near you, Spirit Guardian heals the ally with the lowest health and Ebon Armory increases Max Health of everyone in party by 1118. If you have Claw of Yolnakhriin then Minor Courage is going to be active for the whole party almost all the time. Debuffing enemies is done with Weapon attacks through Glyph of Crushing and Weakening, Grave Grasp that applies Minor Maim, the synergy activated with Agony Totem that applies Minor Vulnerability to enemies affected, and Pierce Armor that applies Major Fracture and Breach.
So, we tick all of the boxes with this Tank build, but remember to pay attention to corpses because that is an important aspect of playing Necromancer. Using Bitter Harvest on corpses heals you and grants 2 Ultimate so you should be always aware of that mechanic. Keep Spirit Guardian and Beckoning Armor up at all times and you are good to go.
Stay tuned for more ESO Elsweyr content as we publish more Builds and cover some other aspects of the game.